In a pilgrimage that’s become a rite of passage for New Yorkers of a certain scene, Michelle Lhooq (@MichelleLhooq) spent the first half of her September in Berlin, dancing to techno almost every night until after sunrise. Unlike most of her peers, though, she could call it a work trip: Lhooq is the features editor at Vice‘s electronic-music site, Thump, where she covers the dance music she goes out to hear almost every night of the week. New York was starting to feel like “too much of a good thing,” she says. “So I went to Berlin on a soul-searching mission to figure out if it was New York that was getting me down, or if it was the raving that was getting me down.”
Thankfully, she just needed a reset. Which is fair: Lhooq has been going out since she was a teenager visiting megaclubs in Singapore and Tokyo. When she came to New York nine years ago, she joined the EDM-focused rave scene (think stretchy beaded bracelets and neon platform boots) before eventually making her way to the blossoming Brooklyn underground. “Sadly, Manhattan’s days as the center of nightlife are over, with the whole Meatpacking bottle service scene,” laments Lhooq. “But the underground is so, so poppin’ right now, and what’s cool is that a lot of it is happening outside of clubs.”
Warehouses mostly, but not always: There are parties in Chinese restaurants and cruise ships, and this winter Lhooq threw herself a birthday bash in the back of a chicken-and-pizza joint underneath the J/M/Z tracks, rotating DJs every hour. “I wanted to showcase the diversity of [New York’s] electronic music scene — to have my techno friends dancing to reggaetón and vice versa,” she says. It’s a stark contrast to mainstream electronic music, where most performers play bass-abusing EDM and are “basically all white dudes,” sighs Lhooq. “Thump recently did a gender breakdown of the [lineups at] big festivals, and the highest percentage [of women] we found was around 19 percent. Something’s very wrong if that’s the best ratio.” Raving in New York is proof that it really doesn’t have to be this way: Subversive parties like Papi Juice and Discwoman put queer and femme DJs and fans of color first while keeping every edition totally packed, and Lhooq also praises bigger Brooklyn clubs like Output (74 Wythe Avenue, Brooklyn, outputclub.com) and Good Room (98 Meserole Avenue, Brooklyn, goodroombk.com) for exposing more mainstream-leaning audiences to underground artists.
She spreads this egalitarian vision to Thump, where she’s published essays, features, and interviews championing diverse performers. “This idea of nightlife being a secret bubble that the ‘real’ world can’t infringe upon is idealistic,” she says. “It’s just a microcosm — dressed in glitter and feathers.”