Any ‘Russian’ party in New York, especially in Brooklyn, carries a set of stereotypes that made me think twice about attending any of them in the future. The problem, with most Russian-themed dance-parties, is their desperate aspiration to be a garish version of a European discothèque, with an excessive amount of bling, cleavage, vodka, and base. The secret missing ingredient – pièce de résistance – is good taste.
Good taste doesn’t require abundance of money or extravagance, although neither is mutually exclusive. It is a condition by which people shape the style of their existence. Good taste, however, certainly requires personal freedom, and some creative vision.
Last month, I was finally persuaded (as I was still recovering from the last traumatic experience) to attend a fourth installment of ‘the most hipster Russian party in Williamsburg’. Anxious to try this new party alone, I invited a few close friends. All dressed to the nines, and, in search of good taste, we took the L train to Brooklyn’s Williamsburg, to attend A Russian Party IV.
What followed was a night of debauchery and fun that long eluded other Russian parties. A Russian Party’s creative engines Seva Granik and Daria Zhuk, two artistic types, united to bring New Yorkers a taste of nostalgic grunge of early 1990s Russia, effortlessly mixed with Berlin’s underground Berghain-like atmosphere. With much relief, I was challenged to spot a stereotypical Russian party guest; instead I was surrounded by characters – gay, straight, bisexual, curious – whose style was more reminiscent of Susan Bartsch’s Catwalk party in Manhattan or Mark Zafutto’s Club Sandwich in Paris. Creativity ruled the night to the upbeat Russian soundtrack with a futuristic twist by DJ Dasha Suralmasha, complete with a kitsch laser-show by VJ Seva Granik. The quintessential Russian stereotype – Vodka – was there, but she took more behind the scene role of fueling the conversations at the tables, by staircases, and outside the main door.
Playing many tracks of our teenage years, the years when most of us in their 30s immigrated to the United States, made us collectively reminisce about after-school home parties, the time when innocence of youth was on a collision course with life’s reality. This Russian Party should consider renaming itself a Time-Machine, because both Seva Granik and Dasha Zhuk have absolutely succeeded in making our visit to Williamsburg – one brilliant trip down the memory lane. — Stephan Rabimov
A RUSSIAN PARTY V
FRIDAY, APRIL 19, 11PM
21+, NO COVER BEFORE 12, ONLY $5 AFTER
THE LOFT, 70 NORTH 6TH BTW WYTHE AND KENT, BK
UNMARKED DOOR WITH #70 ON IT
DEPESHA’s exclusive interview with Seva Granik:
What is A RUSSIAN PARTY?
It was an accident of an idea, really. I saw a post on Facebook about a Russian Party being held at some bar in Wiliamsburg, and I raced there that night, only to arrive to an empty space with a lone Russian bartender. I asked him what was going on, and he said, “It’s just you and me, tovarish.” We got drunk and I decided to throw one myself, because I’m a professional events producer anyway and it’s easy for me to do that sort of thing.
I guess the fact that I ran like a maniac to this place has something to do with why it started. I just wanted to be a part of what I thought was a cool community of Soviet ex-pats, but I realized that there wasn’t one, really, so I thought I’d build one.
There were many attempts at Russian themed parties in the past, but most failed. Why do you think yours is so popular among Russians and non-Russians?
I’m not sure that it’s all that popular, actually. If you want to get conceptual here, a lot of the appeal of this party is in its fetishistic element to Americans, and self-identification of the Russian community which, more or less, doesn’t really exist. It’s an excuse for people who never really fully assimilated to go out and feel relevant and be on display, and for others to see that display, and to even play Russian if only for a night.
It’s basically an excuse to be Russian, whether you’re one or not. And I’m not sure why other parties have failed; this party throws itself!
Where are you from? What is your role at the party? What role does Dasha play? Are there any other characters involved?
I’m from Tashkent, Uzbekistan. My role is the organizer and strategist, and effects/money/staff/venue/promo guy. Dasha is the face and the heart of the party, and she’s our promotion and host maven because she knows a ton of actually cool Russians. She is also the most amazing Russian DJ that I know. She can practically hold down the entire party by herself. I’d say our roles are equally important. I couldn’t do this without her, ever.
Does the Williamsburg, Brooklyn vibe ads to the party ? Could it be just as fun anywhere else ? What do you think is the magic behind this atmosphere you created ?
I think the location is important because it’s far from Brighton Beach, so the numbers of actual Russians that can get there are small.
Cool parties unfortunately get overrun with bridge & tunnel people, do you have plans to grow bigger?
We don’t want to grow bigger precisely of this one thing. Быдла from Brighton Beach and Bay Ridge are going to start coming, and other unwanted elements, and voila, your party sucks.
What is the worst review you heard about the party? The best ?
Well, no one has said anything bad about it yet, and we’re our own worst critics. Although someone started a fight outside a while ago, but that makes it even more Russian, right? We’re very particular about the vibe and the atmosphere, so we’re always stressing about those things. The best… Well, one English gay music label owner told me that it was the best party ever. I know him, he’s actually pretty high up on the cool totem pole, and has good taste in music and gets events. So that was flattering. A ton of people always compliment us, but we’re bashful.
What is the most popular song of the night’s soundtrack? The one that gets everyone jumping and raising hands.
Last night was Бухгалтер, милый мой Бухгалтер, for some reason. People freaked out.
When is the next party?
April 19th. The 20th is my birthday, so we’re gonna get loose.