Let’s get freaky: NYC’s top secret underground events and parties

By now it’s fairly common knowledge that New York City is basically royalty when it comes to cities that leave you wide-eyed and hungry for more each and every time you visit. Well-known for being the city that never sleeps and for being a front-runner in the evolution of the progressive, metropolitan lifestyle – the Big Apple is without a doubt a bucket list destination. That being said, behind the popularity and hype, what makes New York a true playground for fun-seekers and city-lovers is the secret scene bubbling away just under the surface. From secret food festivals to some of the most ridiculously exclusive and high-calibre raves on the planet – any New Yorker will tell you that NYC is the place to be for unforgettable and often one-time-only secret events.

So, in the spirit of saving you a few hours of intrepidly hovering around hipster bar toilets in hopes of overhearing the location of tonight’s secret venue, followed by desperately trawling Resident Advisor for last minute tickets – we thought we’d help out. We’ve put together a list of some of the most underground events and sought after locales in NYC to give you some inspiration and save you some time. Besides, if like most people you’re only spending a few days in the city that never sleeps; you’ll want to know where you want to go and hit the ground running.

Forget joggers and dog walkers, once a year, for one whole weekend, Madison Square Park plays host to one of the city’s most mouth-watering and sought after food festivals. Chefs and Pitmasters hailing from all over the country descend on New York for 2 days to smoke their whole hogs, brisket and baby-back ribs for crowds of happy barbecue lovers. Get ready to experience some insane eats soundtracked by boundary-pushing DJ’s and artists from around the world. When it comes to the Big Apple BBQ Block Party, if you know, you know, and if you don’t – make sure you’re in NYC in June, this is one tasty event not to be missed.

One for the all-night partygoers, this loft-hopping after-hours embodies all that is good when it comes to secret parties in the city. What began in 2012 as a sporadic event for a select few is now a red-hot monthly blowout. Don’t get cocky though, as they’re notorious for organising intimate and exclusive get-togethers that you’ll only hear about if you keep your eyes glued to their social media pages. Held in secret locations around town, Sublimate are famed for putting on 12-hour parties kept alive by monstrous sound systems and a hedonistic atmosphere.

Secrecy is very much the name of game with this event but, boy oh boy is it worth the effort. If you can imagine it- Cityfox NYC can throw a party in it. From waterfront raves to warehouse nights, the NYC branch of Swiss record label Cityfox is notorious for organising some of the craziest underground events in town. Combining their sultry brand of house with ridiculously good production values, expect full on sensory experiences if you make it to one of their parties.

Looking like nothing more than a shuttered storefront (with awesome graffiti we might add), Nublu is one of NYC’s most unsuspecting venues. At night however, recognisable only by a little blue light in the entrance, Nublu transforms into a musical powerhouse. Famous for providing spaces for musical improvisation across genres, Nublu is a haven for musicians looking to get their careers started, from Moby to Norah Jones. When the owner decided to get a beer and wine license, Nublu turned into not only a place to jam but also where the cool kids hung out to drink. Expect secret shows and an unbeatable selection of craft beers and sake.

If you’re looking to really go balls-out in terms of weird, original and enigmatic parties, get yourself to the JunXion. The crème-de-la- crème of spontaneous pop-up parties, JunXion is a nomadic tribe of travelling artists, musicians and DJs who roam the country in converted school buses to throw mini-Burning Man style parties around the city. Though you could find yourself anywhere from a parking lot to a gymnasium, the unexpected nature of these get-togethers, combined with the kind of unrestricted hedonism that comes with a roving troop of professional ravers, makes the JunXion a once in a lifetime experience.

So there you have it! If you’re after something with a little more edge that doesn’t come around every day, do yourself a favour and check some of these places out. NYC’s underground scene is definitely one of the main reasons why we keep going back!


Photo: JunXion NYC

Written by Nicolas Gordon