Last Saturday, elrow took over the Brooklyn Mirage and it was magical, magnificent, and mind-blowing. If you aren’t familiar with the elrow crew (pronounced el – Row), they’re a Spanish family who have a story going back 6 generations, nearly 150 years and includes influences of exotic world travels, carnivals, fairs, circuses, and gawdy theatrical shows like the Moulin Rouge. The name elrow comes from their family venue outside of Barcelona, Row 14, after two of the younger sons took their morning parties called elrow on the road in 2011 and decided to throw a wildly whimsical party at an old zoo in Ibiza.
From there the brand has grown into a famously good time. They travel the world and throw parties that are a thousand times wilder than your wildest imagination, taking you to fantastic, themed, confetti-filled rave extravaganzi with all the best parts of your musical, color filled fantasies. From dope DJs and wild performers and characters to the insane amount of confetti, toys, and inflatables that end up EVERYWHERE as the night peaks, to experience an elrow party is to completely let go and submit your senses to the overload…and it is SO worth it.
Elrow has a residency in New York and the theme this time was “Rowllywood”, elrow’s take on Bollywood, and it didn’t disappoint. In fact, according to elrow’s socials, the SOLD OUT show BROKE RECORDS. So if you weren’t there, I’m sorry but yes, you missed out! 😉 They had EVERYTHING; there were performers dressed as giants, Indian dancers and characters covered in jewels and colors and flowers, inflatable beach everything – from bottles to birds to full on rafts, and Rowly their parrot mascot!
Tucked away amongst warehouses and loading docks in an industrial section of East Williamsburg, the Brooklyn Mirage seemingly appears out of nowhere. The massive outdoor fortress-like venue with multiple levels, catwalks, nooks and crannies to explore is just one part of the expansive Avant Gardner complex, which also features two other huge indoor spaces, a food court, attended bathrooms, lots of bars, a merch stand, and a ton of stuff that takes you multiple visits to discover because of the sheer magnitude of the space and awesomeness of the parties they throw there. Yasss, y’all it’s THAT crazy.
Adding to the aesthetics, Indian projections covered the walls of the Mirage courtyard, which is the main open-air dancefloor and was draped with tons of flags and streamers that unfurled after the sun went down. The main DJ booth was covered in an amazingly trippy cartoonish façade that truly was the centerpiece of the design, drawing our attention to the DJ in the midst of the debauchery – as if you could pay attention to much else with a stacked line-up that included house music legends Roger Sanchez and Erick Morillo, plus Technasia, Gerd Jansen, Dennis Cruz, Toni Varga, Cuartero, wAFF, and Miss Jennifer.
The crowd got in on the action with their own interpretations of the theme. I saw genies, sarees, and TONS of sparkly jewels everywhere! I rocked a fresh floral beach cover-up that I found at a thrift store for $4 and paired it with some thigh high boots and a sweet DIY floral headpiece that I made by jamming silk flowers into my ponytail. LOL! It actually looked super fresh, you guys!
I got tons of compliments and a sick pic with Mikey Lion from Desert Hearts, who took over the indoor King’s Hall with their energetic style of house music and included sets from Mikey Lion, “Papa” Lee Reynolds, and Marbs – one of my faves to get a bit dark and dirty with, as well as Bontan, RYBO, Lubeski and Shalev.
I got there pretty early because I wanted to catch up with Roger (I worked with him for a couple of years) and thank him for putting me on his list. I ended up getting there a little into his sundown set of CLASSIC house and I LOVED it! He took the energy into high gear with the setting sun and NY skyline in the background. The weather was perfect, breezy, not too hot and the soundtrack was out of this world as Roger ran the gamut of house music history on the crowd which grew significantly by the end of his set at 9 pm.
Side note – I started raving in Chicago in 1992, and I love it when I see the old school legends take the new generation to school and introduce them to the original influences of the music they all listen to now. It makes me glow as a rave mama to see all the babies embracing history and reacting like we all did the first time we heard them “way back when”. Not to mention, it’s pretty fun discovering who the LEGIT grand ravers and house heads are as you all sing along to every song as soon as you hear the first 4 count being mixed in and know that they also KNOW (what is what but they don’t know what is what, they just strut…).
After Roger’s set, not fully realizing the perks of my wristband yet, I wandered the venue and found the Great Hall, where people were lounging around on carpets and lounge chairs and beds and couches in the cold air-conditioned space. It was a great place to grab a few pillows and chill out for a minute. While we were sitting there, we noticed elrow’s cache of goodies and cast of characters starting to prep for their release upon the crowd of revelers jacking their bodies on the other side of the towering wall.
It’s hilarious when you’re in an enhanced state and you notice a couple of giant puppets walking around on the far side of this theater sized room. It was funny to see people start to take notice and struggle to figure out what was actually going on with these guys who had 15 foot tall puppets on their shoulders and were controlling their arms with sticks they held, like the puppets on Mister Rogers in the Land of Make Believe!
After that we realized that the maestro in the room was playing the whole chilled out set we were jamming to from a couch like eight feet away! It was a great space to mellow out and cool your bod down. But definitely not a space for all night. Upon reviving my bod in the Great Hall, I ended up on the upper level of the main floor outside.
It really is like a castle, with multiple levels that you can climb up to and look down over the crowd losing their minds as well as catching the PERFECT view of the NY skyline. While I was up there, the insanity unfolded as a million pieces of confetti were shot over the pumping, pulsing dancefloor and surrounding crowd draped all over the walls, covered in wild projections and ivy – and now confetti. It rained down on us with such intensity that you almost couldn’t see anything for a second. It was everywhere, floating out of the club and raining down on the street and line of taxis sitting outside. It was extraordinary to experience in person and the reason elrow is ELROW!
Next I headed to the bathrooms, which are WELL STOCKED by their attendants – candy, smells, toiletries, toys, jewelry. They have it all. When I came out of the bathroom, I ended up getting separated from my friends, and then I discovered that my wristband got me into the green room lounge! What a Godsend the seating and crowd were in there! It didn’t matter that I was solo.
I made friends with everybody there and found myself rubbing elbows with the elrow America family, Desert Hearts djs, models, and tons of new rave fam and friends who were so cool that they came and found me when I dropped my wallet O_o.
The whole lounge was calling my name at that point “KELLYYYY!!” and my new friend, Thiago came over and gave it to me, to which everyone shouted “AYYYYY TEEEYAAAAAGOOOO!!!!”. Thiago, wherever you are, THANK YOU SO MUCH. GOOD LOOKS 1000%! I owe you a drink next time I see you and your fabulous lady!
At this point, Papa Lee was playing his set in Kings Hall so I headed over and walked into some MAGIC with that one. Lee Reynolds is another one I can ALWAYS rely on to take the kiddies to school. And he dug deep in them crates Saturday night. I heard everything from “PLANET ROCK” to Yello and beyond.
Next up was my boy, Mikey Lion and of course he delivered. The energy level in the crowd spiked as soon as he jumped on the decks and stayed up with him the whole set. His set was everything – it was robots and space sounds and jungle sounds over tribal house and old bangers. I love the way he takes you on a journey through amazing sound and energy with his lively sets.
After Mikey, Marbs stepped up to bat and brought us into the gritty, chunky, driving, bass heavy frenzy that we needed. I caught Marbs last month in D.C. at Flash and his set was guttural and fucking AMAZING on the Funktion1 sound system that graces their main dancefloor. His sets are laced with intricate idiosyncrasies that really draw in the beat freaks who pay close attention to the details many other people don’t even notice.
It was some sweaty, dark, gyrating madness and the boys from Desert Hearts TOOK IT THERE. It’s like a rollercoaster ride through space and time that blasts your solar plexus and sacral chakras wide open, allowing an amazing release on the dancefloor – if you surrender yourself to that beat!
They found something magical out in the desert in California and we are so lucky that the rowdy, colorful crew travels around to share it with the rest of us and bring the desert to our hearts!
By this time I had worked up an appetite so I headed to the food court and scored a Chicago style dog and a boozy cookies and cream milkshake. It was actually pretty good and they have a decent variety there with pizza, burgers, street sandwiches, and ice cream. But I ended up wishing I left the vodka out of my milkshake. It made my stomach turn a bit and around 3, I had been dancing for 7 hours so I ended up taking off back to my Airbnb. Note that the shake was actually DELICIOUS but I’ll leave the vodka out next time.
Let me just say this, if nothing else – it was a DOPE party and I had a GOOD ASS TIME. I had been waiting for an elrow party since I first read about them in like 2015 and was THRILLED that I was able to link up with Roger and see all my old friends there and meet all the new people I met! Shout out to Avant Gardner for being such an amazing venue! I can’t tell you how many people I heard Saturday night say it was the best club they had ever been to. I look forward to the next one! See you kids on the dancefloor.
Xo – Stay Fresh!
Photo Credit: Eric Cunningham