On a recent Saturday night, a former banquet hall in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood looks like a queer party palace. Filipina pop star K Rizz, who is partial to cowboy hats and chaps, sings and raps as a massive disco ball spins overhead. ’80s and ’90s babies crowd the dancefloor, men and women alike wearing makeup and dresses. The party lasts all night.
While frat boys frolic at Electric Zoo and most New York’s nightclubs cater to wannabe “it” girls and boys, this party — once called The Spectrum, recently renamed The Dreamhouse — has become the place where queer young people come for the same liberated feeling that existed in house music’s early days at venues like Paradise Garage. On average, 1,000 people show up for the kind party emblematic the culture-shifting underground scene in similar spaces around the world.
Six years ago, Gage the Boone — a queer dancer, performer, artist and nightlife entrepreneur — found a cheap spot that he planned to use as communal rehearsal space. “It had wall-to-wall mirrors and a stripper pole, so it was perfect,” he says. During the day, Gage hosted community events like yoga classes; at night, The Spectrum came alive. “It was a space for queer and trans people, especially, to feel safe in their bodies and in going out.”
It attracted a who’s who queer nightlife, including artists Princess Nokia, Mykki Blanco and Le1f, and a year-and-a-half ago, Gage moved it to a larger location, rechristening it The Dreamhouse. “It’s important to have everyone celebrating, using their bodies and minds and letting go,” says Gage. “Being in a comfortable space with a community to communicate with] and spread ideas is the root it all.”
This article originally appeared in the June 15 issue Billboard.