Magazine article The New Yorker

Breaking Ground

Magazine article The New Yorker

Breaking Ground

Article excerpt

Breaking Ground

How a show-promotion team went from filling venues to building one.

Jake Rosenthal is considering making postcard-size maps of Elsewhere, a labyrinthine new two-floor venue on the border of Williamsburg and Bushwick; it takes a few rounds of circling before the space reveals all its sections, pathways, and staircases. Since it opened, last Halloween, Elsewhere has drawn fans from all over the area for deep-house raves, cozy rock shows, and anything else that Rosenthal and his partners can dream up. The space is an experiment in the city’s ever-changing night-life economy: it’s one of the few venues that’s independently owned and operated, and designed entirely by show bookers.

Rosenthal, thirty-one, and Rami Haykal, thirty, began throwing small concerts and parties as Popgun in 2008, scouting rising talent from blogs and MySpace pages, often bringing bands to the city for their first New York shows. The duo found a home base in Glasslands Gallery, a ramshackle venue on the Williamsburg waterfront, but when the space closed, in 2014, they were already imagining building their own live-music headquarters. Though they had little instruction in the way of contracts and permits, they scoured Craigslist for a footprint large enough for what they pictured. After connecting with a landlord and developer, they settled on a former furniture-assembly factory, and, in 2015, signed a lease.

Mistakes abounded. “We were running Popgun the whole time we were in construction,” Rosenthal explained. …

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