10.29.18 / Governor's Island / New York

Inside the Immersive ‘How Did Our Dreams End Up Like This’ Experience

  • [Photo: Jackie Lee]

  • Editors note: On Friday we went to Governor’s Island for ‘Dreams,’ where we spoke with Will and Kevin just as the first wave of guests began entering the island. We explored the various spaces before heading back to the city and reflected our conversation and our experience as accurately as possible below. Today, however, it came to our attention that several people didn’t share that experience. Due to inclement weather, some guests were faced with challenges that resulted in the hospital closing early, and the cancellation of Saturday’s event. The founders have consequently issued a statement addressed to those very people.

    We’ve been to many of Will, Kevin, and MATTE Projects’ events before and our feeling is that they’re always committed to providing ambitious, positive events for their guests, but we want to acknowledge the readers who didn’t get to enjoy that this past weekend. While we can never share the exact experiences as everyone, we always try to give an honest account of the people, places, and events we engage with, and hope our readers continue to find confidence in the culture we choose to profile. 

    “The golden rule if you design events, is that you have to do the event that you would want to go to,” says producer and creative director Kevin Balktick. Thankfully for him thousands of New Yorkers want to go to those events too, so there was a palpable excitement as the doors opened to Balktick and William Etundi Jr.’s newest event How Did Our Dreams End Up Here this past weekend. ‘Dreams’ is a new concept in collaboration with MATTE Projects that shares the same DNA as the duo’s popular ‘You’re So Lucky’ events, famous for whisking away guests to a mansion in Yonkers for a strange, unique night that’s equal parts party, festival, and adventure. Governor’s Island was the choice location this time around, and it’s scope allowed for one of the largest events they’ve hosted yet, amplifying the sense of freedom they offer guests at all of their events. “I don’t want to go somewhere that’s tight and dense,” Balktick continues, “you get your ears blown out, you can’t be conversational…I want to go to something I can explore, I want to go to something that’s social, I want to go to something that starts from a place of artistry, and that’s what this is.”

     

  • [Photo: Jackie Lee]

  • “It’s this mostly untouched island,” says Etundi Jr., who saw the opportunity when their usual Halloween haunt Alder Manor was going through renovations. “Governors Island is incredibly hospitable and open to experimentation and interesting things.” For guests that meant a neon-drenched fun house filled with kinky thrills at every turn. After getting off the ferry and walking down the quiet island side, they were met with an old, abandoned hospital soaked in red light. Inside there were dozens of rooms which could feature a performer or house artwork at any point. Little of the space was static; the purpose was to observe, explore, and expect a degree of spontaneity. Any given room could have a bar with elaborate decor, a band performing, neon signage, or nothing at all, allowing people to use the space as their own personal playground. Costumed performers would weave in and out, few of which stayed in one place for a length of time. Almost anywhere in the hospital you could make out the faint thumping of a beat, so you knew the multiple dance floors were never far off for whenever you wanted the traditional party vibe.  “A lot of people, they already experienced their 20s, they don’t need to go to the darkest loadest room that you can shoulder your way through. People want to go to something more sophisticated, we have that too, but you don’t have to be locked into it, there’s a whole universe here.” Beside the hospital there was a tent which featured food in the form of a Turkish bazaar, and a large dance floor which brought both DJs and folksy sitar-wielding troupes to create an eclectic ambiance. Premium wristbands opened up a few extra buildings which housed fetishist fantasies, but there was a strict ‘no photos’ policy in there. Regardless, the guests themselves showed up in such extravagant outfits—some more sultry than the performers themselves—that there was more than enough eye candy to go around.

    How Did Our Dreams End Up Here continues Etundi Jr. and Balktick’s tradition of large-scale events that favor interesting and creative spaces over bars or clubs, and if history proves anything their events are only going to get bigger. The duo have been cooking up an entirely new and ambitious concept for New Year’s Eve, but this past weekend only reaffirmed that Halloween is still the event which best embodies their eccentric and hedonistic ethos. “Halloween is becoming a global celebration, it’s interesting how that’s happening,” Etundi Jr. considers. “I think New York is going to be the epicenter for Halloween entertainment, we want to be the epicenter of that for the world. People are flying in from all over the world to be here, and we want to grow that for many years to come.”

  • [Photo: Anthony Avellano]

  • [Photo: Anthony Avellano]

  • [Photo: Sam Wallander]

  • [Photo: Anthony Avellano]

  • [Photo: Loli Laboureau]

  • [Photo: Anthony Avellano]

  • [Photo: Sam Wallander]

  • [Photo: Anthony Avellano]

  • [Photo: Loli Laboureau]

  • [Photo: Sam Wallander]