Ah, Midsummer Night's Eve - this is the evening preceding the summer solstice and the shortest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, a pagan bacchanal that has been toasted with feasts, bonfires, dancing, singing, and skinny-dipping since Neolithic times. It's on this night that Shakespeare set his play A Midsummer Night's Dream and this year it lands on June 20. Fortunately for all us basic witches, Gaia has gifted us guides in dragonsolsticesorcerors, HARIBO, Elisa, Ziemba, and Jennifer Vanilla.
These artists are keeping the old ways burning with an evening of sweet treats, alluring performance, and magic at Brooklyn's Secret Project Robot. HARIBO — not the gummy bears but the performance powerhouse of the Whitney Biennial's Raul de Nieves, along with Jessie Stead and Nathan Whipple — enchants with its signature pop-operettas, while vocalist Elisa soothes with soulful, cinematic sound, drawing comparisons to the likes of St. Vincent and Prince.
Take a seat at the round table next to multisensory artist-musician Ziemba, best known for her blend of theatrical performance and sonic fragrance: she'll instruct you on building your own wand or ceremonial torch to illuminate your pathway through this solstice soundscape. And wrap it up by paying a visit to Queens public access television-star Jennifer Vanilla and her "LARP Castle Players." LARP stands for Live Action Role Play, so prepare to brush shoulders with knights, knaves, and perhaps a fair maiden or two.
While the solstice is celebrated differently around the world — from naked bike rallies in Seattle to ember-walking rituals in Bulgaria to wand-building with Ziemba — one thing rings true throughout: it's always a party.
Text Coco Romack
Photography Landon Speers courtesy the artists