Last Night: Rosewood Was Slamming, Spotted Leo DiCaprio & Amanda Bynes

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So last night I had a blast. It was a bit of a pleasant surprise how great the opening of Rosewood, 5 E. 19th St., turned out to be. The space Rosewood occupied was once many clubs run by many operators. In my opinion, none of those joints were any good. Dorsia, some people said, had its moments, but none while I was there, which I admit was rare. The redux of the space into Rosewood seems to be on the cheap but that often doesn’t matter as long as it’s comfortable, the flow is good ,and the overall feeling is positive. I had heard that Leo…yeah “that” Leo, was there at the "friends and family" event a few days before, and that last night other boldface names were expected. From my perspective in the DJ booth, I saw beautiful people committed to a good time, and one semi-celeb: the much-talked-about Amanda Bynes. As far as I could tell, she was behaving marvelously. Noah Tepperberg once introduced me to her at Marquee many years ago, and she was all smiles and sweetness. I like to think of her that way and try to dispel reports of her "Lohanisms.”

The rock-themed den had Kelle Calco following me. His following is so hot that I was left shocked and awed and honored to make them sway. They seemed to enjoy my rock and roll tip. Upstairs, DJ Danny Rockz put the well-heeled crowd into a frenzy. He was like a rockstar with most of the crowd, dancing while facing the DJ booth as he put on a show. The room was illuminated by the requisite sparklers announcing the presence of the sweet set. Rosewood was slamming last night and I congratulate all involved.
 
After my DJ set, I headed to Hotel Chantelle to congratulate the wonderful Luc Carl at his birthday party. Luc is the real deal. He was humble about the event which also had a rock theme, with DJ Ian El Dorado offering rock anthems and crowd pleasers. Tommy London, one of the night’s hosts, handed me a flier for his Bowery Ballroom Dirty Pearls gig on January 4th, 2013. That is the first event in the next year that I have been invited to. It’s kind of eerie. The Pearls are heading off on their first-ever national tour and it couldn’t happen to nicer guys. We scooted off to The Famous Cozy Soup ‘n’ Burger on Broadway off Astor for a late-night burger and coffee malted. OMG I shouldn’t have; it was amazing and I want more but must maintain my figure. Cozy was slammed with familiar faces and eclectic strangers. It reminds me of Kiev, back in the day. Great food and a New York downtown crowd winding down after all the bells and whistles of the infinite night.

Sunday is Funday again at the re-tooled GoldbarJonny Lennon, a rocker from Queens, is at the helm of this weekly must-visit. Jonny and I are getting bro tattoos soon. It’s like that.

Predictions About The Revamped Marquee

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I will be attending Marquee on Wednesday to see what I will see. I expect a Vegas-style club geared toward electronic dance music (EDM), with a room to dance and a room for corporate clients to have events. In the early stages, I consulted on the layout, but I’m not involved in the design now. I designed the first incarnation and a couple of reduxes since. The late, great Philip Johnson got involved at the last minute in the original design and added greatness to my humble offerings. It may have been his last project. Over the years, Jason Strauss, a partner, would ask me how I ranked Marquee in the all-time list of great clubs. I usually had it down around number 25, but with the caveat that time will tell. This latest redux says that Marquee’s story has not been fully written. It certainly dominated its decade and it certainly wasn’t all about black cards buying bottles, although that is a great part of its legacy.

Marquee took bottle service to new heights. It was a huge part of the bottle-model, table-service revolution that went global. Yet, there were hipster nights with Wednesday’s so-called “rock night” lasting for 6 or 7 years. I remember feeling great joy while sitting with Paul Sevigny and friends in the mezzanine. Marquee was fun. Celebrities came as often as sparklers on bottles. Over the year, the paint faded and the luster of it all moved to other venues. Many didn’t even realize it was still there. It was always making money, living on reputation and remembrance and professionalism. Tao Group or Strategic Group or whatever the corporate name at the time built other icons like Avenue and Lavo and PH-D and, and, and…and the crowd moved there. And then they built a club in Vegas, and the Marquee brand was reinvented as the highest-grossing joint ever. It even had an outpost way out in Australia.

As the 2000s meant bottle service, the 2010s are all about EDM. Marquee NY will be a hub, a routing point for the organization’s big name and DJ packages. Marquee NY will belie the slogan, “What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas.” To some extent, a Vegas production-marketing-big club experience will settle on 27th and 10th. A nightclub pro told me yesterday that he believes it will dominate. He feels it will redefine the whole scene. So I guess in a few years I’ll call up Jason Strauss and utter a single word, a number like “9,” and imagine the smile on his handsome and successful face. Congratulations to Noah and Jason and Mark and Rich and the other Rich and Andrew and Wass and all the players to be named later. To all the players who work so hard and make it look so easy.

Tonight I will scoot down to Mister H at the Mondrian Hotel Soho to visit Louis Mandelbaum on the occasion of his birthday. I know Louis as Louis XIV, his DJ moniker. We teamed up on New Year’s Eve at Marble Lane, also owned by those guys up above. Louis will DJ and host, and a good time is ensured for all.

Gay Club Nights, Dani Baum in The Seagull, and Matt DeMatt’s Birthday Party

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Is it a game of musical chairs or a natural expansion of the market? Gay Pride has arrived and will put the question of whether NYC nightlife can devote so many club nights to the gay crowd as major promotional figures bounce from venue to venue. XL has recently stepped away from Brandon Voss, or did he step away first? John Blair, who stepped away from XL for Brandon, is now enjoying major success with Beto Sutter at Stage 48. Brandon has, of course, landed on his feet. His Cher thing at Marquee last night was the hottest ticket in town. It will be interesting to see how Brandon’s crew mixes with the incredible Susanne Bartsch’s Catwalk crowd. When Pride is passed, will there be casualties? Can the city support so many gay club nights? I think something will have to give.

I’m very proud of club fixture Dani Baum, who is starring in The Seagull, a play she produced. It opens tonight at THEATRELAB, 357 West 36th Street, with 5 performances tonight through Tuesday. Click here for tickets and info.

I was proud of Matt DeMatt, who is keeping himself together as he navigates the always murky waters of nightlife. His birthday party last night had me rubbing shoulders with Tom Green and Playboy playmate Cathy St. George and Randy Jones of the Village People and celebrity photog Patrick McMullan. An old school crowd of hot people had a blast. There are big things happening over at Gaslight/G2 where the bash was held. It is the best location in town, but has been catering to the foot traffic of the Meatpacking.

Matt is prepared to focus his energies on upgrading to an upscale crowd. Location, location, location, location … location. He has the best location, and without distractions from previous management I expect great things.

[BlackBook New York Guide; Listings for XL, Stage 48, Marquee, Gaslight, G2; Follow Steve Lewis on Twitter]

Two Articles On Bottle Service That Are Completely Clueless

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There have been two recent articles professing the end of bottle service that I am being asked to weigh in on. The first: an article by Hardeep Phull on NYPost, and a story by Megan Willett from Business Insider. Both profess a "Chicken Little" approach to bottle service when all that’s really happening is an expansion of existing formats, not a quantum change. I contributed to my pal Hardeep’s article with a quote taken out of context from a much larger dialogue. He has it wrong, but compared to Megan’s take he is spot-on. Megan is clueless.

Marquee’s approach to dance was a calculated take on the market and their place in it. Their approach signals an internal decision to re-brand the NYC Marquee to be relevant to the Vegas Marquee, the highest-grossing nightclub in the country. They also have a Marquee in Australia. The NYC Marquee, after six years of wonderful and a few more of OK, needed a redux to bring it up to speed. I helped with the plan and the layout, but not the design. It was made clear from the start that it was all about the music, with some areas to accommodate big spenders who also cared about the music. It was also designed to be fairly non-competitive with their other NYC properties Avenue and Lavo, where bottle service thrives. Marquee made a smart move using their international DJ booking connections to create cachet. It doesn’t signal a trend of the end of bottle service in any way. Avenue and Lavo are bottle-selling machines. In that regard, the stories are just straight inaccurate.

Output in Brooklyn is as irrelevant to a larger social club concept as Cielo, the joint that spawned it. I love Cielo – did from day one. Its design, sound system, and bookings have made it one of the premier dance clubs in NYC. It has never been part of the larger club culture and has seen no need to be a part of it. Its new Brooklyn outpost should be a winner but it does not signify a trend. It’s merely serving dance aficionados in an ever-expanding Brooklyn scene. The trendy hipsters sipping $15 cocktails and eating $30 entrees at nearby hot spots in the new Williamsburg may never go to Output, and Output’s patrons may never go there but both will coexist in BBurg’s new world. Both are enjoying the transforming neighborhood which recently got a movie theatre and a Duane Reade and The Meatball Shop, and all sorts of other entertainment/distraction choices previously only found elsewhere. Output doesn’t signal the end of bottle service, but merely the expansion, or perhaps the gentrification of BBurg. On a side note ,I find it fascinating that a "no dress code approach to door policy" was mentioned or sited as portending a trend. I live in Williamsburg and basically everyone dresses the same here anyway.

Nightclub Space Ibiza is on its way to New York. It will be big, it will be grand, and it will compete with the other Ibiza-based mega club that thrives in NYC: Pacha. Webster Hall, a little as well. I go to Pacha on occasion, although not as often as I would like. I love Pacha. Eddie Dean and Rob Fernandez are magnificent at what they do. They find new talent, book established stars, and have created a mega club where you can dance and chat and buy bottles of booze or just plain water. They know their patrons and have a social scene that’s unique. They thrive and survive and have vast experience in the market. Space will be coming in and have to learn a lot quick. Big clubs attract big enforcement and scrutiny. They are off-the-beaten-path, but so was Crobar/Mansion before it was pummeled to death. 

Will there be competition? Of course. Will Space mean the end of Pacha? OMG, no. Space is a natural development. As EDM spreads to the masses, clubs will embrace the trend. More dance floor is needed to accommodate more dancers. These dancers are not being drawn away from bottle service. These clubs are not in competition with those clubs. EDM DJs command salaries in the high five and even six-digit ranges, and mega clubs are the only places that can afford them consistently  Space, Pacha, and Marquee have relationships with these superstar, rock star DJs as they are all international brands. The big club experience is enjoyed by many and shunned by many as well. I loathe EDM but I am confident that EDM heads would loathe my Ministry and Stones and Zeppelin DJ set.  

One of the things I particularly disapproved of in these articles and the comments that followed in social media was the comparison of these clubs to the mega clubs of yore. Palladium and Limelight and Tunnel all had door policies that culled crowds of 5,000 down to 3,000. Without getting into a discussion of the merits of door policy, those clubs had highly-developed social scenes at their core. We strived to book the best DJs available and had multiple, sometime six or more dance floors working in the same joint. We mixed crowds from all social strata, races, and creeds. Does EDM appeal to a mixed racial profile? Hmmm, I have not observed that. To me it seems to be white boy shee-it and that’s that, for now.

The articles also failed to recognize that EDM is a genre of music. There are many other genres of music. All have a place in our city which does include people of many ethnic backgrounds and classes and ages. EDM is expanding, but from my point of view it appeals mostly to a certain demographic and has not completely taken over the mindset of NYC clubs. Hip hop, mixed format, rock, pop, salsa and all sorts of other genres still pack them in. Sitting or standing or dancing with friends around a bottle is part of our club way of life. Marquee played a huge role in that development. Bottle service isn’t dying, going away, or being replaced. The writers just didn’t understand what the….  what they were talking about. No offense. 

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The New Marquee: Believe The Hype

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While the folks in Washington DC struggle to raise the debt ceiling, the good folks of Strategic Group have literally raised the roof on the redone Marquee which opened last night. The roof is now 30 feet high, which is unheard of. The front wall is dominated by a 24-foot LED screen which flashes and pops and keeps the energy up. Costumed go-go dancers did their thing on elevated catwalks while EDM banged on. I said it before and I’ll say it again (probably a few more times): Marquee in New York City dispels the adage, “What Happens In Vegas Stays In Vegas.” It also knocks down another common saying: “Don’t believe the hype.” Believe the hype people; Marquee NYC is built for speed, sound, and sight lines.

Literally everyone in clubland was there to see what has been hyped as the next big thing in clubland. It seems bigger than before, as volume will do that, though the capacity hasn’t changed. I spent my time chatting up club royalty like Jamie Mulholland, who has had great success with Caine, GoldBar, Surf Lodge, and all sorts of excellent etceteras. Noah Tepperberg tore away from his table of gorgeous jet setters to give me the $5 tour. We posed for pictures on the way.

For the most part, they stuck with the floor plan I helped devise around a year ago. There was some furniture that wasn’t on the plan but Noah told me that’s going since it will be a big room for dancing. shows, and events – with considerably less seating than the Marquee design that was so successful before this latest incarnation. Noah thanked me for my minimal effort, recognizing that I have always had a special attachment to the venue which I helped design a long time ago, in what feels like a galaxy far, far away.

Alacran Tequila honcho Artie Dozortsev chatted me up about his White Mezcal Tequila bottle and the pink bottle he’s hyping for Valentine’s Day. A percentage of sales of Artie’s hot product will go to a variety of breast cancer awareness charities, thus defying another old adage… nice guys can finish first. I hung with Bill Spector and Richie Romero and Paul Seres and Pascal and and and…. I stopped to congrats co-owner Jason Strauss who was herding a bevy of beauties past the door bureaucracy. The staff was brilliant and helpful. Some dude once said, "you can’t go home again.” Baloney! I went to Marquee last night and It felt like home. 

Being the nightlife veteran that I am, (for those that don’t know, I used to be Steve Lewis), I went to Strategic’s other hot property Avenue to see how it was faring on a night when everyone was at their new elsewhere. Avenue was packed with an eclectic crowd. Sam Valentine, a big-haired rocker, hosted a table that wasn’t aware of the hoopla 10 blocks up 10th Avenue. The programming of those who wouldn’t know about Marquee or who dance to the beat of a different drummer…er DJ… was an act of professionalism that should be noted.

Avenue was doing business, maybe not as usual, but busy. Let’s just say it was doing business as unusual. Strategic’s great minds brought in folks to pack the place while most of their efforts and their a-team were occupied with the Marquee opening. To a visitor unaware, it seemed like a great club night. I did a walk through 1OAK, which was gathering steam and ready to embrace the late-night crowd that it always gets. Marquee’s revelers would surely be packing booths in an hour or so. 

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Fashion Week Has Taken Over NYC

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Fashion Week is all around us and I just love the way it conveniently ends at Valentine’s Day. I am a romantic and will concentrate on making next Thursday wonderful. This week, the most fabulous clubs, bars, and lounges are swelling with the most fabulous people. Fashion Week and that pesky Groundhog signify the near end of the cold, economically-incorrect winter. The top-tier patrons will jet off to exotic lands for a minute, chasing the fashion – but the thaw is coming. The spring, where every club cleans up both literally and in cash, looms. Starving stylists are flush this week and even the C-rated models that promoters exploit can be seen working.

As DJs are in high demand, even I have a busy schedule. I will be DJing tonight at Hotel Chantelle and Saturday at the Empire Hotel Fashion Week party, which I did last year as well. Tuesday I am at Toy for a fabulous Fashion Week event hosted by BlackBook, which I will detail on Monday. Wednesday I am at EVR early for an after-work soiree. Thursday I will paint the town red for Valentine’s, surely ending up at Marquee for the opening night of Susanne Bartsch’s and Patricia Fields Valentine’s Day Ball. This is the premiere of Susanne’s game-changing Catwalk Party.

Of note, long-time absent DJ/headliner Sister Dimension returns for this gala. All the unusual suspects will gather, including  that bon vivant Paul Alexander, Michael Fragoso, Marco Ovando, Jordon, Jessica Love, and all sorts of accessorized etceteras and other denizens of the night. Patricia Fields is busy. She will be celebrating her birthday at the launch of Christina Visca’s T@TOY this Sunday from 6pm to 10pm. DJ royalty Johnny Dynell, Louie Vega ,and Lady Bunny will do it up. Toy is at the Hotel Gansevoort on 9th Ave. and 13th St.

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Talking To Jonny “The Lover” Lennon About The Newest Incarnation Of Goldbar

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I slept through the Mayan thing and this doesn’t feel like heaven. So I’ll offer you something short and sweet and I wish you all a Merry Christmas: I don’t believe that spaces get old. They get tired, maybe even sleepy. I think operators get lazy. I think operators often do not evolve. The revamping of Marquee—which will revealed soon enough—will result in a new day, err night, for a joint that totally dominated it’s niche for seven or eight years. Goldbar had a six-year run for four of those; at least it had a dominant role in its scene. For many reasons, it fell off the radar only to be resurrected again by the good efforts of new owners Shaun Rose, Jonny Lennon, and Udi Vaknin. Jonny "The Lover" Lennon was there before and was a big reason why I, and so many others, embraced the place.

Jonny and I are "bros." In fact, we’re getting "bro" tattoos to solidify it. Okay, I’ll tell you what it will be: cufflinks and cuffs with the words "shoot the cuffs." Goldbar will feature a new sound system, an updated design, a bigger DJ booth, an expanded VIP area, and an art installation featuring Curtis Kulig and Mirf. Tim Cooper designed the cocktails. They tore that platform by the bar down making it comfortable for people that are not Hobbit-sized. I asked Jonny "The Lover" Lennon all about it.

What’s difference and why were those changes made?
We made a couple of changes just to enhance the sound, make more space for guests, focus on our cocktails, and provide better service. I brought in local artists to help support the neighborhood that has supported me for five years. We built a bigger, updated, more functional DJ booth with better equipment, and a new VIP room that represents the maturation of our many clients that grew up here.

Is this a funkier incarnation?
I wouldn’t say funkier. Goldbar has always been funky, but it was also super diverse. We wanted to take the strong points about the music and diversity of the crowd, and focus and enhance them.

Has the neighborhood changed? Is it still developing?
The neighborhood has changed but it still has its core of locals and internationals that call Goldbar home. There are a ton of places opening, which only helps bring out the people.

Were there discussions to change the name? How did it stay Goldbar?
I didn’t have any discussion about changing the name but I wouldn’t have done it under any other name. I always believed in the Goldbar concept.

What is the legacy of the old Goldbar and its six year run? What are the aspirations of the new Goldbar?
I believe the legacy was the music, the design, the hospitality, the staff, and the overall energy. There are kids that grew up in Goldbar, DJs that started at Goldbar and blew up, and international parties that grew here. It’s an internationally recognized brand and if there were any other aspirations, it would be to bring it to more people and inspire more creativity in nightlife.

From Avenue to Bantam to the Diner: The Never-Ending Night

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I try not to write too much about what you already know. Everyone knows the bottle clubs, the scene clubs, the celebrity, the jet-set joints where money is no object – but then again, it is the object. These places are often considered commonplace by the common man who dwells in hipster havens and dive bars. That perception is wrong. There is validity to what these operators offer, although they aren’t all things to all people. Most people can’t afford to party there or they lack the looks or connections to pass through their velvet ropes. Once inside there is always action. Although the bottom line is the bottom line, as it is in most businesses (including the nightclub business), these clubs deliver a quality good time to their often well-know audiences. The DJs often play a set that contains crowd-pleasing, familiar tracks, but the DJs themselves are great DJs and giving the people what they want makes it fun -and what in the name of God is wrong with pleasing a crowd?

Last night I whisked myself to Avenue for club mogul Noah Tepperberg’s birthday. He co-owns a lot of places. Off the top of my head, he has pieces of Marquee (NYC, Vegas, Australia), Lavo (NYC, Vegas), Tao (NYC, Vegas), Marble Lane, Ph-D Rooftop, the aforementioned Avenue, Artichoke Pizza. There are all sorts of pool entities and spin-offs of these places now. He has many reasons to be cheerful, despite being half the man he used to be. Well, not exactly half, but he has lost a lot of weight by watching what he eats and drinks, and working out with a new trainer who Noah introduced to me last night. Avenue was packed with the beautiful, the rich, and the famous last night. The energy was through the roof. I’m not going to mention the celebrities that I saw, as that comes with the no price for admission. Avenue is a gossip-free zone and those that go know that.

We bolted into the night and popped by 1OAK, which was just getting started. A late-night rush comes from sister space The Darby Downstairs which closes early by NYC standards. The Butter Group operators, which own these properties and Butter, understand that after a while, crowds want to hop, skip, and jump elsewhere, so they engineer that hop-over to another one of their spaces. Thus, 1OAK gets a big late boost. We chatted up a looking-real-good Richie Romero and said hello to all the familiar faces of the vibrant staff as we headed into the night. We strolled to No. 8, where Amanda danced with Amy Sacco who was simply being wonderful. I hadn’t been before, as I rarely get over to this hood during the week. Currently, they aren’t open on Saturdays, but will be when the summer spins away. I loved No. 8. The music was amazing. Amy, one of the best operators in this business, was an active part of the action. At 8, I saw countless familiar faces. The crowd was mixed and adult and I loved it.

Still, the night had me moving, and we headed to The Electric Room, where Angelo made sure we were happy. Nur Kahn is in Italy with The Kills. In the past, when Nur traveled, The Electric Room often lacked…electricity. He and I talked about that a couple months ago. Last night, the place was pumping. Amanda said, and I quote, "The thing about this place is that it never compromises. When you walk in the door, you always hear great music and find yourself amongst a cool crowd.” She isn’t taking over this column, but she is spot-on about this spot. The Electric Room was fabulous.

Outside we ran into pal Dean Winters who was out causing mayhem but not as seen on TV. We chatted him up in front of the Dream Hotel, where we also ran into Limelight producer Jen Gatien. Jen, me, and mine spent an hour trading war stories and catching up. I told her she gave me yet another 15 minutes of fame as Limelight is now On Demand on Showtime. I am getting stoppedeverywhere. Someone asked me who I wanted to play me in the sure-to-come epic movie about my life, and as I looked at this silly person, I reached into my bag of stock answers for occasions like this and deadpanned the answer: “… Denzel.”

After the very brief chuckles, we headed to The Darby. I just wanted to see it in action. I occasionally pop in to see how it’s wearing and tearing. Designers do revisit their babies just to see how the fabric is holding up. Design is theoretical until a place opens. I like to see what I could have done better and what is working just fine. Dean Winters joined us at the bar and we toasted to something important to that moment. I stopped by Bantam as I headed to the Bridge. It was a classic 3am crowd of revelers enjoying the moment and the sticky liqueurs. Bantam is great for that first stop or that last stop, and not bad if you’re caught in between.

After we left and had our late-night meal at a diner, we arrived home just as the sun was coming up. We got the leash on Lulu and went to stock up on diet sodas and popcorn and such. As usual, my head hit the pillow at 6am and here I am at 10am talking to you. Someone told me yesterday that not needing sleep is the sign of a genius. I don’t know if there’s any truth to that, but if it is true I suspect that he’s a very tired genius.

Marquee’s Jason Strauss Celebrates His Birthday

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My editor Bonnie Gleicher will return tomorrow or the day after from her hiatus, which has me producing these mini posts as to not tax the resources over at BlackBook. The peeps covering her butt there have been grateful. As I was sifting through the email blasts that connect my desk with the rest of the world I paused at the one titled MARQUEE NEW YORK UPCOMING EVENTS. It talked of a very special event this very night, "A Very Special Birthday Celebration For" partner Jason Strauss. This is always a special event replete with sparklers, pretty women, and napkins tossed in the air. In past incarnations of the ever-changing Marquee the place would be packed with everyone who knows everyone… the special set, the monied, the beautiful…the In-Crowd. A big time DJ would entertain all. That part is still true as the very special Chuckie has been tasked and "The" crowd will surely come .

A very special part of the post offered tickets and reservations with a click of my mouse. I clicked. For $25 and an agreement to arrive before 12:30 a pre-sale for females would give you a leg up. A disclaimer about proper ID and "fashionable clubwear required" seperated out those that won’t get past the door guardian. In a day when bottle buyers are competed for by everyone and as the mentality of table service has spread to every nook and cranny, Marquee relies on big DJ’s, the cashier booth, and pre-sales to hit its fiscal marks. Jason Strauss is fabulous. Marquee is refreshingly different and if I wasn’t entertaining the crowds at EVR and then DL tonight with my DJ skills I’d be there to pat Jason on the back and reinforce him with a "Happy Birthday" and a "You’re very special to me"

[Related: BlackBook New York Nightlife Guide; Listing for Marquee]