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Dancing Outlawed at the Brooklyn Museum

by Kyle Chayka on October 8, 2012

Brooklyn Museum First Saturdays dance party (Illustration by the author for Hyperallergic)

Museums all want to be popular with their local audiences, courting art fans with lectures, events, and activities. But what happens when a museum gets a little too popular? The Brooklyn Museum has been forced to alter its Target-sponsored free First Saturdays because the monthly parties are getting too crazy. In a Pleasantvillian touch, dancing has been outlawed.

Like many museums, the Brooklyn Museum hosts a handful of evening occasions when it stays open late for younger patrons to party. The problem is that the First Saturdays regularly attract crowds of 10,000+ visitors, and the third floor, which hosts DJs and live bands during the festivities, gets packed to bursting. The vibe on the dance floor might be getting a little too … shall we say, un-museum-like. “I was shocked and affronted to hear the DJ ask the audience at the July Dance Party ‘How you [motherfuckers] doing’ not once but twice,” complained online commenter Patrice Leah.

After thinking about how the event reflected on their image, the Brooklyn Museum decided to ban dancing at First Saturdays, the Brooklyn Paper reports (one assumes you can still bob in place a little bit and nod your head, if you really want). “We are going to put the dance party on hiatus for the time being,” a museum blog post reads. Bumping and grinding, they explain, will be replaced with new, different kinds of programming and performances.

While it’s reasonable that the Brooklyn Museum wouldn’t want to turn into Le Baron, maybe they’ve stumbled upon a way for museums to make their unique spaces uniquely profitable — open pop-up nightclubs.

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  • Daniel Larkin

    The Le Baron link is really hilarious Kyle. It reminds me of Stefan from SNL http://www.hulu.com/watch/338484 – First Saturday always brought a different vibe to the museum. lets see what happens.

  • karen

    a bit confused. since when does a hiatus just on their huge, club-style dj dance parties equal a “ban” on dancing? have you been to these parties before? there’s a clear difference between the specific, rotating music/dancing events earlier in the night and the general crush of the “dance party” that follows. it’s obviously a growing challenge for them, and since they claim they’ll be re-examining the whole situation in the spring, I imagine the dance parties too will be back. I guess I don’t really see the benefit of knocking on an important community institution like the brooklyn museum trying to deal with a fire hazard and crowding problem by insisting they’ve engaged in some kind of egregious, Footloose-esque prohibition. You know, I’m remembering now, they even completely renovated the entire Beaux-Arts court floor a couple years ago, in an attempt to buttress against the massive crowds — but I guess that attempt failed too! give them a break, they’ll keep working on it.

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