Aerial antics, a flaming saxophone and so much more: Inside the ‘Brooklyn Spaces’ launch party

Revelers gather, photo by Walter Wlodarczyk

If one wants to launch a book like Brooklyn Spaces, a compendium of the wild creativity and bizarre beauty of Brooklyn’s cultural renaissance these days, it won’t really do to have a staid little book signing. Instead, I felt the only way to do justice to all the brilliant culture-creators profiled in the book was to bring it off the page and into real life, for a visceral experience of the Brooklyn I love, the Brooklyn I’ve striven to document.

I started with a quintessential Brooklyn space: the massive Gowanus Ballroom, a cannonball factory turned metalworking shop helmed by a mad genius who flings open his doors every few months for huge multimedia arts extravaganzas. Then I filled it with every kind of crazy wonderful performer I could fit, from bands to aerialists to photographers to less easy-to-categorize acts.

Musician? Mad chef? Stefan Zeniuk’s flame-o-phone roasting s’mores, photo by Walter Wlodarczyk
Wall-runners Sarah Wollschlager & Madeline Hoak from the Muse, photo by Walter Wlodarczyk
House of Yes founder Anya Sapozhnikova defying gravity as usual, photo by Walter Wlodarczyk
Doubles trapezists Dani & Demi from Big Sky Works, photo by Walter Wlodarczyk

There was a lot of jaw-dropped gawking upward, but attendees were by no means passive. It’s physically impossible to be still while listening to these bands—all female Afro-Brazillian drumming troupe BatalaNYC, punk/folk busker extraordinaire Morgan O’Kane, and legendary renegade brass ensemble Hungry March Band. For those folks still boogying after midnight (there were plenty!), DJ Dirtyfinger brought it home.

BatalaNYC banging on a whole lotta drums, photo by Walter Wlodarczyk
Morgan O’Kane wailing, with Ezekiel Healy picking along, photo by Michael Blase
Hungry March Band holds the whole crowd in thrall, photo by Michael Blase
Gettin’ down to DJ Dirtyfinger, photo by Michael Blase

There was also a photoshow by amazing Brooklyn Spaces photographers Maximus Commissar, Alix PiorunWalter WlodarczykTod SeelieJulia RobertsShannon CarrollMichael Blase, and Jon Handel, and eats from an array of Brooklyn-based foodies: Arborio KingOld Traditional PolishHandsome Dan’s, and Star City Foods. Not to mention a seemingly endless supply of free wine.

powerHouse bookseller holding down the books table, photo by Michael Blase

Somewhere in the neighborhood of 400 intrepid revelers came out to play, gawk, eat, drink, and dance their faces off, so I’d say it was a success by any measure. I even sold a bunch of books! Although I’d be pretty pleased if I could sell a few more—if you want to pick it up, please support your local Brooklyn bookstore.

Deliriously happy (or maybe just delirious) hostess around 2am, photo by Walter Wlodarczyk

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