sksksks Brought Princess Superstar Back to Brooklyn

sksksks Brought Princess Superstar Back to Brooklyn

By Tobias HessFeb 20, 2024

Princess Superstar is back in Bushwick. The nightlife legend used to live in New York’s now-favored bohemian enclave, but 12 years ago she moved to the Upper East Side. “You know why?” she asks me from her green room at Elsewhere, surrounded by a humming entourage and covered in head-to-toe sparkle glam. “Because when you’re pregnant, your sense of smell gets really strong. I was in Bushwick like, It smells like garbage. I’m not bringing my child to Maria Hernandez Park!

It was a hero’s return for the rave queen who has been in the game for over two decades but is still reaching new heights after Exceeder’s 2007 mashup of her 2005 song “Perfect” was featured in 2023’s steamiest blockbuster Saltburn. The song re-entered the UK Top 40 for the first time since 2007 and brought a whole new generation to her work. She’s savoring it all, she tells PAPER: “I’m just happy to be back now and raving. I went from raving to mom-ing, and back to raving. But I’m still mom-ing. I literally rave and then take my kid to school.”

Those in attendance at her latest show were barely adults themselves, a young crowd of early-20s scenesters dressed in colorful, Y2K-coded garments. They came to see Princess Superstar but also to enjoy the general festivities of sksksks, a fast-establishing NYC party series that seeks to strike the balance between “a Hell’s Kitchen gay bar” and a Bushwick “hard techno” rave, says David Chan, sksksks’s founder who DJs under the moniker THELIMITDOESNOTEXIST.

sksksks has been going strong since Summer 2021, with its first parties thrown at pre-renovation H0l0. “There was this hunger that helped us gain momentum,” Chan remembers. After the series’ debut, it expanded to other venues: Elsewhere, Market Hotel, even doing two parties across the pond in London.

When asked if he considers his parties as part of the legacy of hyperpop, Chan pushed back. “We were inspired by SOPHIE, A.G. Cook, Hannah Diamond, [but] I never felt the term ‘hyperpop’ encompassed a singular sound. I would never want to pigeonhole us. We have this audience that appreciates different sounds, but still — there’s a thread.”

“It’s kind of selfish, [we book] what I’m into,” he smiles.

sksksks has certainly booked a diverse roster, but most of its talent straddles some ambiguous line between techno and pop, whatever those loaded terms mean. Past parties have included PAPER fav Dorian Electra, digi-rap pioneer dazedgxd and established DJs who tend to flirt with a certain strain of fast, digitized chaos: Ryan Hemsworth, Himera, Two Shell, to name a few.

Some of my DJ friends have spoken about sksksks somewhat dismissively, as if the series’ genre-play speaks to a certain lack of seriousness. That’s why I was curious to pick the brain of DJ Thank You, a Bushwick mainstay who I’ve seen play probably upwards of a dozen times, and who also played the Elsewhere party,

“People love to hate on something that’s thriving,” DJ Thank You tells me outside in the cold, right after playing a lively set in Elsewhere’s more intimate loft-room. “sksksks is actually a thriving community. People really show up in a big way. David really has his finger on the pulse.”

I felt that, too, as I danced along to a slew of diverse acts. We saw GFOTY, the PC Music pioneer who I’d listened to since high school and who was ravenously received by the Bushwick crowd. And we saw Seth Valestrand, who brought his major wave of hardcore to the upstairs loft. Other acts included Torus, xJermsx, HANA, SunrYse, Janus Rose and THELIMITDOESNOTEXIST, of course.

I ask Princess Superstar what she makes of the scene. She responds: “It reminds me of London in the early 2000s: really cool mish-mosh of styles, sounds and people.”

“The people seem young. Well, I got older,” she laughs. “But it feels really young, fresh and fun. I like the way people are dressing. New York was sort of dead for a little while and it feels like it's coming back strong. It feels amazing here.”

When she came out to play at sksksks, it might as well have been the early 2000s when she was appearing to glittery fanfare in New York and London clubs. Well, I guess it really was exactly like that: Princess Superstar is, once again, a superstar. Time is a circle and the rave never stops.

Photography: Nikolasi Saafi