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Out of the Family: Hasidic Girl Group Bulletproof Stockings Ban Men, Perform in New York City

By Ian Holubiak i.holubiak@classicalite.com on Aug 14, 2014 04:04 PM EDT

Living in Williamsburg, the turf is divided accordingly. About a stone's throw in any direction lay neighborhoods strewn with Hasidic Jews, a population that is forever expanding from some 73,000 people and on. I've always wondered "do any of them play around town? If so, where?"

Perhaps my question was finally answered--but not really.

A budding Hasidic, all-female rock band has been talked about recently called Bulletproof Stockings. Posts on Facebook and other new source outlets boasting about the brilliance of an all-girl Hasidic group playing in a rock venue have come common in the past two weeks as they performed to an all-female audience at Arlene's Grocery.

Until then, the band had primarily stuck to women's universities or private shows and was the subject of a documentary, The Bulletproof Stockings, which premiered at last year's DOC NYC film festival.

This concert was also filmed, by Oxygen Network for a coming reality-television series entitled Living Different.

Julia Darling, GM of Arlene's Grocery, said to The Wall Street Journal, "We were hesitant, because of their limited experience in the NYC live scene, and the fact that we would have to turn men away from the band room during their set."

"However, the band literally hit the pavement to get signatures from women who vowed to come to the show if we booked them. They called me and said 'We can guarantee a full house,'" she continued.

And that's the kicker, the band is not allowed to perform for men.

Per the Washington Post, that is because of a Hasidic prohibition called Kol B'Isha, which prohibits men from listening to women outside of their immediate family sing (though not vice versa).

This makes their list of venues scarce and booking a hard challenge. Limiting the crowd to all-women seems to ruffle feathers around town.

But others have accommodated the group and welcome to occasional change in scenery.

"People want the excitement of hanging out all night without being bothered by guys. They just want to hang with girlfriends, drink, dance," said Perle Wolfe, the vocalist/keyboardist of the group.

"We had a show in Park Slope, and a bunch of hipster girls began dancing hand-in-hand in a circle to niggunim [Hasidic melodies] they didn't know but were so into it. They wouldn't have done that if there were men," she concluded.

The band has become high-profile in the metropolitan area, and their message successfully lands on the ears of their listenership. It isn't about men (as they are not anti-men in the slightest), they urge, but about the music instead

All I'm concerned about: can these girls play? My guesses point yes.

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TagsBulletproof Stockings, DOC NYC, Washington Post, Perle Wolfe, Kol B'Isha, Arlene's Grocery, The Wall Street Journal, Oxygen Network, Julia Darling

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