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.
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…
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.
Me and Oscar.
Lori Stewart, Russ of Ssur & Me.
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.
Artists Luke and Julia Chiang
Skateboarder Tyshawn Lyons and Me.
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…
Ferris Bueller and Telly
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.