Red Hook

Party without pretense: Red Hook’s Funktion House redefines the electronic music scene

May 6, 2019 Scott Enman
Michael Gentile and Anthony Vitale wanted to create an intimate, unassuming venue for electronic music scene in Red Hook. Photo by Boris Birykov
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Don’t expect to find bottle service, bouncers or a pompous attitude at The Funktion House in Red Hook.

Fed up with the current state of nightlife, which prioritizes high heels and higher cover fees, DJs Anthony Vitale and Michael Gentile set out to create an unassuming, intimate environment where music could take front and center.

“Nightlife culture has changed dramatically over the last 10 years,” Vitale told the Brooklyn Eagle. “We don’t go to clubs no more to listen to a DJ. People go to clubs for bottle service. It’s like anyone can play the music, and anyone gets hired.

“When we started this, it was because the DJ culture kind of died in New York — it went to trash. We thought, let’s give a DJ an outlet to come and express himself and play whatever he wants without a manager in his ear telling him to play a song for a bottle client.”

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A DJ performs at a recent event. Photo courtesy of The Funktion House
A DJ performs at a recent event. Photo courtesy of The Funktion House

The no-frills warehouse-turned-studio-and-venue at 310 Van Brunt St. hosts free live streams every Tuesday, providing a platform for both established and emerging artists to showcase their skills.

The party space, just a block away from Pioneer Works and The Red Hook Lobster Pound, is decked out with a state-of-the-art sound system, lighting and video walls.

“#LiveFromRedHook,” the group’s main show, starts at 8:30 p.m. each Tuesday with a different DJ every week. Vitale and Gentile host a conversation with the DJ of the week in front of the crowd before the music begins.

While the majority of nightlife institutions are congregated in the northern Brooklyn neighborhoods of Williamsburg, Bushwick and East Williamsburg, Vitale and Gentile wanted to establish an electronic music scene in what they see as an untapped portion of Brooklyn.

“Red Hook is untouched in the scene,” Vitale said. “If I were to go to Williamsburg, it would just be another place. To be the only place in a neighborhood that’s doing something like this, it’s kind of cool; it makes us stand out a little bit.”

A young fan shows off his support for Funktion House. Photo courtesy of Funktion House
The Funktion House starts its fans off young. Photo courtesy of The Funktion House

Attendees of the Tuesday night shows get an up-close-and-personal experience with the world’s top DJs, like Todd Terry, Hector Romero and Dennis Ferrer, who are normally inaccessible, perched high above the dance floor.

“It’s an intimate get-together,” Vitale said. “When you see these people in nightclubs, you don’t really get to go to the DJ booth and speak to them. Maybe you’ll catch eye contact, or they’ll give you a pound on the way in, but you don’t really get to talk to these people.

“This place is small, it’s intimate, you get to hear a guy’s story, and then he’s hanging out afterward. It’s a real network. It’s a small setting where you can actually talk with each other and get things done. Here, it’s all about the music.”

Follow reporter Scott Enman on Twitter.

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