Interview: If you build it, they will Bomba

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If you haven’t heard of Bomba Party NYC, don’t worry. You’re not out of the loop. In fact, that’s how its organizers designed it. What started out as a (very complex) party for just their friends (and friends of friends) became the buzz of the Latin party scene, a scene that has had a huge hole in it since the demise of Marcha Latina. The party was put together by Joel Ryzowy, Adam Ron, Debora Ryzenberg, and Joel Eisen, and don’t let their deceptively yuppie exteriors fool you. It’s true most Remezcla party organizers don’t have MBAs, but we can’t judge a book by its credentials and day job. These four turned Favela Cubana inside out on December 3rd, and we hope to be able to get into their next party.

I sat down with Ryzowy (Uruguay, heretofore referred to as Joel 2), Ron (born in Israel, raised in Colombia), and Eisen (Joel 1, because he spoke first) in Greenwich Village to hear about the party’s inception. They were so excited they even bought me a coffee.


Joel 1: It all started on Halloween.

All three of us met in New York by chance of life, and then on Halloween they [Adam and Joel 2] had just moved into their new apartment and they said they wanted to do a housewarming party, and at the same time it was Halloween so we said, “Why don’t we do pregame drinks for Halloween at your place, and -”

Adam: Everything started with a text message that said, “Let’s drink something before going out and -”

Joel 1: “- and let’s invite a few people.” And that inviting a few people turned into a full apartment, with forty people in his place all drinking and all having fun and almost to the point that we weren’t going to even go to the club ’cause we were having so much fun in the apartment. After that we went to a club that was having a Latin night and we had fun, but then the next day when you do the recap of what happened and all the crazy stuff you did we started thinking that the party could have been so much better, and there were so many things that we would have enjoyed…the music could have been a bit different.

We also said that we had so much potential; in just a couple of hours we got forty people into an apartment, and we had to restrict that list. So we said, “Why don’t we try and organize something? Why don’t we try and create a group, and try to rent out a place, and see if we can get our friends and their friends to come?”

Joel 2: Honestly it was very spontaneous. We met for dinner, just as friends, the next day, and I was doing a party for a…sort of a…not related to this, and the idea just sort of evolved and within a couple of days…that night we sat together, figured out what our to do list was, divided tasks. It was great.

Joel 1: Our goal was very simple. We knew the people we wanted to invite – the people that came to this housewarming party. We’re going to tell them, “Bring your friends,” and that should be an easy hundred people. So we were going to find a place for a hundred, hundred-twenty. We had to find a DJ. And that was it. That was all we needed. And then create a Facebook page, and –

Adam: We were picky with everything, with all the details. Everything started with a plain idea, but we had the feeling from that Halloween night that going to a Latin party was just closing a place for some Latin people and putting some music in Spanish and that’s it? I mean, we thought that there was something missing there, something that we, as immigrants, we missed from our homes.

Joel 1: We wanted to recreate that club that we liked to go to back in Venezuela, Colombia, Uruguay.  It started out as just, Let’s get music, let’s get a place, and that’s it. Let’s pick the music that we’re going to give to the DJ. Let’s give it to the DJ a week in advance so that he prepares it. Let’s pick a DJ that we know has experience with that type of music. Then we created that wallpaper that became a red carpet banner, so we had a friend of ours that is a photographer, and we asked her to come with her professional camera and she was taking pictures of people as they were coming by. And we also –

Joel 2: …arepas…arepas…

Joel 1: Yeah! We also brought some food, this time from Venezuela, and –

Joel 2: – we figured that people are hungry by that time, so we wanted the party to have momentum – the party lasted until 4AM – so we wanted to continue the momentum.

Adam: We were very picky about everything. Not just talking about food; also, with drinks. Joel got in touch with the people from Ron Santa Teresa, from Venezuela.

Joel 1: It’s the biggest rum house in Venezuela!

Adam: So they came to our party and they sponsored the drinks that night. It was special to –

Joel 1: It was really special!

Adam: – to have drinks from our countries. We also had aguardiente, so we did, like, drink specials.

Joel 1: It was 12:30, when it’s at its peak, and we say, “Aguardiente shots are four dollars for the next fifteen minutes.” Everyone rushes to the bar and gets their shot so that they get hyped again. Then around 1:00 we did something that we do in Venezuela, we call it cotillon. We basically bought glow in the dark necklaces, neon hats and glasses, and threw them out to the crowd so it becomes all of a sudden like a carnival.

Joel 2: The music changes, then. You have, like, Macarena, Xuxa, and stuff like that, so –

Joel 1: I think we over…we micromanaged the DJ, a little bit. But he was cool with that! He appreciated that we gave him over a gig’s worth of music. DJ Alex Watanabe. He has a big reputation for playing the Latin parties that New York University’s MBA school organizes once every semester. We have some friends that got their MBA at NYU.

The people didn’t want to leave. The owner of the venue came up to me to tell us to do last call, and I was like, “I don’t wanna do it!” Finally, Adam gets up –

Adam: It was like, five to four.

Joel 1: It was, like, five to four and Adam says, “Okay, last call,” and they were already turning on the lights. People didn’t want to leave.

Adam: We were expecting at least a hundred people, at least to cover the cost.

Joel 1: We wanted to break even. This wasn’t a business. This was something so that we had fun and our friends had fun. Everyone that came in was, like, one or two degrees of separation, that’s it. So, at 12:30 the club is packed, there’s a huge line outside, we can’t get the people in, and people keep saying,

“He’s my friend, he’s my friend.” Listen, everyone is my friend, I invited you!

Joel 2: We started having a line.

Adam: We weren’t expecting a line.

Joel 1: We had to turn people away, as well. And friends! I had to say, “Look, I would love for you to come in, but there’s no space. There’s physically no space. The manager at the club, at one point, he comes to me and he says, “Joel, are you keeping count?” and I said, “No, are you?” I think he was pretty impressed with the turnout.

Joel 2: I think we were all still very confident when we were organizing this party that we would like to go to this party, and if we would like to go to this party then our friends would like to go to this party, too. So that kept us sort of…even though we were putting money down here and there…

Adam: It’s funny how, in a place like New York City where you can find everything, there was a lack of this kind of party.

Joel 1: There was a moment when Joel is like, “Guys, come.” He takes us inside and is like, “Close your eyes, turn around, take a deep breath, and look over there.” It was packed. Everyone was jumping. 11:30. Everyone is having an amazing time.

Adam: I was stressed at the door with tickets and everything, and I never turned back to see how was everything inside. When we went in and saw all those people, it was amazing.

Joel 2: You don’t get better than that.

Joel 1: We owned a night in New York City. That felt good. And we’ll keep doing it! We can’t stop. Because our friends will kill us.


Photo Credit: Romina Hendlin