Meet Our Favorite Nightlife Movers and Shakers

by Antwaun Sargent
If these photos proves anything, it's that the best way to get your picture taken is to go all-the-fuck-out. Play your cards right and Roxanne Lowit just might be there to make you a nightlife immortal. Lowit has been documenting our city's ever-shifting party scene since the late '70s; her candid catalog of models, movie stars and artists rubbing elbows after hours doubles as a priceless chronicle of New York nightlife. Here, Lowit trains her lens upon a particular strain of nightlife circa 2014--one that's futuristic, androgynous and eye-gougingly colorful, pushing the boundaries (and global reserves) of makeup and glitter. From Chelsea to Bushwick and beyond, below we feature some of our favorite folks making the nightlife scene so wonderful in New York City, from promoters and DJs to musicians, actresses, models, designers and beyond.

(L-R) Zand Collective member and Becca McCharren


Becca McCharen, Chromat designer
 

Becca McCharen, the architect-turned-fashion-designer behind the conceptual Brooklyn-based brand Chromat, has dressed everyone from Nicki Minaj to Beyonce and her dancers. (Mrs. Carter's dancers sported the Chromat face cage during the singers show-stopping Video Music Awards performance).  Despite her high-profile clientele, it's the grittier parts of Bushwick and Bedstuy nightlife where the designer finds her inspiration. "I wanted to know who was wearing my clothes and what that life was like," says the designer. "I found those people in New York nightlife." The Virginia native, who's a fixture at Witches of Bushwick's monthly parties, hosted by her girlfriend Christine Tran, says she's most drawn to nightlife's sense of the unexpected when it comes to fashion. "Non-traditional materials worn as fashion is a huge part of nightlife," says McCharen, and that's what I have done with Chromat as well."
 
(L-R): Roc'Well, Nelleke McCowan, Alberto Arensberg, K Rizz and Alex Chapman

Nelleke McCowan, DJ

 
Ontario-born Nelleke McCowan's all-vinyl DJ sets have become legend around the city. She spins everywhere from Le Bain's Club Yes to Union Pool's back-room "World Famous" parties, and hosts a radio show on OHWOW gallery's Know-Wave "pirate" radio station.  "I started off as a rock-n-roll DJ," says Nelleke, "but people would always come up to me and ask if I threw dance parties too." Sensing there was a demand for better dance parties around town, McCowan gave herself a refresher course in all things body-moving. "I ended up getting back into the disco and nineties hip-hop and r&b that I used to dance to when I snuck into the clubs as a teenager," McCownan says. She's been keeping the party going ever since.
 
(L-R) Christian Ellermann, Jordi Iven and Elisha Burks 


Jordi Iven, model and DJ

 
Before Jordi Iven started DJ-ing deep house sets around town, he was walking runways for Thom Browne and Moncler. The Dutch model says he got into music while hanging out in Belgian clubs, and since then, and has been building a Manhattan following thanks to his moody sets at Meatpacking haunt the Raven on Friday nights and the monthly LTNS. "Deep house is coming back to the clubs. It isn't only about selling tables anymore," explains Iven. "I play music people can feel."
 
Elisha Burks, bottle service hostess at Tao
 
Bottle service is held up by some as the death knell of a rosier, more affordable era of '90s and early aughts nightlife. For others, it's merely a reflection of a city with an increasing young-and-moneyed population. For the statuesque bottle service hostess Elisha Burks, her job at Tao has bestowed her with a sense of community. "There is also a family aspect to being a bottle girl. I love the girls I work with," she says. "I get to go out every night and get paid for it." You can't beat that.
 
Ryan Burke

Ryan Burke, host
 
"My job is to bring love to the club," explains the cheery and warm Ryan Burke, host of new weekly party Holy Mountain with Ladyfag. Burke not only brings his good vibes with him everywhere he goes, be brings spectacular style. Sporting wonderfully weird looks designed by his roommate and fellow club fixture Domonique Echeverria, a typical Burke get-up might include pearls affixed to his face and tree branches on his head. "I like dressing up because it's a part of the culture," says Burke of his looks. When the Brooklyn boy isn't hosting at Holy Mountain, he's at Susanne Bartsch's Brooklyn bash KUNST at Verboten.
 

(L-R): Domonique Echeverria, Lafawndah and Aurora Halal.

LAFAWNDAH, singer and producer

 
"New York's my favorite place to perform because it's where my work is best received," says the Tehran-born, Paris-raised music producer and singer LAFWANDAH, who describes her music as something "you would hear if you were in a rain forest in Amazonia, half naked, during a tribal ceremony but secretly wanted to be in the club." Her ethereal, experimental sound is featured on the track "Lung," off the forthcoming EP from production duo Teen Girl Fantasy.
 
Domonique Echeverria, nightlife personality and designer
 
You'd be hard-pressed to find a nightlife personality as bubbly and "on" as Domonique Echeverria. The Susanne Bartsch protégée got into the club scene designing clothes for nightlife personalities and quickly began hosting parties around town. "I do On Top at the Standard, Fill Up at Gilded Lily, and 11:11 with Ladyfag," the self-described "baby drag queen" says. "Also, I host Saturdays at Saint Jerome's, and I am back at Gilded Lily on Sundays for Susanne Bartsch's Botanic Cult and once a month KUNST at Verboten." When she sleeps, we're not sure. Recently, Echeverria hosted the after-party for James Franco's Kink documentary. "I dressed as a dominatrix clown and surrounded myself with midgets. It was wild."
 
K Rizz, singer
 
K Rizz says she "represents the urban side of nightlife." The Club Yes host has recently shifted from being the life of the party to being the party's soundtrack. The rising pop star's "Salbahe," a club anthem celebrating Filipino girls everywhere, is rapped and sung entirely in her native Tagalog. "I'm infused with a lot of different genres because of my background and growing up in the city," says the performer. "I'm Sean Paul, Britney Spears, and Sisqó, in one." The 21-year-old is releasing her first album, Wanted, in November.
 
Christian Ellermann


Christian Ellermann, writer and performer
 
 "I fell into nightlife because I look kind of extreme," says writer and performer Christian Ellermann. "There are always people who want some kind of crazy spectacle happening in a corner of their night club." And Ellerman knows "crazy spectacle" well -- he was once beat up by performance duo the Daughters of Devotion on stage at Marquee while covered in cake and champagne. (They were dressed as twin Marie Antoinettes, naturally.) When Ellerman's not performing, he's penning a nightlife column for World of Wonder. He's also working on a novel called Strawberry Meat, which he describes as being "very vaginal."
 
Alex Chapman, DJ
 
Chicago native Alex Chapman does a little bit of everything in New York nightlife: He DJs, throws parties (the latest being Duh Fridays at Up & Down), and raps as alter-ego "Chapman." "My goal when I DJ is to make people laugh or smile, and dance harder when they hear a song because it reminds them of something," he says. Chapman says good theme is the best way to keep parties fresh. "We have thrown 'Under Duh Sea,' 'Studio 5th DUH Four,' and 'DUH Purim,' a Jewish-themed Halloween party -- because can you imagine a Jewish Halloween party?"

Luke Neocamp.
 
Luke Neocamp, performer and musician
 
Irish-born Luke Neocamp represents a more politically conscious voice on the nightlife scene. The performer and musician says his latest music video for track "Encarta" is influenced by the constant nature of Internet culture, and its ability to be both inspirational and creatively sapping. He also says he's indebted to other New York club performers. "Since seeing La Femme LaDosha of the House of LaDosha and everyone on the scene, my work has become more American, aggressive, and in your face."
 
Camilla Johannesen, promoter
 
Camilla Johannesen was suppose to go back to Norway after she finished school in New York but instead she started going out and became a promoter. She was so good at getting people to the club that she now oversees a team of promoters at creative agency The Runway Group. "My favorite night to go out is Tuesday," explains Johannesen. "Only people who want to really be out party on a Tuesday, and those people are usually a lot more fun."
 
(L-R) Luke Neocamp, Christine Tran, Ryan Burke and



Christine Tran, co-founder of Witches of Bushwick

 
Bushwick-based creative agency Witches of Bushwick have thrown some of the most talked about parties in the neighborhood and is representative of the ever-expanding creative community in the Eastern reaches of North Brooklyn. The witches' friends and collaborators include everyone from label Chromat and rapper Zebra Katz to locals flock to their roving monthly party, The Witches.  "The music is really why anyone goes out," says Christine Tran, Witches of Bushwick co-founder. "We try to bring together different cliques so amazing people can create good vibes."
 
Anna Evans of the Zand Collective.

The Zand Collective
 
"The Zand collective is Kayvon Zand's answer to Andy Warhol's factory," says burlesque performer Anna Evans of her musician fiancé Kayvon Zand's band of nightlife luminaries. Zand, who has been active in the New York nightlife scene for years, has done everything from host parties, star in a RuPaul film, and record music. Despite the collective's industrial-goth-meets-cabaret looks, the group errs more on the conservative side when it comes to partying. "We are a very sober group," says Evans. "We don't really drink; we play board games on Monday nights. We are like a positive spin on nightlife."
 
Alberto Arensberg, DJ and founder of Good Kids Collective
 
Over the last four years, DJ Alberto Arsensberg has been busy turning New York nightlife into the image of what he wants to see. "I want New York nightlife to be more about the fun again," says Arensberg. So he founded the Good Kids DJ collective to throw parties like the summertime Club Yes at the Standard Hotel. "Anyone who is anyone that you wanted to see came together in the first few weeks of Club Yes to party. It was beautiful." In an effort to bestow the city with moreo club music, Arensberg also recently started the Doom Dab music lab with producers HD and Billy Scher and is working to release experimental pop singer Thurmon Green's Adolphus EP.
 
(L-R): Hari Nef, Alex Chapman, Domonique Echeverra and K Rizz.



Hari Nef, hostess and actress
 
In between acting classes at Columbia University, Hari New finds time to host at Up and Down, 11:11, No. 8, Pretty Ugly and model. "Mostly I like to dress up, go out and see nightlife, and interface with people in a night club," says Hari. The hostess was drawn to New York nightlife when she was a kid on the Internet. "I ordered the Misshapes coffee table book when I was fifteen, and looked at all the fun people were having. I thought of nightlife as a place where people go who love glamour. It is."

(R-L) Manny Mansigh and friend.

 
Manny Mansingh, promoter
 
Unlike most promoters in New York City, Manny specializes in bringing male models to places like Tao Downtown, Lavo, Marquee, and Avenue. "The reality is of course the club want women but the club also want women to stay, " explains Manny. "And when you have beautiful men the women want to stick around."
 
Aurora Halal, DJ and producer
 
In the very male-dominated deep house and techno scene in New York, Aurora Halal is making waves with her four-year running Mutual Dreaming party. The producer hosted Lady Fag's  first SHADE party and organized September's thee-day Sustain-Release house music festival in the Catskills in upstate New York. "There wasn't a real outlet for artist making deep house and techno in the city to express it and give it proper space," says Aurora. "So me and my friends started to throw that party and now we are trying to unify the community with the festival."
 
DJ Mess Kid (center)


Mess Kid, DJ
 
The Latvian-born, Detroit-raised Mess Kid has been playing sets in New York nightclubs since the tender age of 18. Since then designers Alexander Wang and Asher Levine have become fans as Mess Kid has risen the ranks, playing a career-establishing Boiler Room set, touring  with Le1f and MIA, and contributing tracks to a number of artist albums. "New York right now is really buzzing and open to creativity. Before it was all about clubs making money," he says.  "I've got kicked out of clubs and banned from clubs for playing my music. Literally a manager went to his office got his computer and started DJing because I refused to play top 40 once. They have since asked me to play their venue "
 
A big, big thank you to the Gilded Lily for lending their space for our shoot.

Subscribe to Get More