INTERVIEW / MIXTAPE: SPANK

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To get ready for tomorrow night’s six year anniversary of Spank (CULT), our own Cameron Cooper caught up with Sean B, Jason R and Will Automagic of Spank for a quick interview about their longstanding history in NYC nightlife, the concepts behind their parties, and the future of Spank. Also make sure to check out some photos from Spanks throughout the years, and an exclusive live mix the guys made for OAK. See you this weekend at Spank!

CAMERON COOPER: Where are you from?
SEAN B: I grew up in Virginia right outside of DC but then moved to Santa Cruz (where I met Jason -one of my partners in Spank ) and San Francisco CA pre-NYC
JASON R: Maryland (DC suburbs)
WILL AUTOMAGIC: Texas, but I moved to NYC in ’92 so now I guess I’m a New Yorker.

CC: How long have you lived in New York?
SB: I’ve been in NYC about 17 years
JR: Since ’97

CC: What was the first nightclub/party you went to here?
SB: I lived in NYC two summers before I moved here and in the summer of 1994 I went out five to seven nights a week with a crew of friends. We pretty much had a seven night a week schedule. There was so much happening at that time that has been really influential to what I like to DJ, including the obvious Sound Factory and Save the Robots, but other spots like Sugar Babies and Salon at Flamingo East (where DJ Will sometimes Guest DJ’d with Gant Johnson) definitely left their imprint. The first night I landed in NYC in 1994 I got punched in the face for stepping on a guys shoes at Crowbar in the East Village (it was a different time), but we all went to Sound Factory that night anyways. In the era of club kids and disco 2000 my black eye hardly got noticed.
JR: Limelight
W: I was a freshman in college at Columbia but was hanging out with people in grad school there. I was too young to get in to any place, but they took me to Pieces, The 9th Circle, and The Spike all in one night like my 2nd week in town. The first actual big club I went to about 2 months after that was The Sound Factory.

CC: How did you get started in night life?
JR: Throwing punk/hardcore shows in my parents basement and church rec room when I was 15.
SB: In San Francisco I worked for Ggreg Tailor at a club called Product when I was 19. From there I ended up throwing a underground monthly loft party called Corduroy City.
W: Gant Johnson helped me get my first gig at Flamingo East on Fridays here in NYC in the mid 90s. I used to guest with him there on Wednesdays, but Fridays there was my first residency; I played all disco, soul and acid jazz and started playing deeeeep house as time went on.

CC: How did Spank start?
SB: The three of us had been throwing another monthly party that came to a natural end and we wanted to do something more music and art focused.
JR: Spank evolved out of another party we were doing called Bananas. We have all been friends for years and done different projects together.

CC: Why do you have themes for Spank?
SB: There are a few reasons themes have worked for us. It gives a point of reference for our collaborators and our own inspiration for the event and for art that was part of the zine. Also each Spank has its own and location (it’s rare that we have a party at the same location two times in a row) and the themes reflect that each Spank is a special event [and] not a weekly party.
JR: Narrowing things down leads to more creativity.

CC: What are important elements for your party? Specifically with Spank?
SB: We always have some kind of performance and experience at Spank. We wanted participants to leave with memories and at the anniversary party you will literally walk away with some reminder of Spank. In past years party moments have involved 400 miniature flashlights, 3-D glasses and hundreds of inflatable animals.
JR: Openess, equality, fun.

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CC: Why a CULT theme for your six year anniversary party?
SB: The themes are always about what is in the air at the moment. CULT seemed to sum up everything we were feeling about this year. There is a oc(cult)t witch-y vibe in the air with perhaps a dark undercurrent plus an idea of belonging that was summed up in the word CULT.

CC: How do you keep the party going?
SB: We always try to throw events that inspire us and I think that helps us keep it evolving and interesting for us.
JR: Regular meetings.

CC: Where do you see Spank going?
JR: When we come up with an idea and laugh about how ridiculous and impossible it is, doing that.

CC: How do you see the current state of New York Night life?
SB: Personally, I think NYC nightlife is having a great moment with lots of creative parties and tons of new music from local producers getting worldwide attention. With the return of Bill Bratton (who was instrumental in destroying NYC dance culture under Giuliani) things could change quickly. Hopefully with de Blasio we will enter new era where art, performance and dance culture will be embraced as part of the essential fabric of NYC.
W: This is without doubt a renaissance in NYC, even if people don’t fully realize it. I am constantly thrilled by the evolution and effortless magic I see being created around every corner.
JR: I’m glad that people can dance again.

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