The summertime mobs landed in Long Island City right on schedule yesterday, as MoMA PS1 kicked off its crazy popular Warm Up dance party series. Now in its 17th year, Warm Up once again brings a full slate of cutting-edge DJs and (somewhat) experimental bands to the museum's expansive courtyard every Saturday, as tens of thousands of folks pack the place to drink, eat, mingle, ogle, and, space permitting, dance themselves into a sweaty mess.
The physical centerpiece of the festivities every year is whatever new installation has won the museum's annual Young Architect's Program Award. This year, that winner was the giant, self-generating fungi castle from designer David Benjamin and his crew at The Living, called Hy-Fi. Constructed of bricks made from corn stalks and mushrooms, Hy-Fi provides both much-appreciated shade as well as ample selfie opportunities.
As cool as Hy-Fi is—those bricks are incredibly light, the material weighing about the same as styrofoam, though some claimed they smelled "like soup"—there is a notable lack of water play in this year's YAP winner. No misters or "surprise" squirters; no multiple foot-cooling baths. In fact, the only water feature is essentially a plastic, backyard-sized kiddie pool, no filtration, and quickly overrun with actual kiddies who, one would assume, cared very little about "keeping it an ool*". (*Yes, no "p".)
Anyway, the crowd dynamic of yesterday's Warm Up followed form from year's past. Go early, say around 2 p.m. before the first DJ hits the stage at the top of the stairs, and the place is super chill. No lines at all for beers or bathrooms. You can walk right up and get food from the M. Wells tent in the back courtyard—the menu is likely to evolve, but yesterday it featured a Veal Heart Sandwich—or margaritas at their Dinette inside. The dance floor is empty.
Arrive later, say after 4:30 or 5 p.m., and expect long lines every step of the way. And that's when the music always starts really thumping, when the dance floor (and every other floor) is pretty much too crowded to actually be able to dance. It's still fun, with prime people-watching to be had, but as a friend said, "I just miss the old days of getting in for $5 and hanging with friends and dancing for hours without the huge crowds. We used to go every weekend."
One final note: for as long as we can remember, all of the galleries inside MoMA PS1 have been open during Warm Up, and one of the highlights of the day was always heading inside, getting a break from the sun, and checking out the (often air-conditioned) art with a bunch of your fellow "club kids". Yesterday, however, at around 3:30 or 4 p.m., the second and third floors of the museum were suddenly closed off to all party-goers. They later opened up the bathrooms on the second floor (thank god), but still.
This action was possibly in response to someone "putting a hole" in one of the Korakrit Arunanondchai's pillows on the first floor, though that gallery was reopened pretty quickly after "it was sewed up." I was told that these upstairs galleries will be off-limits every Saturday all summer, because the art is "fragile," but we are awaiting clarification on this. However, if you go to Warm Up! and expect to also see all of MoMA PS1's summer shows (and both the James Lee Byers and the Maria Lassnig exhibitions are particularly good), be prepared for disappointment.
Warm Up is held in the MoMA PS1 courtyard every Saturday from 3 to 9 p.m., now through September 6th. The galleries close at 6. Or, apparently, earlier.