The Bridge-and-Tunnel Crowd Stays Home


Stephen Pandolfi is sleeping off the launch of his new party, the Jumpoff, held the last Friday of the month at Capone’s in Brooklyn. When I message him a little after 2 p.m. on Saturday afternoon to ask if he wants to grab a drink later, he replies: “Still in bed. Text you when I’m all shiny and new.”

Pandolfi later explains that he and a few others, including co-host Michael Montiero (a/k/a Mikey Styles), hung out at the Williamsburg bar until 6 a.m., outlasting me by about two hours. “We finally just got to relax and have some drinks, which was great,” he says. “Well, except my DJ—he got jumped early yesterday morning in Bushwick and has, like, this heavy head wound. I feel terrible for him. So he wasn’t really drinking.” Then he adds, “He was the one in the beanie.”

They call themselves Kids with Snakes, two brash, earnest boys in their early twenties whose MySpace pics look uncomfortably similar to American Apparel ads—and they’re the newest party darlings marketed by Shaw Promotion, the team that also hypes Rated X, Motherfucker, and MisShapes. Pandolfi, who works as the assistant to company spearhead Andy Shaw, is also a full-time design and management student at Parsons; Montiero’s in a band and works retail at Fossil. The two met each other only this year but “became best friends almost overnight,” says Pandolfi, describing how they’d run the Manhattan party circuit together.

They came. They saw. They grew bored.

“We’re sick of those silly-hair, overdressed parties,” Pandolfi says, even as he acknowledges that he has silly hair and loves to overdress. (“That’s besides the fact,” he explains.) “They’re fun, but they’re all the same people. And a lot of those people are so shallow—we go to them all the time, and yet we’ve only made, like, six good friends in the last three months.” So they decided to throw their own, in Brooklyn (“It’s where everyone’s coming from anyway”), ideally with one major difference: an atmosphere free of pretension.

Pandolfi and Montiero e-mailed Capone’s in February about hosting a monthly event, but were told to look elsewhere. Then, in May, they heard back from management, asking if they were still interested. They were. They threw together a colorful flyer, with the Snakes unclothed and standing in front of a graffiti wall, composition books covering the appropriate places. “We sort of notably run around in our underwear, so we decided to use that for the flyer image,” Pandolfi explains. “It might seem kind of gay, but we’re both straight.” Shaw offered to print it, and the Snakes were off and running.

Capone’s is a great choice. It’s big, but not impersonal; the balconies and step-down dens are intimate—good for all sorts of things—but not secluded from the action. According to Capone’s website, the bar’s counter was hand-carved in 1880 and used at the Chicago watering hole Marge’s, supposedly a favorite hangout of Al Capone. When the owner of Marge’s died, the place was dismantled and sold off; the owners of Capone’s bought the bar and let it serve as the inspiration for the windowless Williamsburg space. (The website also says that many staff members believe the bar counter brought more than its antique grandeur: “Some strange incidents in the lonely hours suggest Al Capone may still be still be hanging around his favorite spot.” Whatev.) On Friday night, three (mostly) friendly employees tended bar, serving up free pizzas with the drink orders.

There’s also plenty of room to dance your pants off. At Friday’s Jumpoff, Thin Lizzy, Heart, and the Who (OK, and also Amy Winehouse, etc.) sent the kids flying to the center of the floor. (And I mean kids; I felt ancient.) The clientele didn’t look any different from its Manhattan brethren, with the exception of some unexpected khaki shorts; there were still plenty of the fashionably filthy. And patrons were making out with the same blinders on as they might’ve had across the river—unless you were, say, in your mid-20s, in which case flirting felt, like, wrong. I did notice that there was no door policy, although that could change in months to come.

The Snakes also want a different unsigned band to perform a short set each month. Unsurprisingly, last Friday’s pick was Montiero’s indie-rock outfit, the Spies; next month, No Pasaran is slated to play. “We want the party to be known for the live music as much as the DJ sets,” says Pandolfi. “If a band got signed because
someone saw them play at the Jumpoff . . . well, we’d feel great about that.”

And if that success brought the sort of fame other Shaw parties enjoy? “I don’t know,” Pandolfi says. “The MisShapes are like a brand now. Is that cool? I don’t know. You have to have been doing something good for a long time to be as popular as that, but as soon as it becomes that big, it isn’t cool anymore. You know how that goes. Really, we just want it be a great Brooklyn party, with our friends bringing their friends, and their friends bringing friends, and everyone making new friends. That’s what we’d consider a success.”