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From Pool to Party

A look into the dried-up Depression relic that’s become New York’s freshest, coolest concert space.

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'It says NO DIVING, but fuck that!” yelled Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke before leaping into the waterless, crowd-filled McCarren Park Pool on the last Saturday in July. As it turns out, the pool—a 1936 WPA project in Greenpoint, in disuse since 1984—makes an excellent concert venue. It’s huge (50,000 square feet, enough for 6,800 swimmers or 5,500 fans) and its sloping floor makes for excellent sight lines. Never mind that it’s a little raw: Live Nation’s Sam Kinken, the promoter who brought in Bloc Party and will soon put on shows by Neko Case and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, had to supply twenty portable toilets, two dressing-room trailers, and, he says, “one big-ass generator.”

The Parks Department is hoping these concerts will give momentum to its $40 million plan to turn the pool back into a swimming destination. Officials say they may add perks like a restaurant and a skate park. In the meantime, Bloc Party’s Gordon Moakes says that it works just fine for music. “It was a bit strange—I thought we’d actually be playing in the pool. But it’s kind of perfect. It’s big and it’s outside, and we’re kind of tired of playing Manhattan. Our audience is here.”


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