Wire Festival 2024

Report by Wolf from New York CIty.

In the heart of Queens, the rejuvenated Knockdown Center pulses with the beats of Wire Festival 2024. Visionaries GeGa Japaridze and Téa Abashidze have transformed this former factory into a vibrant hub for music and community, reigniting New York’s artistic scene. Wire Festival 2024 transcends music, emerging as a cultural movement. Panels on vinyl in the digital age and the complexities of the O-1 Visa process address vital industry issues. Collaborations with European collectives like Berlin’s Mala-Junta and Amsterdam’s Vault Sessions infuse the festival with diverse and dynamic energy.

Manhattan, historically the city’s cultural hotbed, has become prohibitively expensive both for artists to live and for organizers to throw parties. In the 70’s through the late 90’s, repurposed former-commercial spaces like Studio 54, The Tunnel, and The Sound Factory became a breeding ground for a diverse array of partygoers from all walks of life. The NY club scene was known as some of the first public spaces for gay and queer partygoers to dance, express themselves, and build community. However, over the past 25 years, New York City has regressed, ceding its central status at the forefront of fashion and music to the European capitals, Milan, Paris, and Berlin.

The reasons for this regression vary, starting in the 90’s with a crackdown on nightlife by the city’s misguided politicians. Enforcement of a 91-year-old cabaret law, a relic of the Prohibition Era, made it illegal for most New York City venues to allow space for dancing, putting venues at risk of heavy fines or the loss of their operating license. The subsequent events of September 11th, the economic destruction of 2008’s financial crisis, and the havoc and instability caused by the recent global health phenomena, have turned a city’s once thriving nightlife scene into a shell of its former self.

The rhythm changes though. Through careful advocacy by promoters and organizers dedicated to the city’s future, the archaic regulations prohibiting dancing and live music were repealed. In the search for new available spaces, the core of New York’s artistic community migrated to Brooklyn and Queens. Though rapidly changing, the city’s outer boroughs still contain pockets of housing affordable to artists and a patchwork of secluded warehouses being utilized by a new generation of promoters and organizers.

Knockdown Center, a 100-year-old former factory, has been transformed into “an arts and performance space dedicated to cross-disciplinary projects and collaborations.” Wire Festival is one such project. Conceived by Georgian-born GeGa Japaridze and Téa Abashidze, Wire Festival represents the newest iteration of utilization of the space. The Wire Festival organizers, also creators of New York’s Basement which occupies the subterranean tunnels beneath the Knockdown Center Complex, have devoted themselves to creating space for a new generation of artists to perform, dance, and build community.

In addition to the musical offerings, Wire Festival hosts panels discussing a variety of issues facing the global techno community. This year’s discussion panels, in collaboration with Resident Advisor, centered on the use of vinyl in the digital era, as well as the differences in electronic music landscapes in the US vs. Europe. The panels play a role as part of WIRE FESTIVAL’S unique voice advocating for change. The festival organizers have used their platform to bring attention to the United States’ expensive and complicated O-1 Visa process. The complexities of this process represent a significant roadblock to the intercultural exchange that spawns new musical genres.

Techno and house music, in their current form, emerged from an amalgamation of records and sounds circulated between Detroit, Chicago, and post-Soviet Berlin by a generation of trailblazing artists. In today’s climate, with the growing bureaucracy and expense involved in the international visa process, tomorrow’s generation of musicians and artists may never find the opportunity to coalesce.

Despite these challenges, Wire Festival emerges, curating partnerships with queer party collectives from across the spectrum of the European underground. For 2024’s Wire Festival, Berlin’s Mala-Junta and Amsterdam’s Vault Sessions contributed by bringing the organizers and resident DJs that form each party’s unique sound and identity. Through these collaborations, Wire Festival absorbs and integrates the energy and spirit of the European underground.

Through its unique format, together with outspoken advocacy, Wire Festival proposes an optimistic future; a revitalization of New York City as a cultural center, spawning the next generation of artists and creative movements.

Wire Festival 2024 / NYC


Wire Festival
/ @wirefestival

Photography: Wolf / @wolfthephotographer
Editor: Marco Giuliano, Lídia Gómez / @marcogiulianoph @mamba.vt
Words: Wolf / @wolfthephotographer

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