by Adam Harrington, CBSNewYork.com
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The foot path on the Manhattan Bridge turned into a sizzling nightclub for a while Saturday night, and the organizer said it was all worth it even though police broke the party up and arrested him and three others.READ MORE: Judge Lifts Temporary Pause On Vaccine Mandate For NYC Teachers And Other City Workers, Who Now Must Be Vaccinated By Monday
Hundreds of people gathered Saturday night for a “flash mob” dance party, with DJs and a professional sound system, on the footpath along the bridge closer to the Brooklyn side. A YouTube video showed a crowd dancing and raising their hands in the air to thumping music along the bridge, as the Q train passed by alongside them.
Organizer Alex Shlaferman — who goes by the name Alex Xander — said he has previously held underground parties in such venues as airplane hangars and open fields. But for the last event of the summer, he said he wanted to go all out.
“It just came down to a question of, where can we do something that’s going to be so crazy, basically the craziest place we can do it?” Xander said in an interview with CBSNewYork.com.
While events have been held the Manhattan Bridge walkway previously, nothing like the Saturday night dance party has ever happened, he said.
“Nobody’s ever done the Manhattan Bridge to this level before,” he said. “They’ve had events there, but nothing with a full sound system and lighting and things like that.”
The energy at the event turned out to be electric, Xander said.
“You could have come to this event totally sober. You didn’t need to drink. You didn’t need to do any drugs,” Xander said. “It was such a vibrant experience – people were bouncing right off of each other.”
During the party, the crowd also cheered at the many cyclists who passed by, Xander said.
“There would be bikers that would be coming down the sides of the bridge, and I went on the microphone and said, ‘Every time a biker comes by, we’re going to celebrate like it’s his freakin’ birthday,’” he said.
Xander said he was told about 600 people attended, but he said photos made it look like it might have been 1,000.READ MORE: MTA To Start Issuing $50 Fines To Riders Not Wearing Masks
The party went on from 9 p.m. until about 1 a.m., when police shut it down, Xander said.
CBS 2 confirmed three people were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct in connection with the party. Xander confirmed that he was one of them — but he was prepared for it.
“I thought that I would get arrested five parties ago,” he said. “I’ve been prepared to get arrested.”
Two DJs – identified in published reports individually as Giacomo Nacci and Brendon Risano, and together as Bear Sauce – were also arrested. Xander said he had hoped he would be the only one arrested, but the arresting officers were respectful and professional and all their equipment was returned.
“The cops all came around us and said: ‘We’ve never seen anything like this. Tell us more,’” Xander said.
Xander began his Xandernation events on July 4 of last year, when Xander decided to organize a free event in an empty field for teens who didn’t have anything to do for July 4.
In some of his other events, Xander said he and his organizers would “literally go into an abandoned field and turn it into a circus,” with fireworks, bouncy castles and mechanical bulls.
Xander, of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, said he runs a successful business during the day, which enables him to pay for all the free events himself.
“I pay for everything out of pocket, and I’m kind of like the Great Gatsby when it comes stuff like this,” he said. “I just like making people happy.”
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