Even in April, as coronavirus swept through New York, the city’s parties never completely stopped. And in the months since then, as most New Yorkers have adopted strict social-distancing rules — and observed gatherings in other parts of the country with horror and astonishment — it has also been true that some of their neighbors have been making different calculations. The city is not behaving quite as carefully as it might like to think.
On the cover of New York Magazine’s November 23–December 6, 2020 issue, Brock Colyar reports on the underground Brooklyn party scene that has emerged in the wake of the pandemic, and the nihilistic (or at least risk-tolerant) streak shared by many 20-somethings as they live through a global catastrophe. Colyar’s feature is accompanied by a collection of reports assembled by James D. Walsh of New Yorkers from various areas of the city about their relationship to partying right now.
New York Magazine also solicited photos from photographers who had been capturing the city’s underground party scene. AP the Angel, who documented a party he attended downtown for the cover of the issue, has one thing to say about the moment he captured: “How are social beings supposed to be distant?” Daniel Galicia, whose photographs run inside the magazine, says he has always been inspired by New York’s underground scene and felt compelled to document the nightlife he saw cropping up around him. “In such a divided time, these parties had an atmosphere of euphoria,” he says. “I felt I had no option but to document the souls that want to feel alive again.”
Colyar says that the most salient factor driving pandemic socializing is that everyone is creating their own personal calculus, based on their perception of danger and inclination to have fun. “For some young people, the fun is worth the danger, and the danger might even be a part of the fun,” they say. Though Colyar is quick to point out that it’s not just young people partying right now. “The underground scene is wide and varied,” they say. “This is just one story.”