Uncovering BABËL: an introduction to New York’s immersive music and arts community
Uncovering BABËL - An introduction to New York's immersive music and arts community
To think that BABËL New York debuted only about two years ago – a creative collective spearheaded by Waël Mechri-Yver and Juriël Zeligman. As French and Dutch transplants, respectively, it could be argued that the nightlife veterans’ expertise in both electronic music scene and event production trumps that of most native New Yorkers. In their eyes, the exemplary party will showcase a flawless combination of music, art, and occasionally cuisine – while simultaneously unifying each of NYC’s myriad social groups. Largely inspired to return the “magic” to a scene that often embodies segregation, Waël and Juriël have successfully created the quintessential New York event – one that is dreamy, sensual, and most importantly, welcoming.
“BABËL designs places that invite creativity and joie de vie; they are spaces that welcome the curious, the inventive, the lovers, the magic makers,” they explain.
In the past, BABËL has hosted events at Bowery Hotel, Governors Island, Elements Festival (the Water Stage), and Queen of the Night, to name a few. Ultimately, the pair’s greatest hope is to curate and foster a diverse, immersive experience for aesthetes and audiophiles alike. From Dimanche to Atmosphere to Voyage-Voyage, BABËL’s various offerings cater to even the most nit-picky of partygoers.
What is BABËL?
In a word, BABËL is a cultural community and a team of brilliant minds that hone their production chops by bringing a daring, never-before-seen experience to the table. Citing BABËL as a hub for camaraderie that attracts individuals with a passion for life, Waël and Juriël reminisce on the memories of “danc[ing], sing[ing], and open[ing] our hearts together.” It is impossible for words alone to illustrate the collective’s spellbinding essence; a multifaceted culture that lives and breathes much like any other human being. “[BABËL] is about raising consciousness to transform the world through unity. This is what makes community special — that sense of belonging. BABËL manifests this into reality through the best music, leading edge, artistic experiences and empowered creators.”
BABËL presents: ATMOSPHERE with Damian Lazarus
Of the 10 Principles of Burning Man, “radical self-expression” is perhaps the most widely known. Though a concrete definition may vary from person to person, the notion behind radical self-expression suggests that attendees must be respectful of the rights and liberties of one another. Atmosphere, one of BABËL’s signature events, is a costumed gathering that synthesizes live music and performance art at the Diamond Horseshoe – making for a riveting celebration that exceeds your average night out in Manhattan.
In September, BABËL ushered in a new season of Atmosphere, featuring Damian Lazarus, Gulivert, and Gauthier DM. While a dress code surrounding radical self-expression was enforced, only a handful of true Burners dressed the part. But for the few authentic fans that did opt for playing the role, brightly lit LED costumes, lithe aerialists and balloon-adorned dancers infiltrated Queen of the Night’s grandiose space.
DIMANCHE by BABËL with Agoria & Lum
There may not be a more fitting Sunday party for Manhattanites than Dimanche. A meditation-gone-dance soirée, the union is a monthly residency that takes place in the Lower East Side’s mecca-like Bowery Hotel. An expertly crafted cross between an immersive spiritual and festive experience, Dimanche opened the evening with a guided meditation led by Gadadhara Pandit Dasa – an author, meditation teacher, and speaker – in conjunction with The Path. The meditation, which played host to about 30 attendees among a dimly lit room adorned with fortune cookies, was complimented with soothing electronic beats and Tibetan sound bowl healing that cleansed our souls from the inside out.
Falling somewhere between a temple and an animated dance floor, Dimanche presented spectators with a live art installation in the form of ritual body art, created by Laolu Senbanjom. Across the hall resided a “(Mostly) Bad Advice” table, where guests were invited to pose questions as funny or as serious as they pleased. What initially began as a self-expressive, tranquil congregation seamlessly transitioned into your conventional New York City dance event, with sounds provided by veteran talent Agoria and Lum.
BABËL helps launch Soho Arts Club
September 2015 helped catapult BABËL deeper into the art world, manifested through a strategic collaboration with contemporary, NYC-based artist Harif Guzman. A space that had been Guzman’s home and studio since 2011, 76 Wooster Street, now known as Soho Arts Club, has officially been taken under the organization’s wing to make way for its forthcoming wave of developments. The club invites artists, photographers, filmmakers, and other kindred spirits to learn and collaborate with one another. When asked about their involvement with SAC, Waël and Juriël divulge: “BABËL’s mission is to bring together the most innovative minds to interact and inspire each through the power of art, music, and creativity and SAC is the home for this endeavor. We can accomplish much in this life when we collaborate and create together, that’s what we are all about.”
In taking on the role of creative director of the SAC, Harif will continue to play a vital role in Soho Arts Club’s next transformation alongside Babel and real-estate developer Golan Marom. Together, the team’s expansive cultural and entrepreneurial knowledge will help breathe new life into SAC through art, film, and design.
Already in its second year, it is evident just how much BABËL has helped shape New York’s arts and entertainment scenes. The creative organization made its mark several years ago by sharing its journey with open-minded souls, but consistently looks to the future in the hopes of expanding its effervescent community with additional like-minded personalities.
A carefully-curated music program lies on BABËL’s radar – a budding platform fueled by Soundcloud that will encourage members of the community to discover new musical talent. “Its goal is to be an extension of BABËL and bring our people music that’s for every moment of life; morning, afternoon and evening,” they said. “Music is the source of our inspiration and through BABËL music we share this journey with our community.” BABËL music is guided by Waël and Juriël as founders, Salomé Okala as music manager, and Okersounds – the organization’s resident DJ who traverses deep tech soundscapes through his mixes.
BABËL is also gearing up for its Halloween event, “The Last Ball,” at the Diamond Horseshoe featuring DJ Tennis, Bedouin, and Job Jobse. Tickets can be purchased here.