Changing Demographics at Sound Factory, May 1992

September 30th, 2010 by RJJNYC

Don’t know who the writer is, but their closing prediction certainly did not come to pass. I don’t suppose they could have imagined that a few years later the same space would be full of straight suburban kids dancing to Sasha & Digweed. This party was the most packed I ever saw the club, we got there right around 8am and it was hard to move, I remember Junior coming on the mic and saying something like “well, I guess everyone showed up then!”

The New Yorker, Edge of Night Life, May 25, 1992

Imagine throwing a party for your anniversary and having somebody else’s relatives show up with the champagne. It’s not that the glee-seekers who turned out on a recent Saturday for the Sound Factory’s third anniversary (in the current dog-eat-dog club scene, the equivalent of a Lifetime Achievement Award) didn’t have spirit or the best of intentions. They eagerly waited outside, umbrella-less in the rain, for twenty minutes at 3 A.M., thirty minutes at 4 A.M., forty minutes at 5 A.M. By 8 A.M., the place was wall to wall—and those walls are real far apart.

But within those walls were only a few of the crowd that the Factory had built its reputation on. Sure, the old-timers showed up in greater numbers than usual, but there’s no denying that over the past six months there has been a major change in the demographics of the best dance house in town. The Sound Factory is no longer a black club, and no longer a downtown oasis for uptown street-and-ball kids; instead, they go to Trax, where it’s easier to pay the tariff and harder to get snubbed. Nor is the Sound Factory any longer a Mecca for black professionals and bridge-and-tunnel black gays, who now go to Shelter, where the ceilings may be a lot lower but where their influence is a lot higher. Blacks still go to the Factory, but whereas they used to take up three quarters of the floor, they now occupy only about a third of it. On anniversary eve, jamming in their place was a crowd almost as white as the special searchlights installed for the occasion. Strangely enough, the newcomers have done more adapting to the club than the club has to them. They’re fed no silly disco, few memory-lane epiphanies. In return, there are no more clutching circles and line gropes. But the Factory is no longer a haven. Its anniversary should have been a celebration of a location unique in New York nightlife. Instead, it was merely an excuse for a very long party, where the fun was fuelled by unfocussed frenzy rather than by a specific musical or social source of joy. And it will stay that way until this crowd gets tired of the place and moves on. And they will.

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