Friday, January 14, 2011

07/14/07 The Danger's One Night of Fire, New York and Brooklyn, NY

One Night of Fire is one of the greatest parties I have ever had the pleasure of attending, and it is a serious contender for the number one slot.

As far as my personal partying career is concerned, the New York City underground party scene began with the Lunatarium, a warehouse space on the edge of the Brooklyn waterfront as its DUMBO neighborhood was on the edge of gentrification, that exciting time when the creative can still afford the possibilities.

The club scene in New York City is the stuff of legend. From the cocaine-fueled debauchery at Studio 54 to the candy raver mega dance palaces of the early 1990s, there have always been excellent options for the dedicated partiers seeking round-the-clock stimulation. But at some point in the mid-'90s, shifting sensibilities converged with a mayor bent on cleaning things up and the true partiers were relegated to Outer Boro warehouse bashes, far away from the watchful glare of increasingly Disneyfied Manhattan.

The rise of bottle service and doormen and unnecessary lines and dress codes in the Manhattan club scene, thus had exciting consequences for the ecstatic artistic types prone to temporary autonomous zones provided by far flung locales. There were many parties fusing the rave aesthetic with the Burning Man flare for interactive art, but in my mind, none did it better than the Dumboluna collective, proprietors and frequent party promoters at the aforementioned Lunatarium.

I only attended a handful of parties at the Lunatarium, but it has left an indelible imprint on my psyche. You would arrive and be whisked up via freight elevator to a magical playland replete with tunnels and teepees. The entire center of the floor was a giant mattress. You could arrive well after midnight and leave at dawn, disoriented and utterly ecstatic.

Later incarnations of the venue moved to the ground floor and incorporated the waterside courtyard, but the whimsy remained

You might reenact Aerosmith's "Love In An Elevator" or engage in a virtuosic tribal drum circle. You could meet a long-lost soulmate you never knew or contemplate a sunrise dip in the East River. The possibilities seemed endless, and often were.

Alas, as with all good things, the end soon came. But from the ashes arose The Danger (née Complacent), party planners par excellence specializing in the same type of warehouse wonderlands.

Once a year, they would summon the bacchanalian spirits of New York City for a traveling circus parading through the bridges and trains, reviving the Lunatarium lunacy for One Night of Fire.

In 2005, I caught the tail end of the party, but missed the traveling portion. In 2006, I missed the Night entirely.

So in 2007, I was determined to experience the entire event.

The instructions were simple. Wear white. Meet on the Brooklyn Bridge at 7:57PM. Walking towards the bridge, we began to notice fellow revelers en blanco. By the time, we reached the bridge's scenic walkway, the numbers grew. As the sun began to set against the picturesque backdrop of Lower Manhattan, we swelled towards the thousands.

From there it was a whirlwind of sensory overload. Stiltwalkers mingled with Oriental drummers. Bewildered cyclists naviagted throngs of renegade cocktail drinkers and poi spinners. The entire bridge pulsated with the gleeful energy of the manic masses.

Then, after a brief brass-infused dance party in the City Hall Park fountain, we took to the trains.

It's hard to describe the vibe of a subway car packed with delirious party people, dancing on the seats, hanging from the ceilings, transforming every solid surface into a bongo, all the while chanting rallying cries like "We do this all the time!"

The frenzy appropriately culminated at the wonderfully wacky Coney Island. Dancers spun fire under the stars. We danced barefoot on the sand and splashed our bare bodies in the Atlantic Ocean as brass bands beat on, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

Although it was barely past midnight, we had exhausted our endorphuns and so we began the long, lonely train ride back to where it all began, for tomorrow was another day.

For some more visual evidence of the proceedings, check out my friend Anna's photos.

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