Chelsea's Flash Factory Is a 'Mixture of Congregation and Burning Man'
Flash Factory, under construction
Jason Speakman for the Village Voice
Michael Satsky was on the move. He had just left a meeting with the NYPD in which the nightlife connoisseur discussed details for January 23 — what was to be the grand opening for his newest venue, Flash Factory — and it was a long two days between Thursday and Saturday before Gotham’s Gatsby unveiled his latest bash.
Located five blocks south of Madison Square Garden in Chelsea, Flash Factory is Satsky’s latest nightlife project, following the trendy club Stereo and the exclusive, celebrity-frequented Provocateur. The Satsky & Gefter Corporation — the company he co-owns with business partner Brian Gefter — has spent the past ten years toying with the concepts of operating a nightclub, and this might be their most ambitious venture yet.
Since 2011, Satsky has been plotting Flash Factory, which he describes as an “alternative experimental music venue” where the “decor is a mixture of congregation and Burning Man.” This image is immediately confirmed upon passing through the refurbished nineteenth-century doors that open into the 10,000-square-foot, single-story space. Colorful stained-glass widows and Gothic archways adorn the venue, while the DJ booth looks as though it could double as a pulpit. The phrase “religious experience” sometimes gets tossed around after absorbing certain performances, and it would appear as though Satsky had targeted this reaction as his muse for assembling Flash Factory.
The January 23 debut was to have been helmed by the Martinez Brothers, a Bronx-based duo who spin house music, but Storm Jonas prevented the doors from swinging open. "A little Snow can't stop us, but the mayor can," wrote Flash Factory on their Facebook page when the venue's opening was postponed a week. January 29 will be the official launch with Canadian DJ Tiga breaking in the DJ booth; DJ QU, Jamie Jonas, and Cirez D, an alias of the Swedish DJ Eric Prydz, are all scheduled to perform at the club in the following weeks. The venue's owners intend to book artists from both the electronic and rock 'n’ roll realms for themed evenings. Saturday night programming will focus on NYC artists.
“If you were going to CBGB or the Fillmore, you kind of knew what to expect,” says Satsky of the classic New York venues that served as his inspirations. “If you were going to the Fillmore, maybe you’d get the Allmans, maybe you get the Dead – whatever it was, you knew the product you were getting. People were going for the talent and they were also going for the room because the room had integrity and it was starting a movement.”
During Flash Factory’s development, Satsky programmed a Spotify playlist that was pegged to the website’s bare homepage (it's since been removed). Among the names were artists of both electronic and rock persuasions: Caribou, the xx, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Nine Inch Nails. Satsky says this was an implication of what to expect. “I thought that was the right thing to do, to subtly and passively give people the idea, because we’re not coming out, like, ‘Hey, this is what we are.’ We’re subtly dropping hints. This is a venue for the movement and this is a venue for us.”
To achieve the grandiose vision needed to assist this movement of progressive electronic and rock music, Satsky enlisted the Brooklyn Heights design and construction firm Hecho Inc. With a résumé that touts other New York venues like Baby’s All Right and the Kitting Factory as its prior clients, Hecho Inc. uses reclaimed materials and furniture to groom their projects, embracing modern capability with an old-school edge. “We really birthed this together,” says Satsky of the collaboration. “They specialize in this antique type of lifestyle and have been able to really carry out our vision.”
John Kole, co-owner of Hecho Inc., says that materials used to create Flash Factory — including the stained-glass windows that line certain interiors, paneled wood, the DJ booth, and various other religious relics — were sourced from at least seven churches around the country, and one as local as the Bronx. When inside the venue, visitors can sense that subtle spiritual aura (the venue is, after all, a physical mosaic of repurposed wood and resources from long-gone places of worship), but the atheistic and agnostic shouldn’t feel fazed. The only congregation that’ll exist within these recycled walls will occur in or around the dance floor.
Before there was Flash Factory, 229 W 28 St. was home to the controversial Shadow Club. In 2013, a petition intended to oust the club, stating that it had "become almost unbearable to live on 28th Street because of the club on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights." Satsky is aware of the address’s past, but he isn’t concerned about Flash Factory instilling the wrath of neighbors in a similar fashion.
“The music we have in here and the movement here will filter out anything that could be perceived negative in the neighborhood because, really, it’s all love," Satsky says. "And when there’s love for the music and it’s a positive movement, everything comes naturally from there.”
His success with Provocateur suggests that Flash Factory isn’t a business venture, rather, a business adventure. “Provocateur is a completely different product than this. That’s a very private, closed product, and this is really an experiential type of product that is delivering a concept for people to embrace when they want to embrace — it’s on them,” he says.
“It’s always been in the works. Provocateur doesn’t really have the space to do something like this. Now I have the space. This is something I’ve always wanted to do and it’s something that Manhattan desperately, desperately needs. There really isn’t much coolness in Manhattan for experimental concepts — but, it’s here.”
Flash Factory is located at 229 W 28 St. and opens on January 29, with a performance by Tiga. For more information, click here.
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