It’s past 1 a.m. on the Friday before Halloween, and revelers continue to roll on the makeshift dance floor of a warehouse in Brooklyn’s Navy Yard. Of course, they’ll be raving late into the morning, and when the space was already packed, CircoLoco has been known to happily push the limits of room capacity – as well as permitted decibel exposure.
By day, the Navy Yard is an active shipyard on the East River but for consecutive nights – and mornings – on Halloween weekend, CircoLoco, along with its American partner, rave party organizer Teksupport, has transformed the complex into a deep-toned house mecca, bathed in red light. The first evening of DJ sets was led by Bronx-born duo The Martinez Brothers, followed Saturday by Detroit electronic legend Seth Troxler.
Long before CircoLoco became a global institution, the brand started in 1999 as a free after-hours party at Ibiza’s DC10 nightclub. Co-founders Antonio Carbonaro and Andrea Pelino, both Italian-born promoters, did virtually no PR for the event, allowing news of the no-frills party to spread by word of mouth throughout the island. Beginning at 6am on Monday mornings, club goers would head to CircoLoco for the second part of their ‘evening’, sometimes staying until 6pm. Eventually, the event proved popular enough to be promoted to a permanent home at DC10, where, 23 years later, it still takes place weekly during Ibiza’s tourist season. More recently, the co-founders expanded the brand, bringing the party to cities in Asia, South America, Europe and the United States.
More than two decades since its inaugural party, Carbonaro is still lining up and picking the roster. “It’s the same work and the same decisions that I made from the beginning [when] CircoLoco started 23 years ago,” he told Hypebeast.
As potential acts are dying to know how one is approached to take the stage at the world-famous club night, Carbonaro prefaces his response with a shrug before billing the process as a “mixture of different strategies. “ambiguous.
“Not everyone has to come and play,” says Carbonaro. “There are so many artists that we would like to play, yes, but it depends on the situation. We still produce so many events around the world, so it’s important for us to consider the promoter, the brand, the festival.
Known for exploiting DJs early in their careers and for platforming female DJs – often underrepresented on nightclub rosters – CircoLoco has amassed an intercontinental cult following following Carbonaro’s fluid approach to curating and reservation of acts. Last summer’s 24-date run, the longest party season in CircoLoco’s history, placed industry veterans Peggy Gou and Blond:ish alongside increasingly popular cult acts such as as Swede Kornél Kovács and recent Berklee College graduate NASAYA. When CircoLoco hosted its first party, DC10 was a music bar licensed for only 80 people. As the brand has grown over the decades, its down-to-earth ethos has been preserved thanks to Carbonaro digging into the scene’s underground to scout and book exciting DJs no matter what. or their number of followers.
“It’s an art,” Carbonaro says of the booking process. “There’s a different crowd everywhere we go, so we can play with the lineup in different ways. We’re always working with new artists [that] we want to play at the party.
Nightlife was among the industries that took a hit during the quarantine measures, with many major venues shutting down permanently and others still paying off pandemic-era debts today. Some clubs attempted to adapt by holding live performances, an idea Carbonaro did not even consider, opting to erect a more permanent infrastructure.
CircoLoco Records was launched in May 2021 as a joint venture with Rockstar Games. With the help of Teksupport, the label released their first project two months later, a compilation album titled Monday dream.’
“We had the opportunity to continue to work closely on the music, but not in the form of an event,” said Teksupport founder Rob Toma. “We were able to come together to basically create CircoLoco Records, which is a very special project for all of us.”
Although CircoLoco is back to hosting raves of over a thousand attendees, Toma says the label “is here to stay for good”.
“It’s one of those things that’s going to help the [dance music] long-term scene by bridging live music, entertainment, fashion and now video games,” continues Toma. “Antonio is already at the center of all these things in our scene.”
While working with Rockstar, Carbonaro says that while a known partner for creating video games was a surprising twist for CircoLoco’s next venture, when the opportunity to start a label presented itself, “we thought it was was a way to bring us all together and move our scene forward, not just for our direct community, but basically for the whole community around the world. Monday dream LP can be heard in the fictional nightclubs of grand theft auto onlineas well as in-game radio stations.
What’s next for the brand that never seems to stop partying? Well, right now Carbonaro and Toma are thrilled that Drake lifted the “CircoLoco” name for one of his His loss simple.
“It’s the best,” Carbonaro said with a smile. “We are truly blessed.