Kristian Feliz has forged his way through adulthood, taking up space as a social chameleon who provides warmth for those encamped around him. If anyone spends the day in the city, they could find Feliz partying with the likes of Ian Isiah, hanging with the pop icon, Princess Nokia, or helping Arca walk on her infamous stilts from her KiCk i album. The New York bred artist draws from the extensive memories of his life and sets at Papi Juice and Fight Club to fuel his indescribable style.
His childhood embodies a reflection of foreshadowing events, setting him up for success as a visual artist in the city. Now, as a full fledged adult, he continues to seek balance between his love for fashion, music, and family. In the midst of the stillness, Feliz has discovered new ways to establish stability as he navigates new spaces and surroundings.
“I went through a break up recently [and] lost some family due to Covid. Today, at this point, I'm just ready for anything to happen. [I’m] hoping for the best, of course, but time is short and we got to make the best of what we got,” Feliz said. “That’s what I’m tryna stay on. I’m tryna improve things about myself- fitness, meditation, and relying on friends and family.”
“I just moved on New Years- it was the most tiring thing ever. I went out after I moved all my stuff. I was so tired for two days,” Feliz said. “I've been chilling and going to the gym. I been at the studio. I’m tryna keep it moving in this stillness.”
As he rests in this calmness, he reflects on the past- the sexy parties, loving friends, and overstimulating crowds. Although he stands as an established figure in the city, he still remembers the days when he used to sneak into functions. Through his reflection, he recounts the lucky tickets that helped move him through the door and into the party.
“In the beginning, there were a lot of parties that you have to finesse to get into. There were some wild times, funny door situations, meeting new people, and introducing yourself. Having good energy with your friends around you- that's contagious,” Feliz said. “Be ready to be denied and give it your best shot. Nobody extra is needed anywhere. Have some value, bring happiness, make people feel good, [and] feel good about yourself. Maybe something will happen.”
Presently, Feliz draws from these moments and facets of encounters. All of these experiences compose him into the visualistic person he has become. The friends in his camp help build him up- pushing him to create as much as possible.
“I just try to do stuff that I enjoy, with people that I like- throwing parties, not nowadays, but DJing, working fashion shows, and styling. The group of friends I have- everybody’s an artist, making music, and doing design. It’s audio [and] visual stimulation,” Feliz said. “I was born in New York. I spent some time in Florida and came back here in 2010. I just met people and got opportunities.”
“When I was in Florida, I had a car, driving around and living the suburb life. Coming back to New York, [I was] cooped up in an apartment. I had to leave my high school friends behind. I started going out and made a whole new set of friends and people that I consider family, now. The community and parties here are like family building,” Feliz said. “Anything goes. You can be as loud as you want, you can be as ghetto as you want, you can be anything. You can be celebrated for being yourself. That’s where I want to be.”
As time trudges on, Feliz has taken notice of changes in his life. He speaks on the ways he morphs, ridding himself of former ideas and baggage. But the places that he derives from have not changed; these spaces keep the stain of former experiences for years and years. To Feliz, origin is everything, preparing him for the next level of life. He recalls early years with his family, going to his grandparent’s workplace, and seeing an endless array of shirts and pants lined up, ready for use.
“My grandparents moved here from the D.R. and were working at a garment factory. I felt like I was in a chocolate factory [because of] the way they were popping out with shirts. That left a huge impression on me,” Feliz said. “They took me shopping and I've always had an interest in fashion. I just pursued it and had to start internships, make connections, and put in that work. “
“Most of my childhood I spent with my mom and grandparents. It was family based and I thought it was really rigid back then, but things had their purpose. I can't expect my parents to be perfect in any way, but I see that they did their best and I'm very thankful for my upbringing. I miss watching cartoons and eating cereal and everything seemed so big and vast. The older you get, that diminishes. I know it's important to hold onto that view. Trauma should be spoken about and therapy has been helping out,” Feliz said. “When I was little, I thought grown-ups knew everything, and now, I'm an adult and I'm realizing it's not like that. I’m fucking up along the way, and I try not to be resentful. [Growness] is a fluid thing- it’s having your own back, being realistic, and pushing no matter how bad things suck.”
Before Feliz stood in his grownness, he was beginning his trek with DJing and music. His friends allowed him to play whatever he wanted, letting him become the sonic conductor, producing sounds that caused his crowds to move and grind to the music from his laptop.
“I got myself one of those small turntables and played with it at home. If my friends had a party, I would practice there and build my library. I remember wanting turntables when I was thirteen, but it was 3 racks,” Feliz said. “I grew up, wanted it bad enough, got the equipment, and got into it myself- learning through youtube. I like a good dance beat- maybe some booty bouncing. I like high energy and dope sounds. Sometimes, I prepare, sometimes I don't.”
“I DJ’d Papi Juice. Papi Juice is lit. Everybody looks like us. The music is blasting, Everybody's drunk, dancing, sweating, [and] the outfits are to die for. The G-strings, perfume, lashes, glitter, [and] it gets musty at the end of the night,” Feliz said. “I don't even call myself a DJ. I just play music, I like to dance, and I'm dancing behind the booth. Some people are very serious about it, [but] I'm there to have fun. If it's too much of a job, then I'm not gonna feel it. I want to listen to the music I want to listen to and surprise people.”
Feliz’s seamless presence oozes into his environment, creating an elastic and sensual feel to the city. He carries a go- with- the- flow type of aura, and in turn, his existence enhances the tangibility of his New York experience. Whether he finds himself at a party, or he is strolling on the street, he finds different ways to make life more juicy and enjoyable.
“A good party to me is when everyone’s dancing, dancing, dancing, sweating, and just going crazy. Fight Club brought a lot of that,” Feliz said. “Back when Fight Club started, it was so fun. Everybody used to go and it would be packed out and it would be the craziest dance battles.”
“I feel like the vastness gives [the city] a sense of animosity. It kind of makes you feel like anything can happen- and that’s sexy. People size each other up. In this city, you have a split second to see if that person is a lunatic. It’s quick judgement,” Feliz said. “You’re bombarded with crowds of people all the time. Sometimes, you see somebody in the crowd and they stick out. It’s kind of like a super power.”
In the midst of these big spaces, he fights to sustain the established sense of community he has around him. From his blood family to his chosen family, Feliz works hard to create healthy dynamics with all of his relationships.
“When you find somebody and decide to be in a relationship, it can feel very special. When you're in the city, there’s so many people, and to have someone you’re exclusive to makes you feel that you’re not alone,” Feliz said. “There’s so many people. Sometimes, I feel the loneliest when I'm surrounded by people.”
“This year I've become a lot closer to my family. I’m just realizing how important it is to hold them close,” Feliz said. “[In order to maintain community], just stay in touch. Send [them] some memes, ask them what they're doing, and don't be afraid to be vulnerable. Look out for one another.”