Drop the bass!
The transformation of a Red Hook port facility into a booming nightclub for three nights this month and next is a disruption that poses a threat to all of Brooklyn’s working waterfront, according to neighbors and pols from around the borough, who are demanding that the terminal operator stop renting it out for events, however lucrative.
“There are many uses that would pay more rent than maritime commerce. We hold the port in public ownership precisely because we want to protect those maritime and industrial uses,” a group of pols wrote in an open letter to the Port Authority.
The signatories included Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D–Bensonhurst), state Sen. Daniel Squadron (D–Dumbo), outgoing Assemblywoman Joan Millman (D–Brooklyn Heights), Councilman Carlos Menchaca (D–Sunset Park), and Councilman Brad Lander (D–Gowanus). The letter was a response to Red Hook Container Terminal shindigs such as the Sept. 12 electronic-music dance party thrown by Vice Media and Absolut Vodka, for which organizers hung a disco ball made of television screens from one of the waterfront cranes. That bash drew more than 1,000 revelers and, in addition to the deindustrialisation it represents, it was a serious headache, neighbors said.
For instance, some party-goers decided to empty their bladders outside when the event let out at 11 pm, according to one neighbor who attended.
“It was a s— show. People were urinating all up and down Columbia Street, and I screamed at them,” said Victoria Hagman, a member of Red Hook’s Community Board 6 and founder of the real estate firm Realty Collective, speaking last week at a community board meeting on the subject.
The drinks were way too strong, Hagman added.
“I had a good time, but someone’s gonna die,” she said.
Locals, who emphasized they have adjusted to the rumbling inherent in living shoulder to shoulder with the sprawling dock operation when it is functioning as normal, complained that bass from Vice subwoofers, the chattering of the crowd that spilled onto the street, and the drones zipping across the sky to film the party rattled their nerves.
The two-day Escape Music Festival is set to drop anchor at the port facility starting on Oct. 11, featuring big-ticket acts such as Moby and Yeasayer. The area’s Community Board 6 invited residents to sound off to port honchos at the meeting, held on Sept. 17. Neighbors who attended said that the high-decibel affairs, which started happening with limited notice, have to be turned down. For what?
“Twelve hours straight of drums two days in a row is too much,” said Dave Lutz, who lives near the corner of Van Brunt Street and Hamilton Avenue, a stone’s throw from the port.
The Port Authority rents the terminal to a private operator, which has been booking the bashes. A company owner said the Escape festival will take place as planned, but that his team won’t schedule any more shindigs without consulting the community.
“We are committed to not booking any more events until we talk to you again,” Greg Brayman said. “You will not see another event until you see me again.”
Brayman emphasized that the terminal remains a working port operation despite having branched out into the music business, and claimed that the events don’t impact the everyday loading and unloading.
“There are some events here, but it is a marine facility,” he said. “Ninety nine point nine, nine, nine percent of it is going to be an industrial facility.”
The Port Authority refused to say how much money, if any, it collects from the events, nor would it disclose whether the terminal usually accepts boats on weekends, which is when the Escape festival is scheduled.