As the realities of the pandemic push New York City nightlife from regular dedicated venues and clubs towards DJ-centric events and pop-up raves, the scene’s balance of power has likewise shifted towards those innovative enough to keep the party moving. At the top of this list of new-school nightlife provocateurs is 32-year-old Michigan native Terence Edgerson, known widely as the NY Social Bee.
A familiar face on the NYC club circuit for the past decade, Edgerson is now making his mark as a driving force behind the city’s parties. Over the summer, Edgerson collaborated with queer nightlife king and DJ Ty Sunderland on a series of rooftop parties at Flatiron’s Creator House, and debuted his own dance-driven party series STUNTSZ. The inaugural event in June featured leading local DJs Mike Servito and Lauren Flax. And in the fall, Edgerson launched The List is Closed, a recurring party series at the Standard Hotel’s penthouse nightclub Le Bain. All the while, Edgerson has made it his mission to amplify long-marginalized voices in nightlife spaces, from creating inclusive spaces to hiring queer, trans, and POC promoters and DJs.
“I want more deconstructed expressions of gender. I want high glam, circus freaks and more female DJ’s as headliners,” Edgerson says of his vision. “All of this and more is possible, so I want to keep dreaming up new things and working to make nightlife even better than it was before.”
Edgerson’s efforts have not gone unnoticed: he was recently named one of the “Top 30 Names in Queer Nightlife” by Out, and was featured in a recent commercial for Bubly, a new sparkling water from PepsiCo, alongside Sunderland, Drag Race winner Aquaria, ballroom icon Gia Love, and Lisa Cannistraci, owner of iconic lesbian bar Henrietta Hudson.
We caught up with the NY Social Bee to find out how he began his career, what parties he’s attending this fall, and his hopes for the future of NYC nightlife.
Tell us your story. How did you get into nightlife?
Well I moved to New York from Michigan when I was 18, school was never in the cards for me and I was over my job at Panera Bread, so I applied and got a internship in the city. I got into nightlife when I was around maybe 19 or 20, by hosting a weekly night at a restaurant in Murray Hill called Vig 27 with some friends, my friend was the DJ and asked me if I’d be interested in it, I had no clue what that really meant but I loved the idea that they were going to pay me to come somewhere and invite my friends out, so that was my first foray into nightlife. The best moment was one night Chelsea Clinton came in with some friends.
When did you officially become NY Social Bee?
It was officially born in 2009 on Twitter, but I think it was around 2010 when street style blogs were really taking off and I got featured on a couple of them. People just started calling me Social Bee — some because they didn’t actually know my name and some because they just knew me from social media.
What was the thought behind the name, and how does it embody your philosophy on partying?
Well I grew up being called a social butterfly, that was on every report card and I wanted something that reflected New York City. “Nysocialbutterfly” was too long and didn’t have the ring to it, but “nysocialbee” came to me, and I thought, “Oh this is cute! I’m buzzing around the city and it’s like calling yourself a socialite without taking it too seriously.” I’m always buzzing around the city in different scenes, from techno to disco to pop. I just wanna be social everywhere I can.
I love that you bring a smart marketing approach to your events and brand. How does nightlife influence and interact with the other areas of work you do?
That’s always the number one goal for me: how can we market this to be memorable and have a strong message? Nightlife is where I draw all my inspiration from. When I’m working with a brand or any other area of work, I think about the dance floor and the emotions that are experienced there and look for ways to bring that to life again.
What have been some of the challenges working in nightlife? As a POC?
Well, I think some challenges I’ve faced have been not being heard or respected as much as my white peers when pitching a project, also working with venues and security that don’t have a clear understanding of what it means to work with queer people and make space for us. Fortunately I don’t run into those problems anymore because I’m very clear about my talent, my worth and what I want. I’ve learned to stand tall in who I am and to speak up for myself.
What are the parties we need to have on our radar right now?
There are so many amazing parties returning and ones that have just started. For instance, I just started a new monthly party called STUNTSZ, we took July off but excited for that return. As far as DJs, I love Ty Sunderland’s parties: Ty Tea at 3 Dollar Bill and Love Prism and Devils Playground at Webster Hall, respectively. And Eli Escobar is a New York legend in my personal opinion, so anytime he plays there I make sure I have my spot on the dance floor.
Battle Hymn by Ladyfag is another favorite. It’s an institution by now.
The Carry Nation is by far one of my favorite parties in New York, they always bring a fresh new sound while also keeping it old school New York with beats that make you jack your body on the dance floor.
718 Sessions with Danny Krivit is the all encompassing dance party — everybody and their mama is there! It feels as though you’ve been transported back in time to an old disco club, and the music never misses.
Wrecked is one of the first parties I ever went to in New York and I’ve followed them ever since. They do a monthly at the Knockdown Center in Queens and always bring in the best guest DJs. I never miss any of their parties.
Mister at The Woods is a Brooklyn gem that consistently delivers good vibes and also has no cover. Amber Valentine is probably one of the best DJs in the city. You can catch her there and you are guaranteed to leave with a smile on your face. I highly recommend it.
3 Dollar Bill every Tuesday featuring Trish with Charlene and Rify Royalty. This is my favorite weekly show. They bring in famous drag queens and introduce up and comers. It’s fun, light and the talent is beyond. Don’t forget to tip your queens!
What is your hope for the future of nightlife in NYC post-COVID? Is NYC dead?
Let’s get one thing straight, New York was never, has never been, nor will it ever be dead! There are too many curious souls running around this concrete jungle looking for dance floors to call home. I would say we had a nice hibernation and now we’re re-emerging into new possibilities for what NYC nightlife can be. My hope for the future of nightlife post-COVID, is longer hours! We need a space that can go for 12 hours, I want a dedicated space for after parties, and I want people to interact with strangers on the dance floor that don’t necessarily look like them.