Art Crowd Gets Heated at Armory Dance Party

Whitney Dance-off
Photo: Rafael Lett/Courtesy of Steadfast Associates

It's hard to have a throwdown in skinny jeans, but on Saturday night at the Whitney Biennial’s 24-hour dance party at the Armory, it happened: The hipsters went wild. The event, the culmination of Agathe Snow’s 96-hour marathon of continuous dance, was cut seven hours short of the goal when, around 4 a.m., a fight erupted mid–dance floor. At first, onlookers thought the scuffle — which began with just handful of fighters and swelled to more than twenty — was an ironic piece of performance art. “I thought they were kidding,” said Eden Mackenzie, a video editor who was on the dance floor when the fists began to fly. “Then they all just started jumping on one guy and punching him as he lay on the ground.”

Doreen Remen, co-founder of the Art Production Fund and one of the event’s producers played down the tussle to New York: “It was just two guys, and they were asked to leave,” she said. "It all happened very fast.” But Obinna Izeogu, an art director who attended the party, described the scene as a “mini-riot," in which blows were traded for more than fifteen minutes as more partygoers joined in the fray that continued to swell even after D.J.'s killed the tunes (and Snow's vision of infinite dance). “It started off like two and then it just became a rumble,” said Izeogu. Armory security staff, unprompted, dialed 911 for reinforcements, and officers who responded called it “that gigantic fight”.

“It was mostly a young skate-inspired crew,” said Izeogu, “but then everyone got involved.”

Attendees, including members of ThreeAsFour and Dash Snow, some of whom had committed earlier to spending hours on the dance floor, tried valiantly to keep going, dancing even as the lights bumped up and organizers decided to cut the music.

It was only when officers from the nineteenth precinct entered the scene that everyone got the picture. As Yvonne Force Villareal, clad in a black jumpsuit, shooed people outside, the fight spilled into the street, where there were reports of men thwacking each other with skateboards. An ambulance arrived, presumably for the man still lying prostrate on the dance floor. (“I heard this punch, this crack, you knew his face just caved,” said Izeogu.) As the cops drove away, the real crisis of the night became apparent: More than a hundred distraught hipsters found themselves released in the unfamiliar grounds of the Upper East Side. “Everyone was just befuddled,” said Mackenzie. “Everyone wanted to keep partying.”

Although the police have not yet released details, Officer Tran from the nineteenth precinct said that at least three arrests were made, and two individuals are in custody. —Sarah Maslin Nir