NYC club called ‘The Illmore’ is throwing secret, indoor ragers amid pandemic

An underground Brooklyn club has been hosting secret dance parties devoid of coronavirus precautions — leaving neighbors in fear that the club dubbed The Illmore might live up to its name.

The venue, on Evergreen Avenue in Bushwick, has hosted multiple ragers in recent weeks, with social-media videos of the gatherings showing a tightly-packed dance floor, and area residents describing a mostly maskless set.

“I understand keeping the energy of Brooklyn and the underground I respect that and I love it because that’s what I like about Bushwick but right now it’s not the time,” said a woman who lives next door to the garage-like venue, declining to give her name. “I don’t see many people wearing masks when I see them outside.”

Zachary Shepis, whose Instagram page identifies him as a co-founder of The Illmore, posted in June that he’d conceived the space with pandemic precautions in mind.

“While our concerts will be limited until COVID restrictions change, we’ll be offering the space to bands for rehearsals and live streams in the meantime,” he wrote in a June 24 post showing off the new venue.

However, Shepis’ Instagram Story on Sunday showed dozens of revelers crammed together inside the tiny space, dancing amid smoke and pulsating lights — with well less than the recommended 6 feet of social distance between them.

Another clip showed a man and a woman — both unmasked — labeled by superimposed text “Your friendly neighborhood bartenders.”

A party at The Illmore, in Bushwick Brooklyn seen on Instagram.
A party at The Illmore, in Bushwick Brooklyn seen on Instagram.Instagram

The Illmore’s address does not come up as being licensed to serve booze in a search on the State Liquor Authority’s Web site.

The clips reviewed by The Post do not appear to show anyone consuming alcohol.

Both the neighbor and a friend of attendees confirmed that a party rocked The Illmore late Saturday well into Sunday morning.

“It was supposed to be on the down-low because they’re not supposed to be opening at this time in the city,” said a concerned Brooklyn woman whose friends went Saturday night, declining to give her name. “They were trying to keep tight-lipped on this back in June.

“I can’t believe it’s been going on for so long and nobody says anything.”

Neighborhood residents were galled by the risky reveling as New York tries to keep the deadly disease on the ropes.

“I know we feel frustrated, like, ‘We gotta go, we can’t stay home,’” said Johnny Gomez, 49, who lives around the block from The Illmore. “No, you gotta take it easy. For now, you gotta stay home!

“Everyone has to respect each other,” continued Gomez. “A lot of people don’t follow what we have to do. That’s why we’re still in the same situation.”

Area local Pier Pappalardo, 44, was also sympathetic to the party animals, but said that the bottom line is New Yorkers must play by the rules to beat the bug.

“It’s dangerous. Definitely dangerous,” he said. “I understand why they want to do it. They’re kids, and they just want to go out and it’s been so long.

“I wouldn’t do it, but if they have to do it, it’s their risk.”

The Illmore, 209 Evergreen Ave in Bushwick, Brooklyn, where elicit maskless house parties may have been held.
The Illmore, 209 Evergreen Ave in Bushwick, Brooklyn, where elicit maskless house parties may have been held.William Miller, Instagram

Another Bushwick resident was furious to hear that the gatherings were playing out a block away from her home.

“That’s really irresponsible,” said Lauren, 23, who declined to give her last name. “It’s very selfish. I understand the urge to party right now. I want to do that too, but an indoor party right now is just not on the table.”

An Instagram post by a local DJ indicated that the space is gearing up to host another bash, Saved by the Bounce, on Friday night, “from 8pm till late.”

The post offered a mixed endorsement of coronavirus precautions, promising that some will be in place — but that masks are decidedly optional.

“Don’t worry, we are taking precautions since we are now gonna be indoors, so we will have a contactless thermometer at the door so we can check to make sure everyone is safe to party, plus hand sanitizer,” wrote djtrstkills. “And wear a mask if you must!”

Earlier in the month, authorities busted up two raves drawing hundreds of people in Sunset Park, which had seen a troubling uptick in COVID-19 cases.

While some indoor activities have been cleared to resume under state regulations — such as haircuts, bowling and socially-distanced religious services up to a certain capacity — others remain verboten, including dining and movie screenings.

The city’s Sheriff’s Office, which is spearheading enforcement for violations of coronavirus precautions, said that it had not taken any recent actions at The Illmore.

Video posted to Instagram Stories shows a party at the Illmore in Bushwick, Brooklyn.
Video posted to Instagram Stories shows a party at the Illmore in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

“No matter how tempting they sound, we ask New Yorkers to stay away from underground, indoor, mask-optional raves until the end of the global pandemic,” said mayoral spokesman Mitch Schwartz. “And if you’re planning such an event on social media, please keep in mind: the Sheriff has Instagram, too.”

The city received a social-distancing complaint about the venue Sunday, according to Schwartz, who said The Illmore expect a call from the city this week — and a visit from the sheriff on Friday night.

Reached by phone, Schepis first denied that venue was the scene of any parties.

“We’re not throwing any parties,” he said. “We just use the space for live-stream rehearsals and it’s a space for bands to perform. But there’s no concerts that are happening there right now.”

Asked then about the video on his Instagram story, Schepis hung up.

Additional reporting by Tina Moore and Julia Marsh

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