“I had some kind of epiphany about not chasing something in the above-ground world. Something happened in me that I no longer wanted to be in a band that wanted to be famous and go on tour. I just wanted to do something that was ours. I guess it was firmly planting myself in the underground, not after some kind of success that my parents would like.
…In the olden days of New York they had bands and dancing. Dancing and performers of every kind — spoken word, circus, whatever — in the same venue. Places like the Mud Club or Danceteria had a lot of different spaces and a lot of different installations and all kinds of different people went.
And then this weird thing happened when it suddenly became all giant discos and little rock bars. And those people never went to the same place anymore. It seemed like when we started doing Rubulad that people really wanted to be in the same space. They wanted to watch a band and go dance. And be happy.”
~Sari Rubinstein, co-founder of Rubulad, interviewed by Nonsense NYC
Photo via the Essentialist.
Oh, loves. We cover a lot of micropatronage drives on da ‘Haus, but the Rubulad Kickstarter project is especially near and dear. They have been an indescribably huge inspiration to many, many people involved with Coilhouse.
What is Rubulad? Back in 1993, two lovely souls named Sari Rubinstein and Chris Thomas took out a lease on a 5,000 square foot basement in south Williamsburg. Maybe a dozen other people got in on that initial deal, mostly artists and musicians in need of a cheap communal space where they could spread out and work. They all started building up and decorating the space communally. Soon, it became a fun, subterranean hang-out location that drew all sorts of kindred spirits together for dinners, readings, rehearsals, etc.
After a while, Sari, Chris, and their cohorts started throwing parties to cover each month’s rent. Over the course of the next few years, Rubulad (cleverly named with touch-tone letters that corresponded to the space’s phone number)’s space began to evolve, to literally bloom (with vibrant paper flowers, glittering murals, rope vines, colored glass, paper mache sculptures), and the parties developed into these elaborately themed bohemian blow-outs. They. Are. Fucking. AMAZING. For seventeen years now…
(Hang on, let’s take a moment. Seventeen. YEARS.
…Rubulad has been instrumental in planning and throwing all kinds of events. They’ve already had to move their main warehouse space twice, but their warm, inviting DIY ethic has never faltered or changed; it’s only grown stronger.
Photo by E.A.R.
Our dear friend Ms. Scorpio of Gemini & Scorpio (who was instrumental in presenting/promoting Coilhouse’s own fundraising Ball in NYC last summer), describes the importance of Rubulad to NYC:
“Rubulad stands for no-holds-barred creative freedom to carve our own space in a frequently limiting city. Their resilience, fierce independence, radical inclusivity, commitment to the arts, whimsical creativity, and welcoming attitude have been continually inspiring to me in my ten years of creating nightlife events. Rubulad is what people have in mind when they picture wildly creative underground nightlife in NYC, a happening emblematic of the city whose real-life existence is actually endangered.”
Endangered indeed. Right now, after a full year of fighting eviction from their current space, Sari and Chris and friends are, for the third time, looking for a new home for their colossal, communal art baby.
And so, to the Kickstarter they go, offering patron prizes such as custom pinatas, knickers, hankies, silkscreens, Scopitone goodies, a Cthulhu Calendar, coveted afterparty tickets, original art, mementos, and the beat goes on.
I can’t count the number of events I attended there between 1998 and 2007, either as a performer or a reveler or a volunteer. I never left that space anything less than ebullient. Each and every dreamlike hour I spent in that warm, dark, sparkling place was a priceless gift. All of those amazing people, all of that creativity, all of that joy…
I continue to carry Rubulad’s rapturous DIY spirit with me wherever I go. My time with them has informed what I have chose to do for a living. More simply, it has informed how I have chosen to live my life.
Photo by Jenene Bernstein.
Rubulad remains responsible for some of the most bliss-inducing countercultural events in a city that has done everything it can to try to stomp DIY flat in favor of corporate venues.
Even if you’ve never been to an event of theirs, please consider helping this remarkable community to keep their legendary, long-lived underground NYC party going. Freaks need places like this like we need oxygen and cuddles!