This is the ninth profile in a series for the #dayinthelifejc JCI Instagram take over, brought to you by Honey and Moon Photography and the Jersey City Independent.
Anthony Susco, a.k.a “Dancing Tony” has lived in the same downtown Jersey City apartment for 21 years. He is the head honcho at Rock-it Docket, and responsible for organizing or booking the talent at many of the annual cultural events in Jersey City like “Pushing Up the Daisies,” Lucky 7’s BBQ and Groove on Grove. As an event and community organizer, he likes to say he “runs fun” in Jersey City. Susco is also a DJ, blogger and a moped enthusiast.
Tony will be posting images of his #dayinthelifejc from October 20 through October 24. We’ll get an inside look at what it takes to run the annual Ghost of Uncle Joe’s fundraiser and Halloween Party at the Historic Jersey City & Harsimus Cemetery. Follow him via the JCI Instagram feed (@jcindependent). Enjoy!
Tell us about the Ghost of Uncle Joe’s. When and why did it start?
The Ghost of Uncle Joe’s is a homage to the bar “now we are condos” bar, Uncle Joe’s. During it’s time, Uncle Joe’s was downtown Jersey City’s favorite [and only] indie rock live music bar. Uncle Joe’s was the spot where you would go to see live shows, dance to DJ’s and have general all around fun, if not get into complete debauchery. I once lit off fireworks inside and maybe burned other things outside. It could also be said that with an out door patio space, it was also Jersey City’s first Beer garden. Booker’s Chris Ward, Joe Condiracci, Billy Filo, Shawn Towey and Neil McAneny and others brought a considerable amount of national and local bands to the stage, rivaling the infamous Maxwell’s of Hoboken, booked by Todd Abrams.
On Halloween, local bands would dress up and perform as other bands, a favorite night for many who went to Uncle Joe’s so when the bar closed down, Neil McAneny and I conspired to keep the Halloween night event going at 58 Gallery and the Ghost of Uncle Joe’s rose from the dead.
Why do you keep doing it every year?
Shows at 58 Gallery were always fun and they were an integral part of art openings for Orlando Reyes, 58’s Executive Director and I. However, we were not in the best graces with the city’s zoning enforcement, which lead to a couple of our event’s being canceled or shut down. Things looked a little precarious in 2010 for the Halloween show and I had known that the Historic Cemetery had been hosting live shows. So the idea came to me that we should reach out and see if the cemetery would be interested in hosting this event. I telephoned [this isn’t a text message scenario] Eileen Markenstein, the volunteer President of the nonprofit entity that had brought life back the the Historic Cemetery that was abandoned in 2008, and right off the bat she was like, “Hell’s Yeah, let’s do it!”
The first year we raised $4,000 for the cemetery, more money than they had raised in any event since they began caring for the cemetery. The money raised from Ghost of Uncle Joe’s helps pay for the roughly $3,000 in monthly expenses for insurance, equipment, utilities and stipends for their two veterans that work and live as caretakers for the grounds. The following years we have continued to raise money not only for monthly expenditures but also to help fund capital improvement projects like replacing the roof on the gatekeepers house.
What’s the details for this year’s event? Anything new or different?
Ghost of Uncle Joe’s will be held at the Jersey City and Harsimus Cemetery (435 Newark Ave.) on Saturday, October 22, from 1 pm – 10 pm. Suggested donation is $10.
I just ordered a 40,000 watt generator. We have 11 bands booked at the cemetery and two after parties one at LITM (140 Newark Ave.) and one at Porta (135 Newark Ave.). There will be delicious food from local restaurants, refreshing beer, cool prizes for best costumes, a fun photo booth run by Honey an Moon Photography and more! In the event of horrific weather, the cemetery show will be held on Sunday October 23 at the same times – the after parties will still be held on Saturday October 22 regardless. This is the first year my friend John Kostrowski won’t be coming, he passed earlier this year. This one’s for you Jay!
Tony Susco #dayinthelifejc. Photo Tracey Luz
Is there a fundraising goal for this year?
Last year we raised nearly $20,000 so we are looking to hopefully raise about $25,000. (Check out JCI‘s photos from last year’s event). If you can’t make it to the event you can still donate at jerseycitycemetery.org.
In your opinion, what is the most amazing thing about Jersey City?
It’s about people coming together to help out a great cause. So many musicians, volunteers, businesses, and the city come together for this event. This is the event that makes me proudest of what we do here.
Can you give us a rundown on your basic #dayinthelifejc?
On an event day like Ghost of Uncle Joe’s, it’s an early rise for “showtime.” We will be at the the cemetery at around, starting to set up for the show. I’ll be balancing between trying to stay organized and not loose my cool as we set up and then I usually spend the first couple of hours tweaking everything so we are fully prepared for the day. At some point, I will costume up, and then later there’s usually that epiphany moment where I know I can sit back and take some of the event in. Then it’s back to freaking out.
What would you like to see happen in Jersey City in the next five years?
I think it’s time we started to level out, and let some of the growth come from within. Downtown has changed exponentially in the last three years, and I think absorbing all of the new changes takes a little time. There are definite benefits and some downsides. But more than anything, I want people to feel a little more comfortable to say hello to each other on the street/sidewalk.
Is there someone from Jersey City you always wanted to meet?
Kind of stumped here. I feel like I know and have met a lot of great people. So I guess I am going to say the person who live in the house on top of the towers on 4th street.
Anthony ”Dancing Tony” Susco of Rock-it Docket and Eileen Markenstein, president of The Historic Jersey City & Harsimus Cemetery thank attendees for their support. Photo Steve Gold
What’s your Jersey City “hidden” gem?
Well the cemetery isn’t that much hidden anymore WFMU’s Monty Hall (42 Montgomery St.) for shows. 55 East Asian Market which sadly just closed. The Park Tavern (575 West Side Ave.) and Lou’s Restaurant (209 Ocean Ave.) in Bergen Lafayette.
Where are you favorite places to go or things to do in Jersey City?
When I am not organizing events, moped riding in Liberty State Park. 35 miles per hour on Freedom Way baby (actual speed limit 25 mph). Going to a show that I am not responsible for and dancing.
Do you have a favorite “Jersey City” story or memory?
One year our local Music Festival “Shangri-la” at 58 was shut down by the city (see above about potential zoning issues). In minutes, I called up Christine Goodman at Art House Productions and The Lamp Post where we moved the final bands. Next I was on the back of a scooter on my way to set up the bands at Art House. Just a great example of people coming together.
Thank you for sharing your story with us Tony!
You can go see/hear/dance with Tony at Lucky 7’s (322 2nd St.) most Thursday and Saturday nights. To keep up with him and the events he promotes visit, rockitdocket.com. You can also follow him on Instagram: @rockitdocket, Twitter: @rockitdocket and on Facebook. Follow “Dancing Tony” Susco’s #dayinthelifejc at @jcindependent.
The 2016 Ghost of Uncle Joe’s fundraiser will be held at the Jersey City and Harsimus Cemetery (435 Newark Ave.) on Saturday, October 22, from 1 to 10 pm. Suggested donation is $10. For more information, visit rockitdocket.com, jerseycitycemetery.org, the JCI Cultural Calendar, or the Facebook event page.
Want to be considered for the #dayinthelifejc JCI Instagram Takeover? Have questions? Contact: Catherine Hecht at checht(at)jerseycityindependent.com or Tracey Luz and Eric Brown at info(at)honeyandmoonphotography.com.
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