Blkmarket Membership

One of NYC's top nightlife teams celebrates a birthday.

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“We started with the idea of doing monthly parties,” Taimur Agha recalls, “but now we’re doing like four parties a month. It’s gotten a little crazy, I guess.” He guesses correctly: Since spring of 2006, Blkmarket Membership—the house and techno hoedown that he runs alongside partner Fahad Haider, with indispensable help from Mehmet Erkaya—has tossed 150 parties, held in a score of clubs, warehouse venues and makeshift spaces throughout the city. Far from burning out, though, the team is midway through a massive fourth-anniversary celebration that began this past Friday with an affair featuring big-time techno vet Marco Carola and the anarchic, vodka-swilling French trio dOP. Friday 4 brings an event starring Berlin house hero Dixon; Sunday 6 sees a day-into-night shindig with tech-house king Craig Richards and the minimal-minded duo Half Hawaii; and the festivities finally end on June 12, when tech-funk team Italoboyz joins the fray.

It’s a lineup of artists that sums up the team’s aural philosophy. From the relatively refined sounds of Dixon to the balls-out beats of dOP—not to mention a slate of past guests that ranges from superstars like Sasha and Richie Hawtin to underground darlings such as Cassy and Mountain People—the Blkmarket boys are egalitarian in their refreshingly simple aural approach. “We just try to book the same people whose records we’re buying or whose sets we’re downloading,” Agha says matter-of-factly. “We do push techno music, obviously,” Haider adds, “but we’re not really a techno party. We have all kinds of music, really, and that reflects the way the scene has been changing. Four years ago, [minimal-techno label] Minus was so big—that was all anyone wanted to hear. But now, people are also into the deeper music that Wolf + Lamb put out, for instance. Tastes have really evolved. But all we’ve ever done is booked the people that we liked. And they tend to bring their A-game when they play for us.”

That’s especially true at the sprawling warehouse events the team throws, sometimes in conjunction with fellow party crew ReSolute. Such parties are a ton of fun, but Agha feels that Blkmarket, which currently counts Cielo and Love as the only real-deal clubs that host its bashes, has little choice in the matter. “People are fed up with the attitude at clubs,” he says. “Just walking into clubs can be like going through an airport. People want to be able to hang out and not be hassled.”

In truth, the pair make an unlikely team to be throwing dance-music parties at any kind of venue. Haider grew up in Karachi, Pakistan; “We had some electronic music, but it was more the cheesy kind,” he says. And Agha was a young rocker in his native Abu Dhabi. “I was into heavy metal,” he says. “Guitar, long hair, the whole thing. My brother had Sasha and Digweed mix-cassettes, and I was like, 'What is this bullshit?’?” But after moving to NYC in the late ’90s, both had their epiphanies in the same spot as many others: Twilo. For Agha, specifically, it was the aforementioned “bullshit” that won him over. “My friends took me to hear Sasha and Digweed at the club,” he recalls, “and I had just never seen anything like that before. I was kind of blown away, really.”

Up next for Agha and Haider: a record label, and a further widening of the Blkmarket sound. “We’re going to be bringing some people from the cosmic-disco and dubstep-techno genres,” Agha says, “like DJ Garth, Scuba, Appleblim and Ramadanman. Otherwise, we’ll just keep doing what we’re doing.” In other words, expect a little more craziness.

Blkmarket Membership anniversary parties are Friday 4, Sunday 6 and June 12.

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