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Inside An Illegal Party In An Abandoned Subway Station Deep Under NYC (gothamist.com)
252 points by vxNsr 1574 days ago | hide | past | web | 118 comments | favorite

"I walked away without looking back, feeling like we'd just gotten away with an elaborate bank robbery."

I used to run treasure hunts, along with a friend of mine, where teams of four would solve puzzles and clues that would take them through a series of locations similar to the one in the article [1]. This is a really good way to describe the feeling -- I've always described it as "playing secret agent."

Incidentally though, we were always terrified to bring even small groups of people into these various abandoned buildings. I still have nightmares about it. Having a party -- with that many people and that much noise -- is absolutely insane.

[1] Some examples I dug up: http://imgur.com/a/WVw4Q

Tangent: There's a guy that's been climbing public spaces lately, including the Golden Gate Bridge and the Space Needle. The photos are absolutely stunning.



Related: There's a fellow named Bradley Garrett who did his PhD dissertation on "Place Hacking". GQ has an awesome article of the crazy places he has explored and his run-ins with law enforcement when "hacking" certain restricted locations.


Abstract of Place Hacking: Tales of Urban Exploration, doctoral thesis by Bradley Garrett [1]. Includes download link (slow) for the full document.

[1] http://pure.rhul.ac.uk/portal/en/publications/place-hacking-...

Looking at both the pictures from the Golden Gate and from the Space Needle made my palms sweaty. It's just odd thinking about someone being up there for no other reason than to be there.

Somebody has been reading "Pirate Cinema" (or perhaps Cory was just retelling this story in a fictional setting).

I tried for a while to generate interest in a 'no code' sort of limited liability contract which was literally signed with a drop of blood which said "No one is liable for anything that happens to me at this event" that was enforceable in court. Building collapses and 500 die? Oh well. Someone goes ape shit on acid and shoots people, tough. You slipped on some vomit and broke two vertebrae and now cant walk, sucks to be you dude.

The interesting bit for me has always been the contrast between people demanding that they should be allowed to throw parties like this, but then are unwilling to make themselves and no one else solely responsible for what happens.

Of all the things Cory did explore in his excellent book (mostly a screed on big content types) I wish he had tackled that one too.

The Burningman ticket has for as long as I remember (at least as far back as '98) had words similar to "I voluntarily assume the risk of serious injury or death by attending this event".

(We had tshirts made with the exact ticket wording in '01 or '02...)

Right, but that is just hipster douchebags thinking it would be "edgy" to say that. One sniff of actual danger and they'll have Daddy come pick them up, or buy their way out with his credit card.

There are certainly art installations every year that can maim or kill if you do something stupid. For that matter if you're stupid and wander off into the dust storm without water, you can easily get heat stroke. That doesn't mean going to burning man is "edgy and dangerous", it just means that's what you have to put on a ticket if you are organizing an event in litigation-happy USA.

Funny that the UK has all the ambulance-chasing lawyers too now (thanks America!) yet there is no such disclaimer on Glastonbury.

You can't disclaim liability in the UK. All those signs you see where people are saying that they're not liable? Those are meaningless.

But, apart from that, you're just plain wrong. Did you even check?


> 4. Admission is at Ticket Holder's own risk. Glastonbury Festival 2013 Ltd and the Premises Licence Holder will not be held liable for any loss, injuries or damages sustained at the event including damage, theft or losses to property and motor vehicles, if the cause is due to the negligence of the ticket holder or the actions of other patrons or third parties or force majeure.

I'm pretty sure you can't disclaim liability in the US just with a sign either. All of those 'park at your own risk' signs mean nothing when a runaway shopping cart puts a big dent in your door. A shopping center is responsible for their carts, but not for your car being broken into - things like that. Those signs are just there to make people think they can't sue.

When I was in college I played a lot of intramural softball. Of course you had to sign a release that if you get hurt in the regular course of the game the school wasn't liable. Fair enough. My problem was that they allowed these insane metal softball bats, triple-walled ones that can turn Gary Coleman into Jose Cabrera. As the pitcher I didn't like balls flying at my head (insert gay joke here) at those insane speeds.

I complained and was promptly told 'you signed a waiver'. I made it clear that I didn't sign a waiver for negligence and they were being negligent by allowing unsafe bats, moreso now that I've brought the issue to their attention. They changed their tune pretty quickly after that.

There's a big fence around Glastonbury - and wandering off into the Somerset countryside doesn't hold the same level of risk as walking out into the desert...

And while never having been to Glastonbury, I strongly doubt I'd have the opportunity there to get as close to the action with things like Greg Leyh's 30foot tall Tesla Coil(1), or Jim Masons flamethrowers(2), or Dance Dance Immolation(3), or even the somewhat more "safe" artworks like Crude Awakening(4).

I know Burningman has a _very_ strong "hipster douchbag" reputation these days (and I won't argue that it's not at least somewhat deserved) - there is definitely something more than that as well.

(1) http://galleries.burningman.com/photos/klammerd/klammerd.995...

(2) http://galleries.burningman.com/photos/silver/silver.3577

(3) http://galleries.burningman.com/photos/mr_fang/mr_fang.21326

(4) http://youtu.be/EWGx0PhDGlU?t=2m44s

DDI is pretty safe, Flame Thrower Shooting Gallery is the one I worry about. BTW we're bringing both of them back (and more) this year as part of Charcade: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/Site3/charcade-burning-m...

Well, I don't know, there are an awful lot of badgers around these days.

Because you're not in the middle of the desert, you're in a smashing field in a charming part of the country. Some of the installations in Glastonbury are most likely dangerous in some respects, but a lot of the ones at Burning Man seem to carry an inherent risk of injury if you're not seriously careful.

Ever been to Burning Man? Thought not.

Just being in the middle of the Black Rock Desert can kill you , if you don't drink enough water. There are plenty of ways to die while at Burning Man and people have. In 1996 at one of the bigger burn events, the people in charge of the event were yelling at the crowd to "stand back! We're not professionals!". Much of the large-scale are is dangerous and yet people love to climb all over them and there are no safety nets. It is seriously not an environment for "hipster douchebags" at all.

I tried for a while to generate interest in a 'no code' sort of limited liability contract

Releases like that are pretty common in the TV world, eg stunt performers waive their claims against the production company.

The interesting bit for me has always been the contrast between people demanding that they should be allowed to throw parties like this, but then are unwilling to make themselves and no one else solely responsible for what happens.

I think you'd have a hard time getting attendees to sign such contracts, but people who throw unpermitted parties accept that risk as a matter of course. Of course the smart ones proactively minimize risk for attendees.

> Releases like that are pretty common in the TV world, eg stunt performers waive their claims against the production company.

Do they have to jump through hoops though?

I imagine a court could overturn a contract if a good case was presented that the person signing didn't realize the implications, etc., and that would be especially likely for a contract signed in the sort of quick/casual atmosphere that likely accompanies a bunch of people going off to a party...

They're stunt performers, the hoops they jump through are on fire! Or even paned with glass, that's really common. Sorry, couldn't resist.

Well, they typically have to pay $$ to the person signing the contract, and the contracts are voluminous. When people are paying you to be entertained then it'd be a lot harder to make such a contract stick IMHO. I've never looked into the waivers on things like roller coasters, but you may recall that there have been several semi-disasters involving cruise ships in the last year or two and the victims generally have little in the way of legal recourse because the risky activity (riding on a ship, which might sink) takes place outside regular jurisdictions. Contracts for illegal activity (eg unpermitted entertainment such as the subject of this conversation) are much harder to enforce.

You're better off relying on good will and common sense to make an unpermitted event as safe as possible than pining for some sort of procedural shield. Of course, you can get away with substantially more if you're not engaged in a commercial transaction to start with.

The stunt performers have their own insurance and are presumably more cognizant of the risks they undertake.

That looks like a fun party. It makes me happy that this kind of thing happens. There's something really exciting about dancing in abandoned spaces. It's as if they've been returned to nature, and the party goers belong to a primitive tribe involved in some ancient ritual. I know that sounds cheesy but I don't know how else to describe the experience.

For contrast, I believe that the same event organized in cooperation with the city in a functioning subway station wouldn't be nearly as fun. Perhaps it's the feeling of peaceful anarchy that's most important.

Many parties that take place in abandoned warehouses have a similar vibe - most western nations have cracked down on them on the basis of unregulated drug and alcohol use - although this location is really quite dramatic and I bet the musicians were amazing. I wish there was an mp3.

> "How do I get out?" she nervously asked. I followed her back up to the hatch, where some Agents did their best to calm her down, but firmly reminded her that no one would be allowed to leave until the end. She seemed a little upset, but I saw her later and it seemed that she'd happily embraced the Stockholm syndrome.

I don't mind the trespassing so much, but activities without safe words aren't cool.

Ummmm, maybe.

What's the "safe word" for an long (think international) flight? What's the safe word for a deep-enough-to-require-decompression scuba dive? What's the safe word for a roller coaster? A parachute jump? There are lots of things which, once embarked upon don't have any "easy" ways out apart from seeing them through to the end.

From TFA "To remind you, this is an event with some legal and physical risks. If you are uncomfortable with these risks you should not attend. Really. Once the event begins you cannot leave for two hours."

They made it clear enough - in my opinion. If you're the sort of person who needs a safe word for all your activities, you shouldn't attend that sort of event (or do any of many things which are hard or impossible to "back out of" once started).

Fair point; there are some activities that it is simple not feasible to terminate at a moment's notice. But this wasn't one of them: standing between the woman and the end of a claustrophobia-induced panic attack wasn't the laws of nature but two goons scared of the legal consequences of their actions. Helluva difference.

And remember, even if the woman knew in advance she was at least somewhat claustrophobic, the exact nature of the physical and legal risks were unknown: maybe the woman would have been fine if they had been climbing up ladders onto an abandoned rooftop instead of down ladders into an abandoned subway.

While you (and anigbrowl below) are both right - in that my counter examples all involve some sort of physical inevitability of the "lock in" - I'm not sure that's necessarily a hard requirement to enforce this kind of lock in. From the "real world" there's things like journalist lock ins at political events which're much the same - a voluntarily agreed upon limitation that's not enforced by the fact that you just stepped out of a plane or descended 120 feet under the sea, but which are no less "enforced".

I'm of the opinion that an event organiser is perfectly entitled to put these sorts of restrictions on participants ability to exit an event (within some reasonable bounds), and so long as it's clearly enough explained before participants agree and attend, a "claustrophobia-induced panic attack" should be no more or less of a concern for event staff than it'd be on an international flight. The sufferer should be extended all sympathy and assistance - but the decision to "break the agreement" should be of the same sort of level as diverting a Sydney to San Francisco flight to Hawaii, sure you'd do it in the face of a clear and imminent medical emergency - but there's a certain (and perhaps large) level of discomfort which passengers are rightfully expected to "put up with" as part of the agreement. People who're "afraid of flying" and prone to panic attacks understand that, and make appropriate decisions (for them) all the time. From the article's "and it seemed that she'd happily embraced the Stockholm syndrome." it sounds to me like she accepted "the rules/agreement" in the end, while perhaps regretting the choice was in this case incorrect for her - the very negative use of the phrase "Stockholm syndrome" implies to me that she thinks the event organisers and the "two goons" did the right thing.

I'm sure other people think differently - and while I respect that different opinion - I'm not sure I agree that every event ever organised needs to cater to every possible latent bad reaction. _I_ want to be able to attend events that challenge my personal limits of comfort/security/sanity/whatever. I'm happy enough for those things to have clearly and strongly worded warnings - but I'm unhappy with someone saying "that's not a restriction imposed by a law of nature, so you can't impose it as a requirement of an event you run".

Trapping a person inside a building by force, when otherwise they would be physically capable of leaving, on the other hand, could easily be construed as criminal kidnapping. In this case, kidnapping in order to obstruct justice may even be arguable.

Sure. I'm not arguing against "it could easily be construed" and "it may even be arguable" (though I think you're seriously stretching there). If this was a regular nightclub with no prior agreement/requirement about exit policy, you'd be completely unarguably right.

My questions are: Are there circumstances in which it would be considered appropriate? And what sort of notification do you have to give in advance before it could be widely considered appropriate?

Where I come from, the government considers it appropriate to "lock up" journalists for 6hrs on a voluntary basis in return for privileged early access to information about the federal budget: http://ministers.treasury.gov.au/DisplayDocs.aspx?doc=pressr... I'm not sure how the exemption for "except in case of emergency" is applied, but I reasonably sure it's closer to the "OK, divert the flight from San Francisco to Honolulu" grade "emergencies" rather than claustrophobia or panic attacks.

If I, as a competent adult of sound mind, wish to _choose_ to put myself in a situation where someone will "trap me inside a building by force, when otherwise I would be physically capable of leaving" - what steps does an event organiser have to go to to not be accused of wrongdoing when they do exactly that?

While I'm happy enough that I'd agree to be "bound" by an event invitation instruction saying "To remind you, this is an event with some legal and physical risks. If you are uncomfortable with these risks you should not attend. Really. Once the event begins you cannot leave for two hours." - I can understand that some people might think that's not "enough".

If there are any people reading who disagree that statement is sufficient to justify the actions on the part of the event staff in the article - what would you consider "sufficient notification/agreement"? (Or do you think restricting my ability to choose to be able to go to that sort of event is "right"?)

Ok, last one for me. I think we just fundamentally disagree and that's that in the end.

I'm using the phrase 'safe word' very specifically here. When there is a consensual abridgment of rights or safety, there needs to be a way to distinguish between escape attempts which are part of the play, and a serious withdrawal of consent or change of circumstances. We don't actually know that the woman in the story really wanted out of the hole in the ground. Maybe she was just disappointed with the concert when she found out the full details and wanted to go see a movie instead. Maybe she was having a full blown panic attack from being underground and felt like she was going to die if she didn't get out. Maybe she just had to pee. Maybe she was just testing and wanted to be turned back, wanted to feel trapped because it added to the allure of the event. Mostly we don't know because the author of the article wasn't reporting on her, she was just a background character in the story of the concert to add ambiance. "Oooo, we were totally trapped down there, one woman tried to leave and they wouldn't let her."

In my opinion, striving for absolute pre-consent is wrong, dangerous, and stupid. What if the woman needed to leave because her baby-sitter had just called to say she was leaving and her children were now unattended? What if she was having a life-threatening medical problem (asthma, diabetes, heart condition...)? What if her brother had just been in a car accident, and was at the hospital dying? I assume there are conditions under which you would agree she should leave, even if she agreed not to beforehand. There are situations under which they will turn a plane around, and there are situations under which they will have a diver make a rapid ascent and deal with the consequences later.

In my opinion, a severe panic attack is fully horrible enough to warrant leaving. If it happened in a prison, I'd call it cruel and unusual. We can't know what someone is subjectively experiencing, and it's also very hard to know what someone is physically experiencing with respect to medical conditions, so it should always be within the rights of an individual to declare that the situation has changed and withdraw previously given consent.

> "it may even be arguable" (though I think you're seriously stretching there)

He's not stretching - it's one of the very textbook definitions of kidnapping, forcibly preventing someone from leaving a situation. Put it this way, if I, as a paramedic, am on scene of someone who has a medical need, but is of sound mind, if they say "no, I want to get out of this ambulance" - even if we are going lights and sirens to the hospital - for me to refuse leads me to charges of assault, kidnapping, and malpractice.

FWIW, my "it may even be arguable" objection was to the specific "on order to obstruct justice" part of this claim: "In this case, kidnapping in order to obstruct justice may even be arguable."

In _my_ opinion, anybody who argues they've been "kidnapped" if being told they can't leave an event which advertised itself saying "once the event starts you won't be able to leave for two hours" is most likely being unspeakably self centered and disrespectful of everybody else's time and rights. Sure, there are exceptions - and if event staff _really_ tried to enforce the agreed-upon no-exit policy in the face of medical emergency or obvious external need, perhaps "kidnapping" would be the right (or one of the useable) legal remedies, but going down that path for claustrophobia or panic attacks will result in me judging you in a _very_ unfavourable light - in much the same way as I'd be extremely unhappy to have my flight diverted for a panic attack.

In your professional/ambulance case, there's at least one big difference - people don't specifically get asked to agree up front that once they get in the ambulance the deal is they agree not to get out until the end of the ride. And I've got a question - where does practical reality come into conflict with your risk of getting charged? If I demanded to get out of your ambulance immediately, whould you stop and let me out in the middle of the Golden Gate Bridge or the Lincoln Tunnel?

You are talking about matters of etiquette & consent. Consent can be granted, but it can also be revoked. The woman in question apparently ceased her attempts to leave when presented with two bouncers who intimidated her in some way. This in itself may be, in American legal parlance, 'assault', the threat of force, used instrumentally in order to accomplish kidnapping. But it begs another question: What exactly would have occurred if the woman had not taken 'no' for an answer? The men were there to tell her not to leave. The men were chosen for their physical characteristics that conveyed an implicit message of 'we are able to restrain you if we have to'.

Your examples involve physical impossibility or significant physical danger, and are not a good comparison for an event where the non-departure rule is merely strategic.

"I don't mind the trespassing so much, but activities without safe words aren't cool."

Consent goes both ways; if you're told beforehand that you're not going to be allowed to leave, then it's selfish to put everyone else at an increased legal risk that they didn't sign up for.

"Buy the ticket, take the ride."

Sometimes, the only way out is through!

Right. I'm a paramedic, and if I hold someone of sound mind against their will, that's kidnapping.

Even more so, these people.

This reminds of the secret night club in an abandoned water tower (also in NYC) from last month, albeit larger in scale.

article: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/23/nyregion/illicit-nightclub...

photos: http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2013/05/22/nyregion/2013052...

In case any New Yorkers are wondering, the party was held between Pell and Canal St, in a section of the subway that was created for the Second Ave Subway in the 70s, but will not be used in the one being built now (so, will likely never be used). And this is not confidential information:


If you remain on the downtown 6 train after the last stop (Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall), you get a glimpse of the abandoned City Hall station [1] as the train turns around. This was one of the very first NYC subway stations to open in 1904!

It's a beautiful piece of history. [2]

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_Hall_(IRT_Lexington_Avenue...

[2] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vWF3IDk9Gek

It's sad that this is illegal. They're not doing anything wrong and it's their tax payer dollars that built those tunnels anyway. The depths of New York belong to the people.

"But it's not safe". What is? In the USA 40,000 die each year from car accidents, 700+ children from drowning, 1 million+ from cancer and heart disease. If going down there wasn't illegal they'd be able to have lighting, security, and other safety measures to make it even more safe.

(btw, this is totally the type of place that Stefon would suggest on SNL)

False dichotomy. Life isn't and can't be completely safe. But abandoned structures are considerably more dangerous than much of life (with the exception of car travel, which there's a cultural bias that leads people to ignore the risks of. Frankly you have to be crazy to get in a car in this day and age, but that's another argument). Building codes and fire escape requirements exist for a reason; sooner or later a lot of people will die at an event much like this one. It's unfortunate that there's no way to legally accept the risks of something dangerous, but it would be very difficult to make such a thing legally rigorous (if you can come up with a good proposal it will have my support).

You don't even have to be in the car. You have to be crazy to even go near a street.


It all comes down to who has liability when some drunk kid gets injured or killed in there. When it's illegal and difficult to access, the government has no reasonable expectation to keep it safe, and has no liability.

Can it be illegal without penalties? There are a few laws that forbid the public from doing things (riding electric scooters on the sidewalk) but don't have any penalties associated with the act. Nor do the police enforce them.

Plus I doubt the city could get sued for not cementing the place shut. Is the state of Florida sued for not fencing off the ocean every time someone swims out in the Atlantic and gets caught by rip tides and dies? It's reasonable to expect every citizen to avoid abandoned buildings and enter at their own risk.

unfortunately if you drown off the coast of a public beach the state is in fact liable unless they clearly posted warnings and/or told you not to go in the water. This is why so many beaches have giant signs with warnings or even completely closed with no trespassing signs. If there is no warning and someone dies the owner/manager of the beach is responsible for the death through negligence for not placing a rip tide warning. If there is a clear warning or no trespassing sign then there is no liability because you did not head the warnings or entered illegally. http://masglp.olemiss.edu/Water%20Log/WL24/24.2rip.htm

"There are a few laws that forbid the public from doing things (riding electric scooters on the sidewalk) but don't have any penalties associated with the act. Nor do the police enforce them."

In New York City they absolutely do. I've seen lots of tickets given for regular and electric bicycles, and I've seen one delivery-guy's electric bicycle confiscated for just that.

If the city could make a buck off of it they'd have no problem. Problem being that once it's officially ok'd by the city - the city becomes liable for everything. Hell if anything happened to one of the partiers the city might be sued anyway for not sealing the place up.

If it wasn't illegal it wouldn't be fun, would it? It would just be a normal club with slightly unusual decor and weird acoustics.

I've had plenty of fun at those.

Their taxpayer dollars? The ruins look considerably older than the attendees. Did they invent some kind of timewarp?

If going down there wasn't illegal they'd be able to have lighting, security, and other safety measures to make it even more safe.

'be able to have' != 'actually supply', not by a long shot.


People fall into oncoming traffic everyday. Does that mean we need to build fences around every road? When will the babysitting end? At what point? Each human being is responsible for the risk they're willing to take. From driving to plastic surgery to crossing the street. This is no more risky than the deadly side effects of most of today's pharmaceutical concoctions.

This is actually a pretty well-covered aspect of liability law. Each party has to take reasonable care to mitigate risk. It's not the kind of problem that you are making it out to be, and there's a huge body of case law establishing what is reasonable and what isn't.

For those curious, the newsletter this was announced on is Nonsense NYC (http://www.nonsensenyc.com/). I've been unsubscribed for the last year or two, but in years prior there have been many very interesting items every single week. Everything from knitting to robots (battlebots!) to things like this and more.

When I was a youngin, we took to the woods outside of town with generators, kegs and a couple of live bands. It certainly wasn't as hip as this party but when you get sick of getting busted in the city, you get creative. We hung lights in the trees and constructed stages for the bands.

Now I am 40... You kids need to get off my lawn!

I had this exact same thought the other day, walking past groups of people sitting on the stoop, playing music out of their cars. It looked exactly like a field party, except it was in Manhattan.

Reminds me of the parties thrown in the catacombs under Paris. Always wanted to do it.


It makes me so happy that this type of thing actually happens in the world.

Interesting how all of these folks are cool with someone taking photos of them and posting them to the internet, particularly since the site states that the party is illegal.

It's not illegal to attend an unpermitted party, only to organize one. (Edit: that I know about...I'm too lazy to research NY law on unlawful assembly, and this isn't meant to be legal advice.) And an assertion on a blog doesn't rise to the standard of evidence.

As someone with a lot of experience in this area, authorities are in general not so much concerned with administrative propriety as with safety and respect for others (ie noise complaints).

It's very unlikely that the state wants to pursue a trespassing charge based on a poorly-lit photograph. "Do you have any physical evidence that this is my client?" "No." "I rest my case."

well, they might want to put a stop to it before there's a fire or stampede in a tight space with no exits. these folks seem pretty well organized but they're also locking people in. if there's an incident, guaranteed the city gets sued for big bucks if it it's on their property.

I doubt the city would be sued for this.

Why would you doubt that? Imagine some hot shot lawyer's 19 year old daughter falls and breaks her neck. They would go after the city for not cementing the place shut and probably win - or at least get a deal.

The sickening part is that the city does the math and sometimes its just cheaper to pay the person to go away.

young padawan, much to learn, you have, about the ways of the dark side. when you look at the dark side, careful you must be. For the dark side looks back.


Those sound pretty reasonable to me -- if you get hit by a car, you should sue the driver, even if the driver is the NYPD. That's a far cry from going down into the second avenue subway and suing the city for slipping and falling.

(Remember, being an invitee is different from being a trespassee. If you hurt yourself in a normal subway station, that's one thing. But if you open a manhole and crawl down into an abandoned station, that's another thing.)

from TFA

  A Manhattan jury awarded $14.1 million to a woman who lay
  down on New York City subway tracks and was hit by a train 
  during a failed suicide. Another New York City jury gave 
  $9.3 million to a man who fell on subway tracks while 
  inebriated and lost his left arm. Another drunk on the 
  tracks was awarded $6 million.
I dunno, if you can get $14.1m for lying down on the subway tracks, you can probably get a pot of money if the city turns a blind eye while people go down into unlocked vaults for parties and have an accident.

That's pretty dumb. But perhaps it's subtle encouragement from the juries for the MTA to install platform doors:


This is one of those things that requires the letter of the law behind any enforcement. You can admit to any crime you'd like, but absent evidence that there was indeed a crime, law enforcement can't exactly put you away for years.

Unless law enforcement found these people breaking the law, or "knew" that they did and found evidence of such, there's no recourse. Photos of people at an "illegal" gathering? Maybe the organizers indeed had a permit for whatever space they were in; maybe it was all staged inside a warehouse that they owned; maybe the whole story was concocted by the author.

Ultimately, unless they get caught or leave obvious evidence of exactly what took place in which location involving which people ... there's nothing to prosecute.

Edit: All that said, I'd hate to see the consequences of someone being seriously injured during one of these events. I'm hoping the "Agents" can get the person safely to the surface and that the injured party will remain mum on the details.

And the organizers stated clearly that photography is expressly forbidden.

EDIT: ha, I missed that part, my eyes must of just skipped over it, figuring it to be more about not taking pictures.

I just like the idea of exploring the "old" abandoned places that are literally beneath our feet.

The organizers stated clearly "There will be professional photographers whose images will be available afterward."

I must need coffee. Just spent an inordinate amount of time wondering why anyone would want an image of the photographer.

That's an SNL skit waiting to happen. "Hey, why did our wedding photographer send us a bunch of pictures of himself?!"

This reminds me of some of the squat parties[1] that would happen in the UK (and particularly around London) in the 80s and 90s.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_party#Squat_Party

Still happening, except they wouldn't last 2 hours like OP's story. I took an american colleague to a rave (in dublin) about a year ago and he was freaking out at the fact that you had to meet someone somewhere then get passed off to a few more people before you got there. "Its like the movies man!"

Then we raved until 9 in the morning to some deep techno. There were no official photographers.

I honestly thought NY would have a majorly active underground party scene.

> Still happening

Not as much though. The police basically killed it completely come the beginning of the 00s. (though there's a chance that I'm now just completely out of the loop so oblivious to it all)

Ah yes, the Criminal Justice Act. I think the law even has provisions about "repetitive beats." I seem to remember vaguely a techno track at the time that sampled some politician (Michael Howard, I think, the Home Secretary) reading that part of the bill. Memory is obviously a bit hazy.

There are still raves in fields, but nothing like to the extent there used to be.

There's been a resurgence. Last year there was a huge one in London. Large sound system, illegal space, thousand people.

NYC had a good scene through the 90s but gentrification and a bunch of legislation in the mid 2000s killed it.

I went to a warehouse rave in Manchester (because, well, par for the course), it involved calling a telephone helpline to get instructions, meeting someone who knew someone, then finally getting there.

I agree, I thought NY still had a big party scene even if it wasn't necessarily built around dance music.

Want to make an American friend for another rave? :-D

What are some potential reasons for a subway station to become abandoned?

It looks like the construction had advanced quite far before it was halted.

Here's one - got reused as a museum. honestly just seems like poor planning, they ended up not having so many local trains they needed a separate terminus.


sometimes when the system gets extended, sections become redundant.

when they built the new South Ferry station they abandoned the old one. then when the new station got destroyed by Sandy they went back to the old one, which is so small everyone has to exit through the first 5 cars.


In this case it was part of one attempt at the Second Avenue subway. I think it was built in the 70s, then the city ran out of money and construction was halted. I believe the new Second Ave subway will not be using the same route in this part of Manhattan (or will be at a different depth) so they will not be using these tunnels/stations.

In the comments section, the author explains that he shut down comments by others due to them exposing the location of the event. The responsible thing to do would be to take the blog post down. I'd be very surprised if he got an invite to the next event at this rate...

The photographers were professional hired photographers for the event. The author was asked to cover the event.

The point is that this "professional" photographer doesn't seem to be acting as professional as this kind of event calls for.

Did I read wrong, or was he not invited to cover the event?

I think it was less about getting caught and more about keeping the place secret so it doesn't get trashed and so that he can keep doing events like this in the future.

As soon as they publicized the event, they guaranteed that it would be locked down from this point forward. If you can't tell by the graffiti, many people have been there before them and kept it to themselves, but nobody else will in the future.

Yay, it's the Extra Action Marching Band - the dancers, drummers and horn players in the photos! (They evolved out of Crash Worship.)

Extra Action invaded RailsConf 2007 in Portland, leading to one of the most memorable shows I've ever been to.

My friend says the Rails community bifurcated at that moment, split between those who thought it was awesome, and those who thought it was disruptive and unprofessional.

Heh - I've got a picture somewhere of a friend of mine playing trumpet with Extra Action Marching Band with David Byrne. (And some insane stories about the Extreme Elvis tour of Vegas where they played the entire first Back Sabbath album).

Why was the party illegal ?

you're supposed to get a permit for events over 50 people, and you're supposed to have separate permits to the publicly-owned venue, there are supposed to be bathrooms, proper fire escapes, yadda yadda. And in fairness, these requirements exist for good reasons, because for every artsy type that runs such an event in a reasonable responsible fashion, there's a greedy promoter that will do the same sort of thing for purely mercenary purposes and who is willing to sacrifice the safety of the guests on the altar of profit.

You know, like here in Brazil where people bribed the fire department to get a permit for a night club with not enough emergency exits, and when a fire happened 200 people died?


> you're supposed to get a permit for events over 50 people

That sounds unconstitutional.

You should study the Constitution (really, it's interesting; I'm not trying to be snarky).

The answer here is: the government can restrict the time, place, and manner of free association in a content-neutral way (ie, it can't regulate based on whether the party is for Tea Partiers, Klansmen, or dubstep fans) so long as the restrictions are narrowly tailored to a valid government interest.

Its not if you think about it.

The 50+ people that attend the event have done nothing illegal (other than possibly trespass depending on where the party is and how they get there, and anything illegal they may do while they are at the location in question)

The event organizer who may or may not have endangered all their lives in various ways from fire hazards to toxic chemical exposure to food poisoning. They have done something most would call wrong and are rightly required to submit to the rule of law for the good of the people they may cause harm to and obtain permits proving that they have met certain standards we set to avoid letting people take advantage of the public.

I'll add that I think this may be in may locations burdensome and irritating, but it is important. In the same vein as building construction standards and health inspections in restaurants are important. I do wish it was less 'red tape' but its a matter of balance. Would be nice if the guests could simply sign a waiver, but where do we draw lines? I haven't sufficient ambition to be either a lawyer or politician that I wish to try drawing these lines. I only believe that their existence is important & I know where I feel they should sit.

In the UK you cannot have unpermitted gatherings on your own property where the music being played "includes sounds wholly or predominantly characterised by the emission of a succession of repetitive beats."

I wonder if that law was part of the inspiration for breakcore? You'd be safe if the beats aren't actually repeating...

It's not breakcore, but Autechre's Anti EP was released in protest.


I like the way they also printed some of the sticker notes on the actual labels. You can see this if you click on the teal sleeve image at the top left.

It's hardly surprising, really. The generation who lived through the hedonistic days of the swinging 60s and changing political landscape of the 1970s while enjoying student grants and free university tuition would only naturally litigate against young people wanting to have a party in a field once they grew old.

It's easy to be cynical, so I am!

mind = blown.

You have to strike the balance between right and smart somewhere.


I have attended events like this a few times in the Stockholm area, and although quality varies, I generally love it. I wish there was an easier way to organize and invite people to these types of events - maybe a kickstarter-like website? The tricky part is keeping authorities oblivious...

Extra Action "crashed" a wedding I was at once. Everybody ended up in the pool (there was a pool). It was awesome. They had to drain the pool the next day.

This one's a little too contrived and self-congratulatory for my tastes, though.

A few too many brass instruments and costumed performers to be totally compatible with my idea of an illegal rave, but the venue looks fun!

An illegal rave, like anything else, needs a lot of planning and organization to make it any good. The reality is that most things like this are set up by rich people with artistic pretensions (and often parents with connections in city hall), because they're the ones who can afford to take the risk.

If you go to one that wasn't set up by rich people you get a much more low-key affair; if it's not marketed well enough it can easily degenerate into a handful of people drinking in the dark in an empty building. Which is fun in its own way (but wouldn't lend itself to bloggable photos).

I know some of the people involved in this affair, and I can assure you that they are far from rich or connected. The fact is, NYC has a vibrant, organized, motivated underground arts culture and community.

So where was this? The author claims it's in DUMBO, but I don't know of any abandoned subway stations there.

Chinatown area, the article says they walked for a bit from DUMBO which would make sense to cross the bridge. http://secondavenuesagas.com/2013/06/25/abandoned-sas-segmen...

One guess--if it was in Brooklyn and was a station with no tracks laid down (so never actually used as a station)--is that it was part of the IND second line. Maybe the South 4th Street and Broadway station?

This line was started just before the 1929 crash and never completed. See http://www.columbia.edu/~brennan/abandoned/indsecsys.html, there's a hand-drawn map down at the bottom.

The author said they started at a DUMBO station. Then they walked for half an hour. The author doesn't reveal the location for obvious reasons.

Chinatown. The stretch of tunnel goes from near Cyrystie Street, under the Manhattan Bridge approach plaza, towards Confucius Tower.

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