The Telling of the Lore:
A First-Person History of Brooklyn's Spectacle

By Spectacle

Jon Dieringer presenting at Spectacle / Photo: Matthew Sniegoski

About Spectacle
Spectacle is a community screening space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, open seven days a week. Established and maintained entirely by volunteers, its programming encompasses overlooked works, offbeat gems, contemporary art, radical polemics, live performances and more. Spectacle has an open door policy toward programming, and anyone can participate who – following the charter of “lost and forgotten”– obtains permission to show a title or arranges an event, submits a pitch, and maintains primary stewardship for coordination and publicity. A loosely organized collective of volunteers cuts original trailers to show in the theater and online, commissions and prints original posters by local artists, and otherwise hustles on the space’s behalf. Shows are $5, unless noted as free.

A Short History of Spectacle
Spectacle was established on the site of a former bodega distinguished by its barren shelves, backroom slot machine, loose cigarettes and selling of impure gin in Styrofoam cups. The property is owned by a Puerto Rican co-op dating to the ‘60s that struggled to evict its tenant and eventually succeeded after two years of unpaid rent. Resolving to never lease to a misfit outfit again, the co-op solicited suggestions for replacements from trusted neighbors and friends.

At the prompting of his friends who enjoyed his living room movie nights, an individual living next door entered into an informal partnership with the owners to open a screening and performing space on the site. In an act of herculean idealism and arduous love, four friends gutted the space, refitting it with salvaged construction materials and preserving its aesthetically pleasing decay. Continuing to work together, one friend handled the bills and much of the programming. Another provided the seats, wired the sound, and lent his projector, which only recently broke amid the first and final drafts of this article. A third drank beer, popped Adderall and stayed up all night live mixing and otherwise re-editing entire film trilogies, YouTube stunt videos, and bootleg DVDs purchased from bodegas in ethnic neighborhoods. The fourth used the theater primarily for one week a month, during which his theater troupe would stage live performances including Satanic blood rituals. Eventually, all but one dropped out, to be replaced by a constantly expanding collective of additional volunteers.

Impressionistic Account of Spectacle Milestones


Spectacle is a community screening space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, established and staffed entirely by volunteers. Described by Gothamist as "[Williamsburg's most] hardcore avant-garde obscure underground cinema," its programming encompasses overlooked works, offbeat gems, contemporary art, radical polemics, live performance, and more.



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