Somebody’s Been Documenting All of Williamsburg’s Underground Parties

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Photo: iStockphoto.com

Tod Seelie is a photographer who "likes to catch upper-middle-class white kids actually doing interesting things," according to hipster god Todd P. That means taking his camera to the kind of events you hope are happening somewhere in New York but would never yourself want to attend. In a profile of Seelie in the Times, we get a rundown of such parties:

Williamsburg eviction parties where artists can be found careering down stairs, toboggan-style, in bathtubs ... gatherings of the outlaw biker gang Skidmarxxx (which may include the decapitated head of a pig) ... a female mud-wrestling match, a violent punk show, an illegal party in an abandoned warehouse, a guerilla theater event in the snow or a group sailing trip through New York Harbor (and beyond) on rafts made of junk ...men with lances jousting on bicycles ... Grub, a semimonthly, Toyshop-derived, Dumpster-diving dinner party where participants eat communally cooked food, sometimes taken from the trash.

But there is one particular party in the Times story that really symbolizes the lengths to which Seelie will go to cover these "upper-middle-class white kids actually doing interesting things"

In the windy darkness of a recent spring morning, 30 people of an arty, mostly Brooklynite persuasion gathered after midnight for an illicit get-together in a maintenance shed, high atop the Williamsburg Bridge. Billed as the “Third-Annual NYC Undercover, You-Might-Be-Arrested, Clandestine Errantry Trespassing Adventure Party,” the event attracted members of a discrete, risk-taking subset of the New York art world — heights-loving writers, courageous painters, a devil-may-care guitarist, a guy lugging bongos and the Williamsburg photographer, Tod Seelie — all of whom had been quietly invited to the late-night affair by its pseudonymous organizers, Agent Verde and Agent Rojo.

After scrambling over a 10-foot-high security fence, the partygoers climbed a steel staircase — the lights of Manhattan glimmering below — as part of a vertiginous, invigorating trip that culminated in a catwalk, a ladder and finally a narrow hatchway, leading up to a low-ceilinged room of riveted metal plates. There, for more than an hour, the group made music and unauthorized public art. Light was provided by votive candles and flashlights.

Oh, please. Partying illegally on top of the Williamsburg Bridge? That is SO 2008.

A Chronicler of the Creative Underground [NYT]