New York is a city of continual wonders, a land of restless artists and relentless visionaries all dreaming tomorrow’s dreams today. This dreaming is usually contained within the city’s underground parties and workshops, in secret spaces hidden in plain sight, behind doorways you walk by everyday without realizing they’re doorways, inside warehouses whose non-descript facades betray the beautiful madness contained within. But every so often, the dreaming bursts into the wakefulness of the city at large, it rushes back across the line that separates the underground from the everyday and it forces everyone it encounters—through its kindness and its creativity—to remember that beauty and expression are just as fundamental to the nature of New York as are business and finance. Perhaps, even more so…
Kaleidoscope 3: Rainbow Unicorn was such an event. A roving, renegade street party, K3RU functioned as a paean to New York City, a living poem dedicated to Gotham’s greatness.
Because this is New York and we are free.
The day began at Figment Terrace on Governors Island, with many of the usual suspects of the underground party scene dancing under a light rain which cooled their bodies as the possibilities of the day filled everyone with a warmth and a sense of anticipation that was palpable in the moist summer air. At least half the people were in costume and most were made up in some manner, but I was dressed quite plainly in my typically (self-consciously) disheveled style: a slightly too big maroon t-shirt and khaki cargo shorts with a huge ink stain on the right pocket from a pen which had exploded in the dryer. I had my camera, a 16GB memory card and two batteries.
By 5:30, hundreds of people had arrived and everyone was having fun with the music and exploring the pieces in the sculpture garden. After about an hour or so, the guides for the day—who were all dressed in white and carried flags to showcase their positions from a distance—announced that the party would be heading out and the long, slow procession began. No one knew where we were going or where the night would take us—we only knew there was no place else we’d rather be. We walked through Governors Island, into one of the dungeon-like areas of Fort Jay and then made our way to the Ferry. The size of the crowd was greater than a single boat could hold, so the group was split into a few trips, but we all assembled outside of Whitehall Station once we got back to Manhattan.
It was at this point that the day felt like it was becoming something special. As we gathered together and people started dancing outside of the ferry terminal, we drew our first crowds of tourists and other New Yorkers who couldn’t help but stare and wonder what our story was, who didn’t know what else to ask but “What?” or Why?” and who couldn’t help but smile at the variety of answers they received: “Why Not?” or “Kaleidoscope!” or my own favorite line, spoken by a girl whose hair was as blue as her eyes: “Because this is New York and we are free”. At the sound of the next horn we organized and descended the staircase into the 1 Train’s South Ferry Station and packed all of the subway trains that we could. We made our way first to Christopher St and then to Pier 45 of the Hudson River Park where people danced and played music and girls on stilts announced the coming of night to the revelers and to the crowds that had gathered to watch our wanderings and our wonderings.
As the sun set over the Hudson, the sky exploded into brilliant, beautiful clouds of crimson that first hovered over and then disappeared into the western horizon. The sunset reminded me of Monet’s late period—by far, my favorite in all of his work—which featured monstrous red and yellow tones that came from his continual building up of color density and saturation on his canvasses when his failing eyesight wasn’t able to perceive the subtle hues of his earlier, more famous work.
…there was a feeling among everyone there that no one—nowhere else on Earth—could possibly be having as much fun as we were having.
After the park rangers and NYPD asked us to move it along, we started our procession again, unsure of where the guides would be leading us next. After getting back to Christopher St, we took the 1 Train uptown again and the people in the car I was in decided that because we didn’t have any music to play, we would make our own. It started with an English dude named Mark who was wearing a green t-shirt and a white, feathery dress and then it spread to the entire car: first we sang “Yellow Submarine” and then “Hey Jude”, which was followed by “We Will Rock You”, “Bohemian Rhapsody” and then some Beastie Boys.
Magic was definitely in the air. We kept singing and dancing (as much as was possible in such a small space) during our trip on the subway and there was a feeling among everyone there that no one—nowhere else on Earth—could possibly be having as much fun as we were having.
We exited the train at 79th St, made our way up to 81st, over to CPW and then took up residence on the stairs of the American Museum of Natural History, which we claimed as our own. The guards at the museum didn’t quite know what to do with us, but outside of asking a few people not to climb up on the Equestrian Statue of Theodore Roosevelt, they—too—left us to our dancing and our own devices. There were group pictures on the steps, a sing-a-long of hundreds and, of course, the night that continued to nourish us. The horn was sounded a while after and the only instructions were “C Train – North” so we once again commandeered the subway and rode the C Train to 125th where we switched to the A Train and took that to 190th.
We next gathered on a hill at Fort Tryon Park for some breathtakingly beautiful fire spinning. With the George Washington Bridge visible in the background and a seemingly endless parade of people dancing and performing, one couldn’t help think (for the seemingly hundredth time of the night) that it was exactly because of moments like these that we lived in New York City: nowhere else celebrates the night like New York does because no place else draws together the people who can pull it off like we can.
The organizers announced around 1AM that it was time to go and reminded everyone that the after party was being held at Love in the West Village. As is always the case with these events, “Leave No Trace” is a fundamental principle, so before we left we made the rounds to gather up and dispose of our trash. What was left of the crowd made its way back to the A Train and for those still burning, made our way to Love, where we danced until 4am.
…nowhere else celebrates the night like New York does because no place else draws together the people who can pull it off like we can…
On my way out of the club I met some people outside and I ended up hanging out on the street with them for a while. They were Charlie, Jillian, Dominick, some dude with a plaid shirt and a great beard whose name I can’t remember, and a guy named Justin who also didn’t know anyone but ended up hanging out as well. Justin then invited Charlie, Jillian and myself back to his apartment for an after-after party, but when we got there, he got all kinds of fucking weirdo and wanted to go up with Jillian alone and then have me and Charlie follow “like 10 minutes later”. No one thought that was acceptable (least of all, Jillian) so we bailed on him and I ended up taking the train out to Brooklyn with Charlie and Jillian to hang out at Charlie’s place on Bergen Street for a while.
I was out there for an hour or two, but I had to get back to Flushing and knew that was going to take too fucking long, so I bounced around 8 and started the long, slow trek home. The day was already warm and my body was finally feeling tired, but my camera still had juice so I walked around taking pictures as I headed towards the Atlantic Ave subway station. I caught the 4 train there and rode that until Grand Central, where I hopped on a local 7 train and headed back to Flushing. I grabbed a hash brown and sausage biscuit from McDonalds on Main Street, caught the bus (Q20A, I think) and made my way home, exhausted, but in love with New York City. It was now 10AM and I was ready to sleep.