Artist Shaun Leonardo‘s clever and thoughtful twist on the Tiki Tiki Club, a popular Queens nightclub phenomenon, explored the possibilities of gender role reversal within a convention that reinforces the cultural glorification of masculinity. Traditionally, Mesera clubs are a waiting game for the women who are chosen and paid for a dance. The idea stems from the exchange of companionship for the length of a song. But at Friday night’s Tiki Tiki Club, Leonardo allowed women to choose their dance partner, paying $2 for the thrill and experience.
Untapped Cities is a proud media sponsor of No Longer Empty’s latest exhibition “How Much Do I Owe You?” at the abandoned Bank of Manhattan in Long Island City. We are so excited about this week’s event that we met with Shaun “El C” Leonardo, the artist responsible for the Tiki Tiki Club party happening this Friday night at The Clock Tower in Queens to ask him a few questions about the performance art.
As an official part of No Longer Empty, Leonardo was asked to create a performance art piece/event that revolves around the concept of transactions. For Leonardo, whose other work explores the hyper-masculine standards set forth by his own Dominican-Guatemalan heritage, this artistic prompt offers an exciting chance to explore the culture of the Queens mesera or finchera clubs, an increasingly popular nightclub phenomenon in which men pay hired women $2 to dance with them for the length of a song. This transaction, which stems from practices common to the Mexican and Central American nightlife scenes, is less about sex (the women are fully clothed, and they do not strip) and more about companionship. (more…)
Our curated events picks for this week: Basquiat at Gagosian, No Longer Empty’s Tiki Tiki Club performance, David Zwirner’s new gallery opening.
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 11: Jean-Michel Basquiat at Gagosian. Featuring over fifty works from public and private collections, the exhibition spans Basquiat’s brief but meteoric career, which ended with his death at the age of twenty-seven. Thirty years after Larry Gagosian first presented his work in Los Angeles, twenty years after the first posthumous survey at the Whitney Museum of American Art (1992–93), and eight years after the Brooklyn Museum of Art retrospective (2005), viewers will have a fresh opportunity to consider Basquiat’s central role in his artistic generation as a lightning rod and a bridge between cultures. Gagosian Gallery, 555 West 24th Street. FREE.
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 12: New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman will lead a conversation about how New York City can tackle large-scale public projects in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, both effectively and fairly. With architectural historian Hilary Ballon, University Professor at NYU and curator of the Museum’s blockbuster exhibitions on Robert Moses and the Grid; Adam Freed, Director of the Global Securing Water Program at the Nature Conservancy; Adriaan Geuze, founding Principal of West 8 Urban Design & Landscape Architecture (Rotterdam and New York); and Philip Orton, Research Scientist at Stevens Institute of Technology and an expert on storm surges and physical oceanography. 6:30pm at MCNY, 1220 Fifth Avenue. Reservations required. $6 Museum members; $8 seniors and students; $12 general public. Buy tickets here.
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 13: The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (MFIT) presents Shoe Obsession, an exhibition that examines our culture’s ever-growing fascination with extravagant and fashionable shoes. Shoes by established designers such as Manolo Blahnik and Christian Louboutin continue to be bestsellers, while the number of rising stars within the footwear industry is multiplying. Over the past decade, heels have reached new heights —as have prices. High-heeled shoes—the fashion shoes of the 21st century—have become so tall that even a 4-inch heel is considered “low.” Shoe Obsession will feature approximately 150 examples of contemporary footwear, highlighting the extreme, lavish, and imaginative styles that have made shoes central to fashion. 12-8pm at MFIT, 7th Ave at 27th Street. FREE.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14: Kostume Kult‘s Original Sin Valentine Party. The apocalyptic year is over and rebirth is at hand. Some call it sin, most call it love and we call it an all-night, naughty garden of Eden — starting with a happy-hour community gathering and growing into hot-house dance party with heavenly visions and sinful delights. (And extra special DJs after midnight.) Mixing the Chinese Year of the Snake with forbidden fruits, phallic flowers and suggestible natives, expect a night of divine naughtiness and dirty pleasures in a crazily creative venue with a pumping sound system and convenient downtown access. 8pm-4am at Kostume Kult, 34 Vandam Street (between 6th Ave & Varick). $5 before 10pm; $10 after 10pm.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 15: The day after Valentine’s day, join No Longer Empty and artists Shaun Leonardo, Andrew Leonardo and Ivan Monforte in re-defining the Tiki Tiki club, a popular Queens nightclub phenomenon. Originating from Mexican and Central American nightlife culture, these clubs invite men to pay a female $2 to be their dance partner for a song. Unlike strip clubs, women do not take off their clothes – just provide companionship during a cumbia, salsa, merengue or bachata song. The Tiki Tiki Club revises this ‘romantic transaction’ by giving women the chance to pay men for a dance – reversing the exchange. The exhibition space will be transformed into into a nightclub for the evening, with music and drinks contributing to the night club atmosphere. 7-10pm at The Clocktower, 29-27 41st Avenue, Long Island City, Queens. FREE.
Also on Friday: Coinciding with the gallery’s 20-year anniversary, David Zwirner is pleased to inaugurate a new five-storied exhibition and project space with a presentation of works by Dan Flavin and Donald Judd. Designed by Selldorf Architects, the building incorporates ca. 30,000 square feet over five stories. It will be the first commercial art gallery to receive LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. Its outdoor garden spaces will be created by Piet Oudolf, who designed the gardens and plantings on the nearby High Line. Also contributing to the project are Renfro Design Group (for architectural lighting) and Atelier Ten, engineering design consultants and engineers. David Zwirner Gallery, 537 West 20th Street. FREE.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 16: Marcel Proust‘s In Search of Lost Time is one of the most influential and ambitious literary works of all time. The Morgan celebrates the 1913 publication of the first of its seven volumes, Swann’s Way, with a fascinating selection of the author’s notebooks, preliminary drafts, galley-proofs, and other documents from the collection of the Bibliothèque nationale de France. The works on display will provide unique insight into Proust’s creative process and the birth of his masterpiece. Also on view will be period postcards with depictions of Illiers, which served as the inspiration for Proust’s fictional town Combray, and Paris. Several letters between Proust and his mother, Jeanne, from the Morgan’s collection, will be included. Ongoing until April 28, 10am-6pm at The Morgan Library, 225 Madison Avenue (at 36th Street). $15 adults; $10 students/seniors/children.
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 17: Check out Chinatown’s annual Lunar New Year celebration for stunning visuals, tantalizing treats and impressive performances. This street party features all sorts of vendors, food and festivities for all ages. Walk the main streets of Lower Manhattan—from Little Italy through Chinatown—to catch a glimpse. 1pm starting at Mott & Hester Streets, continuing down Mott toward East Broadway, then onto Eldridge and finally finishing at Forsythe & Broome. Cultural Festival & Booth: Sara Roosevelt Park (Canal & Forsyth St.). FREE. Check out our column Sunday in Chinatown for restaurant recommendations.