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Rock the block: Bell House celebrates 10 years with block party

Witchy women: The Washington, D.C. rock band Ex Hex will play on Sept. 7 as part of the Bell House’s 10th anniversary celebration.
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The Bell will be ringing!

Gowanus residents will celebrate the neighborhood near the canal with an afternoon of entertainment, games, and food early next month. The Gowanus Block Party on Sept. 8 will show off the best that the ’hood has to offer, according to the owner of watering hole and music venue the Bell House, which celebrates its 10-year anniversary that week with a five-night series of shows.

“It’s really a chance for the people in the area to come together and celebrate the uniqueness of the neighborhood, and the Bell House is happy to be a part of that as part of its 10-year anniversary,” said Jim Carden.

The day will have grub galore served from food trucks run by local favorites, including Fletcher’s Brooklyn Barbecue, Ample Hills Creamery ice cream, and pies from Four and Twenty Blackbirds. The day will also feature street games, with a life-size Rock’em Sock’em Robots ring and a giant plinko board, along with workshops teaching watercolor painting and birdhouse building. Proceeds from the games will benefit the Gowanus Canal Conservancy.

The rich array on offer reflects the dramatic change that the neighborhood alongside Brooklyn’s Nautical Purgatory has undergone in the last 10 years, said Carden. For instance, a host of artists have established themselves in the neighborhood — and many of them will show off their photos and paintings at the block party. As these creators moved in, the neighborhood blossomed from a grimy industrial streetscape into a family-friendly oasis of creativity, according to Carden.

“There are definitely fewer prostitutes on the street from when we first got here,” he said. “Now you have people walking down the streets with strollers and bags of groceries on their way home and it’s no longer a scary place to be.”

The block party will also offer plenty for grown-up Gowanusaurs. The Bell House will host a beer garden in the street during the day, and an outdoor dance party will kick off at 6 pm.

The concert venue will also put on a five-night series of shows from Sept. 6 to 10, bringing some of its favorite acts back on stage, including storytelling podcast the Moth on Sept. 6, Washington D.C. rock band Ex Hex on Sept. 7, and indie project Waxahatchee on Sept. 9.

“They’re folks who’ve played here before, we’re huge fans of theirs and we’re excited to have them come and help us celebrate 10 great years,” Carden said.

The Gowanus Block Party outside the Bell House [149 Seventh St. between Second and Third avenues in Gowanus, (718) 643–6510, www.thebellhouseny.com]. Sept. 8; noon–6 pm. Free.

For more information on the Bell House’s 10th anniversary shows and tickets, visit www.thebellhouseny.com/events.

Reach reporter Kevin Duggan at (718) 260–2511 or by e-mail at kduggan@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @kduggan16.
Updated 11:37 am, August 27, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Max from Fort Greene says:
Wow, I have to thank Brooklyn Paper for really shining a light on the owner of the Bell House's approach to his surrounding neighborhood. While promoting his block party not only does he demoralize sex workers, he also manages to praise gentrification and displacement caused by millennial hipsters in the same sentence! Great job by Kevin and the BK paper on their editorial choices though (honestly), that quote is the most information I needed about this event.

I do like the Bell House, they have great shows (NPR shows might be a bit too highbrow for Jim, though) and its always a good time. However, after getting a better look at the guys behind this place, I'll think twice about going back.
Aug. 29, 4:22 pm

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