Even by the gaudy standards of club life, global party creator elrow is putting on a real show on Saturday: El Bowsque Encantado, or “The Enchanted Forest,” is a 10-hour, two-room, 13-DJ celebration — the brand’s biggest ever in North America. The kickoff of elrow’s second yearlong residency in the city, the party will feature dance music, crazy performers in even crazier costumes and festival-like visuals.
But even with all of the work it takes, Michael Julian, a special adviser to elrow and a longtime nightlife promoter and maven, doesn’t feel any pressure.
“I feel very comfortable, because the brand is being run by very creative and fun people,” he says, referring to the Arnau family, the Spanish clan behind elrow. “This comes easy to them.”
We caught up with Julian to talk about what’s made elrow one of the biggest and fastest-growing parties around the world, and what that means for New York.
What is it that sets elrow apart from its nightlife competition?
In today’s world, generally what you would expect when you walk into the doors of a nightclub is great lighting, good production, great music, fun crowd. But then it’s all the same. It’s turning more into concerts than parties. And that’s the difference between the events we were producing in the ‘90s and the events we produce today. There are headliners, and fans run to buy their tickets because they love the artist. It’s centered on music more than ever before, like a concert. And that’s not a bad thing or a good thing. It’s just a fact. . . . I want people to come early because they don’t want to miss out on the fun. I want them to stay until they shut the music down, because they’re having the time of their life. And the music is always going to be great and a big part of it. But I want us to give the fans an experience where they leave the show and they will not forget, maybe ever. During that party, I want them to do what I used to do when I was younger: make friends! Meet people — people that will become a part of your extended family! In the world of elrow, we still have that.
This is the second year of elrow’s residency in New York. What brought you back?
New York fans have really welcomed us and supported us. … Our first big stage was at Electric Zoo, and it came on a Sunday, the day after a huge rain, so the field was muddy, and we couldn’t get some of the parts of the show into the festival in time. Our big indoor show was supposed to be at the same venue as now, but literally five or six days before the show we had to move to a warehouse no one had used before. It was an amazing show, but it was a very close call. From that point on, it’s been smoother. That’s when we realized that New Yorkers really have our backs.
When partygoers step into the Avant Gardner, what do you want to see?
I want them to jump for joy and be excited! When I was standing at the door during July’s show, and I was seeing fans coming in dressed up, I was emotionally in a place where I was ready to cry from happiness. It’s one thing to get the fans through the door. It’s another thing to have them arrive at 6 p.m., when we opened our doors, dressed up. For New York, it’s not something you’ll see all that often. I always look for smiles and energy, and that’s what we’ve been getting.
If you go: elrow NYC: The Enchanted Forest / El Bowsque Encantado starts at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at Avant Gardner, 140 Stewart Ave., Bushwick, avant-gardner.com.