Home Lifestyle Dead Letter No. 9 is a unique ‘modern conversation parlor’ in Williamsburg

Dead Letter No. 9 is a unique ‘modern conversation parlor’ in Williamsburg

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Dead Letter No. 9 — an immersive experience that opened in October near the western end of Grand Street — is kind of hard to describe, because nothing else like it really exists.

Sure, there’s a nice long bar and lounge area here, with a full cocktail lineup and a food menu of snacky things that could also make a meal. That part is easy enough to comprehend. But Dead Letter No. 9 is also, oddly and completely, decked out as a U.S. Postal Service warehouse for undeliverable mail and packages, a decidedly un-trendy theme if there ever was one. You can come here for a drink and a bite and marvel at the decor and leave happy, and that’s fine. But you’d be missing out on Dead Letter No. 9’s whole raison d’être.

Dead Letter’s introduction room where you receive a watch with an alarm set for 90 minutes, so you know when to leave without using your phone (Scott Lynch)

“Dead Letter No. 9 is a highly interactive, immersive experience that revolves entirely around strangers gathering in spaces that are purposely built to encourage rich conversation,” says Taylor Myers, its creator and director. “It’s super-connective, bringing people together and stripping away social expectations. It’s a very personal experience.”

What that means is this: you buy a ticket for $49 and embark on an unguided tour of four (or five, depending on how count them) rooms, each designed within an inch of its life to evoke an intimate setting in which to dive deep into conversation. There’s a screened porch in the mountains, for example, the sounds of rainfall on the roof adding to the coziness. There’s a retro treehouse complete with bunk beds. And there’s a camper trailer, set up as if you’ve pulled off into the desert for the night under a full moon during an epic road trip.

The ‘cabin porch’ room (Scott Lynch)

Claire Karoff is Dead Letter’s scenic designer, a job she’s also held for the McKittrick Hotel and their long-running production of “Sleep No More.” The sets are awesome, both for the immediate impact they have as you open each door and step into a whole different world, and, if you’re in the mood to poke around, in the unexpected details.

The room designed to resemble a camper in the dessert (Scott Lynch)

But the idea here isn’t only to gawk at all the cool stuff. You’re at Dead Letter for the conversation, and each room has at least one performer, or facilitator, who will prompt the discussion as needed. In keeping with the dead letter theme, many of these prompts are in the form of written messages, but things usually veered off pretty quickly into all sorts of fun, and sometimes strange, territory.

The treehouse room (Scott Lynch)

Among the topics that came up during my 90-minute visit: why wandering around a museum makes you horny, the pros and cons of iPad parenting, the preferred ways to dispose of your body after your death, the meaning of infinity, what happens when you give the algorithm hallucinogens (I couldn’t really follow this one to be honest), and the pleasures and perils of being a teenager. Turns out conversing with strangers for an hour and a half about all sorts of things sans phones can be an exhilarating experience.

On weekends, in the way back of the place, a nightclub of sorts called Cargo opens up, with local DJs bringing the beats to the small but appropriately sexy space.

“We’re coming out of this experience with Covid where we felt so isolated, and there’s also this thing that a lot of people are talking about right now, this epidemic of loneliness,” says Myers. “I’m not going to be the guy who says Dead Letter No. 9 is the cure for that, but I will definitely be the guy that says if you’re looking for a place to meet people in a truly extraordinary environment where rich conversation is the only thing that happens, this is it.”

A lounge-y area to eat and drink (Scott Lynch)

Dead Letter No. 9 is located at 63 Grand Street, between Wythe and Kent Avenues, and the bar, dining area, and immersive environments are open on Thursday through Saturday starting at 5 p.m. Club Cargo’s hours start later. Advance tickets are recommended.   

The post Dead Letter No. 9 is a unique ‘modern conversation parlor’ in Williamsburg appeared first on Brooklyn Magazine.

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