Last February, Liberty City Records’ own Dr. Music - a.k.a. Sydney Schelvis - moved to New York City for a job at the cultural department of the Dutch consulate. Here is what he had to say about living it up in Trumptown.
For the past four months I’ve been living in Hell’s Kitchen, a neighborhood in Manhattan best described by “big men with small dogs”. Even though this “chihuahua-town” wasn’t exactly my scene, I did manage to pull off a couple of fun pub-crawls. And then there’s Rudy’s, the cheapest, shadiest bar in Manhattan - an absolute must-see for anybody as interested in cultural trash as I am.
Despite my home and work being located in Manhattan, I spent the majority of my free time on the other side of the East River in Brooklyn. The rapidly gentrifying Williamsburg and ever-edgy neighbourhood Bushwick formed the centrepiece of my cultural life in NYC. Known as the “Sydney that never sleeps”, I have to say I fell asleep multiple times on the subway, ending up in Queens or the Bronx, yet always satisfied after a proper night in Brooklyn.
Needless to say, New York has a lot to offer music-wise. In terms of concerts, the best venues in my opinion have been Elsewhere and Trans-Pecos. The former reminded me of Amsterdam’s Melkweg, the latter is run by an Amsterdam-based programmer who featured thoroughly obscure stuff. Highlights concert-wise were Unknown Mortal Orchestra and King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard at the Brooklyn Steel, Spill Gold at Trans-Pecos, Venetian Snares at le poisson rouge, and Ho99o9, Detroit Swindle, and Shigeto (together with LCR artist Bracht) at Elsewhere. Then again, Steez Day featuring Joey Bada$$ and Flatbush Zombies at Central Park’s SummerStage was a Sunday afternoon to remember, and the bi-weekly Tiki-Discos at The Well also added to my appreciation of daytime drinking and partying on Sundays.
But if you know me, you know my night only starts when the evening program ends. Clubbing is at the heart of my existence and in that sense the Brooklyn scene has done me well. Good Room with its infinite loud beats and Output with its artistic approach to techno got my feet off the floor, even long after my energy had run dry. The two outliers Analog BKNY and “techno-bunker” TILT even pulled me further from my (topographical) comfort zone and made me realise just how complex and varied the New York Nightscape is.
Yet if there is one place that made an impact on me - both physically and mentality-wise - it’s House of Yes. A week ago I already wrote an ode to this slice of heaven, but I cannot stress enough how magical it is. In comparison, Amsterdam’s open-mindedness feels like that of an average white supremacist. I will never forget the first time a dear friend of mine took me there and it happened to be a “Dirty Thursday” themed around Madonna. I did not know one could fall in love with an architectural space and all the human beings in it. Five months, several bottles of red wine, naked hot-tub dips, and countless aerial ballet dancers above my head later I can only treasure sweet, sweet memories of a place that felt more like home than any other home I’ve ever lived in.
With less than a month left I feel like this city that I once so despised, grew on me like no other city can. As much as I’m looking forward to moving back to the Dam, I will miss this insanely expensive third world country. New York City will forever hold a special place in my heart and in my sense of what nightlife is. To speak in the words of LCD Soundsystem: New York I love you, but you’re bringing me down [...] but you’re still the one pool where I’d happily drown.