(New York Jewish Week) — On a recent Saturday at Silo, a new dance club in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, an aerialist was dangling above the crowd, doing flips on a hula hoop in front of hundreds of people, while hypnotic house music boomed through the venue’s world-class sound system. It was 1 a.m. and the party was just getting started.
Alex Neuhausen, a 39-year-old Jewish musician-turned-club owner, told the New York Jewish Week that this experience of starting the night well past most people’s bedtimes is inspired by Tel Aviv, the beachside Israeli city famous for its club culture.
“In Tel Aviv, they all get dinner with their family and everyone hangs out at 10 or 11, and then you hang out before the club until 2 or 3, and then you go to the club,” Neuhausen said. “They keep super-late hours. You turn the entire night into an experience. We want to do that.”
Some of the biggest night club venues in Brooklyn can hold thousands of people. Silo, by contrast, holds only 500, which carries a more intimate feel. The club is located on the eastern fringes of Williamsburg inside an repurposed airplane hangar, and its high ceiling provides an open, airy atmosphere to what would otherwise feel like a tightly packed room.
The team behind Silo is “mostly Jewish,” Neuhausen said, including co-founder Lily Wolfson, the booking consultant, the sound team and the lighting engineers. Neuhausen’s girlfriend, Ariel Lasevoli, who is the club’s director of performance and production, is half-Jewish. A massive two-sided mural, which separates the main club room from the bar area, was created by the Israeli artist Yoshi.
The striking mural is a piece that seems to change after a guest consumes a few drinks while the music plays. The mural portrays a seemingly endless array of black smoke or fire — gray clouds with some white streaks of electricity in the middle of it — but Neuhausen said it is open to interpretation.
“The front represents chaos,” Neuhausen said about the mural, which stretches 15 feet tall and 24 feet wide. “The show room side is a mix of organic patterns, fractals and flowers, but it never quite resolves into anything if you look closely. It’s like a Rorschach [test]; the viewer gives it meaning.”
The Tel Aviv club scene is only one of Silo’s Jewish inspirations: Neuhausen said his interest in dance music goes back to a young age, when he went to his cousins’ bar and bat mitzvahs in the Washington, D.C. area, where he grew up.
“What’s really striking about going to a bar mitzvah is that everyone dances,” Neuhausen said. “It’s the entire family, from the old folks to everyone. It’s just this joyous occasion. American white bread culture doesn’t have a lot of these elements.”
If a bar mitzvah party is a familial, albeit sometimes corny celebration that involves dancing with your loved ones, then it shares a great deal with the ethos of Silo — namely, to provide a place to party all night long while maintaining a welcoming feeling. It’s the antithesis of the exclusive environment that characterizes many high-end Manhattan and Brooklyn nightclubs, which often come with judgmental door policies and an intense, cooler-than-thou attitude.
At Silo on a Saturday earlier this month, the vibe was almost the complete opposite. The security guard cracked jokes with those waiting in line while checking IDs, and Neuhausen himself took our coats as we walked through the door. The attendees were not just Instagram models; college students, queer folks dressed in drag and 50-somethings were also in the mix. It wasn’t a sold out show, but there were nearly 400 people in the room, and almost everyone was focused on the music.
House music — which combines four-on-the-floor drum beats with R&B vocals and other layers — is Silo’s main focus, a style of music that originated at Black LGBTQ clubs in Chicago and Detroit in the 1980s. It’s a history that, Neuhausen said, shares commonalities with the Jewish people.
“These marginalized communities, maybe almost in spite of the oppression, generate great art,” Neuhausen said. “Jews have a lot in common with that shared cultural experience of oppression.”
Neuhausen’s father is Jewish, but not “devout about practicing,” he said. “We only went to synagogue a couple of times but I picked up a lot of cultural Jewish identity from him,” he added. “Whenever I see my extended family, it’s much more Jewish.”
In 2012, Neuhausen formed a band with Wolfson and they moved from San Francisco to New York, where Neuhausen took up residence in a garage in Williamsburg. Eventually, he turned the space into a makeshift venue for performances that included bands, comedians, aerialists and eventually DJs.
By 2017, Neuahusen and Wolfson’s parties were growing, so they opened up a commercial space called “Secret Loft” in Manhattan, which held only 80 people. It’s where, over the next five years, Neuhausen learned how to perfect the art of throwing parties — and where he assembled the team that would later go on to build Silo.
“It did really well immediately,” Neuhausen said. “We thought this was a thing we could actually do for a living. That was really the dream.”
Those parties ultimately became too big for the space. Wanting to be closer to the booming club scene in Brooklyn, the team eventually opened Silo, which is located next to the established megaclub Avant Gardner.
At Silo, the goal is to create a space that’s welcoming for all. “Last weekend, we had the DJs on the floor, on a little bit of an elevated platform,” Neuhausen said. “They were surrounded by people on all sides — everybody is facing inwards. It’s very different from a concert, it feels more like a community event.” During the week, the venue also hosts DJ workshops.
Neuhausen added that the booking team is “two women and a gay guy,” and the goal is to bring women DJs and people of color into the club. Neuhausen noted that, despite its origins, “there tends to be a lot of white guys” within some sub-genres of house music.
“We are booking more eclectic artists than a lot of venues,” he said. “We’re not about making people feel uncool. We’re not elitist. We book elite level talent, but we want everyone to see it.”
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Phyllis Pollock died at home Sunday September 3, 2023 in Winnipeg, after a courageous lifetime battle with cancer.
Phyllis was a mother of four: Gary (Laura), daughter Randi, Steven (deceased in 2010) (Karen), and Robert. Phyllis also had two grandchildren: Lauren and Quinn.
Born in Fort Frances, Ontario on February 7, 1939, Phyllis was an only child to Ruby and Alex Lerman. After graduating high school, Phyllis moved to Winnipeg where she married and later divorced Danny Pollock, the father of her children. She moved to Beverly Hills in 1971, where she raised her children.
Phyllis had a busy social life and lucrative real estate career that spanned over 50 years, including new home sales with CoastCo. Phyllis was the original sales agent for three buildings in Santa Monica, oceanfront: Sea Colony I, Sea Colony II, and Sea Colony. She was known as the Sea Colony Queen. She worked side by side with her daughter Randi for about 25 years – handling over 600 transactions, including sales and leases within the three phases of Sea Colony alone.
Phyllis had more energy than most people half her age. She loved entertaining, working in the real estate field, meeting new and interesting people everyday no matter where she went, and thrived on making new lifelong friends. Phyllis eventually moved to the Sea Colony in Santa Monica where she lived for many years before moving to Palm Desert, then Winnipeg.
After battling breast cancer four times in approximately 20 years, she developed metastatic Stage 4 lung cancer. Her long-time domestic partner of 27 years, Joseph Wilder, K.C., was the love of her life. They were never far apart. They traveled the world and went on many adventures during their relationship. During her treatment, Phyllis would say how much she missed work and seeing her clients. Joey demonstrated amazing strength, love, care, and compassion for Phyllis as her condition progressed. He was her rock and was by her side 24/7, making sure she had the best possible care. Joey’s son David was always there to support Phyllis and to make her smile. Joey’s other children, Sheri, Kenny, Joshua and wife Davina, were also a part of her life. His kids would Facetime Phyllis and include her during any of their important functions. Phyllis loved Joey’s children as if they were her own.
Thank you to all of her friends and family who were there to support her during these difficult times. Phyllis is now, finally, pain free and in a better place. She was loved dearly and will be greatly missed. Interment took place in Los Angeles.
Gwen Centre Creative Living Centre celebrates 35th anniversary
By BERNIE BELLAN Over 100 individuals gathered at the Gwen Secter Centre on Tuesday evening, July 18 – under the big top that serves as the venue for the summer series of outdoor concerts that is now in its third year at the centre.
The occasion was the celebration of the Gwen Secter Centre’s 35th anniversary. It was also an opportunity to honour the memory of Sophie Shinewald, who passed away at the age of 106 in 2019, but who, as recently as 2018, was still a regular attendee at the Gwen Secter Centre.
As Gwen Secter Executive Director Becky Chisick noted in her remarks to the audience, Sophie had been volunteering at the Gwen Secter Centre for years – answering the phone among other duties. Becky remarked that Sophie’s son, Ed Shinewald, had the phone number for the Gwen Secter Centre stored in his phone as “Mum’s work.”
Remarks were also delivered by Raquel Dancho, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, who was the only representative of any level of government in attendance. (How times have changed: I remember well the steadfast support the former Member of the Legislature for St. John’s, Gord Mackintosh, showed the Gwen Secter Centre when it was perilously close to being closed down. And, of course, for years, the area in which the Gwen Secter Centre is situated was represented by the late Saul Cherniack.)
Sophie Shinewald’s granddaughter, Alix (who flew in from Chicago), represented the Shinewald family at the event. (Her brother, Benjamin, who lives in Ottawa, wasn’t able to attend, but he sent a pre-recorded audio message that was played for the audience.)
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by a group of talented singers, led by Julia Kroft. Following the concert, attendees headed inside to partake of a sumptuous assortment of pastries, all prepared by the Gwen Secter culinary staff. (And, despite my asking whether I could take a doggy bag home, I was turned down.)
Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station
This is a developing story.
(JTA) — Palestinian gunmen killed four people and wounded four in a terror attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli, the Israeli army reported.
An Israeli civilian returning fire at the scene of the attack on Tuesday killed one of the attackers, who emerged from a vehicle, and two others fled.
Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, said one of those wounded was in serious condition. The gunmen, while in the vehicle, shot at a guard post at the entry to the settlement, and then continued to the gas station which is also the site of a snack bar. A nearby yeshiva went into lockdown.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced plans to convene a briefing with top security officials within hours of the attack. Kan reported that there were celebrations of the killing in major West Bank cities and in the Gaza Strip, initiated by terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas said the shooting attack Tuesday was triggered by the Jenin raid.
The shooting comes as tensions intensify in the West Bank. A day earlier, Israeli troops raiding the city of Jenin to arrest accused terrorists killed five people.
The Biden administration spoke out over the weekend against Israel’s plans to build 4,000 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also finalized plans to transfer West Bank building decisions to Bezalel Smotrich, the extremist who is the finance minister. Smotrich has said he wants to limit Palestinian building and expand settlement building.
Kan reported that the dead terrorist was a resident of a village, Urif, close to Huwara, the Palestinian town where terrorists killed two Israeli brothers driving through in February. Settlers retaliated by raiding the village and burning cars and buildings.
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