We’re big fans of community arts & music venue The Knockdown Center. You may have learned about The KDC through Bushwick Daily’s dedicated posts- a Rubulad party we attended in early 2012, or the Drone Festival where our eardrums went pleasurably numb, or the announcement that world-famous artist MIA will be performing there in a few weeks. But music and parties aren’t all the Knockdown center is about. In fact, along with their legalization over the next month, they are establishing a respectable arts curriculum that will have most Brooklyn galleries gawking. The Knockdown Center is shaping up to be force to be reckoned with. Read on to see how you can get involved.
First off, some statistics about the KDC: It was built in 1903. It’s 50,000 square feet large. It’s situated on 3 acres of land. It’s technically in Maspeth but about a mile walk from the Jefferson L. It’s determined to be unprecedented venue for arts and culture in Queens, and they need your help to do so.
The family-owned factory has a fantastic story behind it. Built in 1903 as a glass factory, the space transitioned to a door-making factory midcentury. The center gets its name from an invention that took place within its huge, glass walls. In 1956 the The Knock-Down Door Buck, or K-D door frame, that was invented onsite by Samuel Sklar. What exactly made this Knock-Down door so important?
“A seemingly simple modification to the then accepted one piece steel door frame, Sklar’s three piece frame could be shipped in pieces – or “knocked down” – and easily slipped over an existing wall. Single-handedly revolutionizing the building industry by allowing the builder to construct walls without having to wait for door frames to be installed, Sklar’s invention drove manufacturing at Knockdown for three generations.”
As industry shifted, the factory ended up without industrial purpose and its fate fell into the hands of Sklar’s son, David, who still owns the venue. He initially considered putting the space up for sale, but was truly disheartened when developers wanted to knock it down (irony’s not lost on us) and use the land for a new projects. The first modern events started brewing at KDC in summer 2012, when they hosted their first community art project, a mini golf course with holes designed by an array of artists.
From there, other parties followed, including the center’s big first event, hosting a Valentine’s Day party for underground art party organization Rubulad. The party was insane- one of our favorites in fact- boasting DJs, a film festival, live rock bands, dance performances, Aerialists, and Batala, a 40-piece AfroBrazilian drumming band. Following that night of mayhem, the Redbull Music Academy filled the space for an epic night of drone, the NYC Drone fest, which featured Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth and tens of other performers spread across multiple rooms, the drone sounds meshing along brick walls. Then last summer, Roberta’s infamous tiki disco party inhabited the space every Sunday night. Throughout fall, winter, and currently, the KDC hosts a flea mart every Sunday. These events are not only unique and mind-expanding experiences for party-goers of all walks of life; they are catalystics for “inciting surprising collisions between otherwise compartmentalized communities” (well put, KDC).
It’s no wonder, hosting these next level parties, that the venue wanted to stop relying on temporary permits and legalize their productions. Fast forward the better part of a year and the venue is preparing to open its doors and declare its place in the pollution-tinged sunshine. They’ve completed renovations; a slew of upgrades and changes in the structure adding doors, entrances & amenities.
What’s coming up at the soon-to-be acclimated KDC? Well, besides the highly-anticipated MIA concerts with ASAP FERG on May 8+9 (get yo tickets!), programming is looking bright for the center, whose mission is shifting to putting on less parties, and more innovate arts exhibitions. Upcoming art shows include “Sound and Fury,” an exhibition of large scale sculpture works by Joel Shapiro, Richard Nonas and more, curated by Clocktower Gallery. In case you’re not familiar, Clocktower Gallery is a historic alternative space headed by former PS1 director Alanna Heiss, and has been making ways since the 70s. The show will be up and running during the MIA show, allowing for a very unique opportunity for concert and rave goers to interact with fine art sculptures. The center is also planning two choreography shows, one on May 18th from Lindsey Drury with No Collective, and one from May 29-31 with Micho Szabo.Lastly, through June and July, an “Installation as Catalyst” show will offer a month-long architectural residency program of on-site development, culminating in an exhibition. The Redbull Music Academy will also return to the center on May 16, this time with a hardcore festival.
If you’ve gotten this far, we’re glad that you’re as invested in the future of the Knockdown Center as we are, because your voice needs to be heard! Last week the KDC put up a petition called “I Support Knockdown” asking for “a show of public support.” They’re seeking 2,000 signatures by May 8th to help bolster their application for becoming legal on their terms: a 5,000 person capacity and a liquor license. If we could vote 1700 times (which is how far they are from their goal), we would, but it’s up to the communities of Bushwick, Ridgewood and beyond to back the space. Have you been to an event there? Do you want to check out their future programming? Then help them solidify their own future and make your signature hold power! Check BD and the Knockdown Center’s facebook for updates, and spread the word!