As you walk towards the non-descript black brick building that houses the newly opened club Analog BKNY (177 2nd Avenue at 14th Street), you’ll pass by a plumbing and heating supply store, a collision and towing place, and a few oil puddles next to the garbage truck at the corner.
Round the corner onto 14th Street, and you’ll see a beautiful splash of artwork by Dasic Fernández that grips the side of the building. The visual piece sneaks up on you, and the mind-bending sound system inside Analog BKNY will do the same.
After a soft opening on March 6 which included the likes of heralded DJ/Mixer/Producer Jellybean Benitez, the new danceclub is not thinking small.
“This place is going to be a throwback,” says owner Mike Bruno, who has been working in the music industry for over 23 years.
At first glance, the space looks extremely low-fi. The stage is all black — as is most of the venue for that matter. The large dance floor is bookended by two long bars, and the lounge area off to the side gives a sitdown space for the guests.
But then Bruno asks me to look up. Just above the disco ball, he points out an extensive LED light system. “We can get every color of the rainbow from up there,” he says.
Bruno has a very clear goal for what he is trying to accomplish with Analog BKNY. “I want to bring everything back to the dance floor,” he says. “This is an all-black space so that we can have a clean palate.”
When we ask Bruno about influences for Analog BKNY, he lists off Twilo (a Chelsea club which closed in 2001), the original Sound Factory (the 1980s-early 90s in Manhattan), and Paradise Garage (1977-1987 on King Street in Manhattan). “And Funhouse, without the clown,” he adds.
But it’s Bruno’s partnership with Craig “Shorty” Bernabeu that he thinks will give the club its pedigree. Bernabeu is the owner of SBS Slammer by Shorty, a company that creates analog soundsystems.
The term “analog” soundsystem may not be well-known to the everyday electronic music fan, but to audiophiles, Bernabeu — or “Shorty” — is a guru.
“It’s a hand-made soundsystem built from scratch,” he said. “It even has one-of-a-kind amplifiers. There’s no limiters, no compressors—pure sound,” Bernabeu told Resident Advisor, the electronic music magazine.
Bruno sends Bernabeu over to the sound system. “The best way to get it is to hear it,” he says. Bruno takes me to the center of the dance floor as Bernabeu puts on the music. “It’s quadraphonic — check out those speakers.” As I look to the four corners of the room, I realize I can hear everything Bruno says to me. “I’m not even raising my voice,” he adds.
And that’s the point — the music surrounds you. “People can talk to each other, hear each other.” It’s hard to describe the sweet, crisp sound until you hear it.
Bruno and Bernabeu lead me over to one of the long bars. “See, we can stand here, have a drink, have a conversation — and hear all of that at the same time,” the owner tells me.
Bernabeu has designed systems for clubs all over the world — including Club Stereo in Montreal, Club G-Spot in Shanghai, and Twilo in Manhattan.
“The sound system has been built and customized to this space,” says Bernabeu.
This isn’t the first time that a music venue has been opened at 177 2nd Avenue. SRB Brooklyn — a live music club — opened in early 2014. It didn’t fare well, but neither did the second attempt in late 2014. Sankeys Brooklyn closed in November 2014, after only being in business for three weeks.
Sankeys — a nightclub franchise which opened its first venue in Manchester, England in 1994 — had a very contentious relationship with the building owner, Arden Kaisman. Sankeys owner David Vincent said the Brooklyn franchise “failed to deliver on any of the agreed terms and we soon found ourselves in an untenable position being both unsupported financially and operationally.” Kaisman is still the owner of the building.
Bruno doesn’t foresee those issues happening with Analog BKNY. “The owner owns the building, so the issue of rent won’t be a problem.” In fact, the club plans to hold only one or two shows per month. “We’ll have private events, too. And we’re hoping for some sort of neighborhood party at some point,” says Bruno.
Bruno is looking forward to having the club in the Gowanus neighborhood. “Brooklyn is not just a few blocks of Williamsburg and Bushwick,” he tells Resident Advisor.
Bruno sends Bernabeu to turn off the sound system. The space becomes so quiet, that it actually seems loud.
But Bruno’s energy doesn’t die down. “You know what? I’m going to take it back old school.”
Analog BKNY is located at 177 2nd Avenue (at 14th Street). The club plans to feature one or two events a month, so check the website often for upcoming shows, pricing, and more information. The Classic Throwback Ozone Layer will take place on Sunday, May 8.