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  • Writer's pictureHYSTERIA BY GIRLONFILM

Charlie Baker + Allyson Camitta Of We Take Manhattan


In this exclusive interview, Allyson Camitta and Charlie Baker, the creative minds behind We Take Manhattan, take us on a journey through the inception, evolution, and standout moments of their iconic parties that have left a mark on New York City's nightlife. Allyson and Charlie share their favorite parties, the inspiration behind WTM, and their favorite events.



Provided Via Allyson Camitta. Photo By: Mark Hunter
Provided Via Allyson Camitta. Photo By: Mark Hunter


AN INTERVIEW WITH WE TAKE MANHATTAN:



Q. WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND CREATING "WE TAKE MANHATTAN"? COULD YOU WALK US THROUGH THE JOURNEY OF HOW YOU CAME TOGETHER TO CRAFT THIS EXPERIENCE?


Allyson Camitta: For New Year’s, we had about 13 friends rent an Airbnb upstate and we brought some decks up with us.


We didn’t know how to DJ yet, but we figured it would be fun to mess around with the decks and have a forest rave.


We ended up learning the basics from our insanely talented friends Angel and Lulu from Frost Children, and then Charlie and I were sucked in.


I was on the decks after taking mushrooms and Charlie was like “I just met this guy who has a bar in the East Village and they have decks, should we try to plan a night there?” and I was like “yeah” and just like that Charlie got us a date booked a couple weeks later, which ended up being the first We Take Manhattan party.


Charlie Baker: I remember standing next to Angel and Lulu and just being mesmerized by their mastery of the decks. I stood there for hours watching their hands, and occasionally asking questions which they graciously answered, until by the end of the night I knew how to DJ.


They were the best teachers imaginable. Late that night Allyson and I were practicing together, DJing in the living room of this Airbnb while all of our friends were going to sleep.


We were like, wow this is so much fun, what if we did this for real? So I sent an Instagram DM to Stephen, the door guy at Old Flings, and then when I woke up the next day our first event was booked.



Q. COULD YOU DELVE INTO THE ORIGINS OF THE NAME “WE TAKE MANHATTAN" AND HOW IT ENCAPSULATES THE ESSENCE OF YOUR PARTIES?


Charlie: The name is a reference to the Leonard Cohen song “First We Take Manhattan.” It’s his only dance track.


When we started the party, nobody had really heard of Old Flings because it was new, but most people had heard of the club below it, called Berlin.


So our first poster design said, “First we take Manhattan, then we take the speakeasy above Berlin,” referencing the Leonard Cohen lyric just as a practical way to let people know where the party was.


And then I was like, wait that’s a really cool phrase, what if we make that the name of the party?


I grew up in Manhattan and still live here, but most of our musician friends live in Brooklyn, even though there’s this idea in the media that they’re all part of the so-called “downtown scene” or whatever.


We wanted our party to be a synthesis of those two worlds — a place where downtown indie sleazers and the dirtybag twee folks across the pond (the East River) could come together to listen to good music and be surrounded by friends.


Allyson: Yeah, Charlie came up with the name and I thought it was perfect! Our friends span across all the boroughs so Manhattan is the central meeting point, specifically downtown.


It’s funny because people think I live in the city since I’m there all the time but in reality I take Manhattan and then I take the train back home to Ridgewood.



Q. GIVE US THREE OPTIONS AND LET US KNOW WHICH ONE YOU'D F***,MARRY, AND KISS.


Spotify, Apple Music, SoundCloud.


Allyson: F*** SoundCloud, marry Apple Music, (begrudgingly) kiss Spotify.


Charlie: F*** Spotify (sexy playlists), marry Apple Music (wife material), passionately kiss SoundCloud.



Q. IT’S THE NIGHT OF ONE OF YOUR PARTIES. WHAT ARE YOUR MUST-HAVE ESSENTIALS FOR THE NIGHT?


Allyson: Headphones, USB, sunglasses, and before it got stolen, my film camera.


RIP.


Charlie: Same, except instead of my film camera getting stolen, the flash broke.


RIP.


Luckily there’s always a bunch of really great photographers at WTM. Sometimes there are so many flashes going off that the sunglasses become actually necessary instead of just cool.


Q. AMIDST THE COUNTLESS PARTIES YOU'VE THROWN AS "WE TAKE MANHATTAN," COULD YOU SHARE A COUPLE OF STANDOUT MOMENTS?


Allyson: The best moments are when we play a certified banger to the point where everyone is jumping in unison and the floor starts shaking. That usually happens when “212” by Azealia Banks comes on.


Charlie: Other contenders are “Girlfriend Is Better” by Talking Heads, “Flatline” by Frost Children, and “Jumprope” by Psymon Spine.



Q. DO YOU HAVE ANY FAVORITE PARTIES AMONG THEM?


Charlie: We DJ’d this event at Baby’s All Right with a conversation between the human rights lawyer Steven Donziger and the founder of the Amazon Labor Union, Chris Smalls. That was pretty cool.


Allyson: Back in March, we threw a single release party for my music project Shallowhalo at Old Flings and it was so fun.


We projected the music video for the song “Renaissance Affair” onto the building across the street the entire night along with videos from our friend Jackie Young’s show, “Jackie’s Show.” It was basically videos of all our friends blown up really big on the building for everyone who walks by to see.


Also, any time The Cobrasnake comes through is my favorite; we love him.



Q. IMAGINE THERE WERE NO CONSTRAINTS— IF YOU COULD HOST A "WE TAKE MANHATTAN" PARTY ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD, WITHOUT LIMITATIONS, WHERE WOULD IT BE AND WHAT WOULD IT LOOK LIKE?


Charlie: I think it would be really cool to someday have a space that we could design top-to-bottom and make it perfect for our parties, and be able to book other acts there as well.


The soundsystem would be designed by Despacio’s John Klett, drinks for $5, no cover, and a line outside that regulars could skip. The ultimate home base. In this fantasy the clubhouse would be in Manhattan.


Hopefully the NYC real estate market crashes someday!


Allyson: I’m thinking party on a plane to LA, with the afterparty at Chateau Marmont.



Q. SHARE WITH US A FEW OF THE CRAZIEST MOMENTS THAT HAVE UNFOLDED DURING YOUR PARTIES.


Charlie: One time there was a long line and my friend’s band Homade was all stuck outside the club for like half an hour. I got an angry voicemail from my friend so I went downstairs to try to get her and her bandmates in, but the door guy Stephen wouldn’t budge because the club was completely at capacity.


Stephen is very good at his job.


Allyson: One time this group of French tourists dressed in all black and wearing sunglasses showed up and kept asking us to play Daft Punk. There must have been like 10 of them and they kept repeating “être chanceux,” which means “Get Lucky” in French.


We don’t take requests but we love Daft Punk so we put on “Around the World.” They got rowdy so Stephen had to throw them out.


Stephen is very good at his job.



Q. PEERING INTO THE FUTURE, WHAT DOES THE IDEAL FUTURE OF "WE TAKE MANHATTAN" LOOK LIKE?


Allyson: We’re throwing a We Take Manhattan party in LA on October 21st at Little Secret. “We Take Manhattan Takes LA.”


My band Shallowhalo is going to play as well as Cherry Glazerr and Negashi Armada. Bianca Lexis and Allison Goldfarb are going to DJ after. It’s a stacked bill and it’s going to be iconic.


Charlie: Super hyped for the LA show.


Allyson did a great job putting the bill together. I know nothing about that city, and she seems to know everything. Re: our future, we’ve been talking about starting to make We Take Manhattan remixes.


So many of our friends are really talented musicians, and it would be really cool to give their songs the dancefloor treatment.


If we can make DFA-level remixes and throw Misshapes-level parties, that’s my ideal future for WTM.



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