In a surprising move that’s sure to prove unpopular, the Brooklyn Museum announced on Friday that, for the time being, they will cancel the Target Free Saturday dance parties. According to a blog post on the museum’s website written by Elisabeth Callihan, Manager of Adult Programs, this change is a result of “challenges with capacity crowds and traffic flow throughout the building.” Of course, everyone knows that the correct way to handle an event that’s TOO popular is to cancel it.
A large part of the appeal of Target Free Saturdays is the dance party. Every month, thousands of young Brooklynites flock to the museum to admire its unique exhibits and dance in the third floor atrium. I’ve been to several of these events, and it’s really the combination of artwork and dancing that attracted me. Surrounded by European paintings of religious figures, one might feel awkward shaking his or her ass to pop and dance music. Yet the juxtaposition of those tunes against the museum’s grand archways and palatial glass ceiling made for a truly unforgettable and unique Brooklyn experience. Without the dance parties, these nights at the museum will likely feel less joyous and communal.
This is also a loss for a borough that’s got few places for those of nimble feet to get down. Certainly there are frequent events at the Bell House, but Gowanus is hardly a centralized location within Kings County. There’s always the option to drop a couple hundred bucks on tickets to a Rihanna or Jay-Z concert at The Barclays Center, yet that’s a lot more dollars out of your wallet than a free event.
I find this whole thing really perplexing. If you’ve found a way to attract young people to your museum (or performing arts event), you don’t cancel it. Certainly the museum could work out logistics to manage the size of the crowd and keep the tunes pumping. So what gives? Did neighbors of the museum complain about noise? Was there a decrease in the size of the grant from Target? Is the museum staff sick of having to deal with large crowds and the cleanup involved in the aftermath? Whatever it is, my feeling is that the museum should probably work quickly to reinstate the dancing and let us party into the night.