My Spot: Bossa Nova Civic Club

Get to know Complex staff writer David Drake.

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Complex staffers take urban exploration very seriously. My Spot takes you inside some of our favorite destinations, both in the 'hood and around the globe. 

Bossa Nova Civic Club
Neighborhood: Bushwick
1271 Myrtle Ave.
(718) 443-1271

This month Complex staff writer David Drake takes us to Bossa Nova Civic Club in Brooklyn.

THE RUNDOWN: Bossa Nova Civic Club opened in December 2012 in an aggressively ugly part of Bushwick, an industrial concrete slab covered in a thick layer of grime that runs along Myrtle Avenue. It's in an area defaced with agitprop graffiti celebrating Edward Snowden and speckled with hipster outposts like the coffee shop Little Skips.

The mystique was still there. It had a different, less earnest, unselfconscious crowd. Bossa Nova Civic Club, on a good night, captures that same feeling.

Bossa Nova is one of those hipster venues, attracting art students with asymmetrical—or wait, is symmetrical in now? Are we still doing sea green dye jobs?—haircuts. But while it's pretty hip and welcomes folks in patterned leggings and septum piercings, it's also an affordable and reasonably diverse venue. Most importantly, it has really talented DJs.

It's also stuck halfway between bar and nightclub. It's too classy and trendy to be a dive, but there's no bottle service and the DJs are brand names only in certain trend-conscious DJ circles. It's also been home to music videos by AZ—I watched while they shot the "We Movin" video there last spring—and Wale's whose "Bad" video was not only shot in the club, but at the food truck across the street as well. (OK, it's not Michael Jackson's "Bad," but it's still dope that DJ Khaled rolled up in a sports car to kick it at "my spot.")

PERFECT FOR: This place is ideal for nights when you're really anxious to go out and go all out. It's open super late, the music is high-energy, the drinks are reasonably priced, and the overall vibe is pretty hedonistic. The real reason that it has such a strong appeal to me isn't so much that it's particularly cool, it's just very different from what I usually deal with, musically. It's paradise for a music nerd who is into dance music, which I used to fuck with pretty heavily, but don't have as much time for these days.

I moved to Brooklyn from Chicago a year ago, after spending my 20s going out a lot in that city—out to hip-hop clubs, house music spots, loft parties, etc. I also used to DJ, which meant that at a certain point, I started to overthink the process. As you get older, it's harder to lose yourself in the moment and just enjoy the music. Every DJ set seems predictable and less fun. By the time I left Chicago, one of the few nightclubs I would still go to was a goth club called Neo. It wasn't because I was into '80s Industrial or liked wearing spiked necklaces. I liked going there because it recreated the feeling I had when I was 21 and going out for the first time, when all the songs sounded new, and I didn't know where it was all going to end up. The mystique was still there. Bossa Nova Civic Club has a different, less earnest, more self-aware crowd. But on a good night, it captures that same feeling.

WHAT TO BRING: Money and Advil, in case you end up crashing on a couch in a musty mystery basement somewhere and wake up with a headache.

ONLY REGULARS KNOW: You gotta try the Club-Mate drink even though you will probably regret it. Do it anyway. Club-Mate—pronounced "mah-tay"—is a highly caffeinated, carbonated mate-extract drink. You may have heard of mate if you've had yerba mate, which is super popular in South America. This version is manufactured in Germany, and is popular there because people want to dance to techno until 9AM, but are too old or anxiety-ridden to take normal drugs. Club-Mate, although primarily consumed in Germany, is only available in New York at Bossa Nova Civic Club, where folks typically mix it with, say, vodka or another hard liquor. It acts like a Red Bull, but it is low in sugar and doesn't taste like Pez. What does it taste like? Well...the tagline is "One gets used to it." The important thing to know is that you'll wake up feeling like sparklers are going off behind your eyeballs.

THE UNSPOKEN RULES: Don't be a dick to the doorman, and if you're gonna dance, try not to take up the whole damn floor, bro. This isn't Burning Man.


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