Backbeat: Monster Island's Final Williamsburg, Brooklyn Block Party
Backbeat: Monster Island's Final Williamsburg, Brooklyn Block Party

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Gentrification Blues: After seven years as an alternative arts space, Williamsburg, Brooklyn's Monster Island this past Satruday held what is likely its last block party. (Photo: Andrew St. Clair)

This past Saturday, Sept. 10, Monster Island, the multipurpose Brooklyn DIY arts space scheduled for demolition in November, held its annual-and quite possibly final-block party, inviting the locat community to listen to bands on the street, tour the building, and view the space's current art installations.

The venue, located at 128 River Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, has acted as a center for the creative projects of organizations like Live with Animals, Secret Project Robot Art Space, Todd P. Practice Spaces, Mollusk Surf Shop, Kayrock Screenprinting and the band Oneida since its beginnings in 2004.

The closing of Monster Island follows the recently shut down all-ages venue Silent Barn, which was robbed a few short weeks ago, according to Brooklyn Vegan.

"Without a doubt it's a blow to the community," said photographer Christopher Person. "It's been one of the roughest years for DIY in New York, but I've seen people united more in this past year than I have in my whole time living in this city."

Saturday's farewell event marked the largest block party to date and boasted a line-up of popular New York DIY acts: Cult of Youth, Eric Copeland, Soldiers of Fortune, Man Forever, Call of the Wild, K-Holes, Dubknowdub, Vaz and Light Asylum, among others. The collective Robot Death Cult ran a video installation as the venue held an all-day BBQ, featuring the talents of local DJs, who paid homage to the space.

The event was funded by a successful Kickstarter project and immortalized with freshly screen-printed t-shirts that read, "M.I. 'til I die," and "I survived Monster Island."

Sustaining DIY spaces like Monster Island is often a daunting and expensive task in New York City involving liquor licenses, strict building codes and noise ordinances as well as utilities and construction costs. "We need to change the laws surrounding zoning for music and arts spaces," said Ari Spool, managing editor at 'Sup magazine and local music gadabout. "These laws are outdated and provide too much of a blanket cover for the city to deal with 'problem clubs.'"

According to a report in the New York Times, Monster Island's doors are closing next month because the space's landlord has decided not to renew the lease in favor redeveloping the property.

"The difference between legality and non-legality is purely monetary," adds Spool. "The only thing that allows [Monster Island] to be torn down is the fact that artists have to rent because they don't have the money to buy."

Meanwhile, Secret Project Robot, who oversees the spaces at Monster Island has announced that they will be opening a new space, on Melrose Street in Bushwick off the Morgan L-train stop, in the coming months.

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Teenage Industrial Wasteland: The band K-Holes (above) used the Monster Island for thier practice space. The band is fronted by Vashti Windish who runs the art gallery Live with Animals. (Photo: Andrew St. Clair)
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Kicking Out the Jams: Cult of Youth at the Monster Island block party. (Photo: Andrew St. Clair)
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Before...: The Monster Island mural as it looked the day of the block party.

....And After: The day after the Monster Island block party, some of the creators of Monster Island's mural covered their artwork in advance of any wrecking balls. (Photo: Timothy Saccenti, www.timothysaccenti.com)

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