By Scott Enman
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
If it sounds too good to be true, it normally is.
Such was the case on Saturday as The Sonic Jungle — a three-floor, 44,000-square-foot “cultural oasis” planned for a Prospect-Lefferts Gardens construction site — was forced to change venues due to a lack of permits.
The event, which was scheduled to be held at 510 Flatbush Ave., announced on its Facebook event page the day before the party that it would be moving to a location in East Williamsburg.
“A lot has happened in the past day, and here's what you need to know: The venue at 510 Flatbush will not be able to open its doors tomorrow due to complications with recently passed regulations,” the post read. “We have secured a new venue in 23 Meadow St. and the event will go on.
“We only learned of this news [Friday]. Since, we’ve been working tirelessly to relocate [Saturday’s] event and the wealth of art therein.”
The Sonic Jungle was advertised as an adult playground, featuring DJs, live performances, art, technology, wellness activities, infrared saunas, healing lounges, educational workshops, LED and eco-art installations, herbal apothecary, aromatherapy, film screenings and retro gaming areas.
The space was supposed to feature four different rooms: The World Stage with global performers; the Whiskey Lounge for live music; the Retro Room for “time travel”; and the Future, a room outfitted with Funktion One Sound with house and techno music.
The curators behind The Sonic Jungle had initially planned to host three events at the space on Feb. 25, March 11 and April 15. Come 2018, the company will have a permanent venue in Bushwick.
“This is an issue that is much bigger than The Sonic Jungle and much bigger than what we’re trying to do,” spokeswoman for The Sonic Jungle Jessica Gray told the Brooklyn Eagle. “This is an issue that has to do with the city’s approach to certifying temporary places of occupancy, which they are increasingly reluctant to do. This ordinance came out in January and it’s been really, really difficult for pop-ups to exist.”
She added, “We want there to be a space and an economy for these kind of pop-up arts and culture events to happen. If we didn’t have a permanent space planned, our company, our brand, our community, our culture would be completely dependent on pop-up spaces. The Sonic Jungle is about community; it’s not about the space itself. It’s really about the people and the culture more so than the permanent space itself.”
Deputy Press Secretary for the Department of Buildings (DOB) Andrew Rudansky told the Eagle that DOB did not issue a Temporary Place of Assembly certificate for the address because the building "is still an active construction site, lacks a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy for the first floor where the event is to primarily take place and the facade is incomplete on the Lincoln Road portion of the structure."
Gray confirmed that the event was planned to take place on the first floor, cellar and sub cellar.
According to DOB’s certificate of occupancy for the address, the cellar has a maximum persons permitted of 45 and the sub cellar allows a maximum of 47 people.
At press time, the event page had 782 people who clicked attending on Facebook.
Gray said that The Sonic Jungle’s second date on March 11 would not take place at 510 Flatbush Ave., but that the company hopes to have the appropriate permits in place for an April event.
The Sonic Jungle advertised its space as a “raw concrete canvas” that would be transformed into an art gallery by tens of local artists.
For one artist who created a mural at the space, the cancellation was disappointing, but she remained optimistic.
"It's unfortunate that what happened in Oakland has made people stricter about codes,” artist Cadence Hooks told the Eagle. “I'm bummed we couldn't use the space, but I got a lot of exposure through social media and I just hope the art is experienced and not torn down. It’s exciting to have that much canvas and they did supply all the paint so it was really, really cool.
“As an artist, I’m still super glad I was involved with it. It just sucks that no one can see it right now. It's similar to The Brooklyn Mirage where we wish things were worked out before, but I know they won't stop trying to make The Sonic Jungle happen, and that's awesome. I haven't given up hope!"
Several other pop-up parties have experienced similar problems in the past.
The East Williamsburg pop-up club The Brooklyn Mirage, which is run by Zurich-based entertainment company CityFox, attempted to throw several events last summer, but it was shut down numerous times for safety violations and for the space not being in compliance with construction code.
In October 2015, CityFox attempted to throw a pop-up party at the NuHart Plastics Factory, a deserted Greenpoint Superfund site. Officials shuttered that gathering because the building was partially filled with toxic waste, failed to meet fire regulations and was over capacity by 2,500 people.