It’s a new place to play and all are welcomed to it.
Popup Speakeasy is an interactive photobooth museum, that allows people to come in and take as many pictures in different settings.
“It really is for us a place where people can be creative,” said co-owner Catherine Ovejas. “It’s a selfie studio, you come and take your own pictures, or can come with a photographer, and you get access to the whole studio.”
Located at 1860 Pond Road in Ronkonkoma, like a speakeasy of the past, it’s hidden in plain sight. From the outside of the building, one wouldn’t know what to expect when they walk through the front door — a warehouse of 14 different stations from all different eras and scenes.
Ovejas said that each season the stations will change.
But right now, there’s a “record room,” decorated with a wall of vinyls and a boombox, a picnic scene where friends can pretend to pop champagne, and a pink repurposed Volkswagen bus tucked away in the back.
“It’s a nod to pop culture,” she said. “I love retro things. So, you will see a lot of vintage things … things from the 70s, 80s and 90s.”
She said the idea for a selfie museum came amidst the pandemic. Between production, construction and the creation of each theme, they began the process a little more than six months ago, choosing Ronkonkoma as a central location that everyone interested can get to.
As far as she and her team know, she said, this is the first selfie studio in the whole state.
“There are pop-up photo experiences that have taken place in and around Manhattan,” she said. “But those are more of a museum-type experience where you’re taking pictures of the exhibits, not so much of yourself.”
Oveja encourages visitors to express themselves.
“We want you to go crazy,” she said. “We want you to interact with the scenes and the different themes and make it your own story.”
She added, “It’s not about looking at an exhibit and admiring it from a distance. I want you to actually bring your personality into the theme.”
For just $25 an hour (at the adult rate), visitors get access to the whole studio. Using an online booking system, the space is reservation-only. Social distancing is required, as are masks — except for when a quick photo is being taken in the scene.
Oveja said they are allowing one group at a time, and the whole studio (plus the props) are sanitized before and after each use.
Children are also encouraged to come and enjoy the studio, where kids ages five to 12 are just $15.
“This is a judgment free zone, we want you to be yourself, have a great time and bring your own personality to the table,” she said.
Co-owner Jose Rivera said the ultimate goal is to franchise, and those future locations will have their own vibe.
“There’s no limit to how far we can go how far we can go,” he said. “We’re looking forward to collaborating with as many businesses as we can.”
To make reservations, visit popupspeakeasy.com.