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Bushwick 'Reggae Prom' Brings Jamaican Vibes to New Year's Eve

By Meredith Hoffman | December 19, 2013 3:54pm
 Musicians and guests gathered at last year's Reggae Prom.
Musicians and guests gathered at last year's Reggae Prom.
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Facebook/Reggae Prom

BUSHWICK — This New Year's Eve you can transport yourself to Jamaica, the 1970's and to your high school prom all at once — without having to leave Brooklyn or spend a dime.

A collective of Bushwick reggae artists are throwing their third annual "Reggae Prom," with free entrance (before 10 p.m.), prom photos, live music and a "makeout party," the group wrote on its Facebook page.

The party is the close-knit bands' "gala of the year," said Bushwick musician Maddie Ruthless, who said the performances are mainly by Brooklyn and Queens acts but also include native Jamaican groups.

"We have always featured local reggae bands that have a focus on the vintage aesthetics of '60's and '70s reggae," said Ruthless, 25, the guitarist for Far East, one of the bands playing at the show. "And the 'prom' motif seemed to fit in perfectly with the romanticism of that era of Jamaican music."

The Far East, which recently released its first single, and the two other bands plan to play at popular loft space the Tea Factory. The bands are all represented by the record label Tea Factory Sound, which are based out of the building.

"Tea Factory Sound was born out of a group of Reggae artists performing, practicing, and living in and around the Tea Factory building in Bushwick, Brooklyn," the label explains on its website. "Frustrated with the labels presented to them, Tea Factory Sound was created to make vinyl that pays respect to roots music in every aspect, without gimmicks."

And even as the musicians hold onto their authentic reggae feel, Ruthless said, they always pack the Stockholm Street loft with revelers donning their fanciest attire.

"Everyone is dressed to the nines, with prom pictures, and decorations and the works," Ruthless said. "It's a very romantic way to spend a New Years Eve in NYC."

Despite the "prom" theme, Ruthless gushed that the loft party far outshined any high school happening.

"It feels more like sparkly wintertime reggae magic," Ruthless said. "It is a great cross section of New Yorkers in Bushwick celebrating reggae music. And celebrating love!"

The Reggae Prom is Dec. 31 at 9 p.m. at 175 Stockholm St. Entrance is free before 10 p.m. and $5 after 10 p.m.