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Guy Smith

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For generations you’ve been the promoters secret weapon and lighting wizard “Guy” cementing your name in NYC nightclub culture. Please share your perspective on the Recent shift from Manhattan to Brooklyn?
Manhattan has changed so profoundly since I moved here in the mid-nineties.  New York still had a rough heart, and suburban people were wary of coming here.  You could build the massive super-clubs in a warehouse here and afford rent, while charging a fair door price and make money. The clubs here were sort of ‘underground’ especially for queer nightlife, because the property wasn’t so valuable and the promoters could take risks.  I know people blame the decline of those clubs on dating apps, or drugs, or disease, or Giuliani, but it really was just gentrification, and the neighborhood associations that killed Manhattan nightlife in the end.  

Only about ten years ago, Brooklyn wasn’t on any radar, and nightlife people wouldn’t think of crossing a bridge or tunnel to go out.  But now that’s where young, vibrant people live, and where they want to go out, experience spectacle, and dance to new, interesting music.  What’s left of the bar scene in Manhattan is largely just a basic, suburban touristy experience, while in Brooklyn on any weekend, you have an extremely wide variety of amazing dance and music experiences, all genres, all types of crowds.  There are so many clubs and parties happening there every weekend, that I guarantee you no one source has access to information about them all.  It’s really a nightlife renaissance.  

Tell us about IndepenDance one of the best parties that happen on fire island in the Pines for over 20 years July 4th Weekend?

This is our 26th year doing it, and our Free Radical Design Group team always get excited about working together to make IndepenDance happen.  It’s a super sexy, very high energy daytime-into-night party on the bay.  The dance floor is right out by the water and the sun sets, and full darkness falls as the party goes, so the music generally goes from lighter, happy pool party house music down into sexier, harder sounds at night.  We put a lot of thought and effort into the production, lighting, special effects, and sound system, and sometimes also have projection and other effects that get revealed as night falls.  It’s a costume party, and people really dress up for the theme.  

This party has recently had an American theme, often poking fun at our political situation.  Four years ago, when Obama was president and we lived in a much freer, more logical country, we had a theme that was called ’Trailer Park.’  We made the party into a very satirical Trump rally with ‘Make America Grate Again’ signs, designed to poke fun at the weird long-shot candidate.  And then he won, and he was president the next year, and was seemingly covered in scandal.  So we themed the next party ‘From Russia With Love’ with a soviet fascist theme.  After that, last year, was ‘Stormy’s Bordello.’  So the natural outcome (and hopefully the theme is just as predictive as it has been in the past), this year’s party is The Big House.  It’s going to be gang showers, prison wardens, inmates, and dancers in cages.  

What’s next for you?
We have a full roster of events.  The same Free Radical Design Group that produces IndepenDance also produces Pines Party, and the core group is made up of my husband Robert and some of our closest friends.  It’s a huge event, on the beach on fire island, and goes from 10pm until sunrise.  That party is full of surprises and very high concept decor and production.  We are also working together to design and produce 5 parties for World Pride, including Hustlaball, Forever Tel Aviv, Masterbeat, and Matinee Pervert, since Brett Henrichsen has taken on that brand as well.  3 Dollar Bill, which I designed and built the dance club inside, is still one of the best venues in the city, and still queer owned.  Things are constantly changing in nightlife, and I am honored and excited that we are still so heavily involved after all these years.  

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