As some of you know, I have been taking photos at Roxy’s “Sway Mondays” (305 Spring Street, NYC) regularly since Jan 2008. When I first met Roxy in early 2007, I had no idea how to talk to her. What most people don’t know about me is that I am kind of a loner. Before becoming a photographer, I spent most of my time with a very small group of people.
It was not until Trev and I began to document nightlife in NYC that I was forced to learn the art of shmoozing. I still suck at it but I have learned the value of silence and a good smile. I can remember saying things to Roxy back in 2007, when I was shooting Sway on and off, that I would later say to myself “you idiot, what the hell did u say that for?”. I can laugh about it now but I felt like a real dork back then. All good.
Roxy is a pleasure for me to work with. She trusts that I do what I do well and she never forgets me on the drinks. I have watched her from the background for a long time now. As time has progressed and I have learned the ropes a bit, my respect for her has grown considerably. I’ve also been in some hater circles when her name has been mentioned. There are some who think she is aloof, stuck up, snobby and so on. What they really don’t get is, she is focused, to the point and extremely ambitious. At times, people who are intensely focused can be misunderstood and it’s my belief that this is the case.
Don’t get me wrong, Roxy is far more loved then not, but I felt it was important to address the negative words i’ve heard dripping from peoples lips. And, think about this, Roxy is a blond haired blue eyed lady making giant moves in a hip hop influenced scene typically dominated by males. So, let’s open our minds and really take a look at one of NYC biggest and best nightlife promoters.
TONE: Tell me about your first party. How much did you make if anything? Was it packed or empty? What did you learn?
ROXY: The first party I ever promoted was in High School for my female punk band The Fox Deluxe. It was a Valentines formal my sophomore year of High school. There was no budget and some other weird bands were on the lineup. Professionally my first party was in Nov. 2004 at John Street in the financial district with Hollertronix, MC Lix & Tim Sweeney. It was epic, a Sagittarius birthday Bash. I think I made about $300.
TONE: What have you learned about yourself thru your hustle as a nightlife promoter, musician and DJ?
ROXY: I have learned more than I ever thought possible from my hustle in nightlife. I have learned that I have relentless creativity that could never possibly be contained at a desk or day job. My passion for music and bringing people together is something I live every day for. I’ve also learned that I love to talk. I can talk to anyone about anything. I’m a real business woman now and this is just the beginning of something big.
TONE: Sway is fast approaching 5 years old. Congrats! I’ve noticed that Monday nights at Sway have become a platform for other promoters to get their shit seen. How does that feel for you knowing that your hard work is now giving other people an opportunity to rise? Specifically, parties like Electric Punanny and so on.
ROXY: Thank you! Baby, Sway is 4 and a half!! Sway is like my living room. It’s almost like having a slice of heaven that I can invite all my friends & the rest of the world to. To give the youth of New York City a platform is an honor. To welcome world wide talent like Richie Spice, Max Glazer, Kid Fresh, Mark Ronson, Diplo, Ni** Sky, Benzi, Jeru, Alison Hinds, Crime Mob, Spankrock, Ninjasonik, A-trak, Rapid Ric, TTC, Melo-X, DJ Klever, Masterpiece Sound, Clark Kent over the years to name a few, the list could write a ridiculous book. To co-promote such amazing parties like Rice & Peas and put on other talent I see who are naturals like Dice, Gravy, Melo X, Good Peoples, Taste Crew, etc. these are my friends too and i have the utmost respect for them. Weâ€™re all making some noise. They know a good vibe, they live for great music. It’s only natural. I got put on, now I put others on. I couldn’t do it on my own.
TONE: Whats next for Sway? Are you thinking about handing it off to someone?
ROXY: Next up for Sway? Yeah I’ll hand it off to someone soon…
TONE: While I am on that point, can you tell us a little more about the history of Sway Mondays. I know you inherited it from someone else. What’s the story with that?
ROXY: The history of Sway…well it began in Jan 2004 with Aron, Mike Saes & RETAIL MAFIA (Frank 151, alife, aNYthing, DGAF & J$). They started a Monday night at a place called Jack Rabbit Slims on E. 10th (no longer there) and eventually they moved to Sway after a month. Vegas used to do the Mondays at Sway, Justine D was one of the DJs. I used to go with her when we lived together, it was legendary but he stopped doing the night and Mike & Aron took it over as RETAIL MAFIA PRESENTS (rip)…Futura did the first flyers, they booked traditional hip hop…Red Alert, Ralph McDaniels, Mark Ronson, Vinny Ponte, and some more legends. The crowd was just me and the boys. Miss those days….so one day I said “Yo I wanna do an all female DJ night called Girl on Girl, give me once a month, we need more girls in here”. So I got once a month, booked Christine Renee, Queen Majesty, DJ Elle, DJ Lindsey, DJ Moni & DJ Kiss. All my homegirls and girls I’d heard of who Djed, I started DJing. It was really successful, my monthly party was doing really good so eventually they gave me twice a month and then gradually every week. I wasn’t expecting it at all. This all fell into my lap.
TONE: What keeps you going? Where do you find the inspiration to keep going. I mean, I’ve been shooting parties for only 2 years and I am starting to get bored to death. What would you tell someone who wants to keep going but cannot find a way to rekindle their excitement?
ROXY: Wow, i don’t even know. I have a big fat wick somewhere up my Cottontail that stays a flame. I guess its music, money, being a positive role model for women and turning a hobby into a career. My passion for seeking, hearing, returning new music to the youth, i love that. Also assembling a team of Cottontails is amazing, the youngest are 19, they know newer music and keep me excited about everything under the sun.
TONE: Can you tell me something that happened to you since you started your solo hustle that was really wack?
ROXY: Wackness… Damn, I’ve had a couple crazy scenarios go down. I don’t really like putting negativity out there. I could out some â€œfriendsâ€ but it would only bring me down to their level. The wackest $ loss was when I booked Andre Nickatina in Miami for WMC 2006 and he didn’t show..bummer.
TONE: There seems to be a crew of ladies that are grinding hard on the nightlife tip. You, Good Peoples, The Mean Red Girls, Miss Nelch, Justine D, Ill P, FPC and so on. How do you feel about being a lady in this scene? Do you think there is an issue here or not?
ROXY: I love being a lady on the scene. These girls are great at what they do. Is there an issue? The issue is we rule! Take notes boys.
TONE: Truth. Guys, class is most certainly in session.
TONE: Roxy has some haters. I guess the thing I hear most is that you’re too click-ish and that the whole scene you roll with is very High School. Whats your feeling on that?
ROXY: Haters, cliques & high school. I was the Punk Rock Prom Princess my Senior year of HS. I fixed that poll like a real politician. Kissing babies. It was a lot of fun then too.
TONE: I think alot about the promoters hustle. Im fascinated by the science of it. The positioning, the process of building smart alliances, working in sponsors, email blasts and physical flyers, dealing with bars, etc…. When Texas and I started working on the first NEWPOP event, NO CAMERAS ALLOWED, I instantly had even more respect for your hustle. What is your favorite and least favorite part of throwing parties?
ROXY: Thank you Tone!! The promoter hustle. Ah where to begin!??! Branding? Bullshit? or Babes? People really do think its easy work, drink a bottle, show up to the party, invite some friends… but it’s so much more than that. It’s a 24 hour operation. Then try making it look easy, if you’re a real boss you can make it all look like fun and games. Swagger, new music and watching people have pure fun with out judgment are my favorite parts of parties. My least favorite part is the lack of sleep.
TONE: If you could be doing anything else, what would it be?
ROXY: I’d probably be a surfer or a yogi.