The Upper East Side of Manhattan isn't exactly known for its party scene. I mean, of course, if you're a character from Gossip Girl or particularly into drinking at the Guggenheim
(which honestly isn't awful) the Upper East Side would strike you as party central. But traditionally speaking, Brooklyn, the Village and the Lower East Side tend to throw the parties known to draw crowds while the Upper East Side gives off a more...stuffy...vibe.
Despite this unorthodox location, the cleverly named Ethyl's Alcohol & Food
serves as a fitting setting and venue for a party series that blends a funky 70's aesthetic, the hip ambiance of an underground Brooklyn dance party and a soundtrack that synthesizes modern dance sensibilities with the grooviness of decades past. Hosted by resident DJ Deap Soma
, LUNA 212 transports you to another world, far away from the contemporary Upper East Side. Once you step through the door, you're immediately immersed in a world distinct from the neighborhood that envelops it. Velvet ropes separate the stage from the dance floor as disco balls glitter overhead and go-go dancers find their rhythm to a variety of quintessential house tunes. Classic 70's movies (think Saturday Night Fever) play behind the bar while the bartenders are serving a wide selection of drinks and their famous Fi-Dolla Burgers (which are, in fact, five dollars AND delicious) while patrons bob their heads and chow down. For me, the scene had everything; the ability to transport me from my current time and place by combining a carefully curated soundtrack with a sonically appropriate retro atmosphere, along with drinks and more than reasonably priced munchies.
But still, why here? Why the Upper East Side? Why the 70's vibe? I turned to Charo Velecio, an instrumental force in getting LUNA 212 off the ground, and Luna 212's official resident DJ Deap Soma (also known as Luis) to answer some of these questions.
Charo, is a veteran of the New York party scene with 15 years experience spinning in clubs across the city. Luis started DJing about two years ago, but has been producing for many years before that, jumping into the DJ game after relentless pressure from those who knew his tracks. It was only recently that he made the decision to move from behind the scenes to the spotlight, caving to the pressure to showcase his talents. Depending on how far you want to go back, Charo and Luis have a long history, beginning when Luis' dad used to bring him to work as a kid. He'd always ask what Charo was listening to, which was almost inevitably various 90's house artists. Years went by, life went on, but they eventually reconnected at a club and discovered they were both house heads, leading to the inevitable "check my SoundCloud, bro" (I might've taken liberties with the exact quote, but SoundClouds were exchanged). This gave birth to the partnership that now seeks to transform the public conception of the UES to a funky, danceable, disco destination.
Cubanacan - Charo Velecio and Realm of House
Each has their own established presence in the dance music industry. Charo is a veteran of the nightlife scene in NYC, bringing her Cuban influence to sets for the past 15 years. One of her most well-known tracks, Cubanacan
, which samples the sounds heard on the streets of Cuba, is going to be released later this year on a remix EP. Each artist on the EP was given the track without knowing who else will be featured, hoping to allow meaningful, individualized remixes to be created without any outside influence whatsoever. Of course, there will be a huge release party featuring Charo and Luis’s sets.
Luis released his first single, Engo
, across all platforms, including iTunes, Spotify, and Beatport, and it has already received the remix treatment from Oscar P
and Rob Hollywood
, along with being played out. In addition, Luis has released a number of mixes on his Soundcloud to give you a fuller picture of his inimitable style and sound.
Engo (Original Mix) - Deap Soma
Ethyl’s became the home for the party series by both chance and choice. Charo happens to live in the same building as one of the owners and was more than happy to have the opportunity to throw a weekly party close to home. Moreover, she knew that Luis was a phenomenal DJ looking to make his mark. However, Luis was a little skeptical to start. "She had mentioned it to me and initially I had a bias. I mean, it's Brooklyn for everything, you know?" But, once he walked into the space, the same vibe that encapsulated my experience over took him as well. "Immediately I blown away by the iconography all over. The films. The pictures. It felt like we were in Carlito's Way or Boogie Nights."
When confronted with the bias of having a party in the UES, both Charo and Luis weren't too concerned. They saw a niche in the UES for the kind of dance party they had in mind. While Brooklyn seems to be typically techno-oriented (which is arguably a very, narrow view of the Brooklyn music scene, but accurate to some degree), the duo aim to bring the classics back to life with disco, soul, and deep house in a neighborhood searching for a party close to home. "This can work because it’s a local Monday spot. It also works because of the cross-pollination of industry types," Luis said.
The party is designed to be an industry night, allowing those who normally don't get to have a traditional Friday or Saturday night party due to their jobs (think bouncers, DJs, bartenders, etc.) to kick back and enjoy the atmosphere they spend so much time creating. "One of the owners here used to be a bouncer at Studio 54 and he suggested we should do an industry night," Charo said. "Dennis Ferrer
can walk in here, Louie Vega
can walk in here, and they will be a regular person."
Beyond Luis's weekly sets for Luna 212, he has made it a priority to bring in a guest DJ every week, putting them smack in the middle of a 70's party and allowing them to express themselves through this unique lens of a modern disco-oriented party. So far, HILS
, DJ Duggz
and Will OB
and Devon James
of Brookyln's RVDIOVCTIVE
have each brought their distinct spin to complement Luis' vision for LUNA 212. The party has even hosted international DJ’s Sakaki Nakamura
from Japan and Livinstone
from the UK, bringing yet another dimension to the event.
Ultimately, both Charo and Luis guaranteed that you can always expect a unique sound and a unique environment where talent can flex their muscles at LUNA. "You're going to hear techno, disco, and classics all together, and they're going to work," Luis said. Charo finished our conversation by analogizing the party to a line from Forrest Gump. "LUNA is a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get. But it’s all good."
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Connect with Charo Velecio
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