1084 bergen street crown heights 2006

Crown Heights was once home to the city’s first black-owned gay club — the Starlite Lounge at 1084 Bergen Street, on the corner of Nostrand Avenue. Filmmaker Kate Kunath set out to chronicle the bar’s 50-year legacy in “We Came to Sweat,” which premiered last year and will screen tomorrow at the Queens World Film Festival in Jackson Heights. She told Vice the film began as an effort to save the bar, “the oldest black-owned, non-discriminating club,” which was sold in 2009 and finally shuttered for good in 2010. The whole interview is worth reading, but one quote in particular caught our eye:

“There was this unspoken common ground of the patrons, which was their willingness to say ‘f*ck the establishment!’ — whether that was over politics, religion, sexual shame, or social norms. And the energy of that was intoxicating. But what I took away from the plight is that nothing is permanent, progress is not a straight line and losing space is losing ground in the bigger picture.”

“We Came to Sweat” is screening tomorrow at 10 pm at P.S. 69 in Jackson Heights, Queens. Tickets are $12 or $9 for seniors and students, and available here. Pictured is the building in 2006, before the bar closed. It still stands, but a deli and dollar store have moved into the Starlite’s old space.

“We Came to Sweat” Tells the Story of New York City’s First Black-Owned Gay Club [Vice]
Starlite Coverage [Brownstoner]
Photo by Gregg Snodgrass for PropertyShark


New York Daily News has annointed Williamsburg’s Wythe Avenue the new Meatpacking District, which will probably sound like pretty old news to anyone who’s visited the area in the last few years. It’s only going to get more so, predicted the story, which ran down three of the hotel projects planned for the street, which The Real Deal also profiled last week.

The gravitational pull of Brooklyn’s new nightlife district is giving new meaning to the old term “bridge and tunnel,” according to the story.

“The whole bridge-and-tunnel terminology is becoming outdated,” said Brooklyn Bowl cofounder Charley Ryan. “There are people who live in Brooklyn and think of people in Manhattan as bridge and tunnel.” The Daily News also found a Brazilian tourist who said he spent 90 percent of his visit in Brooklyn. “Williamsburg has a better version of everything I come to New York for. Better people, better food, better clubs and better views of Manhattan,” he said.

Opening soon at the far end of Wythe is the club in Kinfolk Studios, to be called Kinfolk 94. “Made of exposed wood and shaped like a hippie eco-lodge in the Pacific Northwest, 94 is slated to become a rocking dance and performance club when it opens next month,” said the News. Its cedar geodesic dome was praised by the Times in February as an exception to the trend of monotonous architecture in Williamsburg.

“Every year this block gets more tourists,” said Kinfolk spokesman Felipe Delerme. “By 2020, it’s going to be Times Square,” he said, only partly joking.

Wythe Avenue Soars as Global Nightlife Mecca [NY Daily News]

The highly anticipated Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club is hosting a soft opening next week on Union Street in Gowanus, according to their Facebook page. They were offering free tickets to anyone who’d like come test out the new courts, but they sold out pretty quickly.

Owners Jonathan Schnapp and Ashley Albert built ten indoor, 50-foot-long shuffleboard courts at 514 Union Street, which had been a 17,000-square-foot warehouse. When the club was first planned, their neighbors were concerned about noise from such a large venue. But Schnapp and Albert have since gained the support of their local community board. Royal Palms promises kitschy, 1960s Florida-inspired decor, including potted plants and retro lawn furniture, as well as grub from a revolving group of a food trucks. They’re also organizing a Brooklyn shuffleboard league.

Gowanus Shuffleboard Club Ruffling Local Feathers [Brownstoner] GMAP

Photo by Gowanus Your Face Off

grand-kent-052113In the latest ‘Burg shocker, DNAinfo found some presumed hipsters who complained “poseurs” are ruining the neighborhood. Too many people who don’t live in Williamsburg are filling up its bars and streets on the weekends, they said. In truth, this has been the case since at least 2009, but admittedly has become even more extreme in recent months. Formerly deserted stretches of Kent and Wythe are now clogged with speeding cars, pedestrians, cyclists and strollers, and last Friday night when walking around we overheard no fewer than four groups of unrelated visitors speaking Italian. (That’s odd, since usually one hears a lot of French, from people who live in Williamsburg.) A visit to Williamsburg in the old days could make one feel at the center of the hipster universe. Now one feels at the center of the universe, period. We suspect the new developments on the waterfront, the opening of the Wythe Hotel, and the relentless media coverage of Williamsburg have something to do with it.
Bridge-and-Tunnel “Poser Hipsters” Clog Williamsburg Bars, Locals Complain [DNainfo]

Is Soho House opening in Brooklyn? That’s the claim of an item in Out magazine, whose author says he heard it from someone who works at Soho House, the club “known for its raucous rooftop pool parties, swanky book, movie, and fashion events, and plenty of credible celebrity sightings,” as he put it. There’s no word about when or where exactly, although we’d bet Williamsburg, where new clubs are sprouting up around the Wythe Hotel. It would be interesting, though, if it located in Downtown near Barclays Center. There’s an older, more monied crowd there, but what are the chances they’ll make it back out the door once they go home after work to change? (At least we probably wouldn’t.) “Is this a good thing or bad?” the story continues. “Well, I live in Manhattan, so I don’t understand all the fuss. If you can have a backyard, a great farmers’ market, and a chic club, I say go for it. But people never like change. The reality is that Brooklyn, the commodity, has already been bought — and sold. So you better get your piece as fast as you can.”
Is Soho House Opening in Brooklyn? [Out]
Photo by Soho House

A remarkably intact 1890 Queen Anne in Bushwick that was a Building of the Day in 2010 has turned up in party pictures on Paper Magazine’s web site, the Wyckoff Heights Tumblr noticed. The party looks pretty cool, but never mind that, check out the walls. Apparently the house at 74 Cornelia Street between Bushwick and Evergreen sold for the unusually low price of $275,000 to an LLC on Lee Avenue in July (most likely a Hasidic real estate firm, judging by the address and the explanation on Paper Mag’s site) and has now been rented out. We fear for the future of the building, whose otherwise pristine original bead board walls, fireplaces, wainscotting and other 1890s details have been marred by graffiti at the hands of party-goers. (We don’t mean the art, but rather the stray spray paint on non-painted surfaces, such as mirrors.) (more…)

Police investigators are touring church groups with slide shows and lectures to warn parents of the latest threat to their children: violent youth gangs who throw luxurious parties, sport trendy bracelets and post photos of their exploits on social media for all to see, the New York Daily News reported. Police investigators have made slide shows “filled with disturbing photos of punks holding up guns, wads of cash, and bags of drugs.” The images, such as the party scene above, are taken from social networking sites such as Instagram and Google Plus. Police and pastors said the photos show violent gang members, but others disputed their claims. Stephen “Ill” Edwards, founder of Illflix.com, said the kids depicted are part of rap groups with music videos on YouTube and thousands of Twitter followers. “Why is it when urban kids get together it is a gang?” Edwards said. (more…)

A Gowanus resident living near the 17,000-square-foot shuffleboard club proposed for the neighborhood sent in this picture of flyers going up around the potential space. He says: “This is an industrial zone with a lot of residents, and the whole block is concerned about having a club here.” Nearby neighbors are mostly concerned with potential noise, especially if there are courts on the roof, and the size of the venue. We’re told these residents are petitioning for the club move somewhere else entirely, although the venue has yet to apply for its liquor license. The owners of the club, to be called Royal Palms, have seen the posters. One of the partners, Ashley Albert, tells us, “With a space as large as ours, we can certainly understand why someone might feel concern and would, of course, welcome the opportunity to sit down with anyone who has questions, individually – so we can carefully listen to what they have to say, be able to give them a better idea of what we’re aiming to do and find a way to work together to address any issues. It’s really important… that The Royal Palms be a positive contribution to the entire community and we really do feel like it’s something everyone can get excited about.” They also say they’ve started reaching out to their neighbors.

Last week Community Board Eight approved a full liquor licence for a nightclub coming to 960 Atlantic Avenue, between Washington and Grand avenues. It will be two floors with a capacity of 175 people. On the first floor, the owner plans to host blue note jazz acts. The second floor will only be used for private events. “This will bring life to an otherwise desolate strip,” one community board member told the rest of CB8. There will be no bottle service, no outdoor space, and there will be security service outside. For now, the biz is going by the name Milk River. GMAP

Kemistry Lounge, the business applying for a liquor license at 260 Flatbush Avenue against the wishes of nearby neighbors, is back on Community Board Six’s Liquor License agenda tonight. The Prospect Place Neighbors Group is urging CB6 to reject the liquor license, you can see the letter addressing concerns here. A big concern, as iterated at last month’s meeting, is the building’s exit onto Prospect Place. Community residents already met with Kemistry and the Flatbush Avenue BID and reached an agreement on 11 stipulations, including monitoring of the premises, deliveries and trash pickup on Flatbush Avenue, soundproofing, and meeting with the community if any problems arise. Residents are still concerned about the possibility that the exit on Prospect will not be “bricked up,” as previously promised, that bottle service will be used, and that the business has not agreed to closing at 2am on weekends. While it was unclear at the last meeting how the plans for seven extra stories on the building would fit into the business plan, it looks like Kemistry will occupy two floors and have a capacity of 225 people. Prospect Park Neighbors say they’re coming to the meeting with a petition signed by 100 people against the business, so it should be an interesting night, to say the least. If you’re interested, it’s at 6:30pm at Prospect Park YMCA, 357 9th Street, 7th floor.
Slope Residents Worry About Another Arena-Area Club [Brownstoner]
Seven More Stories for 260 Flatbush Avenue [Brownstoner] GMAP P*Shark DOB

Williamsburg residents spoke out against a proposed nightclub for North 1st Street during last night’s CB1 public session. Brooklyn Paper previously reported that Manhattan nightclub owner Alexander Dimitrov wanted to renovate a warehouse into a 300-person nightclub with a rooftop patio. Here’s the BK Paper’s description of the owner’s club in Manhattan, called Mehanata: ” [It] boasts a bathroom sink that looks like a woman’s posterior, a fleet of party buses modeled after San Francisco cable cars, and a refrigerated “ice cage” where waiters in Russian military garb serve booze amid furniture and glassware made from ice.” The owner promised a more “laid back” club in Williamsburg, but residents remained opposed. Last night, the majority of the CB1 audience was against this club, and a petition going around had gained more than 250 signatures. Residents complained the owner has been unwilling to work with the community. They also brought up possible traffic issues outside the club, the issue of drunk party-goers in the neighborhood at 4am, and listed violations at the Manhattan spot, which included serving alcohol to minors. One of the residents stated that, after previous media attention regarding the opposition, she received “hate mail to move out to Connecticut” but said “I want to live here, I want to raise my son here.” You can see the video of residents speaking out over at New York Shitty. Needless to say, the CB1 Liquor Licence Committee unanimously denied the club’s application.