NEW YORK— In a city where nightclubs come and go faster than you can say “Moomba,” a founding quartet of two architects, a multimedia artist and the man behind Joe’s Pub and Bowery Bar has taken partying where, hopefully, it will have a bit more staying power: Williamsburg. Serge Becker, Jeff Gombertz, Thomas Sandbichler and Derek Sanders found a warehouse space in Brooklyn that they liked, called it Volume and decided to open what they call “a living magazine.”
Williamsburg, according to Sanders, “just has the energy and the young people. It has that feeling of what we remember New York to be.”
This story first appeared in the February 9, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“We don’t want to do the classic nightclub,” he continues. “We wanted something more cultural, something like a gallery. We’ll do a series of events and record them so people who aren’t there can experience them, too.” The crew is planning live music, performances, art shows, and even transforming the place, on some nights, into a dance party.
To get a sense of the eclectic crowd they’re looking for and the scene they’re trying to create, take, for instance, the invitation for the venue’s opening bash. It instructed guests like Vincent Gallo and supermodel Irina to “Please wear pants.” And it’s a good thing most of them complied without having the slightest clue as to what the event was about, because, walking through the entrance door, they were handed plastic white jumpsuits — in small, medium or large, naturally — a potential hazard for those nightlife divas out in a little black dress.
In-house camera crews recorded every step, from the guests’ entrances to the main event itself, a digital art installation courtesy of artist Tomato. Psychedelic swirls, abstract graphics and video images of classic New York scenery — delis, cab drivers and downtown streets — played across the bare warehouse walls (and white jumpsuits) as guests danced or lounged on plastic-wrapped mattresses.
“We thought it would be great to neutralize everybody,”
adds Sanders. “And the projections on the jumpsuits made
Interactivity is the key concept for these collaborators, so Sanders was particularly impressed that his guests complied by taking advantage of the cameras in their mobile phones. “I want those people to send in their phone photos for our
Less interactive, however, were the club’s bathrooms, which lacked the normal accoutrements. Signs there read: “This is not a mirror” and “This is not a sink,” perhaps offering a wry commentary on urban vanity and no hope of washing your hands.