Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Little Cinema

I should have known that something inside of a venue whose exterior was covered in vibrant splashes of blue and yellow paint would have knocked my socks off, but now I know for sure.

The event was Little Cinema, a movie and live performance series, and for starters it was at The House of Yes. Though I realize this is now sacrilege, last night was my first time at the venue. I can say for certain it will not be my last.

The House of Yes is a creative events space in Bushwick, and its current incarnation is actually its third. The first space was in East Williamsburg, built with the desire for "a true creative live/work space that could host an occasional dance party or circus class," as the venue writes. But it grew into so much more: today the venue hosts aerial dance performances, concerts, comedy shows, dance parties, film screenings, and so much more. 

Entering the space, AR and I were greeted with a wonderfully wacky visual stimulus package of subtle tile flooring in front and a disco-mirrored bathroom in the back lit up with bright red lights. We were there to see Little Cinema's production of 1970s New York cult classic The Warriors. People were dressed in brown leather vests a la Warriors, some even wearing feathers in their hair; others were dressed up as Furies, the facepainted, baseball-attired, batswinging gang that comes at the Warriors in Central Park. Tiny tables stood to our right, where you could sit and order Mediterranean food from Queen of Falafel next door.

As a first timer at The House of Yes, I could feel the creative soul of the place even when in the bejeweled bathroom (AR and I traded notes on this--the men's bathroom features a mannequin sculpture that sprawls above the urinals) and on the patio attired in ivy and funky, wonderfully mismatched sculptures. We met up with the lovely Oriana Leckert of the blog and book Brooklyn Spaces, who was rightfully agape that we had never been there before. "This is what my soul looks like under X-ray!" I said to her as she nodded enthusiastically. My experience of it was more like "House of YAAAAAAAAAS!" than just "House of Yes," to say the very least.

And then we went inside the theatre, through a door covered in a beautiful, almost art deco sunburst of wood and mirrors. We found some high-top seats and buckled ourselves in (figuratively). We sat in the back of the house, the 22-foot, HD projection screen waiting for us. Every Little Cinema experience includes performances matching the theme of the film interspersed throughout the screening.

So, if you're not familiar with The Warriors, a brief synopsis so you'll understand. The Warriors are a gang from Coney Island. They head all the way up through Manhattan to the Bronx for a meeting of all the gangs from around New York. While they're there, they're blamed for a murder they didn't commit and spend the rest of the film trying to get home without getting murdered by (mostly) all the gangs who were at the meeting.

Little Cinema then awesomely accented the film with accompaniment of gorgeous, improvised rock and roll from their house band, Black Lodge, as well as performances by some of the city's subway dance crews, Waffle NYC and It's Showtime; an aerial performance by women dressed as girl gang The Lizzies; and an actor from the film itself. Happily, the performances seamlessly blended in with the film and were never a disruption, only an enhancement--perhaps it makes sense, then, that the event was called The Warriors Remixed. It shouldn't have been a surprise that this was done well--this was Little Cinema's thirteenth event, after all. Other showings included Purple Rain, Labyrinth, Donnie Darko, American Beauty, and Basquiat, among others. They all feature performances themed around the films and then have a themed dance party afterward that's included in the price of your ticket. The event is every Tuesday at the House of Yes, and costs $10-$15 depending on when you get your ticket. You can also reserve a table or even their famous clawfooted bathtub, which comes with butler service, free wine, and dinner.

It was a fantastic way to watch the film, its scenes of '70s New York with graffitied subway cars and murky, gritty streets, with a giant room of people who appreciate it and also love that it's been made into a fun, new performance. I'm curious to see what Little Cinema does with other iconic films, too: they won't have to do much convincing to get me to "come out to play-ay-ay...."