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The Artist Collective Taking an All-Inclusive Approach to Nightlife


Brittany NO FOMO | November 5, 2017
The ego-free, majority women collective ebb + flow is working hard to bring heart back to NYC dance parties.

There’s something comforting about this space — the friendly faces that welcome you in and dance around you, the sense of familiarity that kicks in as you make your way around the party. You’re immersed in a pulsing yet safe environment where you feel part of a strong community that is already interwoven but happy to pull some threads for you to fit. The fact that you’re not in a nightclub, but standing in a large, unmarked space or gliding past the New York skyline on a boat, is just the leap of faith you take when your friend invites you to attend one of their favorite parties in New York.

Even though it feels like everyone here is family and you’re new to the scene, you’re reminded by the founders, Iman Rizky and Gavin Stephenson, that what benefits the overall vibe of the party is you — one of the new people who brings in a sense of wonder and a fresh spirit. You’ve just found yourself at an ebb + flow party.

“We really want to create a feeling of acceptance and togetherness, but our crowd is really diverse, and we’re honored that many different types of people feel comfortable at our parties.” —Gavin Stephenson

This NYC-based production company founded on organic friendships and a shared love for bringing people together through music has thrived in the scene for five years. Art communities in Brooklyn blossom out of the music-centric event culture. The (primarily) DJs who collaborate to put on ebb + flow events set an intention for the experience they want to offer and whom they want to attract. It’s the collaborations that happen organically, though, that help them maintain their beautiful following, party after party. And ebb + flow ensure that all the artists involved are making music for all the right reasons, naturally become friends with everyone involved, and help embody and evoke the feelings their events are built upon: lighthearted, carefree, and open.

After spending most of their adult lives DJing, producing music, and promoting nightlife, Iman and Gavin met through Gavin’s wife Suzie Stephenson, realizing right away that they had similar backgrounds and common future goals for shaping a new culture in New York nightlife. The vision: to form a talented and supportive family of artists and to co-create a new dance environment that thrives with no ego. They want their events to grow organically by word of mouth, and to maintain an awesome following because of a focus on quality over quantity and keeping a safe dance floor experience. Ebb + flow are also determined to release the music played at their events — hence their plans to launch a record label within the next year.

Once the trio of visionaries came together, the ebb + flow community grew organically. People were drawn in by the music and events to become part of the mission. Each artist on the ebb + flow roster joined up symbiotically, like composer Justin Marchacos, who was starting to be discovered in the scene around the same time ebb + flow was picking up momentum.

“If someone wants to be part of the family and they are connecting with us in that way,” Gavin says, “it’s really easy for us to bring them into not just the music but everything else.” That “everything else” includes vacations, dinner parties, meetings about the vision for the events, and every activity in between.

“Having some ownership and a project is really valuable to people, especially creative people. Rather than just having a long list of artists you try to help get gigs for, our artists typically set up the party, are promoting the party, and [gather together] at group family meals. It’s really much more than you’re an artist on our roster… They take a certain amount of pride in representing us musically, but also representing us in the community.”

Another way that ebb + flow represents the community is that a majority of people on their core team are women, which is rare in this industry. They are the only majority-women NY collective that has been throwing dance events for several years, and that feminine energy helps all their guests to feel safe, warm, and welcomed.

With artists interested in the events and word-of-mouth buzz about the uplifting vibes of their parties, ebb + flow has been able to expand from their intimate series of 250–400 guests to their signature boat parties to now hosting collaborative events as part of their Triune series, which draw 700–900 people. The benefits of forming a strong foundation for what the ebb + flow party stands for allowed the company to collaborate with other collectives like vyvn and AndSo, while still maintaining their own look and feel. Parties now offer vendors to interact with, more art under Visual Director Teresa Silver, and various DJs with their own signature sounds.

Staying true to their core offering, festivals have welcomed ebb + flow to curate stages in order for them to bring in like-minded and open community members, like Gratitude Migration, PEX, and Elements Festival. Now that the industry knows the good vibes will follow ebb + flow, the group is able to take their experience on the road.

“For us, it’s about giving that experience that wouldn’t have been there if we didn’t do it and creating an outlet that people need… Just being able to provide that for people is really the goal and the dream.” —Gavin Stephenson

Wherever you end up experiencing ebb + flow — on a boat, in a converted venue, at a Triune event, or as part of many festivals across the nation — just remember that the tone has been set just for you… you and your fresh spirit.

To discover more distinctive culture, try Heritage | Fernet-Branca

Photos by XiMT Photography, courtesy of ebb + flow.

Brittany NO FOMO is a photographer and music journalist, immersed in the festival world and Brooklyn underground music and arts culture for over six years. She founded No Fear of Missing Out that gave the underground Brooklyn scene a voice and is now the Music Festival Editor for Highlark. You can find her chatting up the bartender at a brewery or on the dance floor.


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