Chatting With Sex Club DJ Uri Dalal

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Uri Dalal by Charles Gonzales. Courtesy of Uri Dalal.

DJs work in many alternative situations. Besides the path to riches and fame in NY and Vegas hotspots, DJs find work as wedding DJs or DJs for kids parties. Some specialize in corporate events making squares smile and wiggle a little bit.  Some do cruises. Some do strip clubs, where songs have to be timed to 3 minutes, and they use a mic to get Tiffany or Jazzy to get ready to get on stage. Some do sex clubs. Uri Dalal is a solid DJ. He DJs at a sex party and other places, but it’s the sex club part that got you this far. Okay, get all the shock and awes out of the way…OMG!, OMG!, OMG!  I caught up with Uri and asked him about how he got there and what he does.

How did you get into the business?

I’ve always been in love with music. My family owned Music Factory, one of the first DJ specialty shops. I grew up on Disco and Dance music. I am a musician. I learned to play the drums when I was five. I was also very into Punk Rock growing up. I love music and I love playing it even more. What I hated was being in bands. 

I remember I decided to check out something new one night and I ended up stepping on to the Tunnel dance floor for the first time in 1988. Todd Terry’s ‘Back 2 The Beat’ came on, and the place just exploded, and I mean exploded. I had never seen anything like it. I fell in love. The club kids of the moment introduced me to this Synth pop band that needed a drummer and next thing you know we were on stage at Limelight for opening night at Disco 2000. I kind of never looked back and have been involved with the scene and it’s development in one form or another ever since. I’m still doing it today as a DJ. 

How do you feel about what’s going on in the dance music scene at the moment?

What is going on these days! “House” the Broadway Musical is next up, right? I’m still trying to figure out what it is about this music that frat boys suddenly are relating to, when before they didn’t like that it never stopped because they didn’t know when to stop dancing.

I’ve been in love with this music almost since it’s inception. I have so many amazing dance floor stories and heard so many DJs do amazing things over the years. I will hold a torch for House music and its original message of inclusion of any and all that want to be down until the end of time.

For almost 20 years I’ve been dancing my ass off or spinning my ass off at various parties. There was something about being a part of that secret group! Something about knowing you were at the epicenter of all that was cutting edge in music and fashion and art. There was something very Punk and DIY about it to me. Something about Madonna coming and learning the latest dance moves from our group. The music was like a blank canvas and aside from the standard ‘four on the floor’ repetitive drum pattern, that was the only rule anyone needed to follow.

I didn’t get into this business to make a million dollars. I got into this business because I loved the music so much and the release I would get from dancing with a group of people all night, the connection I would feel with these people was the most amazing thing I had ever known. Words can’t describe what it’s like to look out on to a dance floor and see all the heads and bodies moving together in unison. It’s one thing to get everybody dancing, but if you can get them all in the same zone that’s the real challenge. That’s where the reward is greater than any amount of money. It’s just so much fun. 

I love that and want to share that feeling with others. I want to connect with other people. There is or should I say was a great sense of community to that, but it was wonderful because it was a community of individuals who’s one thing in common was this incredible music! I got into this business because I love this music so much I had no choice but to be a part of it. The fact that I could make a decent living doing it was a bonus. If you have talent it should come easily to you. When you are an artist and you’re hearing new music you can’t help but hear the twenty other songs or ideas you could mix it with or mash it up with.

You could go out seven nights a week back then. There was always something new and exciting to check out in NYC. That was at the beginning – of my tale at least – and it lasted all the way up to the late 90’s after Twilo closed. That might as well have been a different planet. 

I think there is a problem in the dance music scene and basically the entire scene is the problem. We’ve all arrived at the point where the overall vibe is that anybody could do this, and anybody starts doing it, and it the quality becomes a bit diluted. This happens to every great music scene, doesn’t it.

It happened in the 60’s with Hippies, it happened with Punk Rock and just like dance music it took 30 years for actually sink in, it happened with Hip Hop. The difference is that dance music has survived this kind of popularity once before. None of the others survived like we have, and I look forward to eventually diving back into the depths. I think the scene is getting bigger and bigger – but I mean fatter, not necessarily smarter. It’s definitely not about music any more. 

That’s when you get your Paris Hiltons headlining events. You think the guy under the table in that video producing her tracks is going to worry about being true to the music or the scene? He knows that he’s going to make 1.7 million a gig too if he cranks out some more of the same mindless drivel for the masses. That’s when you get guys throwing cakes around or jumping up and down making heart symbols. I mean they have to do something to distract people from the fact that the music is terrible and once the listeners figure that out, the jig is up! It’s only a matter of time, so they’re trying to rake it in before they’re all found out. I think Paris Hilton is the best DJ out right now. At least with that you know it’s a joke.

I think the name of the genre is misleading because even though I get the electric reference and I get the music reference, I don’t really see anyone dancing. It’s like a rock concert isn’t it? Except it’s like lip-syncing, it’s all pre-recorded and there’s three guys in the booth talking to each other about the Ferrari they just bought with the ten zillion dollars they made last week, occasionally looking at the audience or pretending to tweak the mixer that isn’t even on. These guys aren’t superstars. They’re just there to take a piece of the pie. It’s a total bunch of shit and once people wake up they’re all fucked. 

As a result today DJing has become stylistically different. There are different circumstances to work under. You can’t develop a vibe or a motif musically or try to tell a story, now you’ve got a million people jumping on your head in the DJ booth – which probably explains the need for pre-recorded material – there is no time to concentrate on or develop a vibe – you have to connect punch after punch, because the attention span is nil. If the hook isn’t within the first few seconds your set is over. 

I find this very tiresome and stressful and unrewarding. I’ve realized the knowledge of the genre and its history is non-existent. I’m developing an event called ‘The Know-Nothing Party’ based on educating those that actually do love the music and want to learn about it. 

Today you’ve got to deal with ‘Promoters’ that have the nerve to ask you how many people you can pull in before they work with you – isn’t that their job? I want to know how many people you’re bringing! Then after you help them build a night they’re trying to replace you with a model/DJ with big breast implants. Come on. 

I mean, promoters are not the reason people go clubbing. Promoters are not the reason people love dance music. You can bet your ass Promoters did not get into this business because they love the music so much they had to be a part of it any way they could. Promoters didn’t get into this business for a sense of community and to connect with like-minded people for the time of their lives. Promoters get into the business to take people’s money and quickly. They don’t care about the scene or the genre. They just want to make as much as they can and bounce. 

I mean can you think of a more useless person to dance music? You’ve got the DJ who is trying to bring everyone together through music and you’ve got the promoters who are trying to be separate from everyone in the VIP room. But today the VIP is packed and the club is empty.

I realized I am not the guy to fit that mold. I never wanted to be that guy. I am not the DJ that will deliver watered down bullshit for the masses. I don’t want to see some chick in Day-Glo workout gear with football eye black on her face wearing short shorts and Chewbacca boots. I don’t want to hear some fucking frat boy talking about a DJs set. 

People don’t go out to dance any more really but they’re all dancing. They don’t go out to do drugs or get drunk, but that’s what they’re all doing. They all are there doing everything except for the one thing that they are all there striving to do. That’s why everybody is rubbing each other, and pretending to hump each other. This is what is different about my parties. 

I’m going to tell you a secret. What sets me apart from everybody else is that people come to my parties and fuck. Really fuck. They fuck for me. 

There is no ‘Fuck Me I’m Famous’ message necessary at my parties because for me they actually do it. My audience actually fucks at my parties. Famous or not. 

No one else can say that. I’m the DJ that people actually have sex to. I’m the DJ people fuck for. Now that is something worth talking about. At my parties you can’t get in unless you’re prepared to have sex. From now on when I play at a club, I don’t care if people are dancing; I’m there to play music so they can fuck. 

I got sick of playing bullshit music to get people to dance, and since nobody dances any more anyway I decided fuck these festivals. I’m trying to bring some integrity back to the scene. Who else can say that? I spent 20 years doing this for the music, not the money. I could have easily followed the wannabes and models and bottles people but I wasn’t going to suck anyone’s cock or start throwing cakes around acting like an asshole. Fuck that. I want an audience that is gonna be into the music that will force me to better myself as an artist week after week, and now I’ve got it. I’m doing this for the greater good of the dance community, of which I am a life long member, not just some flash in the pan.

20 years after I started spinning professionally I’ve had so many experiences that have brought me to this point that I feel I’m more relevant than ever. Talk about evoking an emotional response from your audience! And In 20 years after people stop throwing cakes and shaving the sides of their heads I’ll still be here doing things my way, instead of trying to please those who are here to please themselves by taking your money. I’m catering to the same people but I’m giving them something to do. Our events aren’t segregated either, they’re a real tossed salad, which I think is the best kind of audience. You know, sometimes it’s better to show up to a bad party uninvited and make it great, than to spend an hour trying to get into the VIP to hang with a bunch of asshole reality stars or people that have no business being at your favorite nightclub to begin with. I mean really, who are those people that they should have a special section? You want to be special? Come blow someone at my party. 

I’ll play the big events if they’re presented to me but honestly I could care less. I want to do what’s unexpected. My next event was chosen for that very purpose. The Undead A Go-Go takes place Sunday September 28th at Bocca di Bacco in Chelsea. There’s a cover but if you use my secret password ‘Bela Lugosi’ you’ll get in for free all night. We are having sexy undead go-go boys and girls, and a record release party for my friend Jerico of the Angels who will perform his new songs all kinds of craziness that night, including a witch’s ritual before midnight via Skype. Killer sound system and room for whatever else. Check it out HERE.

Good Mondays: The National Arts Club Presents Charles James ‘Beneath The Dress’

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Coming this Monday, September 29, a certain fashionable and fabulous set will all be agog over The National Arts Club presentation of Charles James, “Beneath The Dress.” Fashion Week may be over here, but for many, it is a 24/7, 365 thing. This celebration and exhibition of Charles James work will surely bring out the finery. I was sent these comments about Mr. James. Dianne B. Bernhard, Director, Office of Fine Arts, The National Arts Club comments: 

“Valuing structure and clarity above all, made James one of the greatest haute courtiers of the last century. Charles James: Beneath the Dress uncovers his strengths as a fashion designer, but equally reveals James’ extraordinary talents as a visionary and an artist.” 

Publicist, bon vivant, man about town and all around good sort R. Couri Hay said, “James told me, ‘It’s always been about the dress not me’,” adding, “Charles James was a rebel and an artist who never doubted himself or his work.”

This is a week long exhibition of never before displayed Charles Lamb fashion and erotic drawings from  the private collection of R. Couri Hay. The press release informs that Mr James was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for his dressmaking technique. Bill Cunningham described him as “the Einstein of fashion”. He is known as Americas greatest courtier. Cristobal Balenciaga referred to James as “the worlds best and only dressmaker. It goes on and on with names like Vreeland and other fashion gods peppered all over the story. National Arts Club, 15 Gramercy Park South, September 29 to October 5 from 11AM till 5PM. 

The Opening of Gerber Group’s STUDIO

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Image via Gerber Group

Every night brings a new opening, a redux, or a rethinking, as operators race to embrace the busy season which starts in a few weeks and runs till New Year’s Eve. Gerber Group, one of the worlds top Hospitality companies, has redone the Lilium space in the W New York-Union Square into Studio (201 Park Avenue South), and have thought outside the box with its design. New York artist Domingo Zapata has done up the joint from top to bottom. Artists involved in Club spaces is nothing new. Area was an ever changing art project, a moveable feast with Andy Warhol and countless others in the mix. Palladium used Keith Haring, Jean Michel Basquiat, and Francesco Clemente to define its caché. The legendary Julian Schnabel designed the Gramercy Park Hotel with its wonderful Rose Bar, and artists like Cy Twombly, Fernando Botero and David Salle added greatness to the already over the top ambiance.

Domingo Zapata isn’t stopping at the design, as he is personally curating the live musical performances, cocktails, and is providing a guest list. If I hear he’s sweeping out the place at the end of the night I won’t be shocked. Another cute twist is the “create-your-own” gin and tonic bar featuring house-made tonics and seasonal garnishes. Gerber Group. is a force with successful properties everywhere. Some of them you may know. There’s Whiskey Blue, Living Room, Stone Rose Lounge, THE LCL: Bar & Kitchen, Kingside and The Roof and The Whiskey at the Paramount Hotel which made them famous back in 1991.

The space is a basement off to the right of the Park Avenue action. Its ceilings are low and because of the hotels mechanicals and such, it is weirdly shaped. My team and I bid on the design a few years back and found it to be a daunting task. This redux makes real sense. It isn’t the same ol’ same ol’ attempt at cool and should bring in guests who want to experience its unique approach. Once inside the doors the tried and true Scott Gerber headed hospitality should make the guests enjoy their visit. I think this is a winner.

Talking With Mach 8’s Fabien Beretta Before Tonight’s Opening

Mach8 InfinityRoom
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Joints are opening up one right after another, embracing the busy season. Clubs opening in the next few weeks get a chance to cash in big, with the Christmas season already being booked. Party planners love new over good, handsome, or even successful. Mach 8 bursts onto the saturated scene this coming Thursday, skewing towards House music over the predictable Electronic Dance Music.

Mach 8, located at 179 McDougal Street and 40 West 8th Street, has been a club since the 1920’s. Its most recent incarnation was the latest outpost of Pink Elephant, which never really got out of the red. (BTW I hear things about Pink Elephant and I’m digging deep to tell you). Before Pink it was Love, which was known for great sound and little else. Going back in history it was the very hot Bon Soir. Streisand played there. Before the recent failures were years of successful runs.

Mach 8’s Director of Operations Fabien Beretta has all the answers and is sharing them with us today.

The location, most recently the Love Club and Pink Elephant, has a rich history of night spots going back to the late 1920’s—it seems to always be evolving as development ebbs and flows. Is this club off the beaten path or right in the thick of it? 

I like to think it’s right in the middle of both. Greenwich Village has a rich history and has always itself walked the line of “off the path” and “in the thick of it.” While LOVE had an underground feel to it, reminiscent of the feel of West 8th Street at the time, Pink Elephant was over the top, which coincided with the revitalization and rebirth of the neighborhood. If you look around, you might notice that most of the outdated small businesses have shut down due to rent increase and are giving way to more upscale tenants. The neighborhood is rapidly evolving. Instead of going one way or the other, we believed it was best to combine both worlds into one. Stumptown Coffee, Liquiteria, Neta Sushi, Greenwich Project, Jane Hotel operators opened a boutique hotel named Marlton, Burger Joint…No need to say we can see major upscale changes in this neighborhood.

Mach8 Hallway

What will be the physical changes from the Pink Elephant incarnation? 

First and foremost, Mach 8’s entrance will be through the MacDougal Street entrance. The reasoning for this, is to give the room a better flow, and also to immediately reinforce the notion to guests that this is a new venue, not to be attached to the previous stigmas associated with the space.

Upon entering the unmarked black door, you find yourself immersed in a fusion of a Vogue Magazine spread covered with street art and grafitti. Think tasteful portraits and body shots overlapped with graffiti style street art sprinkled with black and silver diamond dust. This area is where the first bar resides, and embodies a chill atmosphere where you can kick back and have a few specialty cocktails crafted by our mixologists. As you make your way deeper in to the venue you will enter an infinity mirrored room that is wrapped with white leather couches. It is the perfect room to sit, chat, and enjoy a drink in good company or…the ultimate setting for our dear selfies.

After the infinity room comes our main feature. You enter an intimate, sexy nightclub that is geared equally towards dancing and bottle service. The center of the room features an open feel dance floor, while the raised sides of the venue offer table service perfect for watching the DJ and the crowd alike. Mach 8 packs all the elements of a big room (starting from our crystal clear sound system, to the lighting system, to the lasers, nitrous and haze). It embodies the underground Ibiza feel but was built to cater to high profile clients.

You are the operator, tell me your philosophy, history and vision.

I am originally from Paris and moved to New York 10 years ago.  I grew up in Dubai where the hospitality / nightlife industry is huge and the center of life. In Dubai, either you are a patron of the hospitality industry, or you are a member of its service team. In both these cities going out at night is almost an art. People play the game, and are highly fashionable. You find yourselves mingling among artists, politicians, business men, and so on.

The idea of taking over a small room is mainly inspired from the same concept, to be able to cater to people who enjoy going out, without being bumped into or constantly being spilled on by teeny boppers. We strive to maintain a nice and fun crowd who let loose their senses to be who they want to be for the night.

I see a nightclub as a playground built for adults. People want to go out to have fun and forget about their day jobs or problems. It is our mission to combine all our savoir faire so that we offer them the most unique experience—whether it be customer service or music or entertainment. What differentiates one playground from another is the amount of creativity you put into it, which is the same as what differentiates one nightclub from another 

My journey in New York started in the fashion industry, which I did not enjoy and decided to move to hospitality industry. I have worked with high energy restaurants, to more traditional restaurants, from lounges to mega clubs, to hotels. I have filled in many positions from promoting, to talent booking, to managing, to operating. This gave me a better understanding of the many facets this business has but also enabled me to know what works and what does not work. 

Mach8 MainRoom

I read that you are embracing Deep House as your format. Can you please elaborate.

At Mach 8, we embrace Deep House for the sole purpose that it’s a “vibe” that is more sophisticated than EDM. EDM is great for the younger generations who have the energy to jump for 5 hours straight. If you compare side to side an EDM track next to a Deep House track, you will notice the construction is not repetitive and that there is more thought into it than standardized riffs and drops.

Deep House has been huge in Europe for many years. When you go to Cannes, Ibiza, London, or Paris you will notice that Deep House is the predominant genre being played from the beach clubs, to the lounges, to nightclubs. The president of Ultra Records himself said recently that the next trend of electronic music to take over the US is Deep House. Very few venues in NY are actually offering a compromise of heavyweight artists in the Deep House industry mixed with glitz and glamour. You can find yourself in big rooms like Space or Output, but will never feel the entire big room experience in such an intimate setting. We decided to take a risk and create something that has not been done yet. Instead of lacking in creativity and replicating what everyone else is doing, we chose to go the other route.

Love was loved by many, but its Fraggle Rock decor was a turn off to some. For them it was all about the sound. Are there things more important or as important as sound?

Designing a nightclub is always very complex. It is next to impossible to please all your guests, especially in this highly critical Twitter generation. An important aspect to any nightclub is to make sure that your layout is on point. You want the best flow possible so that people have an easy time walking around and mingling. Whether it be the dance floor or bar guests or table patrons, you want to ensure that everyone is comfortable and having a great time.

As far as aesthetics, we wanted a compromise of underground grungy meets chic. Walking through the space will give you that feeling with our ‘Vogue’ images covered by New York City Street art.  Above all, I believe the ultimate priority is definitely the sound system and sound itself. Creating an identity is what will differentiate you from your competitor. We are doing what very few are doing and would like to think of ourselves as pioneers in our own niche market. Given that we are doing in electronic music, having the latest up to date most sophisticated sound system is a must to satisfy our music lovers.

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Who did your sound, and tell me the reasons to be cheerful?

The renowned Steve Dash himself did our sound system and our music identity has been created by Danny Bar, a very talented DJ / Producer coming up in the footprints of the key players in the music industry. 

The reasons to be cheerful are truly simple Steve. At Mach 8 we decided to bring it back to the basics like the nightclubs back in the day: great talent, great music, a unique room setting with an amazing sound system, and cool people. It seems as though this is what New York has been missing for a while.

The opening is Thursday, what will impress and who is coming?

Surely Behrouz, who is one the most talented DJ / Producers will amaze you. Not to sound repetitive, but the sound and lighting system will get you going. As for who is coming, we have many industry people coming, big names deejays coming to say hello, and who knows, maybe a few surprises in store, and the burning man decompression official party.

Who is Ryan Keeley and what is he doing at Mach 8?

Ryan Keeley is a New York based artist, innovator, and entrepreneur who’s artwork has been showcased in galleries around the world and coveted by the art world’s top collectors. His distinct style and has also been applied to designing various lounges, night clubs, restaurants and retail stores worldwide. Keeley’s visuals combine a well balanced mix of high fashion and high art in an aggressive style which gives it its unique look and creates a provocative atmosphere. 

He is a very intriguing character and I sometimes wonder what goes on through his head (in a good way). For this redesign of the venue that housed the infamous Club Love and Pink Elephant, Keeley has applied his custom method of combining printing and hand-painting coined “HYBRID LAYERED EXPRESSIONISM” to cover the vast majority of walls, ceilings, stairwells, and hallways. Almost every inch of available surface area has been hand-painted by the designer, which entice and provoke the patrons into an abstract dream world as soon as they pass the front ropes and travel down a staircase into a provocative underworld of high powered music and debauchery.

Mach 8 is eight times faster than the speed of sound…or something like that. Tell me about the name.

The name is actually quite simple. First of all, our whole identity is based around the sound (aka music). Second, we are on the corner of MacDougal Street and West 8th Street. Therefore it seemed logical to combine Mach (the speed of sound but also “MAC”Dougal) alongside with 8th, the cross street.

Photo credit: The Hayes Brothers

Two Wonderful Opening Nights

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I love bingo. It’s my addiction. I even have BINGO tattooed on my right shoulder. It’s like that. Well, bingo with Linda Simpson will have its grand opening tonight at that brand new boîte that everyone is chatting about, The Lodge Club (35 West 8th Street). I’m going and dragging along some friends. It starts at 7:30pm, so my contemporaries have no excuse. It ends around 10, so they can be in bed with warm milk and Letterman and be chipper at work the next day. I haven’t been to The Lodge yet, as my summer end collided with a slew of projects. Man about town and DJ extraordinaire and smooth operator of the joint Terry Casey keeps asking me, so I will show.

Bowery Electric (327 Bower)y, is re-launching their Wednesday nights. Kayvon Zand had me going most weeks last year for his Dorian Gray sex-fest and he is in this mix again. A plethora of fantabulous people are involved, including Michael T, Formika, Jesse Malin, Johnny T, Sophia Lamar, Pablo Rizzo, Cynthis Ross, Jaki Doyka and Sam Harris. The DJs are Jonathan Toubin, Howie Pyro, Alix Brown and Sienna. For tomorrow night’s opening soirée Leonard Graves Philips of the Dickies will perform. The Party is called Sally-Can’t-Dance ny au-go-go. On paper this looks like the ultimate party for that leather jacket clad set that dance to the beat of different drummers …or DJs.Toubin is my favorite DJ not named Paul Sevigny and Howie Pyro, and the rest will be unpredictably wonderful. This is not the same ol’ same ol’ bore that everyone says nightlife has become. This is a must attend event. See you there.

Photo by Courtney D’ne Brown

Openings Galore and an Anniversary

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Tonight, the club with the best name in a long ass minute opens. Frankie Sharp, my guitar hero opens Lovegun, with all the unusual suspects attached. It is calling itself a “Gay Club” and it is located at 617 Grand Street, Brooklyn. Music will be provided by MIKE Q, Juliana Huxtable, DICAP (Anthony DiCapua) and Joey LaBeija. Of course there will be a performance by La’fem Ladosha and Xander will be at the door. The party is called GIRLs and has people gawking. Some girls named are Thorgy Thor ,Milk Queen. Remy Moore, Bob Thedrag Queen. Pusse Couture, Kia Labeija, #KRIZZ, Macy Rodman and many more—you get the idea. Last night the people at Metropolitan, that unstably great Williamsburg Gay staple, were predicting greatness for Lovegun but little impact on the neighborhood-y Metropolitan. Everyone is going to Lovegun tonight.

Space, which is grand opening tonight has previewed with a Jeremy Scott Fashion Week party that brought out Madonna herself, the Paper Magazine 30th Anniversary soiree and DJs that include Diplo and Scrillex…hard acts to follow. Space seems to be making the right moves in positioning itself as the mega club that caters to the higher end Euro crowds, as opposed to the bridge and tunnel EDM heads filling most of Manhattan and Brooklyn dance spots. High society promoters like Derek and Daniel Koch are there to set a tone. I asked them for a sound byte and they offered:

“From the Middle Eastern melting pot in Dubai, to the shores of Cannes and back to New York City, my brother and I have been on a worldwide tour over the past six months. Bringing our unique flair to each city, our newest venture, DMK Entertainment Group, has touched each metropolis in its own unique way. Focusing on our classic style of the highest hospitality possible and the best events one can find, we couldn’t have been any happier to have paired with Ibiza United as the doors finally open at Space Ibiza NY.”

My buddy Nur Khan celebrated 3 years of Electric Room with a week of performances including Gary Clark Jr., Kaneholler and Walking Shapes and DJ Ethan Kyle of Crystal Castles. Last nights official 3 Year party included Adriana Lima, Damien Hirst, Jeremy Piven, Nicole Trunfio, Chloe Norgaard,  Harry Brant, Baron Hilton, Todd Eberle, Ethan Kath (Crystal Castles), Harif Guzman,  Royston Langdon, Sante D’Orazio, Simon Le Bon (Duran Duran), Irina Lăzăreanu, Danny Masterson, Chelsea Tyler, and Mia Tyler.

Space Ibiza New York to Open

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Space Ibiza New York opens Friday, with what they are calling their “Opening Fiesta Part 1.” Space Ibiza New York is a mega club way off to the left and up there at 637 West 50th Street. Now don’t panic, there are no tolls, and passports are not required…except maybe as ID. I went recently to take a peek and took the subway to 50th and 8th. I figured it was a nice pleasant walk on a summer day, but by the time I hit 10th Avenue I needed a canteen and a walking stick. It’s off the beaten pass and hopefully for them not a far cry from the maddening crowds. The location is actually a good thing, as this mega club with a mega sound system and mega lights and sure to be mega crowds is away from most residencies. It’s those pesky residencies that cause joints grief. Few want to live near a club. The location, location, location just might be perfect for what they are doing, doing, doing. 

The opening night features DJ / Kompakt label honcho Michael Mayer, DJ / producer Alex Delano, Vanjee, Nadav Vee and that’s a lot of firepower. Saturday, “Opening Fiesta Part 2” has DJs Duke Dumont, Jax Jones, and Camito Franco. The joint is 20,000 square feet of moving parts and state of the art everything. It has a very large room, a really small room, and a fairly small room. At the time of my visit they were talking about putting a DJ in the really small room, which has a really cool bar and the coat check. I didn’t think that would work with doors opening all the time and a big banging system right through those doors, and I told them so, but, hey, I’ve been wrong before on this stuff. I remember that error; it was June 3, 1985 ( I was half asleep and I should have said no). There are bells, whistles, moving lights, dramatically modern disco balls and lazers galore. They have moved mountains, actually giant steel beams, to create a room like an aircraft hanger on mushrooms. Sight lines are fantastic, so I can’t wait to see it awake, alive, and kicking. 

That’s the thing…is it really a better mousetrap? Will it take the ball and run with it leaving the others like Pacha, Output, Verbotten, and Webster Hall behind? I think it’s a different thing, and it will find its own market. I have gotten invites from a dozen people who all say it’s the real deal, and so there it is. Will this be the second coming? That all depends on who ends up showing. It has been a long time coming, as I expected this joint to open six months ago. It isn’t easy to open up a place as ambitious as this in a town like this. The owners should be congratulated and hopefully in the end rewarded. Someone said over 12 million has been spent to get this show on the road, and I could see it while I walked around. I will be there for sure. What to wear? The invite I got says, “Dress casual, but neat”. I will.

Fashion Week, September Blues and Don Hills

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Fashion week is everywhere, and it’s all so annoying. I mean, where are the cabs? However, Fashion week can be a good thing for clubs jolting out of summer. This time of year can be problematic, as operators and patrons need to adjust their thinking in many ways. The weather is changing and the contrasting cool nights create many what to wear moments. The tourists have all flocked back to Capistrano, or South America, or wherever they came from. Snow birds, those who migrate north during our warm weather are starting to abandon us, flu season is approaching, and it gets dark before we are ready. College kids have returned back to Ohio ot wherever, and the newly arrived kids haven’t gotten their passable IDs sorted out yet and are hitting the books because it’s a fresh idea or don’t have a clue where to go because no one has told them. All those sports are gearing up or winding down and compete for time and cash. To top it off, many people have overextended their income with summer spending. It’s an Oy Vey time of year for club operators.

Fashion Week seems like a blessing, but with so many parties and so much free booze given away at must attend events, it’s possible for places to be packed one night and empty the next, as their competition has the good party that evening. I avoid the maelstrom and pick my spots carefully. I am completely in on tonight’s Interview Magazine soiree at The Hills, formerly the legendary Don Hills. We will get a peek at the boo that closed a few years ago with Don’s passing. They’ll open, open for real in a month or so…for real. Another soiree that has me going is the birthday party for Noel Ashman and persons to be named later tomorrow night. A bevy of celebrity hosts and DJs make this event interesting. It is in the soon to open The Leonora on West 29th Street. This shindig is absolutely private, so you will have to sacrifice your Louboutins or a small animal to a publicist to get in. 

Tonight I’m going to just ignore it all and head to Frankie Sharp’s Fashion Week party. He has Willam from Ru Pauls Drag Race and the right attitude for me… always. This thing will take place at Westgay at Westway (75 Clarkson). If I survive all this hoopla, I will strive to see Veiled: A Fashion Installation by Veritee Hill tomorrow from 8:30pm  to 11pm at The Urban Garden Room, located at 43rd St and 6th Ave across the street from Bryant Park. Susanne Bartsch says I should go and I never argue with her—what would be the point?

On Meeting and Laughing With Joan Rivers

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Photo via IFC Films

One of the interesting things about nightlife is getting to meet, and sometimes getting to know celebrities.  I remember the Roxy Music lyrics, “With every idol, a bring down, it gets you down,” and it can be sort of like that. Rarely are they actually larger than life, save for their egos. Having been involved in some pretty swanky joints, I’ve met my share. I have had relationships with some that transcend the little ponds I toiled in and some that were fleeting glimpses, smiles and glad hands. I first met Joan Rivers in, I believe, 1988, at The World, a club I was director of on East 2nd Street and Avenue B. That was a different time and a very different Avenue B. Ms. Rivers’ husband, Edgar, had passed shockingly and her grieving period was extensive. Some publicist, I can’t remember who, had arranged a sort of coming out party.

The World seemed like the unlikeliest of places with its Hip Hop and House scene and its decidedly street culture. Yet there she was, all dressed up in the wrong place to be. She balked on the inside stairs until I and a few others assured her it would all be lovely, and she put on a good face—not the great one that made us laugh till it hurt. It was over soon after the photogs got their blood. I remember how frail she was, and despite all her vigor and confidence seen so many times on the little screen, she seemed to be afflicted that night with a “deer in the headlights” demeanor. She knew she was being paraded and pimped and she just did her best. I was introduced and she touched my hand as a child might. It saddened me. Saddening people wasn’t her natural state.

It was years later when I met her again. Somehow I ended up as a guest on her show. Some publicist arranged it, I suppose. The owner of Le Bar Bat, a 57th Street club, was there as well. I think her name was Joan; the lovely lady, died a few years later… too soon. Also Michael Alig was scheduled. The call was 7am, so I decided to just stay up all night and go. I brought my brilliant assistant and life long friend Kevin Crawford. They prepped me in the Green Room, asking me the questions I was to be asked, and I was all comfy and excited. Then Michael Alig was cancelled as the merger between the club I was operating with the clubs Peter Gatien was operating had come through.

Gatien’s publicist, right hand man John Carmen replaced Michael (Michael would be rescheduled). I loved Michael, but hated John Carmen and the mood changed. John’s claim to fame was his association with the brilliant Grace Jones who I will always love. John at one point was pleasant enough, as all good publicists need to be, but as he became singularly involved with the Gatien scene, I believe his worst side overtook any good he had in him. I found him to be loathsome. 

Now onstage, I sat in he chair right next to where Joan would be. The stage audience was all Mid-West smiles and best TV outfits and was lit up with a thousand TV lights. Remember, for me it was like 8am, and I had been up since like 1987. I normally craved shadows and corners. The crew were mic-ing me and drying my forehead and mumbling advice and camera position stuff when one of them said, “Whatever you do, don’t look up.” So I immediately did. A light the size of a Checker Cab blinded me. I was a deer in the headlights when Joan came on and the crowd went wild. She said a few words as I blinked and blinked trying to regain my eyesight. She sat down asked me a question and I mumbled and stuttered and missed the point, and then John Carmen talked over me and my hatred for him added to my delirium.

She broke to a commercial, put her hand too high up my thigh to be unnoticed, and proceeded to tell me a very dirty little joke. I laughed and laughed and I could see again. She looked me in the eyes and told me I would be all right… and I was. The audience laughed at my stories and Joan was wonderful and sweet and fucking funny… so fucking funny. After, she lingered for a minute and made sure we knew how grateful she was for being on her show. She wasn’t a deer in the headlights, or frail or afraid any more. 

She went on an on with her career and its trademark schtick. The thing about her, whether she was on some runway or show or whatever it was she was doing, was that she always connected with the people. She was always one of us. She could rip into someone and we would gasp as she said what we were thinking or wished we were. Sure, she said some awful, even inexcusable things, hurtful things, and yet we forgave her because she put it all out there and we knew she wasn’t really mean, just a comic letting it all out and exposing the idols for what they really were. She had a thousand hits, but the world tends to dwell on misses. She made me laugh and the last couple of nights I have been watching her moments on YouTube and other such places and I have cried tears of joy and sadness. We have lost a great one, a million potential laughs and insider insights. She had a great run and she leaves loved.