Vintage New York trendsetters and scene makers: Jonathan Toubin

The brain behind New York Night Train and other hip dance parties, Jonathan Toubin’s vintage New York events all share one trait: a love of old-school 45s.

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A vinyl junkie in the best sense (he spins rare 45s exclusively, yet comes off as cool and unpretentious), Jonathan Toubin is behind a trio of fun-as-hell vintage New York bashes: Soul Clap and Dance-Off at Brooklyn Bowl; Shakin’ All Over Under Sideways Down at Lower East Side bar Home Sweet Home; and the new Animal Print Party at indie Williamsburg venue Glasslands.


RECOMMENDED: All vintage New York coverage

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    Vintage New York trendsetters and scene makers: Jonathan Toubin

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    Vintage New York trendsetters and scene makers: Jonathan Toubin

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    Vintage New York trendsetters and scene makers: Jonathan Toubin

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    Vintage New York trendsetters and scene makers: Jonathan Toubin

Photograph: Jessica Lin

Vintage New York trendsetters and scene makers: Jonathan Toubin


Jonathan Toubin, 41; Williamsburg, Brooklyn; DJ (newyorknighttrain.com)

How did your parties come together?
I started accumulating soul records. I found some on the street; a friend of mine who worked at a junk shop got a lot of amazing [45s]. But I didn’t really have a good place to play them. I thought this would be a way that I could play dance music for people with the sort of energy and passion and rawness that I seek in rock & roll.

What attracts you to music from the mid-’60s?
You know, early rock & roll actually helped integration a lot. In America before the late ’60s, there was a period where black and white people were always sort of united in similar music tastes. There are these stories where they would put a rope in between the black and white [crowds at concerts] and by the end, there would be no rope. They’d be going nuts! And they learned how to make drums sound huge. They haven’t repeated that drum sound much since. If I do the Bowery or the Brooklyn Bowl… If I do it right, you close your eyes and you might not know there’s not a drummer there. If I played a CD or MP3, it would not be the same.

I assume you’ve witnessed some insane dancing.
Yeah, people try to outdo each other all the time. But crazy doesn’t usually win. And actually, pro dancers rarely win. They’re always very disgruntled when they don’t. But it’s more about style.… Sort of like that thing in rock & roll, where a guy goes to Berklee and learns how to play a guitar solo and he gets mad that Nirvana has their hit or whatever.

Where did you get your suit?  
My old door girl and door guy, who worked for me when they were at FIT, started a fashion company and make these custom suits. It’s called Against Nature (159 Chrystie St between Delancey and Rivington Sts; 212-228-4552, againstnaturenyc.com).

Are you normally this dressed up?
I decided recently that in the evenings I should start wearing suits. I feel like we’re at a decadent sort of end-of-empire phase where people are eating all this crazy-expensive stuff and doing so in casual attire. You know what I mean? People aren’t dressing up for things or honoring the things that they do.

Do you think of yourself as a nostalgic person?
I’m very happy to be living in 2013, and I don’t want to live in 1965. But what I like about 2013 is we do have the best records from 1965 and 1955 and 1985. I could play you a song from 1905 that I would not have been able to hear till just recently. I have access to more stuff from older times than ever in the present. No, I like being here.

Next up: Opening for Fuzz in Red Hook Park, Bay St between Clinton and Henry Sts, Red Hook, Brooklyn (cityparksfoundation.org/summerstage). June 6 at 7pm; free.


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