Monday, May 20

Market Hotel, A Brooklyn D.I.Y. Club, Changes With the Times

Just before midnight on Saturday, hard techno began pulsating from the Market Hotel, a D.I.Y. music venue located beside the elevated tracks of a Myrtle Avenue subway station in Bushwick, Brooklyn. A crowd of 20-somethings, many of them wearing sunglasses, ripped jeans and fanny packs, lined up in the cold before they threw themselves onto the dance floor.

The party, “Market Hotel Sweet Sixteen,” was meant to commemorate the venue’s legacy as a D.I.Y. rock club. But as the beats continued toward dawn, the celebration was more about the current moment in a vastly changed underground scene.

Over a decade ago, the Market Hotel nurtured a middle-class bohemia, providing a stage to punk and indie bands like Real Estate, Vivian Girls, Titus Andronicus and the So So Glos. Defiantly underground in its early years, it operated without a liquor license and offered housing to musicians who slept in its cubbies. Its address was passed along by word of mouth. If you knew, you knew.

Founded by the So So Glos and Todd Patrick, the music promoter known as Todd P, the Market Hotel became a hotbed of millennial Brooklyn nightlife back when a Pitchfork writer could lift a noise rock band from obscurity with a favorable review. At the recent Sweet Sixteen party, it was clear that the place had moved beyond the moment when flannel shirts were in vogue and craft beers were sipped from Mason jars.

“I don’t really know much about the indie rock scene that used to be here but I’m grateful for this space as it is now,” said Ashley Van Eyk, 26. “It’s become a liberating queer space I feel I can express myself in.”

Connor Samuelson, 30, was old enough to remember Pabst Blue Ribbon splashing onto the floorboards: “It’s still crusty, but it was crustier back when I was seeing punk and noise shows here. But I think the Market Hotel has changed as Bushwick has changed. It’s evolved since it was dudes in leather jackets spilling beer everywhere.”

As Brooklyn’s early aughts gentrification has come under critical review, and other D.I.Y. venues like Shea Stadium and Mr. Patrick’s 285 Kent and Silent Barn perished, the Market Hotel reinvented itself as a new kind of haven.

While punk and rock are still in the mix, the venue now hosts all-ages hip-hop shows for artists like Cash Cobain, BabyTron and Destroy Lonely, and its electronic music programming showcases subgenres like hyperpop and ghettotech. It has also become a vital nightlife space in Bushwick’s queer and trans community, hosting recurring parties like Intima, Dick Appointment and La Gota Fria.

“I think any creative scene, whether it’s the Market Hotel or the Lower East Side in the 1970s, is meant to adapt,” said Maleek Brown, the venue’s 24-year-old general manager. “Those were the people who came before us here, and none of what’s happening now would be possible without them. But we’re trying to reflect the underground scene now.”

Joni Glam, the Market Hotel’s nightlife curator, noted the change. “Scenes in New York repeat themselves with different names and styles, but what changes is who is able to participate in them,” she said. “It sounded like it was once a lovely time to be an artist at the Market Hotel. But as time progresses, there’s always room to do better and be better.”

As J trains rattled past the windows, and fog from a smoke machine filled the dance floor, people raved to sets by DJ Chaotic Ugly and AceMo. After a sweaty set by umru, a producer who has worked with Charli XCX, Ms. Glam, 25, took the stage holding a birthday cake topped with lit candles.

“We’re here to celebrate the Market Hotel’s birthday,” she said. “We love you. You’re beautiful. You’re growing. And we know you’re going through puberty right now, but you’re going to get through it — it’s OK.”

Todd P, who had put his two children to bed before arriving at the party, stood beside the stage as hard techno blasted into his face. Silver-bearded at 48, and wearing Vans and a black beanie, he was sipping kava tea from a deli cup. He still oversees the Market Hotel, along with the avant-garde music venue Trans-Pecos, but he has delegated most of its operations to his young staff.

He stepped out of the club to take a breather to refill his tea at the Korean grocery downstairs, Mr. Kiwi, where he reflected on the scene that he helped create as the ceiling shook above him.

“I’ve had lots of time to step back and look at that late 2000s Brooklyn moment, the so-called heyday of the Market Hotel, and I decided I didn’t want us to be tied to what we were,” he said. “I’ve thought about the implications spaces like this had on neighborhoods, and how the drawback of secrecy is these spaces end up belonging to people who are in the know, which is usually people who all look like each other. I’m proud that’s no longer a problem at the Market Hotel. These spaces shouldn’t just be for groups of privileged college kids.”

“We don’t want to be a nostalgia act,” he added. “Back when bands like Wavves or Girls played here, performing to a room full of Pitchfork writers as people hung off the rafters — that continuum is now dead, and we’re not trying to bring back the past.”