Nostalgia nights have an obvious appeal. Rather than go out to a fancy club and dance to generic house music, you can jam semi-ironically to something familiar. Something with a melody, at that. And for all of us 90s kids clinging to the days of our earliest consciousness, before we had any awareness of politics or the housing bubble or rent checks or calories, the popularity of 90s nights make sense. Not to mention the 90s were rife with total bangers and serious grooves of all genres.
Perhaps a little less intuitive? Emo nights. Regardless, there seems to be a steady growth in "emo nights" around the city, playing everything between the margins of post-hardcore and pop-punk from the late 90s to mid-00s. Who would have thought that a sub-genre built on a foundation of angst would be good, exclusive material for bar and club nights? We are a generation with a lot of feelings, it seems, and sometimes we like to dance to them. Or, you know, rhythmically brood over our PBRs. Or Bushwick Pilsners, god bless.
Emo Night NYC and Emo Night Brooklyn are two bigger, more established parties that have been going on monthly or so for the past five years; Emo Night Brooklyn has even more of a DJ-party structure and, perhaps a bit oddly, tours around the country. Emo Night NYC is run by the same people who do the Washed Up Emo podcast—true devotees.
For those not yet looking to enter emo mecca, smaller congregations are popping up more and more frequently, all over the country and especially in every corner of New York. The Johnson's, right by the Jefferson stop in Bushwick, just announced its own monthly series called Taking Back Mondays, which is not a not-clever name, except that soon enough every hipster bar with an ambitious and bearded bartender/DJ is going to have its own "Taking Back [insert day of the week]," so they're going to have to come up with another naming convention eventually. Even Adam Lazzara, frontman of the actual Taking Back Sunday, has some feelings about it. In reference to LA's monthly "Taking Back Tuesday," Lazzara shared some harsh words with Billboard earlier this year:
"Those motherf---ers owe me some money. They're using our name, they didn't ask...It's flattering, I get it. But also, I don't want to become a parody of something I take real seriously. That's the line that those people are walking. They need to understand that they've got to take care with that sh--. You don't make shirts that say, 'Sad as f---.' Like you're making a f---ing joke out of it? F--- you."
It's not clear how Lazzara determines parody versus genuine admiration (he goes on to condone a dish called "Taking Back Sundae" at an LA donut shop because "they're not making fun"), but it is clear that to him, emo is serious business.
The Johnson's emo night isn't even the first in New York to use the TBS pun. A couple of months ago, after getting a post-work drink with a friend at Precious Metal (also in Bushwick), the bartender handed us each a card advertising his Taking Back Wednesdays.
"Tell all your friends," he told me. I laughed softly.
"Get it? Like the Taking Back Sunday album?" I did get it.
The only bad thing about emo social events, I guess, is having to socialize with other people who still listen to emo music. There's probably a reason it's a genre closely associated with solitude.