Currently, The Bunker happens about twice a month at various venues around Brooklyn, including but not limited to Good Room, Market Hotel, and Trans Pecos. In the quest to entertain ourselves and meet the artists we admire who no one else would bring to New York, we've hosted over six hundred guest DJs and live acts over the past thirteen years. In our mission to discover new talent, we've presented countless New York City and even North American debuts. Newcomers to the party often wonder how the events got to this point. There really is no quick answer, as The Bunker is an ongoing night of musical exploration, constantly evolving since it started in 2003. The Bunker is a party for music obsessed people who want to dance to interesting sounds in a room full of likeminded folks, thrown by people who live to do just that, and strive to perfect the experience. Below is the brief history of The Bunker, to the best of our memory.
Before The Bunker was The Bunker it was The Polar Bear Club with residents Timeblind and Mike Wolf. In three years from 2000 to 2003, they brought in hundreds of guests ... worldwide superstars, local heros, and plenty of new faces. Some of their guests you may have heard of are: Errorsmith, Kit Clayton, Sutekh, i-Sound, Goodiepal, Kevin Blechdom, Safety Scissors, Matmos, Neil Landstrumm, and Francesco Lopez. Visualists Giles Hendrix and Chris Jordan were an important part of the Polar Bear Club and carried this tradition over to The Bunker.
In January 2003, after Mike decided he might like to go somewhere besides subTonic on Friday nights (three years is a long time), the Polar Bear Club went to sleep, yielding The Bunker with Timeblind and Spinoza. At this time, subTonic only had two speakers (no subwoofers), and no video projector. The programming of the party was pretty wild and eclectic: sometimes very experimental, sometimes four to the floor wild dance party, and often somewhere in between.
Soon after the inception of The Bunker, Timeblind, like so many frustrated New Yorkers, decided he needed to move to Berlin for a while, and left the Bunker in the care of Spinoza, who asked friends Movement and kleverVice to join him as resident DJs. After an admittedly slow start (it wasn't unusual to end the party at 2am in the first year as the room was dead by then), things really started to pick up by 2004. We eventually found a crowd of like-minded souls who loved what we did and brought friends. Spinoza and kleverVice kept the eclectic spirit of the party alive, and for a while incorporated late night live shows in the upstairs Tonic space into the party. These collaborations with up-and-coming NYC bands upstairs, combined with the late night dance parties downstairs created many epic nights of musical cross-pollination.
2006 was a year of flux for The Bunker team. Miami transplant Unjust joined The Bunker as a resident DJ briefly before leaving to focus on school. Her interesting and unique sets, combined with her enthusiasm for what we're about, made her an essential part of the party. kleverVice moved to City Island in the Bronx in early 2006 to enjoy real community and a view of the ocean, and pursue other non-music projects. Movement left to study Plant Biology at UC Berkley in July 2006. After nearly six years of service, resident visualists Chris Jordan and Giles Hendrix also left The Bunker in the summer of 2006. The massive amount of time and energy all of these people put into the party over the years is greatly appreciated, and we miss having them around.
After he played a few amazing guest DJ sets, and struck up a great friendship with Spinoza, Derek Plaslaiko was invited to join as the new resident DJ at The Bunker in 2006. At this point, more and more of our guests came from the techno world, and we had a growing, loyal crowd who were going apeshit for this sound every week. The vibe kept getting dancier and more debaucherous every week, and we really liked it that way so we kept pushing in that direction. Derek usually closes the party, and honestly, his sets are quite often the highlight of the night. You can get more info on Derek and find links to his sets and original music on his Beyond Booking page.
Seze Devres also joined The Bunker team in 2006, using her experience as a photographer and graphic designer to help give the party a much needed visual identity. From 2006 to 2012, she has documented every event for The Bunker Photo Gallery, which brings back a flood of memories and puts a huge smile on our face every time we visit it. She designed all of the flyers/posters from 2006 until 2012, which you can see in The Bunker Flyer Archive. The early designs use her photograms (abstract cameraless photography) as backgrounds, and the later designs all feature her original photography.
2007 was definitely the most difficult year of The Bunker. By early 2007, the weekly party at subTonic was in full swing. It wasn't unusual to find an insanely packed dancefloor with sweat dripping from the ceiling. After years of our begging, the venue finally relented and removed one of the huge wine barrels to open up the space. The first week without this barrel, Matthew Dear was our guest DJ, the dancefloor was suddenly twice as big, and everyone was completely freaking out. Unfortunately that same night, in the middle of Matt's set, the NYPD stopped by, ended the party and permanently shut down subTonic (which it turns out basically operated as an illegal space for 7 years, who knew?).
We continued to throw the party in the upstairs Tonic space until April, when we discovered that the entire venue was closing for good, with very little warning. This led to a major scramble to find a new venue to host a weekly party on Friday nights, as we had months of parties already booked. We relocated the party to Luna Lounge in Williamsburg the very next week. While far from ideal, the huge venue served as an interim home for a few months while we continued to search for the perfect space. In July 2007, the party moved into the back room of Galapagos. The main problem with the venue was the lack of a good soundsystem, so we bought our own and set it up every week (yes, we are fucking crazy). With the help of our very good friend and sound guru Chris McNaughty, we managed to make the room sound pretty great, and almost killed ourselves at least a few times times drunkenly pulling apart the speaker stacks at the end of the night. Galapagos turned out to be the perfect venue for The Bunker. It was just the right size, and was dark, understated, and far enough off the radar that it never attracted the dreaded random weekend bar crowd. It was also right in Williamsburg, where we live, so we no longer had to go into Manhattan.
In 2008, Galapagos was sold. It became Public Assembly, but kept most of the same staff and parties in place, including The Bunker. The new owners made some changes to our beloved back room, adding a stage, expanding the bar, and installing a very expensive ventillation system (thank god). Towards the end of the year, after six years of doing the party every Friday night, we were beginning to feel a bit burned out. Due in no small part to the success of The Bunker, many other techno parties were sprouting up seemingly overnight in NYC. The "scene," which had barely existed a few years earlier, was being spread far too thin for a weekly party to thrive the way it had in earlier years. The difficult, but ultimately correct decision was made to turn the weekly into a monthly event.
2009 was a very successful year for The Bunker, with each and every monthly event being much larger than any of the weeklies ever were. We expanded the party into both rooms of Public Assembly, which allowed us to have some more freedom and fun with the programming. Frustrated with the limitations of the house sound system at Public Assembly, and no longer allowed to store the Beyond system there, we added NikSound to the team. It was very quickly apparent that he was one of us, and his complete dedication to making the room sound as amazing as possible, along with his understanding and appreciation for the music we present, has made him an invaluable part of the party.
The Bunker also saw the addition of two new part-time resident DJs in 2009. We hit it off instantly with Berlin resident and Hello?Repeat boss Jan Krueger, and his ability to completely blow up the party combined with his love of being in NYC made his residency inevitable. Ever since he moved to Brooklyn in 2007, Eric Cloutier has been a staple at The Bunker, assisting us with set-up, cheering us on, and playing a great set whenever given the opportunity. As the party expanded to two rooms and we really recognized Eric's great ear and talent behind the decks, he was the natural first choice as an additonal resident. You can read more and check out some of his many podcasts on his Beyond Booking page.
2010 got off to a great start. We hosted a huge 7 Year Anniversary Party in January which featured a mind-bending 8 hour set from Speedy J. In February, The Bunker was home to three events for the inaugural Unsound Festival New York. Unsound, Poland's most adventurous music festival, brought a bold and uniquely modern program of music to Kraków for seven years before producing a New York edition. The three Bunker Unsound events were highly succesful, presenting a cross section of some of the most interesting (and sadly most under represented) electronic music artists from Eastern Europe and the US. We launched a series of Berghain/Panoramabar quarterly events, and also did a few Clone label nights. We've also started to take The Bunker on the road more, with events at The Compound in San Francisco, Communikey Festival in Boulder, and Inciting in Philadephia.
2011 was a year with 23 events, the most we've had since we stopped the weekly parties in 2009. The year started with an amazing 8 year anniversary party featuring 8 hour sets from Donato Dozzy, Optimo, and Derek Plaslaiko. In April, we launched a The Bunker Limited, a series of small parties for 150 people in a loft that feature a single DJ playing all night. We continued our collaborations with Ostgut, Unsound, and Interdimensional Transmissions, which led to many amazing events.
After years of having him play nearly every other month at either The Bunker or Kiss & Tell, it was time to officially add Mike Servito as a resident DJ of The Bunker in January 2012. The year was packed with great parties at Public Assembly and a few field trips to 285 Kent. We produced one Unsound event at Warsaw in April, our biggest to date and a huge success by all accounts.
2013 was our busiest year since 2008, when we were still weekly, with 28 events. In February, we produced our very first event at Output, a brand new club with a state of the art Funktion1 sound system. Around May, we got the unexpected news that our long time home, Public Assembly was closing. We said goodbye to the back room on July 5, 2013, almost 6 years to the day from our first party there. It's always a bittersweet moment saying goodbye to a venue, but the time was right as our bigger events were truly outgrowing the space. In June, we teamed up with Todd P and PAN to throw a huge event at K&K Buffet in Ridgewood. We also threw three parties at the brand new Bossa Nova Civic Club. We ended the year with our first party at Trans Pecos, a new Ridgewood art space that we could not be more excited to be involved in.
in 2014, we launched our record label, The Bunker New York, and put out 10 records. We're breathed some fresh life into The Bunker Podcast, which had been kinda dormant (sorry about that). We relaunched The Bunker Limited at Trans Pecos with 12 stellar events. We continued with our bigger events at Output. We did our first full label showcase at Great American Techno Festival in Boulder. at the end of the year, Resident Advisor ranked us as one of the top 10 record labels of 2014!
In 2015, The Bunker really started to go international. We presented full label showcases at Berghain in Berlin, Air in Tokyo, and Stereo in Montreal. Stateside, we did showcases in Detroit, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Of course we continued our activities in New York with 22 events across Trans Pecos, Output, and a new Greenpoint venue, Good Room. We even booked Jeff Mills, something we'd been trying to do for about a decade. We didn't get out as many records as we had hoped, but the four we gig get out were all very well received.
2016 has just started and things are looking up. February saw full label showcases at Berghain in Berlin (our 2nd there), and Concrete in Paris. Several more are planned in Europe and Asia. We launched an RBMA Radio show, and the podcast is now bi-weekly. We proudly named Patrick Russell our newest resident DJ.
For over a decade, The Bunker has been a storied night of musical exploration in New York City. The adventurous electronic music lineups—which bring together fringe artists who also know how to move a dancefloor—made the party legendary amongst NYC cognescenti. Starting a record label was the next natural step in The Bunker’s evolution, featuring contributions from artists who frequent the shadows of the party and established guests.
The Bunker Podcast was launched in 2008, when there really weren't many techno podcasts, to share recordings of live and DJ sets recorded at the party with the world. The deep archive of amazing sets speaks for itself.
Beyond Booking is The Bunker's in-house booking agency. We represent our resident DJs, frequent guests, and label artists, helping them book solid tours of the best parties in North America.