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Seva Granik Tells Us About His New Berlin-Themed Warehouse Party

Screen shot 2013-04-03 at 6.30.34 PM.pngYou might want to brush up on your ability to sprechen deutsch -- or at least learn how to say "drop the bass" in German (we think it might be "werfen die bass"?) -- because a massive Berlin-themed warehouse party called SHADE: Berlin is invading Bushwick this Saturday. Expert promoters and NYC nightlife fixtures Seva Granik and Ladyfag are the dynamos behind the event, which will feature DJ sets by Fatherhood, Gavin Russom, Wrecked and Veronica Vasicka. We spoke to Granik about the party, which he told us would be the "biggest of my little career," his opinion about how the DIY warehouse scene has been portrayed on Girls and where he thinks New York's nightlife epicenter will be in twenty years.

Tell us about Shade: Berlin. It's going to be the first in a series?

Yes. We're going to do the party whenever we can. It'll be the same space for each party because we found a fantastic space in Brooklyn that loved the idea and is going to let us come back. It's a privately-owned warehouse space in Bushwick that's been built out really well, which allows for private areas and corners for people to get away to and also a giant main dance space, a VIP area, a mezzanine and a bar space. It's really one of the best DIY spaces I've seen in a really long time.

I know the location is secret, but how did you come across the space?

By virtue of doing events constantly, you have things thrown into your lap. People constantly reach out to you because the second a new venue comes on the market, people pile on top of it and the people who run the venue [want to] reach out to well-known and reputable promoters to work on the DL to make sure it doesn't get blown out of proportion.

We're not trying to be coy about [the location] but there's been this recent wave of shutdowns of off-the-grid events and I've been led to believe that a lot of legal local clubs and parties are the ones calling the cops. Other parties feel threatened or think they're in competition, so they call the police.

That's so interesting and mafia-like that other promoters or club owners call the cops on rivals.

There are rumors going around about a club that recently opened in Williamsburg doing that. They're trying to get other parties shut down so their income and draw increases. I've also heard that about one other specific traveling party, which is curious that this traveling party is calling the cops on everyone else because they're also at independent spaces so they're inviting a lot of shade, basically. It's par for the course these days but it wasn't the case several years ago.

Why do you think that's changed?

In clubland, that's always been the case. Even back in the '80s and '90s with Palladium and The Tunnel and Limelight -- people who used to run those clubs recently told me that they'd do this. They'd call the cops on other parties at other clubs and those clubs would get shut down and their own clubs would get more people. But now you see that type of behavior seeping into the DIY productions and those communities and that's really sad and dark because it's a fragile and small community.

And it's supposed to be the antidote to clubland in many ways.

Yeah. The point was to get away from that. There was one party in Brooklyn that has since built their own club and they're now getting into the habit of doing these dirty tricks. There are ways to counteract that, of course.

Like what?

The most effective thing is to hire an off-duty police officer to do your door and, depending on which police officer you hire, you're pretty much protected. 

Tell me more about the party. Will each month focus on a different city?

It's not going to be city-based necessarily and I feel like kicking it off with Berlin -- which I've wanted to do for a long time because I'm obsessed with Berlin techno clubs -- may have given off the wrong message that that's the focus of the series. What we're going to do is have dance themes but not necessarily a specific locale. The concept will revolve around the conceptual idea -- the concept for this is 'Berlin German Techno Club.' Every event will be based around visual and presentational concepts, possibly more so than the geographical locale.

This one and the next one will have light show installations...maybe dancers.

What's the capacity of the space?

It'd be great if we had 600 [people] -- we could have more or less. I think we definitely could do 800-900. I heard they had 1,000 people at the space but I'm a little skeptical.

Did you think Girls did a good job depicting the warehouse/DIY party scene?

I feel that Girls, as an HBO show, did a pretty good job depicting the warehouse scene, considering the limitations they have to deal with. Of course it's not exactly what is going on out here but it's as close as it's ever gonna get on television. They did a good job in not only depicting those events but also picking up on this small trend here and showing it to the rest of the country. Girls is doing a good job of keeping their finger on the pulse of what's going on here, but those things have been going on since 1995. I've been going to warehouse parties here since 1997 -- giant two-block raves with no cops around for blocks.

I felt like they were pretty accurate in terms of the music they played at the party. A lot of people expect that these Bushwick parties are only playing really avant, out-there trance or electro but you end up hearing a lot of hip-hop, pop, trap and Top 40 stuff.

That is the reality of Bushwick these days. It's interesting. Even with a 600-800 person party, you should try to make the music danceable and accessible, which is what we're trying to do at our party. We're making sure our DJs understand that our goal is not to throw a party for techno heads -- I know nothing about techno. Lady[fag] knows very little about techno but we're interested and we want these DJs to come show us what they think the Berlin scene is like.

Tell me about the DJs you have lined up.

It's a really interesting group. This whole thing started with Gavin Russom of LCD Soundsystem and The Crystal Ark. He's been on board since Day 1 and I tried to round it out with people who have been to Berlin or lived in Berlin and adore everything that's happening there but can also connect things back to New York and Brooklyn and make sure it's not too far out for people who haven't been [to Berlin]. We've got Fatherhood (Michael Magnan and Physical Therapy), Wrecked -- who have their own techno party in Manhattan -- and Veronica Vasicka, who runs her own label called Minimal Wave. She's a huge Euro person and has lived in Berlin.

What do you think when people say New York nightlife is dead? 

I'm going to pull my "I grew up in New York" card and [having] gone out 15-20 years ago, I don't find that things have gotten worse. I would say they've gotten better. I can understand why people would say that they've gotten worse because nightlife has become more fragmented. If you're looking for a hip-hop party, you can find one. If you're looking for a Russian hipster party -- I throw one! You can find them all. But back in the days before the Internet, there was just one giant club -- or three -- and you went there with five thousand other kids. These days, there are more options for more people and way more people doing way more things than in the past. And that trend has been getting exponentially bigger because now pretty much everyone is a promoter and everyone I know is throwing parties. When I started ten years ago, it was just me and two other kids. I also feel like the mainstream is catching up with Brooklyn rather than Brooklyn dumbing something down. It's so pretentious when people say, "I used to live out here in Bushwick or Williamsburg twenty years ago when it used to be cool." No one has the right to say that. That's just silly. I remember in 1997 I came to Williamsburg and was wondering, "What is going on out here?" In fact, those kids were like, "Ugh, it's getting crazy."

One last question: In 10 or 20 years, where do you think the center of NYC nightlife will be?

My guess is that things will fluctuate and come back to Manhattan. Queens too.

Like Maspeth?

Yeah, the Knockdown Center [is there]. It's really happening. I don't know if I'm allowed to blow this news -- probably I am -- but Tiki Disco is going to Knockdown Center. So Maspeth is no longer a frontier. Bronx is great for the DIY scene because it's packed with warehouse spaces. No one talks about the Bronx but stuff is there! If you go there, it looks amazing. It looks insane -- exactly what Bushwick looked like ten years ago.

For more information about SHADE: Berlin, go HERE.

Photo of Granik by Patrick McMullan

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