6 Asian-led underground dance music parties in NYC

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"Men used to go to war, now they DJ in Bushwick," I joked on Twitter in August 2022. Little did I know it would help connect me with key figures in Brooklyn nightlife who would help me start my own party where I book DJs in Bushwick.

Nearly two years later, I've launched a successful platform with HEADS KNOW, a place where I'm able to showcase diverse talent in electronic music and hip-hop from all over the world. I've worked with my favorite artists, put people onto pioneers of a genre, and booked exciting emerging talent from New York City and beyond.

But I can't forget where this all started. When Paradise Garage opened its doors in 1978, it would go onto change the course of music history forever. Resting on 84 King Street in New York City's Hudson Square, it was home to the pioneering DJ and producer Larry Levan, who held a decade-long residency at the club. Now, almost five decades later, New York City remains a hub for some of the most innovative electronic music artists in the world, and is regularly the first stop in the United States for international acts to showcase their talent.

Partygoers can't go through a weekend without scheduling conflicts in New York. Not only do venues and clubs have stacked calendars, but there are countless independent promoters who throw events of their own. For AAPI Heritage Month, we wanted to showcase some of our favorite Asian-led underground parties you should support throughout the year.

1: Laylit

Founders: Nadim Maghzal, MNSA and Saphe Shamoun

Founded: August 2018

What inspired the party? We wanted to showcase the depth and richness of music from the SWANA region and its diaspora.

What keeps you going? We love to dance and to bring people together! I also think that in our mixing and curation, we’re all seeking a new club sound, one that speaks to the spaces that we come from and the different sociopolitical questions with which we have been grappling!

Why you should go Laylit has been the launching pad for so many SWANA artists in the US who champion their heritage. Not only will you hear incredible club music, but you'll also get a lesson in culture.

Follow Laylit on Instagram.


Founders: Dominick Alcantara, Paolo Del Castillo and Adrian Go

Founded: 2018

What inspired the party? After a few years, we finally figured out a name for our parties -- BAHAY KUBO -- or "Cube House" in English, the simplest form of a house built from indigenous materials like bamboo and nipa leaves. The inspiration here was the deep roots that our collective has in Filipino life, celebrating Bayanihan—a sense of communal unity shared through house music.

What keeps you going? Seeing the growth and everything we've accomplished as a group over the last three years has been astounding. I think the true inspiration is what we achieve together as a collective. This has been the motivation from the start—creating a space for upcoming Filipino and non-Filipino creatives to showcase their works and talents. As we continue to grow, we're finding ourselves in bigger and better places, working toward being the platform to present and participate with the best of the best.

Why you should go Not many parties showcase Southeast Asian talent, but for BARANGAY, it's a priority. Experience groovy house music from talent in the often-overlooked Asian diaspora.

Follow BARANGAY on Instagram.



Founded: July 2021

What inspired the party? I didn’t feel like there was a space I could go to hear a lot of the music that I was personally interested in—a more experimental and at times challenging type of electronic music. I love and have partied at most of the spaces and club nights in NYC but never found a space that musically was 100% my vibe, so I created it myself.

There were many artists who I didn’t feel I got to see enough in New York, or that I felt could be really fun in the context of a club night, and I knew that there were others like me out there who felt the same way and wanted to see the same artists live. We spent the last two and a half years slowly cultivating an audience and community, all through a shared love of music.

What keeps you going? Being able to work with artists whose music have had a deep impact on my life, and seeing the way the audience responds to seeing them at our nights because the audience had the exact same experience as I did. That’s pretty powerful sometimes.

Why you should go There ain't no party like an SKSKSKS party. With some of the most innovative lineups in New York City, attending one is a must.

Follow SKSKSKS on Instagram.

4: Whorechata

Founder: Ian Kumamoto AKA oyystersauce

Founded: Summer 2021

What inspired the party? After COVID, I really wanted to party again but I dreaded the thought of going back to white and cis-male dominated gay spaces. Before the pandemic, every time I was at a gay white club, I would either feel fetishized in a gross way or completely ignored. People don't really talk to you unless they're attracted to you and to me, that's not a community I want to be any part of.

After the George Floyd protests and Stop Asian Hate, I realized that marginalized people could demand so much more for ourselves. I wanted to create a fun queer space that also felt welcoming to women, trans and non-binary people and above all, people of color.

What keeps you going? Honestly, all the fucked up shit happening in the world, especially when it happens to my friends. Back in January of this year, my friend Dawn got denied from an all-women's boxing gym after she disclosed that she was trans. They straight up told her she needed to be a woman at birth. When Dawn told me what had happened (and showed me the receipts) I was so disturbed but it also served as a reminder of why I started Whorechata in the first place:

For queer and trans people of colour—a group of people who are consistently invalidated—to know that they are beautiful and worthy and that they matter. In response to that incident, we produced an event called K.O.! at a trans-owned boxing gym, OutBox, to raise money for Dawn and other trans women of color to go to trans affirming gyms. We had drag queens battling in the boxing ring, Memphy and other trans DJs on the deks and Qween Jean giving a speech. It was so iconic that the Rolling Stone and Washington Post wrote about it. The best part is that we raised enough money for Dawn to go to gym that would affirm her and her right to exercise.

Why you should go Ever heard of boxing at a rave? That's the kind of unexpected programming you can find at Whorechata.

Follow Whorechata on Instagram.

5: Book Club

Founders: Tinzo and Jojo

Founded: February 2023

What inspired the party? My friends and I have a group chat where we would plan to meet up and go dancing every week. Because we met up regularly, it was an ongoing joke that we were kind of like a book club, so that's what we named our group chat. During that time, we would also host parties and pregames with our friends, where Jojo and I would DJ for the entire party.

At the end of 2022, Jojo had the idea of starting a channel where we would record the parties that we host and invite our DJ friends to play. When we were brainstorming ideas for the name of our YouTube channel, we thought our group chat name fit perfectly.

Over the past couple of years, we noticed a lack of focus on the music in the nightlife scene. Many times we would go out and get caught up in a still crowd and a sea of phones directed towards the headlining DJ. We wanted to foster an environment where people can’t help but dance and interact with each other. It should be about the moment and the music and nothing else.

What keeps you going? Our peers. Everyone else who works on Book Club Radio has a whole other full-time job, so this really is a passion project. It started as a party put on by friends and I think it’s still fun and exciting for us because it’s still a group of friends throwing monthly events.

Why you should go Book Club is all about the music—that's why one of their rules is to not face the DJ. Every party has a different vibe, so you'll never want to miss one.

Follow Book Club on Instagram.


Founder: Arielle Lana LeJarde AKA ariellenyc

Founded: May 2023

What inspired the party? As a music journalist, my mission was always to highlight women of colour, queer people, and artists of all marginalised groups. I also have experience in the industry as an artist manager, publicist, and booking agent assistant, which led me to the realisation that the best way to connect with people is live events, and it was what got me into the electronic music scene in general. I gave throwing a party a shot and fell in love. After figuring out that I could create my own lineups and get artists paid, I never looked back.

What keeps you going? The community of artists and partygoers encouraging me to continue, and validating that what I'm doing with HEADS KNOW is important, is what keeps me going. Without the support of everyone, I wouldn't be here today.

Why you should go: HEADS KNOW is a community of music lovers and historians. Each lineup is carefully curated so you can not only dance your heart out, but you also learn something new about the genres you love.

Follow HEADS KNOW on Instagram.

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