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The Bunker
Photograph: Seze Devres

Best (and worst) nightlife of 2012

In the NYC nightlife world, it’s all about the parties—and the music.


Parties, parties, parties
Just a few years ago, the chances were good that if you wanted to dance to cool music on a Friday or Saturday night, your number of choices would be somewhere between one and zero. Nowadays, the opposite problem is more common—an embarrassment of riches makes it hard to decide what to do. Take a random Friday (December 7, for example):  You had progressive hero Jody Wisternoff playing with Sleepy & Boo at their Basic NYC bash; Onur Özer and Tobi Neumann joining Taimur & Fahad at the techno-oriented Blkmarket affair; Berlin electronic-music DJ extraordinaire Prosumer hitting the Bunker; bass-music bigwigs Skream and FaltyDL waffling woofers at Webster Hall; a trifecta of underground-house heroes (Seth Troxler, Davide Squillace and Matt Tolfrey) playing the Verboten and Eats Everything doling out his shaggy take on dance music for the Dog & Pony Show gang. That’s a hell of a lot of dance floors to hit in a single night, but we’re not complaining.

RECOMMENDED: Best of the year 2012

Bigger and better burlesque bashes
Just as with dance-music shindigs, there were more high-grade burly-Q affairs than ever, showcasing an ever-wider range of styles. Classic burlesque, neoburlesque, nerdlesque and some stuff that’s just so odd we don’t know what to call it (Rhinestone Gorilla Burlesque’s take on Animaniacs, D20 Burlesque’s odes to gaming culture and Francine the Lucid Dream’s David Lynch Burlesque, for example)—you want it, NYC probably has it. As a bonus, one of the scene’s centers, the Lower East Side’s Slipper Room, rejoined the fray after a too-long absence. And here’s hoping that the city’s other burlesque nexus, Coney Island USA—ravaged by that damn Sandy—gets back on its feet soon.

NYC dance music rules!

Okay, maybe rules is too strong a term, as most people are still focusingon places like Germany or the U.K. when searching forhigh-grade, creative club fodder. But dig this: The Resident Advisor website’s choice for top label of the year wasn’t associated with some supercool Berlin niterie nor was it a postdubstep-meets-deep-house imprint from London. No, it was Long Island Electrical Systems (L.I.E.S. to its fans), the Ron Morelli–run entity specializing in resolutely underground and weird house and techno—much of it made on machines that rattle as if they have a few screws loose, yet sounding utterly human as well. And L.I.E.S. isn’t the only local label to have had a great year: There’s Throne of Blood, Have a Killer Time, a resurgent Plant Music, Disques Sinthomme (check out the recent “Night Fever” by Visitors), Wolf + Lamb, the mighty DFA…the list goes on and on


The continuing rise of EDM

EDM, of course, stands for electronic dance music—but have you ever gone to an EDM show? There’s very little dancing going on. There’s plenty of fist-pumping, and staring at some dude on the stage pumping his own fists. There might be stage diving. There are all those young dudes—often twice as many boys as girls—moshing around and dripping in sweat. And there are tons of aggressive beats and abrasive sounds, and only a trace of anything approaching a hypnotic flow. In short, it’s kind of like the late-’90s rap-rock world—except we don’t remember Limp Bizkit playing prerecorded sets, as some of EDM’s acts have been accused of doing. (There’s also suspicions of EDM artists using ghost producers to create their tracks, but we’re actually okay with that, as such flimflammery has a long history in dance music.) Nothing against crude, dumb music—but some of this stuff makes old-school hardcore rave sound like a refined modern classical. The vague hope isthat at least a few of EDM’s fans will make the transition to slightly more sophisticated club music (e.g., almost anything but EDM)—but we’re not holding our breath.
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