For our June Member of the Month, we interviewed superstar member Matt Chen! Read on to learn more about him.
Tell us about yourself! It can be about anything – where you grew up, your professional background, your hobbies, etc.
I was born and raised upstate in Ithaca, New York where I actually ended up going to school as well. As such, after 20-some years of my life in one place, I ended making the only logical decision to move halfway across the world to Singapore after graduating. I ended up living and working out there for about 3 years before moving back to the city where I have been for the past 4 years.
Typically, outside of work, I tend to fill my time with some sports, (muay thai, jiu jitsu, and climbing), some handy crafts (woodworking, leatherworking, textiles), and plenty of food and drink! I tend to get tunnel vision into various hobbies and end up losing track of how to be a real functioning human being. But who has time to be a real adult anyways?
Why did you join TAP? What are your favorite events?
As much as I love New York, it can be a pretty polarizing city. Especially from a social standpoint, NYC can be incredibly social or dreadfully lonely – depending on the day, month, or year. I spent years with a tight-knit social circle of great friends before many of them hit the 3-5 year mark and decided to move away. After a brutal mass exodus of many of my closest friends, I found myself desperately seeking new social avenues to meet people and friends – something that can be surprisingly difficult in such a “happening” city!
Luckily enough, I found salvation in TAP through a childhood “friend,” Ben Watkins (aka we met once as kids because our moms were friends or something? details unclear…). Ben, who is co-President of TAP-NY, was kind enough to invite me out to some events! Thanks Ben!
Since then, I’ve tried to meet as many people and attend as many different types of events as possible!
Tell us something cool that happened to you this past year.
Well, maybe not so much in the last year, but almost two years ago, I moved uptown to East Harlem. I was tired of the craziness of living downtown and really wanted to settle into somewhere long-term. So for the past year plus, I have been exploring every corner and block of my neighborhood, trying new restaurants, meeting new friends, and finding spots that I now frequent regularly. It is a wonderful and highly underrated neighborhood that I think everyone should explore.
If anyone out there is interested in coming up, let me know and I would be happy to have you over and take you around!
If we wanted to hang out, where would we find you?
Typically, I spend most of my time uptown at either my Muay Thai/BJJ gym, climbing gym, or at a neighborhood Thai restaurant/coffee shop called Bangklyn (one of the best kept uptown secrets in the city IMO – shh don’t tell anyone).
If you’re ever in the area, let me know!
What’s your advice for newer members who want to get more involved?
I get it – meeting new people in the city can be intimidating. Even meeting new people at TAP events can be overwhelming at times. But just give it a shot! Check the TAP-NY Facebook group or bi-monthly newsletter regularly and see what events look interesting. Bring a friend if you’d like or just bring yourself. Reach out to a board member if you’re confused or shy. Just get yourself out to more and more events. You will inevitably meet more people and start recognizing familiar faces quickly. I promise you TAP members are some of the kindest, warmest people you will meet in the city! And if they’re not, let me know and we can go TP their apartments together or something.