The downtown Manhattan nightclub Santos Party House will be shutting its doors for good, DNAinfo is reporting, just one day hosting the NYC Oi! Fest 2, a concert of bands that have been associated with far-right politics and neo-Nazism. A Santos employee told Gawker the closure is unrelated to the controversy surrounding the show.
Santos, which is owned in part by Andrew WK, hosted the Oi! Fest on Sunday. The lineup included the likes of Offensive Weapon, a New York band whose previous performances have prompted venues to apologize to fans and to cancel them outright. Pure Impact records, a label that has released Offensive Weapon’s music, describes itself as “specializing in music and bands with a white race pride theme,” and a Brooklyn venue that booked them in 2013 described in a statement how fans were openly racist to venue staff. The other bands on the bill, such as Close Shave and Battle Zone, are cut from a similar cloth.
Shortly after the concert, the venue’s events coordinator sent an email to upcoming performers that read in part, “If you have an event after the previously mentioned date, please consider it cancelled,” DNAinfo reports.
As of Tuesday morning, Santos had not made a public statement about the closure, and its calendar shows upcoming events in June and July. A Santos Party House employee who answered the phone said that the reports about the venue’s closure are true. “I’m cleaning out the place right now,” he said. However, he noted, the closing was “definitely not” related to the Oi! Fest fracas.
Black Bear Bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, hosted the first night of the festival on Saturday, and cancelled the second after pressure from groups like the anti-fascist activists NYC Antifa and the Southern Poverty Law Center, as well as from fans on social media. The bar initially struck a defensive tone in response to the backlash, but ultimately expressed its “deep remorse” for booking the show in a statement.
The bands of Oi! Fest, as the festival’s name implies, are associated with Oi! music, a working class-oriented subgenre of punk that emerged in the 1970s in the UK, fans of which tend to present as skinheads. The history and politics of the skinhead and Oi! movements are tangled, and associated bands have embraced both right-wing and left-wing politics, with some skinheads even declaring anti-racism as the core tenet of their philosophies. However, the bands on this week’s Oi! Fest were firmly in the right-wing camp, as an SPLC blog post explains:
The efforts of those organizing NYC Oi! Fest –– a long-standing crew calling itself the 211 Bootboys, of which Davilia is a member –– aren’t wholly dissimilar from the National Front’s attempts to attract skinheads to their worldview.
Those driving this scene in US today, like Davila, are motivated by varying far-right movements and events –– none more so than England’s “Rock Against Communism” (RAC) skinhead music scene.
The first of its kind, “RAC” is what the National Front titled its campaign to interweave skinhead subculture and music. Its success hinged on one band: Skrewdriver, led by Ian Stuart Donaldson. Donaldson would go on to found the neo-nazi skinhead network Blood & Honour (B&H), which to date has cultivated convicted terrorists and fosters innumerable acts of hate violence.
The account New York Year Zero posted several photos from outside the event on Twitter, including a car with bumper stickers that read “Burn Your Local Mosque,” and “Rock Against Communism,” a known white-supremacist movement:
"Defend Europe." neo-nazis in downtown manhattan right now 2016 pic.twitter.com/xq4qzoM86s— New York Year Zero (@newyorkyearzero) May 30, 2016
cool stickers bro pic.twitter.com/wPlr6oZgF6— New York Year Zero (@newyorkyearzero) May 30, 2016