Weed Party @ is a column by Michelle Lhooq and Lindsay MaHarry, two self-described “weed party girls.” The goal of the column is simple: Determine whether the party was cool. On March 29, 2019, Michelle went to Spleef, a private pop-up “speakeasy” in New York City.
New York’s weed speakeasies are one of the last shadow worlds this city has left. Going into a random office building in Midtown to drink THC cocktails has that whiff of illicit mystery often lacking in New York nightlife, which mostly takes place in established nightclubs rather than DIY warehouses these days. But weed speakeasies aren’t just exciting because they’re off the beaten path; they also represent a new way of socializing around cannabis instead of alcohol, and a glimpse into what the future of weed-centric nightlife might look like.
With New York slowly inching towards legalization, these parties are also a great way to get to know the movers-and-shakers of the city’s cannabis industry, who are lining up their ducks and getting ready for the day when they can finally emerge out of the shadows. So on a windy night, I checked out a speakeasy thrown by Spleef — a delivery service and event series that I’d gotten to know through my own party called Weed Rave — to see what this city’s stoner party scene has to offer.
Spleef NYC began as a brand making THC-infused edibles and tinctures, but has grown into hosting speakeasy-type weed parties. (Photo by Chris Nicodemo @neeksnyc)
There might be more steps to get into a Spleef NYC party than to secure a membership to Raya, the notoriously exclusive celebrity dating app. First, you have to apply for a membership on its website by filling out an application form that includes sending it your social media handle and a selfie with specific words written on a piece of paper, so they can verify your identity. Once you’re approved, you’re able to access a members-only portal for ordering edibles and tinctures straight to your house, and more importantly, get invitations to parties.
Spleef NYC was started by two friendly weed bros named Mark and Mike. Mark got his start selling pot brownies to homies in his college dorm room; that is how he earned his nickname Spleef. After graduating, he started hosting his own infused dinners, and when he brought Mike on as a partner, they took the project to the next level.
“The idea came about to expand from just having baked goods and edible events to adding THC tincture to our product line,” Mark said. “One thing led to another, and we figured: why not have a party to revolve around drinking THC rather than eating it?”
Spleef lists its menu and dosages for its tinctures and THC-infused honey, cookies, and bakes. (Photo by Chris Nicodemo @neeksnyc)
The invitation I received to a Spleef NYC speakeasy, which goes for $75 a head, comes with a set of strict rules: Don’t arrive early. Check in with your group. Don’t wear PJs, stained clothes, or “anything else that would imply you’ve never been to a classy party before.” Sufficiently intimidated, I put on a blazer and half expect to find myself at a masquerade ball when I stepped into a fluorescent-lighted office building tucked between a fancy crepe place and Chinese food restaurant in Murray Hill. Instead, I came face to face with a dude sitting on a stool, who checks my name off a list and points me toward the elevator.
The elevator doors opened to a cozy lofted room with heavy curtains draped from wooden ceiling beams and ornate wallpaper covering the walls. The crowd was comfortingly diverse, with many people of color from all walks of life. While a lot of guests are wearing suits and flowy dresses, the vibe is unpretentious — I get several warm smiles from strangers. In the back, there are several booths selling several strains of flower and all kinds of edibles. There are also video games on a big TV on the wall, trays of meat skewers being passed around, and a DJ playing funky tunes in the corner. Overall the party feels like hanging out in your rich friend’s living room.
A mixologist adds drops of Spleef NYC’s tincture into a mocktail during a speakeasy-type party. (Photo by LiAnn Grahm @liann.grahm)
I made a beeline for the open bar and was handed a martini glass with an orange-carrot mocktail microdosed with a drop of Spleef NYC’s THC tincture. I took a sip and screamed, “This is insane!” and immediately grabbed a second one. “There are a few brands now jumping into [throwing] social cannabis events, but we honestly have yet to see one that puts the emphasis on the drinks like ours,” Mark boasted. He’s right. This is one of the best tasting non-alcoholic drinks I’ve ever had, period.
Spleef NYC provided a dabbing station at its New York City speakeasy party with weed instead of alcohol. (Photo by LiAnn Grahm @liann.grahm)
Finally, my friend and I made our way to the “hot box” — a tiny, windowless room that was only designated space for smoking flower. It’s cramped, but the close quarters led us to start talking to strangers; more than one person handed us joints while declaring, “I’m high as fuck. … Y’all enjoy this.”
When we realize that we’re in the same boat, my friend and I decided to hop on the long subway ride back to Brooklyn. As we left, we remarked, “That was actually pretty fun!” Spleef NYC’s addictively delicious drinks and friendly crowd made the party a solid pick for anyone looking to explore New York’s rapidly growing weed speakeasy scene.
Just remember: no PJs allowed.
Feature image by LiAnn Grahm @liann.grahm
Michelle Lhooq is a multimedia journalist in Los Angeles who covers music and weed. She was an editor at VICE’s electronic music site THUMP in New York City from 2014-2017, and now contributes to The Los Angeles Times, GQ, FADER, Pitchfork, New York, and others. She was named “Best Music Editor” by The Village Voice, and one of Brooklyn’s most influential people by Brooklyn Magazine in 2016. That year, she also threw a 12-hour, vape-themed rave in a fried chicken deli that will live forever in Brooklyn rave history.