LIFE: Hangout for Downtown Artists & Influencers – Sway Lounge Closes in NYC

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A sweet and somber line, halfway down the block, waiting to pay their respects to Sway Lounge.

Some of you who have been reading this blog, might remember me mentioning Sway Lounge in Greenwich Village that my downtown derelict friends and I would frequent. This strange and unlikely Morrocan decored (No hookahs. Ewww) lounge had a neon sign outside that read “McGovern’s Bar” and housed many parties, but mainly 2 that majorly shaped the landscape of New York City Nightlife and it’s Downtown scene. Also worth mentioning, it was the hangout to many up and coming brands and influencers that Streetwear and Youth Culture everywhere would come to know very well.

SMITHS NIGHT. 2000-2016

It was a weekly Sunday party started 16 years ago in the year 2000 by DJs Ben Cho and Brian DeGraw. The night, as you could probably gather, was dedicated to all things The Smiths and Morrissey. I probably started attending around 2003 with my best friend Oscar. At that point it was pretty popular among die-hard fans, in-the-know celebs and downtown kids looking to party on an off night like Sunday.

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Carlos, Me and Oscar at Sway Lounge for Smiths Night, NYC 2004 Vashtie_Sway_2004

RETAIL MAFIA (which would later be taken over by ROXY COTTONTAIL). 2003 – ?
It was a weekly Monday night party originally started by Aaron “A-Ron” Bondaroff, I believe, and all hugely for and supported by the boys who worked retail…hence the name. I was in the same circle, having worked for James Jebbia at his soho Stüssy Shop. We were just some downtown dirtbag kids working for commission.

In fact, Retail Mafia wasn’t born at Sway. In it’s early days of 2003, it started at a new defunct venue called Jack Rabbit Slim’s in the East Village. Here are some images I took from those early 2003 days…

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Don’t quote me, but I think Married To The Mob got it’s name because it was the female counterpart to the masculine heavy Retail Mafia. They were the #GirlPower answer needed during that boys club.

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Me and Oscar.

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Artist Eric Elms and friend.IMG_1219_1

My homie Pete as a bad Santa, way before the movie.IMG_1305IMG_1315Skate Legend Alex Corporan and Me.IMG_0991

Lori Stewart, Russ of Ssur & Me.

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RETAIL MAFIA 2004 at what would be it’s final home – Sway Lounge. Right around the time ROXY COTTONTAIL made it her own movement. She even enlisted me to join in on the festivities.

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Me and my old mentor/boss, legendary photographer Jamil GSIMG_0324

Kunle “Earsnot” Martins of Irak Crew and Oscar Sanchez.IMG_0638

Artists Luke and Julia Chiang

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Skateboarder Tyshawn Lyons and Me.

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Simon and Michael.
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Dave, formerly of Dave’s Quality Meat (DQM)IMG_0646

Oscar dominating the dance circle with photographer Kareem Black behind himIMG_0647 IMG_667_2

An awkward pose with me and Alex Corporan.IMG_0672

Tyler.IMG_679_2

Frank 151 Crew!IMG_0682

Skate Legend Harold Hunter (RIP), Promise Smith and designer TelfarIMG_1430
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Me and my upstate homie Kyle Demers. Oh and I am wearing a Casio calculator watch. I was SO trend forecasting the Apple Watch!SWAYZE_CREW

Me, Rykiel and Christian 151.
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Fast forward 12 years later and I’m shrieking on the inside. I can’t believe how time has flown. Looking back on it all, we were just kids who wanted to socialize and have a good time. This was before social media and it was literally our version of a  “live feed” to know what was happening and to see all the other kids in the scene. It should be noted, that there were tons more people hanging out at Sway than I have pictures for. You name it and they were there.

Sifting through all these photos and memories is bittersweet. Nice, because I remember all the good times but sad, because a lot of us don’t get to hang anymore or others have just plain disappeared. I guess that is life…

Here are some images from our last night at Sway Lounge. It was a nice reunion…

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DJ and Promoter Roxy Cottontail & Me. She totally took over that Monday night and made it a powerful night. vashtie_swaynyc_201603

Photographer and Director Nunnie & DJ Deemehlowvashtie_swaynyc_201604

Ben aka King Solomon (Irak)vashtie_swaynyc_201605 vashtie_swaynyc_201606 vashtie_swaynyc_201607

Uncle Paulievashtie_swaynyc_201608

Artist and Skateboarder Shawn Powers & Matty Icevashtie_swaynyc_201609

Deemehlow and Oscar.vashtie_swaynyc_201610

Sean Risley and Me.vashtie_swaynyc_201611 vashtie_swaynyc_201612 vashtie_swaynyc_201613 vashtie_swaynyc_201614

DJ Kitty Cash & Cherie Camachovashtie_swaynyc_201615

Dice the God and B.Denise <3vashtie_swaynyc_201616

Ferris Bueller and Telly

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Rest in peace Sway Lounge. Thanks for providing more than a home for us downtown dirtbags. It’s the end of one era, but there are many more to come.

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