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Fate of Crown Heights Techno Festival in Limbo as Pols Continue Fight

 Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo and Assemblyman Walter Mosley led a press conference Thursday asking the city to cancel a techno festival planned at the Bedford-Union Armory, pictured behind them.
Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo and Assemblyman Walter Mosley led a press conference Thursday asking the city to cancel a techno festival planned at the Bedford-Union Armory, pictured behind them.
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DNAinfo/Rachel Holliday Smith

CROWN HEIGHTS — Eight days before a techno festival is set to begin at the Bedford-Union Armory, the event's future is up in the air as elected officials and residents continue to push the city to nix it.

Local leaders railed against the city’s handling of the Time Warp event, set for Nov. 20 and 21, saying at a press conference Thursday morning that bringing the two-day festival to the neighborhood — particularly without notifying any area representatives or residents — is “unacceptable."

“They should have been in touch with the community,” Assemblyman Walter Mosley said of the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, the agency in charge of issuing event permits at the armory.

The area’s councilwoman, Laurie Cumbo, said she “unequivocally” does not support the “rave party,” especially because her office and others have received no information about security or transportation for thousands of anticipated attendees.

“Nothing was discussed with us. We were just informed that a rave would be taking place here,” she said.

Addressing those concerns, Time Warp’s organizers say they've been working for months to prepare for the armory event, meeting repeatedly with city, state and NYPD officials to work out the logistics of the festival and reduce the impact to Crown Heights residents.

Promoters told DNAinfo New York attendees will be shuttled in from Atlantic Terminal by specially chartered buses, producers will use sound-deadening materials and noise-canceling speakers to reduce noise pollution and all exits for the 3,000 attendees of Time Warp will be final once the event begins — in other words, loitering is prohibited.

Most important for the community to know, however, is that Time Warp is not a “rave,” said a representative from ID&T, a Netherlands-based entertainment company co-producing the festival.

“A rave has been a term used to define events held in illegal spaces without the appropriate permitting,” said Brian Tamke of ID&T. “We focus on working really closely … with the appropriate medical, security and event staff to produce an event that, from the moment you walk in the door to the moment you walk out, you are fully immersed in a beautiful, safe environment.”

A promotional video from Time Warp shows the "Cave 2.0" set design custom-built for each of the annual techno festivals, organizers said. (YouTube)

In addition to multiple live performances by DJs, Time Warp is known for its custom-built “Cave 2.0” stage design that hangs from the ceiling of whatever venue is hosting the festival; Tamke said that element has been specifically designed for the armory on Bedford Avenue and would be challenging to move to another location on short notice.

“The architectural and engineering work that we did to fit this to the space — if we were to start to pursue another venue to host this in, the logistics of fitting the production as it was designed into another room in a short period of time is very difficult,” he said.

This isn't the first time Time Warp has hit a snag in a city armory. Last year, the group scrambled to find an alternate location after a permitting snafu at the Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx forced the festival to move to a Sunset Park venue. Afterwards, the 72nd Precinct in the area wrote a letter of support for the event, saying it was an "honor and pleasure" working with its local organizers.

Neither the organizers nor any elected officials at Thursday's press conference have received word from the city about whether or not Time Warp has a green light in the Crown Heights location.

An inquiry to DCAS from DNAinfo was not returned Thursday. Previously, the spokeswoman for the agency said DCAS is “reviewing the application” from the festival, but offered no further details.

For his part, Mosley thinks the best solution would be to find a new location for Time Warp and asked the city to do just that on Thursday.

“We are eight days away from the first day of this rave concert. We believe that is enough time for this administration to change course and find a new venue,” he said. “Ultimately, that’s what we want: a resolution and then on top of that, an explanation of how we got here in the first place.”