“Step right this way please!” An old friend passed my companion & I off to security, who quickly processed our entry, ushering us into the new space. Verboten had officially become the best thing in Williamsburg 2014, so I made sure to see what was going on. The space was cavernous & throbbing with trendy dressers, gorgeous dancers & intriguing tables. The two room warehouse had been completely redone with smart deco choices in every direction. They had some stunning projection mapping in the main room, done by none other than DJ Dollpartz, ½ of my favorite Brooklyn-based tech duo, whiteowljaguar. The art shimmered along with the music as we wandered over to the bar. After grabbing some reasonably priced drinks (especially for the first stop off the L train) and melted into Alex Arnout’s set.
The deep throbbing house that seemed to find every nook and corner of the space kept the crowd moving. A tremendously diverse crowd pulsed through Verboten like schools of fish. The place was huge with traffic flowing in a way they were never able to achieve at their legendary parties at The Sullivan Room. The inventive & fluid way Mr Arnout (Can I call him Alex?) was working with the space reminded me why I went out to old school techno & tech house parties. The fact that I felt this before I got my change from the bartender speaks volumes about what Verboten has gotten right in their new home in Brooklyn. The girls dancing ungroped, and I stood there, feeling the bass massage the places it needed to without being pissed I didn’t stop at CVS on the way in.
The opening set was exactly what it needed to be. The hooks were clever, there were no gimmicks, drops or foolishness on the microphone. This was pure, deep house that did not care what you were drinking or how much your shirt cost. The focus on quality samples, bass motifs that took full advantage of the system & a dash of some familiar tunes was welcomed and celebrated. The set shuffled people onto the dance floor without giving them a reason to leave. As 1 AM neared, you could see Mistress Coles began to draw excited & eager shout-outs from the crowd. To be clear, the packed crowd was here because of the legend that she has become. In case you didn’t know, she’s produced a fabric mix, an Essential Mix, ranked in the 15 on Rolling Stone’s most influential DJ list and picked up a stunning sampler of awards for general ass-kickery in 2011/2012. If you didn’t know why, you found out immediately.
She slid into the set with the ebb and flow of an artisan. There was a painstaking attention to detail in a space usually derided for its minimal nature. The set was crafted with an assumption there would be a more seasoned crowd here, and she was right. Since you could hear the set as well from the dance floor as you could hear from the lounge, my companion & I roamed, seeking red bull, rest rooms and relief for our feet.
The rest rooms were stewarded, but with someone managing the line, not some dude shaking you down for cash in exchange for hand towels. The tables were pushed off to the side, giving the bottle service heads a feel of removal, but they were still two steps from the action. The deep, perfect house of Maya Jane Coles seeped into the movement of every single person in the room. Whether it was the bartender or clothing vendor being nice to the guys hitting on them too sloppily, the group of house heads getting down under the decks or the finance peeps forgetting their shirts were half-untucked trying to look suave, they all seemed to move to her infectious vibe. The dance floor was an absolute panoply of sweat, groove face & foreign languages that cheered as MJC finally passed the torch to George Fitzgerald. I’d not heard of him before, which obviously means I’m a freaking idiot.
He pushed into this amalgam of deep house & classical string music that entranced the entire crowd. This stopped all of those pikers, you know, the ones that usually leave right after the headliner, dead in their tracks. The set launched into a deep melodic vortex that had people refilling their drinks and heading back onto the dance floor way past their bedtime. When it’s 3:45 AM and your dance floor is getting bigger, not smaller, you know the booker deserves the highest of fives. As does the rest of Verboten’s staff.
The event was quality from start to finish. Staff were clearly identifiable, the venue had excellent traffic flow & the sonic quality was second to none. To be clear, this was one of only a handful of venues anywhere in NYC where I could dance to a headliner/Top 20 DJ without having my ears cry out in pain. There are plenty of places in NYC I will never return to because I simply can’t trust the sound people to not make construction-grade ear covering necessary. Verboten was tuned like a fiddle. Except instead of a fiddle, it was a sound system with wattage in the 5 digits and a trio of masterful DJs pushing out 7+ hours of party one stop from Manhattan. Hey Output, you got company.
Review by Terry Gotham
Originally written for ENL by euphoria