Exclusive: Newmindspace Frees Up NYC

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Purveyors of pillow fights, subway parties, and roaming, urban games of capture the flag, Newmindspace (specifically, Long Island-born founder Kevin Bracken) recently decamped from the frozen tundra of Toronto for the um, equally frozen tundra, of New York City. They’re throwing a huge Homecoming party this Saturday to break in the new digs, but before all hell breaks loose, we sat down with Kevin to get the lowdown on the party org, and what to expect from the group in 2009.

Flavorwire: In light of the six-word redux-review currently en vogue, can you sum up Newmindspace in just six words?

Kevin Bracken: Free, fun, all-ages, massive public events.

FW: Expanding a bit, why is Newmindspace not a flashmob?

KB: “Flashmob” describes a dead fad where people would anonymously gather, do some activity for two or three minutes, and disperse for the purpose of bewildering passersby. Newmindspace events such as pillow fights and parties on subway cars are lengthy social activities that have been happening for decades. Basically we use the banana phone test: If the event is anything like, “talk on a banana as if it’s a phone for two minutes at the mall and disperse without saying a word,” it’s a flashmob, and we would never do an event like that.

FW: How did you guys get your start? Did you wake up one morning and just think “Hey, Union Square could really use a massive pillow fight?”

KB: We started with an urban Easter egg hunt in Toronto in 2005, trying to recreate the feeling of The Gates in Central Park. From there, we got involved with some public space activism communities, and they helped us realize our potential. Pretty soon we started taking other childhood activities, like capture the flag, removing them from their usual setting (the suburbs) and multiplying the number of participants by about 100.

FW: What’s the goal of your events?

KB: We want to invent new ways of having fun, and overthrow the dominant entertainment paradigm. Music sharing is killing the record labels, movie sharing is killing Hollywood, so it’s about time we killed the rest of the entertainment industry as well. Think about it: most entertainment in this country is geared toward mind-numbing solitude, like watching television. We want to replace that with non-corporate social events, which is why we love pillow fights as much as underground warehouse parties.

FW: Why did you make the move from Toronto to NYC?

KB: There are lots of reasons big and small, but basically when December was approaching, I realized I would have no school, no job, and I would be single come the end of 2008. Also, Toronto’s rave scene, the reason I went up there in the first place, was suffering from a huge venue loss problem. On Halloween I mentioned to my good friend and promoter extraordinaire Sam Black that I was looking for a job down here. He told me to build a room for myself inside his Brooklyn warehouse, Refuge, and the rest is history.

FW: What’s your favorite FREE thing to do in NYC — besides Newmindspace shenanigans?

KB: I am secretly a huge sucker for people watching in Times Square. Oops, secret’s out.

FW: What’s next for Newmindspace? New projects/events on the horizon?

KB: Valentine’s Day will see 999 red, heart-shaped balloons tethered to objects down the main street of my fave Manhattan shopping district, plus our events such as bubble parties, light-saber battles, and giant capture the flag games are on the calendar. And now that we have an excellent space to do them, we will be doing plenty of warehouse jams too.