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Friday, November 18, 2011

Shop Class

I was given the choice of making the pump lamp or a flying horse. I asked about making other things but was told those were the choices. I really didn't want to make a pump lamp that much, but it was better than a flying horse wall plaque. I understand the need for discipline, training, and honing skills. This was shop class in 8th grade, where no independent thinking or creative expression is allowed. But it's a shame, because I liked making things and would have gotten more involved in class. Eventually I would become a manufacturer.
So, yesterday, I was very pleased to get the following email invitation for The Calling, a theater of fire and song:

You are being called to a relatively secret place for a meeting of believers - a ritual for the arising. Out in gritty Gowanus in Brooklyn is an industrial complex down by the canal where much of the sculpted art you see in swanky galleries actually gets created. It's a vast place, owned by ex-squatters and descended from the renegade forges and welding spaces of the LES of the 90s, and it opens it's doors to Flambeaux Fire, Kai Altair and to you this coming Thursday. You will see it become a WONDERLAND. 
A landscape of flames, machines, and beautiful women as spiritual guides, set to the live music of Kai Altair, written & directed by Flambeaux and Kai.

The email invite went on to say:

Flambeaux presents The Calling, a Fire-and-Song Ritual with siren Kai Altair.
A Journey into Seduction, Spirit and Transformation with ritual shows by Lady C, Serafina, Fayzah Fire, Ali Luminescent, Flambeaux, Tribal Bellydance by Angelys and Serena. Featuring the sculpture art of Adrian Landon and Doumbek byt Natalia Perlaza.

What really intrigued me, was the location and venue, The Gowanus Ballroom. Gowanus is a very industrial neighborhood, and it certainly is not the type of place where one would expect to find ballrooms, chandeliers, and formal attire. The invitation also specified Serett Metalworks, so perhaps it would be a ballroom of a different sort. And it was.

The space was difficult to find, as might be expected. There was no ballroom or 55 9th Street. I saw two women on the street and asked if they knew of this place - they did and directed me. The space was down, around, and behind.

I never read the email closely enough or thought about it, so I was surprised to find that the ballroom was actually an industrial space along the Gowanus Canal. I was greeted with an open factory space and an open cauldron of fire burning outdoors beneath a sign for Serett Metalworks. I knew we had arrived at the right place when I found Gowanus Ballroom written on a chalkboard.

Inside was every manner of metalworking machinery along with a variety of metal sculptures, as promised in the email. There was an enormous loft space which afforded viewing from above and a wooden structure reminiscent of the Tower of Toys.

Chris Flambeaux was busy milling about, making preparations for the show he had written. Performers and attendees began to filter in, dominated by the edgy artistic with the requisite piercings, metal, fanciful dress, dreaded hair, and skin art.

The show started in a ritualistic, nearly occult manner, setting the tone for the entire night's performances. Some of the acts I had seen at the QAS. This show, however, had a much more industrial flavor - fork lift trucks were used to deliver acts and even performed on them. One act featured villainous characters aboard a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, driven around the space. See my photo gallery here.

Space being so precious a commodity in New York, this in not the type of event one would expect in the city. For years I had heard of these types of happenings - somewhat impromptu and unadvertised. I was always desirous to be in the loop and attend. There was drama, fire, seductive sirens, metal, and machinery. These guys should open a real ballroom or run a Shop Class :)

Related Post: Not Of Them


Rajiv Katra said...

Every time I drop by I am amazed and thoroughly impressed by the passion you bring to this blog.

Awesome. One of my fav blogs!!!

James B. said...

Very nice gallery, looks like it was a fun time. Drop by my blog some time I have a couple good photos from nyc.

makeityourring diamond engagement rings said... beautiful and amazing photos...

Marlon said...


Nice photos!

We have our own german NY-Blog about Christmas in this fantastic town:

George McKay said...

Outstanding documentation of your experiencing The City. I aspire to do something similar in a much smaller venue with my blog. I think NYC would be the ultimate place in which to ply that craft. Nice work!