Walk past Red Light District on a trip through the Rockaways and you wouldn’t even blink: From the outside, the venue looks like every other tract home in the area, with a front lawn, two-car garage, and picture windows. Inside, it’s a different story. Footage from surveillance cameras placed around the space flickers on the large living-room TV; eerie, Satanic-looking art stares out from walls; and a craps table inexplicably sits in what should be the dining room. Go down the stairs and you’re in the tiled basement where Red Light District hosts a handful of shows by some of the strangest and most abrasive artists who come through the city. Reigning noise queen Pharmakon helped found the space and lived there for years as she honed her haunted, powerful sound. Baltimore-born avant-rapper DJ Dog Dick makes his home there now, as do members of the industrial noise band Yellow Tears, known to incorporate urination into their live acts. Most summers, the fringes of the experimental music, performance art, and noise communities come together for the disturbingly named Burning Fleshtival, a two-day event with a backyard campout and daytime beach trips. Thurston Moore showed up during last year’s event, playing to a small crowd that seemed more excited to see their friend’s harsh industrial act. Enter Red Light District and you’re immersed in an ecstatic, beautiful, and terrifying community, where everyone is friends and anything is possible.
Beach 25 Street, Far Rockaway, Queens
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