The Most Liberating Dance Floor: The Get Down Standard for Nightlife
Brittany NO FOMO |
October 9, 2017
Brooklyn’s The Get Down is setting a new standard for an intentional and liberating dance party.
“What is it like to move in love?”
The question echoed over hundreds of Brooklynites congregated on the dance floor, surrendered in the moment, ready to align their bodies and minds and set a positive intention for the night. Everyone had come with a similar purpose: to feel free and let loose together. Anticipation buzzed through the venue as familiar smiles were exchanged and people around the room established comfort in each other’s space.
1, 2, 3… It was time to get down.
“Open your eyes and take a look at the beautiful humans around you! I officially declare this club, for the next three hours, a temporary autonomous zone based on love, respect, self-expression, and unleashing the full power of who you came here to be!”
The motivational words of Tasha Blank, an event producer, DJ, and podcast host known for her iconic presence in Brooklyn nightlife, set the tone for the evening: high-energy, inviting, and warm. Bodies swayed among one another without reservations while dancers made eye contact across the floor, exchanging playful movements. No drinks were held. No cell phones were used. No judgments were made. There was not a pretentious attitude in sight.
We have walked into the experience of a new dance culture defined by The Get Down.
Hosted by a collective of artists — founder and DJ Tasha Blank, instrumentalist AJ Nocito, MC Akil Apollo Davis, and co-producer Shelton Lindsay — The Get Down is shaping a new style of party and forming a community around dance liberation and safe nightlife culture. Founded in 2013 with 40 people dancing barefoot on a nightclub floor, the events have evolved to biweekly happenings across NYC and appearances at festivals around the nation, drawing a loyal fan base of 300 happiness-seeking guests each time. The events may fluctuate with new performers or additional experiences, like a pre-party meditation or yoga class, but the heart of The Get Down remains unshakable, all its elements aligning with the group’s ethos.
You’ve been to a nightclub, a dance class, a festival’s dance tent, maybe even a morning rave — but at The Get Down, the positive elements that make each of these distinctive experiences enjoyable have all been thoughtfully combined.
Brittany NO FOMO
When conceiving this movement, Blank decided to combine inspiring elements from Burning Man and underground NYC club culture, including 5Rhythms’ movement meditation and Ecstatic Dance. Then she added the special sauce: clubs with top-notch sound systems, a community willing to maintain mindfulness while dancing, and, perhaps most importantly, the rule of no drinks or phones on the dance floor.
The welcoming nature of the events was apparent from the beginning. This environment allowed key members of the current group to get involved organically, later becoming the faces of The Get Down just as much as Blank.
“The Get Down is the place we all go to throw ourselves into the beat, shake out our worries, and reconnect with our joy. It feels like a constantly growing family — brand-new and familiar faces show up every time and turn that dance floor into an explosion of expression and sweat. When I come to The Get Down, I’m reminded how incredible life is and how lucky we are just to be here.” —Tasha Blank
Akil Apollo Davis
One night, many Get Downs ago, Davis was so moved by Blank’s beats that he spontaneously shouted lyrical prose into the air, enlivening the whole venue. Blank immediately recognized his talent and handed him the mic, and he continued his poetry, tribalistic sounds, and motivating raps. That moment solidified his role in The Get Down family.
The multitalented Davis — founder of LoudSol, theatre professor, rapper, freestylist, and performer — has become a staple in The Get Down’s nightlife culture, known for his artistic use of masks while performing. His inspirational raps and energizing poetry that overlays Blank’s beats are part of what makes The Get Down stand out. Davis’s words remind guests why they came: to experience the alchemy of meditation and celebration.
“What makes the Get Down special, no matter what, is the spirit is what we create! We don’t try to replicate that moment, we’re just feelin’ it. It’s always there and always different. Each Get Down is the best ever.” —Akil Apollo Davis
With Davis on board, The Get Down picked up momentum. Soon Blank met Nocito, the New York City–based percussionist who performs with the Alex LoDico Ensemble and Christopher Walken on Sunshine, while he was playing the djembe drum at a festival. She invited him to add his powerful beats to the Get Down experience. Now guests know that the second Nocito puts the drum in his hand, the energy in the room will go up to a whole new level. Hair gets tossed, feet start jumping, and hands are lifted into the air as the drumming perfectly enhances Blank’s mixes.
“When I perform at The Get Down, it feels like stepping into the heartbeat of the people in its rawest form. It feels like lighting myself on fire with love. It feels like, even in the middle of all that seems to stand against us, we’re gonna be just fine.” —AJ Nocito
Lindsay came across The Get Down at some of his favorite venues. He was so in awe of the way people danced so confidently at the parties that he was motivated to sign up for dance classes. After a year, Lindsay attended The Get Down again as a volunteer, and it ended up being his defining moment. “Since then, I think I’ve only missed three parties,” he says. “It’s become the place where I go not only to work, but to center myself, to lose my body in dance and connect and communicate with my fellow New Yorkers.”
An event producer and multitalented New Yorker — clown with Fou Fou Ha, writer/performer with the New York Neo-Futurists, costume and headdress maker, set decorator, and mascot for the Lower East Side Pickle Day festival — Lindsay adds a charismatic flavor to The Get Down, adding new elements to better the experience, like painting guests’ faces and handing out freshly cut pineapple.
“The heart of The Get Down is not in the buildings we occupy, but in the blood, sweat, and pulse of the community,” says Lindsay. “It’s the music, the intention, the principles, and the people that make The Get Down what it is. No matter where we are, you can expect to find smiles, conscious movers, and pineapples — always pineapples.”
Even though these performers make up the foundation of The Get Down, it’s the attendees that make the parties what they are — supportive, liberating, and friendly. Each and every dancer who pours her heart and sweat onto the dance floor makes the event worth going to.
And the purpose of this dance party doesn’t remain on the dance floor. The community that The Get Down has curated and inspired is paving a path for NYC nightlife culture and setting a standard for what’s acceptable, safe, and fun. People want a comfortable space to freely, artistically express themselves, and to share that blissful moment with other like-minded individuals — and that’s exactly what The Get Down delivers.
With hopes of expanding into new cities, festivals, and communities in the future, The Get Down’s power to unite, heal, and restore peace is just getting started.
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.