There are loads of reasons why Refinery29’s 29Rooms is wildly popular every year. The art is always culturally-relevant, you learn about new artists and—to no one's surprise—you leave with plenty of guilt-free selfies.
Now in its fifth year, we went back to see if the social media darling still had the same, shiny charm. While making our rounds, we noticed some rooms at the immersive pop-up were back by popular demand, like the “You are Magic” installation made in collaboration with The Hoodwitch.
A part of us wished that all the rooms this year were brand-new concepts to explore. After all, the experience did originate in Brooklyn before bringing its flare to cities across North America like Los Angeles, Washington DC, Chicago, Toronto and Dallas. For those first-time glitter-clad attendees, 29Rooms is just as fun and twinkly as it was when it began five years ago. But those returning in hopes of a vastly new experience will get a mixture of adventure and also déjà vu.
However, the overall event didn't disappoint for one main reason: 29Rooms has an undeniable energy no matter how many times you've been. The feeling as you move through the space is kinetic. Visitors are laughing with groups of friends, and the 29Rooms staff is as cheery and colorful as the surrounding neon art. Plus, said staff members are posted up in almost every room, ready to take your phone (if you want it) and snap some photos. They manage to build you up, encouraging you to let go and have frilly fun. It leaves you with a healthy boost of confidence you never asked for.
Before heading out, we made our way to one last room: “A Conversation With Your Inner Child” made in collaboration with Carlota Guerrero. Our takeaway? It brought on that same feel-good fuzzy feeling, and chance to be present with our own thoughts, that we remember from past years. Scanning the wall corner to corner we found post-its with at least a hundred anonymous notes. Guests were asked to reconnect with themselves, reflect and write a message to their inner child.
Each messages was heartfelt and personal. For instance: “For my past self, remember you are always good enough and smart enough! Also, don’t play everyone’s hero, some people can’t be saved! Save you!” and “Be you, no matter what mom and dad say” or “Be Fearless, wear the dress, say yes! Never let the world make ya cold. You are the sun— set this bitch on fire!”
Hitting this room last really ended the experience on a high note—we walked out not on our phones but chatting about what moved us most on the wall.
29Rooms is located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn at 25 Kent Ave. The New York run goes until Sunday December 15. The experience is open from 10:30am to 11pm. Get your tickets here.