Hasidic women can rock too—just not in front of men. That's the scenario faced by all-female Hasidic rock group Bulletproof Stockings, led by Crown Heights residents Dalia Shusterman and Perl Wolfe. They are trying to break through the frum ceiling and reach a bigger audience...but only a female audience, because their strict Orthodox beliefs (they must cover their hair, knees and elbows) means men (who aren't their husbands/family members) can't hear them sing. So ladies will have a chance to hear them live tonight at 7 p.m. at Arlene's Grocery during their highest profile gig yet—but dudes will have to wait at the bar.
"We were hesitant, because of their limited experience in the NYC live scene, and the fact that we would have to turn men away from the band room during their set," Julia Darling, Arlene's Grocery's general manager, told the WSJ about tonight's females-only show. "However, the band literally hit the pavement to get signatures from women who vowed to come to the show if we booked them. They called me and said 'We can guarantee a full house.' " [As Gawker points out, there's no "specific request as to what transgendered audience members are supposed to do"]
Arlene's holds around 150 people (and was the launching pad for everyone from The Strokes to Jim Carrey's Creepy Post-Acting Career); the band, who formed around 2 1/2 years ago, have thus far limited themselves to playing at women's universities or private shows. But the band, like all bands in the history of popular music, believes it's on the cusp of something bigger.
"People want the excitement of hanging out all night without being bothered by guys. They just want to hang with girlfriends, drink, dance," vocalist/keyboardist Perl Wolfe told WSJ. "We had a show in Park Slope, and a bunch of hipster girls began dancing hand-in-hand in a circle to niggunim [Hasidic melodies] they didn't know but were so into it. They wouldn't have done that if there were men."
Not that Bulletproof Stockings are hurting in the PR department: they've already been the subject of a documentary, called "The Bulletproof Stockings," that screened at last year's DOC NYC film festival; and tonight's Arlene's show will be filmed for Oxygen Network’s upcoming show "Living Different." So at least men who subscribe to Oxygen will (probably?) be able to see them perform, unless of course the channel utilizes the latest in censoring technology and blurs them out with Hasid-O-No vision!