Sure, YouTube and Skillshare are great for learning how to do shit, but it’s just not the same as a good old fashioned IRL class, you know? So I’m about to challenge you to get off your couch and hit up some cool courses and workshops around NYC, ’cause back to school is for everyone, goddammit!
If you wanna get metaphysical, Catland is the place. In addition to its primary role as a bookstore, it offer tons of classes catered to practicing (and beginner) Occultists, Yogis, Pagans, Mystics, Thelemites, Witches and Chaotes. Are you staring blankly back at me through your computer screen because you don’t understand half of the words I just said? That’s okay – they also welcome people who are total n00bs (respectful n00bs, of course) if you’re curious to learn more about things like tarot, crystals, etc.
Bitter & Esters
I love drinking beer that I have not made, so I can only imagine how much more I’d love drinking some suds I’d created with my own two hands. (And hops.) There are a few different places to learn this art in NYC, but I think Bitter & Esters is one of the best venues. They’ll give you the know-how to get started, plus they’ve got plenty of supplies to keep you up and running in your quest to craft the best homebrew of all time.
Brooklyn Brainery is one of my favorite interdisciplinary venues – they’ve got affordable courses on anything and everything, so you’re bound to find something you like. Into cooking? They teach that. Is history more your thing? They teach that, too. Money management? Comedy writing? They teach all of those things, too. Check their calendar frequently as new things are added all the time, and there just might be something that sounds right up your flippin’ alley! PLUS if you’re interested in teaching a course, they may be able to make that happen.
I once went on a date with a girl who lived above a funeral home, and (apparently leaning super into the creepy vibes) she told me she dabbled in taxidermy. I can’t say working with dead animals my cup of tea when it comes to creative expression, but if you’ve ever been interested in learning more about it, Brooklyn Taxidermy has you covered. (And mounted.) They usually offer a few courses each month, and the kinds of animals used tend to be switched up pretty frequently. You DON’T need to have any prior experience to participate. Because all materials are generally provided in the classes (you don’t have to BYOR, aka Bring Your Own Roadkill), and because you get to keep what you make, the price tag for participating is admittedly a little steep. (So generally in the $150-$300 range.) But think of the knowledge you’ll gain, and the story you’ll have to tell! All specimens are ethically sourced, meaning nothing is killed for the sake of the classes. (I don’t fully know what that means, but also I don’t really want to ask.) Bonus? The classes are BYOB if that’s your jam. (You might need the liquid courage, TBH.)
Ever considered making your own clothes? Or at least repairing the ones you’ve got? Make Workshop is your new best friend! There are tons of different courses revolving around textiles, so whether you want to knit a scarf or just darn some GD socks, then they’re probably able to help you out with that. (They’ll even teach you how to make your own underwear, you guys. Knowledge is power.)
If you’re like me, you’ve killed a plant or two. (Or more. Let’s just say I started with a little guy named Quique, and we are now onto Quique IV.) If you want to learn how to stop doing that, and/or you have an interest in DIY terrariums, then Twig Terrariums is a must-visit. They offer a couple of different workshops per week over in Ditmas Park to teach you the ins and outs of not being a serial succulent slaughterer. (Sometimes I even shock myself with my dedication to alliteration.)
NYC has no shortage of photography courses, but the fucking COOLEST spot (in my humble opinion) is the Penumbra Foundation – they teach all sorts of rad photography courses that focus specifically on historical, emulsion based and alternative photographic processes. Wet plate? Chemigram? Hell yeah. Now, the workshops are on the pricier side, but any proper photography nerd is going to be well-aware that it’s generally not a cheap hobby. And you’re probably not going to find these kinds of classes anyplace else, so I’m gonna go ahead and say it’s worth the $$$.
For all you science nerds out there, Genspace should be at the forefront of your radar; it’s a hub for all things related to biological concepts, lab technique, genomics, synthetic biology, neuroscience, bioart and biodesign and social implications of emerging biotech. And even if you’re far from being an expert, many of the courses are built for beginners, so rest assured.
And who said we could wrap this up without talking about learning (more) about sex?! In addition to selling sex toys, Babeland consistently offers a great selection of free classes, so if you’re ready to be sex positive and gain some new knowledge re: getting yourself and other consenting adults off more effectively, then 100% consider this your go-to. There are a couple of locations in NYC (LES, SoHo and Brooklyn), so you’ve got options // #CONVENIENT!