Rubulad Throws Open Its Doors In Hopes Of Saving Itself

via Rubulad's Kickstarter
The announcement of this month's Rubulad bash, which takes place this Saturday near the Gowanus Canal, comes with the note "please forward wildly." There are plenty of good reasons for this, the least of which is that it will be awesome; the forthcoming installment of the 18-years-running DIY art party will have a Light Circus Extraordinaire, G. Scopitronic's Non-Stop Film Fest, and an array of dance rooms, live acts, and food.

But not long ago, a typical Rubulad invite warned recipients against posting the information to "any public lists"; even glimpsing the party's often dangerously packed dance environs, let alone knowing its name, was a word-of-mouth treat. That, though, was when the art-party collective had a home, one located a few BQE exits north from this Saturday's Santa-themed extravaganza.

For the past six years, Rubulad has occupied an unassuming two-story building in the Williamsburg/Bed-Stuy hinterland nestled between iron shops, glitzy Bar Mitzvah palaces, and the BQE. But that time is nearing an end. Rubulad's Kickstarter campaign to relocate ends on Thursday, and it's currently raised $21,375—somewhat far from its ambitious fundraising goal of $35,000.

"It is a marvelous psychedelic mess and it needs your help!" trumpeted a recent mailing from Secret Project Robot, themselves inspired by the venerable and sometimes floating Rubulad, which threw its first parties in 1993 at a warehouse space under the Williamsburg Bridge shared by four bands. (The rent back then: $1,100 a month.) After leaving in 2002, they floated until they found the Flushing Avenue space; last July the parties did that again, the result of the space being shut down by the Fire Department one too many times.

In the Facebook era, event planners have to choose a public or private setting for their gatherings. Rubulad long tried to remain blurrily access-neutral in a way that no longer seems possible. Once a mysterious party spot in an unknowably vast New York underground, they are now findable on Yelp—a listing that co-founder Sari Rubinstein has tried to remove."We try to be a community thing," says Rubinstein, who co-founded the group with Chris Thomas. "Not a closed community, but a word-of-mouth community." There were regular brunches, potlucks, family events, and other excuses to gather in non-Dionysian ways.

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