Nathan Kensinger Scoops New York’s Secret Parties

Nathan Kensinger is a photographer with a penchant for out-of-the-way places; his shots of abandoned urban landmarks – factories, sea captains’ quarters, garbage dumps – evoke nostalgia for a New York that most of us never witnessed. This week, just in time for an appearance at Open City Dialogue, Kensinger posted a roundup of images from secret parties around the city. Some you’ve heard of (the dumpster pool party made the rounds earlier this summer) and a few are solidly under-the-radar. Click through for Kensinger’s shots of the so-called “urban pirate” ferryboat, shuttered observation decks, and the dome of the Williamsburgh Savings Bank, plus a Q&A with the party promoters behind ReSOLUTE, another of Gotham’s most clandestine shindigs.

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“Urban Pirate” ferryboats on the Newtown Creek. © Nathan Kensinger.

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Newtown Creek at night. © Nathan Kensinger.

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reSOLUTE party boats in action. Photo courtesy of Viktor Sekularac.

Flavorpill spoke with Nektarios Ionnadis and Nikola Nedeljkovic of reSOLUTE about organizing alternative party spaces and dealing with cops.

Flavorpill: How did you come up with the idea for a floating party? What kind of logistics were involved?

Nikola: We first met the owner of the boat in the summer of 2008 and he suggested that we could do an event when it was docked in Long Island City. That summer we had two events on the boat, and after some issues with the landlord we got a small charter boat which would pick people up down the river. This summer (2009) the boat relocated further up the canal in its current location, where nobody is bothered by the noise. The first event there lasted for over 24 hours and featured 12 artists.

Nektarios: reSOLUTE is by nature a party that explores not only music, but also urban space: roofs, boats, trains, basements, gardens, warehouses, lofts, galeries, alleys, trains, you name it.  So, choosing the boat is part of a larger agenda. The parties typically bring in 400-500 people, and the boats carry 12 at a time!

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reSOLUTE partiers earlier this summer. Photo courtesy of Viktor Sekularac.

FP: What sort of audience did you hope to serve when you started throwing the parties? Or more simply, whom did you invite?

NN: When we first started reSOLUTE in November of 2007 we only relied on personal email contacts. Soon enough the word spread and the mailing list started growing fast. One rule we had from the beginning was that we wouldn’t add any contacts except for by request. That way we know the crowd attending our events is the crowd that really wants to be there. When we first started, the main focus was the music, and now in its 2nd anniversary, we’ve added different characters to the event. I can’t be specific, but you’ll have to discover it for yourself.

NI: We basically invited all our friends…some of them never came back again, I guess the ones that were used to having fancy toilets and martinis.  Most of them though, true music lovers, adventure and risk takers, creative thinkers, they found our concept to be one-of-a-kind.

FP: How did you keep it under the radar and away from police interest?

NI: Treating these events with responsibility and seriousness shows the authorities that we know what we’re doing, taking into consideration all public safety matters. The few times the authorities had to come check they found that everything was properly set and stated that they would love to come and join the party later on, when they were off duty of course.

FP: What kind of future can we expect from the ferryboat parties? Are you planning for next summer?

NN: We don’t really know what we will plan for the next year on the boat but it will definitely be something!

NI: We want to push the envelope with every kind of party….  All depends on the boatlords and how much they like to follow the ideas of the promoters like us.

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Dumpster pool party lights at night. © Nathan Kensinger.

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Dumpster diving. © Nathan Kensinger.

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Observation deck of the Williamsburgh Savings Bank. © Nathan Kensinger.

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Silenced Halls of Commerce in the Williamsburgh Savings Bank. © Nathan Kensinger.

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Inside the dome at night. © Nathan Kensinger.

Tonight, October 19: as part of the Open City Dialogue Series at Pete’s Candy Store, Nathan Kensinger will present a slideshow of his images depicting abandoned New York.