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The Urban Suburban Basement

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The End  

Where to:
Jam With Your Band

Waterfront recording-and-rehearsal studio the End (13 Greenpoint Ave., nr. West St., Greenpoint; 718-383-0181) makes a distant memory of your teenhood basement’s unforgiving concrete walls. Though many musicians bring their own gear, the just-completed facility can hook up journeymen with drums, guitars, a piano, a cello, and anything else they might care to wail on. Other amenities include two rooftop lounges, two indoor lounges, a private stage with psychedelic lights, and a fully equipped kitchen. Rentals start at $20 an hour for smaller rooms or $250 a day; longer-term rentals come with private bathroom and shower.




Where to:
Attend a Slumber Party

Of all the things lost when you stopped going to slumber parties—abundant junk food, whimsical pajama sets—the high-octane bonding may be the most grievous. Mark Winkel and Kevin Balktick, of event-production company Winkel & Balktick, revive the art of after-midnight chitchat at their bimonthly Pillow Talk bashes. The all-night slumber-party series is staged in a cavernous Dumbo loft kitted out with cozy rugs, hundreds of plush pillows, and a nap-friendly “panda pit” filled with 4,000 stuffed bears. The duo keep the entertainment to a purposeful minimum to encourage prolonged conversation: Violinists, unobtrusive D.J. sets, short-story-tellers, and puppeteers have all attended sleepovers past. Overnight guests are asked to wear pj’s and bring sleeping bags along with food and drink to share; contact Winkel via his website (winkelstudio.com) to score an invite to an upcoming party.


Where to:
Master Video Games

Court carpal tunnel at Next Level (4013 Eighth Ave., nr. 41st St., Sunset Park; 347-618-8813), the city’s premiere social club for serious gamers. The Brooklyn spot rose up when venerable arcade Chinatown Fair shut its doors and reopened as a family-fun center, sending its hard-core community of joystick jockeys in search of a new clubhouse. For a few bucks ($3 for the first hour; $2.50 after that; add a quarter for music games), get your thumbs back into battle shape at one of eight arcade stations, including Darkstalkers, X-Men, and DJMax Technika. Wednesday-night tournaments draw Street Fighter acolytes, while other nights are devoted to card games like Magic the Gathering.



Videology   

Where to:
Rent Movies

The hem-and-haw pleasures of browsing a mazelike video store—its wares organized by genre (Foreign, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action, Cult, Drama, Animation)—have largely gone the way of the nickelodeon, but newly reopened movie-rental shop and screening room Videology (308 Bedford Ave., at S. 1st St., Williamsburg; 718-782-3468) is keeping the Blockbuster flame alive with a 16,000-strong catalogue of new releases and small, independent titles. Browse the DVD and Blu-ray collection on a house iPad and have a seat at the bar while a staffer fetches your pick from the basement storeroom. Movie-inspired drinks (Bond vespers, Lebowski White Russians) and ubiquitous Brooklyn snacks (Liddabit Sweets caramels, s’mores from a Smorgasburg vendor) encourage customers to stay awhile. Rates start at $2.50 for one-day rentals, and members can reserve in-demand releases, like the Searching for Sugar Man documentary due out January 22, by calling ahead.


Where to:
Build Manly Things

Brooklyn studio Makeville (119 8th St., nr. Second Ave., Unit 208, Gowanus; 917-873-5542) courts metrosexual Ron Swansons with its five-week Intro to Woodworking classes ($535; next sessions begin January 6 and 9). Instructor Annie Raso takes students through table and band saws, routers, and drill presses in the run-up to building a small piece of furniture. More advanced tinkerers apply for membership (from $125 per month) at the nearby Gowanus Studio Space (166 7th St., nr. Second Ave.; 347-948-5753), where dues cover 24-hour access to a woodworking studio and fabrication shop. Day rates are also available ($45).

Pro Tip:
“Use soft woods for decoration and hard woods for structure. Basswood is great for chip carving, but you wouldn’t build a cabinet out of it.” —Nick Zdon, specialist at Best Made Company


Where to:
Play Beer Pong

Like conversation, beer-pong agility is a thing vastly improved after a drink or two—and which quickly devolves after one too many. Find the sweet spot at Greenwich Village Country Club (110 University Pl., nr. 13th St.; 212-255-8188), where four metal tables designed expressly for the collegiate drinking game roll out on Friday and Saturday nights. Pitchers of PBR and Sam Adams are $22 to $32; the bar supplies red Solo cups and balls for free. Sink a few bounce-shots, then meander around the 16,000-square-foot space, also equipped with a nine-hole miniature-golf course, air-hockey table, shuffleboard court, and pool table.

Pro Tip:
“Keep your arm straight and throw from the top of your forehead down, as if you’re shaking somebody’s hand.” —Pete Rawson, player and broadcaster for the World Series of Beer Pong



House of Scorpio’s Lip Service  

Where to:
Make Out

Kissing strangers may sound awfully chaste in a post–Fifty Shades world, but not to Larisa Fuchs; her monthly House of Scorpio Lip Service parties are a hub for no-strings-attached makeout sessions. Visit houseofscorpio.com to RSVP and read the rules (the gist: Don’t be creepy), then show up in costume—hats, feathers, and corsetry are popular with this pansexual crowd, while business attire is strictly forbidden. Fuchs will help coordinate icebreaker games like Twister, Spin the Bottle, and Seven Minutes in Heaven—the latter staged in a curtained, pillow-filled cubbyhole—or simply leave people to their own mouthy devices. Guests may bring blindfolds and dirty dice, but nothing pornographic. The next party, hosted at Madame X (94 W. Houston St., nr. La Guardia Pl.; 212-539-0808), is January 11 and costs $8 with an RSVP or $12 at the door.


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