When we started thinking about the Ocean Avenue Collection, we returned again and again to The Warriors, a cult classic about New York City gangs as they rumble their way to Coney Island on a single sticky night.
Unsupervised mischief is a common motif in our favorite summer memories, and luckily, we had an ace crew with us to replicate the feeling in our dance-off video.
Cass Bird, director:
“Chrissie and I always have played around with the idea of shooting a musical. Some of our inspirations are West Side Story, the Beat It video, The Warriors. I love dance, and I love narrative through that.
I’m inspired by things that feel immediate and pure—I gravitate toward things that are more textural, and to people who have a lot of character. Coney Island speaks to all of those things. You really feel the life that has passed through.”
“I hired my friend Soner Ön to paint the gang’s denim jackets, and a lot of what the dancers are wearing are my own personal clothes. There’s a dancer wearing black leather shorts; those are mine. I bought a shirt for a now ex-boyfriend, and he never got around to wearing it, so the guy in the suspenders and bow tie is wearing that.
Courtshop does all high-waisted denim, and their summer collection is perfect for the video’s concept. They’re a very small independent denim brand, and they are the only non-vintage clothing that we pulled.”
Marlyn Ortiz, choreographer:
“Cass wanted to have a blend of hip hop and technical movement as a way of separating the ‘nice’ kids from the mischievous kids.
Technical dance is a blend of ballet and modern. I’m talking about your classical dance that you learn in ballet school, in dance class pointing your feet, pliéing, pas de bourré. The rhythms and the energy of the movement that you’re doing are up, as opposed to hip hop, which is more grounded. With hip hop, you don’t incorporate anything technical. You wear sneakers, you wear boots. Anybody can do hip hop: it originated in the streets. You can learn it anywhere as opposed to going to class and holding onto a bar.”
Molly Young, story writer:
“In sketching out a mini-story about the two dance groups, I was thinking about all of my favorite stories about rivals—from Romeo and Juliet to West Side Story to The Outsiders. Instead of staging a fight between gangs, it seemed seasonally appropriate to stage a dance-off—and instead of a turf war, I wanted the two groups to start scrapping over a pair of stolen sunglasses. It’s a goofy, summer-y spin on all of these classic gangland stories.”
Photos by Nate Poekert