N.Y. scene is a monthly column that chronicles lesbian nightlife and events of interest in New York. Grace Chu has come out of lesbian scene retirement to navigate the vast and ever-evolving New York City scene, so you don’t have to.
For the beginning, we will start at the end. Last month, Pantyhos, the party New York Magazine dubbed “the original Williamsburg art-dyke dance party,” closed its doors. Four years ago, Pantyhos planted its tattoos, retro haircuts, DIY attitude and penchant for Sapphic debauchery in the middle of the artsy but generally un-queer mess of former industrial buildings turned galleries near the L train known as Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Over the years, it inspired and helped spawn a thriving scene of edgy and underground dyke parties packed wall to wall with artists, punks. retro-femmes, fashion-forward bois, a smattering of gay boys, fierce transmen (and the occasional very confused British straight boy tourist who is just not sure what he walked into).
“What? Williamsburg?” you say incredulously. True. In the vast and multi-flavored bouillabaisse known as the New York City lesbian scene, the neighborhood of Williamsburg is often overlooked. Williamsburg is more often associated with emaciated straight white kids who proclaim to be artists but fail to produce any actual art and bored faux-radicalized students who feel that guerilla protests against the proliferation of deep v-necks are a worthy cause. Yep, Williamsburg is hipster land. No one will actually admit to being a hipster, but the Williamsburg hipster element is obvious to anyone who has taken the L train east of the 1st and 14th subway stop in Manhattan.
Wait, am I getting a little ahead of you? How about a quick primer. The New York City scene can be divided into two main camps: the Manhattan scene and the Brooklyn scene, each with its fierce proponents, and in many cases, partygoers of the scene in one borough will be completely oblivious that a lesbian scene in the other borough even exists. However, even the most die-hard Manhattanite has heard rumors that the neighborhood of Park Slope in Brooklyn (known jokingly as “Dyke Slope”) is an especially lesbian friendly area.
But Willamsburg? Although parties catering to lesbians have sprouted like weeds in Williamsburg in the last couple of years, no one seems to be shouting from the rooftops that dykes should be flocking en masse to Williamsburg, and to be honest, I think the patrons of these underground parties would like to keep it that way. Said a Pantyhos attendee who would like to remain anonymous, “We do not go to the Manhattan lez nightlife. Absolutely no Henrietta [Hudson], and let’s be real, we aren’t going to Ginger’s Bar [in Park Slope] either.”