Nearly 50 Times Journalists Capture Nightlife in New York

Nearly 50 Times Journalists Capture Nightlife in New York
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Nearly 50 Times Journalists Capture Nightlife in New York

Nearly 50 Times Journalists Capture Nightlife in New York

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There were a lot of late nights. Even the nights that have become mornings.

The Times’ subway office spent six weeks this spring and summer documenting nightlife in New York City as more city dwellers were getting vaccinated and the celebrations blossomed. From late May to mid-July, nearly 40 photographers and nine journalists attended DJ nights, bars, backyards and curbside rallies.

New York at Night, a picture, video and text project released online Friday, is a reminder of all the ways New Yorkers go wild. Yes, there are wild warehouse parties in Brooklyn. But nightlife is also a game of dominoes in the Bronx, a taco stand in Queens, or a backyard hangout on Staten Island.

“You think of nightclubs, of course,” said Meghan Louttit, deputy editor-in-chief of Metro who helped run the project, but the goal was to capture aspects of the city that many don’t see, in all its dynamism.

The team began by listing the types of events they wanted to cover. Parties like Papi Juice and Hot Rabbit were significant, and the calendar would overlap with Pride Month, the annual celebration of LGBTQ rights. But there was also an emphasis on other types of free-spirited gatherings.

“After a few weeks we started to ask ourselves, what are we missing? said Mme Louttit. “We don’t have karaoke. So we have to go out and do karaoke.

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Jonah Markowitz went out for six nights, filming a video with his Canon C500 camera mounted on a stabilization rig.

“I got calls early,” he says. “But this was the first time I had an alarm at 3 a.m. so I could go through with a rave.”

Mr. Markowitz captured a sweaty, mostly shirtless, party at Brooklyn Steel. Another time he photographed children playing in the cool shower of a fire hydrant. People were thrilled just to be together again, he said.

In mid-June, as summer rolled around and city and state authorities lifted the last major coronavirus restrictions, the party mood intensified. Then the project seemed to capture a more permanent return to a pre-pandemic world. Currently, however, virus cases are on the rise again in the city, putting those days in a different light.

“Now I feel like we’ve captured this window, this very beautiful period of time,” Ms. Louttit said.

Photographer Mohamed Sadek started the assignment taking digital photographs, but felt too distant and formal. In search of a more relaxed tone, what he called “vernacular photography,” he switched to a Minolta Leica compact camera. “Like you would be with your friends,” he said.

Journalists volunteered what evenings – and what times – they wanted to cover. Julia Carmel, who wrote and woven the story together for the project, chose the sunrise offset, when the dance pulsed after dawn. She perfected the “disco nap,” recharging after a day’s work before going to late-night parties. She didn’t use a notebook, but recorded interviews on a voice memo app with her phone upside down in her shirt pocket.

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Mr. Sadek sought privacy with his camera. “I didn’t have a hard time finding people kissing – the only other time that was like that is New Years Eve,” he said.

Whether in crowded tech venues or smaller gatherings where people gravitate around the kitchen island, Ms. Carmel was reminded that reporting on nightlife requires the same social skill as going out for fun.

“A lot of it is about walking into a party on your own and looking for someone who seems to be open to a discussion,” she said.

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