NYC’s Hottest Party Involves…Plenty of Country Music?

It's not as strange as it sounds

Cowboy hat
NYC's hottest party isn't what you'd expect.
Michael S. Lewis/Getty Images

New York City has nurtured the development of plenty of styles of music over the years. Perhaps the most succinct example of this can be seen in Will Hermes’s expansive history Love Goes to Buildings on Fire, which covers a five-year period that saw giant steps forward in genres from folk to free jazz. In his new book This Must Be the Place, Jesse Rifkin explored the ways New York City’s neighborhoods have shaped artists making music from punk to house.

That said, country music has never had as substantial a foothold in the Big Apple. That doesn’t mean there’s no audience for it; I can remember a friend telling me about going to a sold-out Pat Green concert in the early days of the 2000s. And, famously, iconic NYC venue CBGB has a name that’s an abbreviated version of the phrase “Country, Bluegrass, Blues.”

Still, a city having an audience for country artists and a country scene getting Studio 54 comparisons are two very different things. And yet: in a new article for Curbed, Emma Alpern chronicled a Ridgewood-based party called Honky Tonkin’ in Queens, which appears to have drawn a diverse crowd — with one of the event’s organizers describing “77-year-olds dancing with 20-year-olds.”

Among the musicians mentioned in Alpern’s article are Laura Cantrell, who’s released a host of acclaimed albums over the years, and Lola Kirke, who’s maintained footholds in the worlds of both television and music.

The article also describes a scene that, in its broadest sense, could apply to plenty of famed NYC hotspots over the years: a stylish crowd losing themselves as they dance to the music of skilled artists. And maybe that’s why this scene report isn’t as strange at it seems. The musical genre may be a little different, but the allure of a dance floor endures.

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