September 8th, 2010

Naked bone of an echo

I'll ride this dream to the end of the line...

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When you walk over the Williamsburg Bridge, you find yourself deposited deep in South Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Williamsburg is an area that conjures up a variety of images in one's head mostly due to the complex issue of its 'hipster' presence over the past decade (I am avoiding this topic entirely as I have recently deconstructed the biases against this amorphous term and plan on writing an entire post about it since where I currently stand on the issue is in a different place than many).

Williamsburg has a rich history reflected in its architecture though which can't be denied. It's a neighborhood full of clashing imagery and clashing cultures (<---this article is eye opening and an utterly fascinating read).

"Many ethnic groups have enclaves within Williamsburg, including Germans, Hasidic Jews, Italians, Puerto Ricans, and Dominicans. The neighborhood is also a magnet for young people moving to the city. It is also an influential hub for indie rock, hipster culture, and the local art community, all of which are associated with one of its main thoroughfares, Bedford Avenue. The neighborhood is being redefined by a growing population and the rapid development of housing and retail space.

"South Williamsburg" refers to the area which today is occupied mainly by the Yiddish-speaking Hasidim (predominantly those of the Satmar sect) and a considerable Puerto Rican population. North of this area (with Broadway serving as a dividing line) is an area known as "the South Side," occupied by Puerto Ricans and Dominicans. To the north of that is an area known as "the North Side," traditionally Polish and Italian. East Williamsburg is home to many industrial spaces and forms the largely Italian American, African American, and Hispanic area between Williamsburg and Bushwick. South Williamsburg, the South Side, the North Side, Greenpoint and East Williamsburg all form Brooklyn Community Board 1. Its proximity to Manhattan has made it popular with recently arrived residents who are often referred to under the blanket term "hipster". Bedford Avenue and its subway station, as the first stop in the neighborhood on the BMT Canarsie Line (L train), have become synonymous with this new wave of residents.

Williamsburg has become a notable home for live music and an incubator for new bands. Beginning in the late 1980s and through the late 1990s a number of unlicensed performance, theater and music venues operated in abandoned industrial buildings and other spaces in the streets surrounding the Bedford Avenue subway stop.[citation needed] The Bog, Keep Refrigerated, The Lizard's Tail, Quiet Life, Rubulad, Flux Factory, Mighty Robot and others attracted a mix of artists, musicians and urban underground for late night music, dance, and performance events, which were occasionally interrupted and the venues temporarily closed by the fire department. These events eventually diminished in number as the rents rose in the area and regulations were enforced. There are still a number of smaller, fleeting spaces today, including Todd P., Dot Dash, Twisted Ones, and Rubulad. Many legitimate commercial music venues opened in the neighborhood including Pete's Candy Store, Union Pool, Northsix (now Music Hall of Williamsburg), and Galapagos (now Public Assembly). Several Manhattan-based venues also opened locations, including Bowery Presents (who bought Northsix and transformed it to Music Hall of Williamsburg), Luna Lounge, Knitting Factory, and Cake Shop. In the summers of 2006, 2007, and 2008, events including concerts, movies, and dance performances were staged at the previously abandoned pool at McCarren Park in Greenpoint.

The neighborhood has also attracted a respectable funk, soul and worldbeat music scene spearheaded by labels such as Daptone and Truth & Soul Records - and fronted by acts such as the Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra and Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. Jazz and World Music has found a foothold, with classic jazz full time at restaurant venues like Zebulon and Moto, and - on the more avant / noise side - at spots like the Lucky Cat, B.P.M., Monkeytown, and Eat Records. A Latin Jazz community continues amongst the Caribbean community in Southside and East Williamsburg, centered around the many social clubs in the neighborhood. The neighborhood was also the birthplace of electroclash. Friday and Saturday parties at Club Luxx (now Trash) introduced electronic musicians like W.I.T., A.R.E. Weapons, Fischerspooner, and Scissor Sisters."
- Source.

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