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How to get into Basement, NYC’s best techno club

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The underground NYC club has a “vibe check,” and it’s making some people angry

Many nightclub enthusiasts have journeyed to Berlin to get into Berghain, or at least to try to get in. Named after its location near the border between Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain, the nightclub is a contender for the best – and most exclusive – in the world, sustaining a reputation akin to Milan’s legendary Plastic or New York’s once omnipotent Studio54. 

The tales of non-stop raves lasting for days, hedonistic sex parties, and techno marathons at Berghain might have curious gay men reaching for their passports. However, New Yorkers have a more commute-friendly opportunity to enjoy a, no-frills, music-forward approach to exclusive nightlife at Basement in Queens. This techno club opened in 2019 and has already gained a cult following for reclaiming grungy techno underground excellence.

The club sits directly below the sprawling Knockdown Center in the Maspeth section of Queens, and its dungeon-like interior returns to form the industrial and sultry aesthetic that once comprised NYC nightlife.  Two separate dance floors take center stage, surrounded by concrete pillars, old factory doors, and arched brick windows. It truly is an unfinished basement.

But controversy is happening at the entrance for ticket holders: Is it hard to get in? 

Berghain’s riddling door policy turns the entrance into every individual for themselves. Thankfully, Basement isn’t so cutthroat. But make no mistake; the bouncer will turn you down if you come looking like someone who didn’t do any research on the venue.

Dubbed the “vibe check,” many people have shared their experiences on the internet. 

From Reddit posts, such as one of four guys complaining their corduroy jacket and white sneakers didn’t make the cut, to an entire section on TikTok, which included people who got kicked out for taking videos inside. When you enter, the staff will put black tape over your phone’s camera. 

So.Gay investigated all the fuss regarding Basement’s door policy. Is management keeping up the allure and exclusivity, or are rejectees just lacking local knowledge of where they’re going? We’ve discovered it’s a little of both. 

Disclaimer: I’ve gone to Basement, and so has my editor. We both got in; it wasn’t like figuring out how to enter Alice’s Wonderland or Dorothy’s OZ. I wore leather pants and a black tee with a black denim jacket. It appeared that if you weren’t inebriated, purchased a ticket, knew who was playing, and had an ID, you were allowed in. The club was a far cry from the coolest place in the world, but it was fun. 

So.Gay reached out to Basement representatives who refrained from commenting or confirming its “vibe check” policy.*

One of the most logical critiques of the club’s vibe check came from DJ Aphelion, who didn’t pass the test but argued on TikTok they shouldn’t pre-sell tickets. It’s shitty to charge someone for an entry that can’t be guaranteed, but it’s not an uncommon footnote due to the fact public establishments need to protect themselves from going over capacity. 

Fashion-wise, consider the outfit you’d wear for a night out in the Meatpacking District and discard it. Manhattan clubs thrive on presenting glitz and glamor, attracting men in suits willing to swipe their Amexes carelessly. They all chase after the beautiful women herded in by promoters offering complimentary bottle service.

A club like Basement was founded to put the emphasis back on music and, as such, eliminate the fodder of luxury. A suit will have the bouncer redirecting you back to Wall Street. A cocktail dress will likely get a similar dismissal. Swagger goes a long way, especially in a place that hosts BDSM parties, in which the New York Times said, “Pudgy, middle-aged men were led around the dance floor on leashes by gothic dominatrixes in their 20s.” 

If you haven’t mastered street style after dark, you typically can’t go wrong with wearing black. But this is when it gets complicated because, as seen in the aforementioned Reddit thread, polished white sneakers and a corduroy jacket apparently got the group rejected, the Redditor assumed. Perhaps the group’s combined preppiness was too much for the bouncer. If your outfit can allow you to blend in at a workplace happy hour or Hamptons dinner party, you probably won’t get in.

Others argued that the Redditors in question may have just been four wasted straight guys acting dumb. 

Still, there’s enough evidence that the techno club will vibe-check you at the door. But assuming you’ve managed to capture Basement’s style, located somewhere on the fashion spectrum between jeans and a casual yet cool look, the most important aspect is to be ready for them to ask who you’re there to see. 

It’s a popular question asked by Berghain’s bouncers, as well, right after, “How many?” The former is to ensure you know at least one DJ playing, which is the bare minimum to stick out from the flocks of tourists there for the clout. The latter is so they can scan your party and ensure no one lame is tagging along. 

Ultimately, if you want to guarantee entrance, it might help to time your entrance for when you’re alone (or simply say that you’re alone) or with one friend to avoid too many extraneous variables. Don’t let a friend who thinks he’s going to a Murray Hill sports bar get in your way of having a good time. May the techno beats be ever in your favor. 

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