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Brooklyn Mirage, a Mammoth Club Opened in East Williamsburg featuring KV2 Sound

To get a handle on the party’s sheer enormousness, it was best to ascend the breezy battlements of the four-story, castlelike structure. High-definition projectors beamed pink and purple images on the fortress walls. Rays of light sliced through fog like Bat signals. And a sea of tiny heads, as big as a city block, bobbed beneath palm trees and airborne KV2 Audio speakers.

This was not Las Vegas, Miami or Zrce beach in Croatia. A quick westward glance revealed the tip of the Empire State Building glowing like a cigarette cherry.

“I love this scene,” said Tengiz Iliaev, 34, who was standing on the highest turret. A native of Tbilisi, Georgia, he wore a woven duckbill hat and a heart-shape medallion. “What else do you want? A place where you can parachute?”

After a year of false starts and legal imbroglios, the contentious nightclub Brooklyn Mirage opened last Saturday as a huge, architecturally ambitious destination for deep house and techno parties.

It is the outdoor component of Avant Gardner, an 80,000-square-foot development at 140 Stewart Avenue in an industrial corridor of the East Williamsburg neighborhood, a few grubby blocks from Queens. By fall, a warehouse (now filled with sacks of cement mix and construction equipment) will be transformed into an event space. Another area will become a 5,000-square-foot club. All told, it will hold 6,000 visitors.

“People think we’re trying to open a nightclub, but that’s not economically viable,” said Simar Singh, the head of strategy, marketing and development for Cityfox Experience, the party promotion company behind Avant Gardner. Along with raves, he said, the space could host corporate bookings, fashion shows, weddings and film screenings. “I want to do ‘Big Lebowski’ and make a Facebook invite for thousands of people,” he said.

Just before Brooklyn Mirage’s opening, Mr. Singh strolled the labyrinthine premises, past droning saws, extension cords and garbage-scented wafts emanating from a nearby junkyard. He pointed to a neon sign that read: “If Not Us, Who? If Not Now, When?” “After some of the things that happened last year, I found it quite inspirational,” he said.

Introduced in 2015 as a temporary party a few blocks away, Brooklyn Mirage was supposed to open permanently in May 2016. Instead, it had to respond to city authorities, who accused the establishment of selling liquor without a permit, lacking evacuation plans and having conditions that were, according to a vacate order, “imminently perilous to human life.”

In April, after intensive lobbying efforts, the New York State Liquor Authority granted Avant Gardner a liquor license despite a unanimous vote of opposition from the local community board, which chafed at plans for serving alcohol outdoors after 1 a.m. “You have a lot of regulations, but we have the same ones in Switzerland,” said Philipp Wiederkehr, a founder of Avant Gardner and Cityfox Experience, which began in Zurich.

The opening on Saturday faced a different threat: thunderstorms. But after organizers distributed hundreds of plastic ponchos, the skies cleared and a double rainbow appeared.

Darkness fell and the courtyard swarmed with revelers in floppy hats and floral shirts. Stephan Bodzin, a bald and bespectacled techno D.J., blended tracks as lights cascaded across walls carved with geometric patterns. The club’s mammoth scale provided a sense of freedom and displacement nearly impossible to find in Manhattan.

“Clubs are generally packed like sardines,” said Melissa Wei, 28, a software developer who lives in Bushwick and was wearing a knockoff Chanel shirt. “I hate that. Warehouses, to me, are generally better.”

The crowd was an array of music nerds, hippie-fied Burning Man devotees, models with glittery faces, unrepentant man-bun enthusiasts, weekend warriors and juiced-up Eastern Europeans who looked like middleweight boxers. They bounced with bottles of Voss, queued up for $8 Stella Artois, communed in hidden antechambers, meditated in solitude, ate falafel and slipped into dark corners.

While a casual observer may find eight hours in this environment deeply tedious, it is a music community that prides itself on being cerebral. “I always analogize it to jazz,” Mr. Singh said. “Our whole crew has doctorates. We’re nerds.”

To breed a sense of exclusivity, the company recently introduced an app, Collective Visionnaire, with discounted pricing ($40 to $80) and limited invitations. “Some people might not know about techno, but this is where you should be,” said Erica Hartshorne, a marketing manager for an organic farm who lives in South Jersey. She was wearing feline ears. “I like cats,” she said.

By 3 a.m., the party was in full, fist-pumping swing. In one bunkerlike V.I.P. room, a group of lithe women and men in scoop-neck tees clustered around a table laden with bottles of tequila and mixers. “You could be in Ibiza or Mexico City,” said Kristen Kerr, a model from Toronto who was dancing on a couch in a black tube top. “I didn’t think I was in New York. That’s a good thing.”

Source: New York Times



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