Brooklyn: Where Halloween Tomfoolery Goes After Hours

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Claptone (Sabrina Feige)

It’s no secret that locating any truly late night New York fun these days requires a trip into Brooklyn. You needn’t search much further than the explosion of secret raves, underground parties and crowded venues from deep Bushwick to trendy nightspots in Williamsburg. Take, for example, earlier in October when Chris Lake performed alongside Nero at the Brooklyn Hangar as part of their North American tour. (On Dec.14 Gratitude*NYC will present “Cosmic Mirrors,” a trippy, experimental affair at the same location). Hours after Nero’s show ended, techno master Guy Gerber hosted an all-night rager with BLKMRKT that continued until sunrise.

“I said, ‘I needed to come to Brooklyn,’ and I was looking for the right partner,” Gerber told BlackBook of the BLKMRKT event. “I was surprised at how they come up with the party and literally no one knows the address until an hour before it starts. I thought the sound was great for a warehouse—it was probably one of my best shows!”

Manhattan remains commercial king for EDM with glossy clubs, lounges and arena concerts like Zedd’s recent stop at Madison Square Garden. That being said, finding a balance of mischievousness and euphoric, high-quality electro beats—especially during Halloween week—is never a true challenge. But as soon as the clock strikes 4 am, your options dwindle disappointingly fast. This year felt especially telling. It was perhaps the first Halloween since the clubbing ascent of the outer borough where the action in Brooklyn completely trumped the Manhattan scene.

Not to say Manhattan didn’t deliver the goods—for the less adventurous, but equally as boisterous and discerning, Pier of Fear, produced by top-shelf agency RPM, set the bar high. The special effects, lights and organization of the weeklong mayhem could only be outmatched by roster of world-class DJs.

“As we approach our fifth year at the Pier, we’re doing it bigger and better than ever,” commented RPM founder Eddie Dean (also behind the secret parties for Nero). “New York is in for a real treat.” Right he was; Kaskade had a refreshingly dynamic set the weekend before Halloween. (Queens native CID certainly got the crowd lubricated with his high-octane warm-up).

Armin van Buuren, who stormed the scene on Oct. 30 after releasing his album EMBRACE, delivered the best large concert of spooky season. It was a shame, however, that his Friday night positioning wasn’t swapped with Skrillex’s primetime Saturday set—a more progressive and forceful performance than usual, especially considering he had to jet to SoCal’s Fairplex that same morning for one last set at HARD Day of the Dead.

Thank you Armin van Buuren ... epic night at #PierofFear! Round III tonight with Skrillex & friends! Get tickets now at pieroffear.com Photos by Christopher Lazzaro for www.FreedomFilmLLC.comArmin van Buuren (Freedom Film LLC)

The real setback with the Pier of Fear is that it starts far too early and ends way before most attendees want. Organizers should consider pushing on past 5 am, although the NYPD and proponents of noise complaints would surely put up a fight.

Naturally, there was plenty of other competition throughout Halloween week. Paco Osuna held court at Space Ibiza NY; Lavo, obnoxious as that joint is, offered guests QuestLove; Marquee booked Bingo Players and Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano for back-to-back weekends. In fairness, one could indulge in the Pier of Fear and then Uber off to greener, darker and rowdier pastures in Brooklyn. And that’s exactly what Halloween night called for.

Borgore’s creepy and steamy, House of Gore, the “Ultimate Haunted Halloween Warehouse Party,” attracted a crowd that was commendably jovial, troublesome and hardcore at a location deep in the bowels of Brooklyn.

“I love masquerade balls,” DJ/producer Claptone mused to BlackBook as he tried to convince us to swing by his affair in the more gentrified milieu of Williamsburg’s Verboten. “One essential characteristic about a mask is that it dissolves social or cultural differences for a certain time. The East End boys can make out with the West End girls like the Pet Shop Boys would put it.”

Claptone, who always performs under the veil of a golden mask, has earned a sturdy reputation for his soulful house.

“The mask extends your personal freedom,” he confessed. “It exceeds your personality and sparks your imagination—so dress up and join me.”

gibson_claptone_sabrina-feige-7Claptone (Sabrina Feige)

Unmoved, we reminded him that it would be a busy night in Brooklyn and making wise decisions during the wee-hours would be crucial. “I’ll have a lot of other surprises in store for my guests, musical as well as non-musical, ” Claptone replied, baiting us. “Don’t tell me I didn’t give you a heads up.”

Indeed, Claptone was the surprise hit of the night (morning, at that rate). His masquerade boasted an enticing assortment of costumed revelers getting down and dirty to every single amazing, underground house beat he played.

A Dutch entourage shared treats with dancing neighbors as a coven of witches caressed a brawny, shirtless stud dressed as a Trojan. It’s precisely such an international, pansexual gathering of the curious and the intoxicated that kept our Halloween spontaneous until well past 7.30 am. When the plug was pulled and daylight swooped in, Brooklyn had succeeded beyond expectations yet again.

“Do you have the address for Loco Dice?” a model dressed like a woodsman asked, as he limbered toward our car.

“Yes,” we said, sharing the Sunset Park warehouse location near Industry City that was slated to endure until noon. “An underground party with a covert vibe” was how Loco Dice’s publicist had described it.

“Let’s share a car!” he said presumptuously.

“Nah—we have to go cheer on our friends running the marathon,” we mumbled, firmly closing the door.

The race had already started.

Purveyors of Posh Night Club Provocateur Unveil New Venue 

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Flash Factory Theater – reclaimed chopped wood church crosses form the ceiling arches, a 20ft x 15ft genuine 1920’s era stained glass piece hangs behind the DJ booth

Provocateur owners Mike Satsky and Brian Gefter have announced plans to open their latest joint-venture, Flash Factory.  The new, 10,000 square foot, dance den, which is slated to open this fall at 229 West 28th Street in Chelsea, was once home to clandestine parties under the name, Shadow.

 “This is going to be a ticketed club for music people,” a spokesperson for the duo claimed. “Not a VIP room.”

Generally catering to a bottle-service and models (or at least aspiring ones) crowd, Satsky attracted venerable DJ talents to his tony nightspot Provocateur, located on the ground floor of Meatpacking’s Gansevoort Hotel.  Loco Dice, Eric Prydz and Sven Vath held court over the years and a similar, if not more dynamic, roster of talent has been promised at Flash Factory.

The club, now two years or more in the making, aims to be a hybrid: part contemporary night entertainment, part retro music hall; catering to a coterie of dedicated electronic dance music aficionados.

“Flash Factory is a creative music venue,” added Satsky. “We built a destination for artists whose priority is keeping it real.”  Whether you are a techno, rock, punk, or alternative hip hop fan, it’s our mission to produce an environment where everything, but most of all the music, feels right.”

A ticketed music audience can expect a healthy mix of DJ sets and live band acts. Stay tuned for updates as well as opening festivities this fall.

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Flash Factory Lounge – reclaimed temple benches form the seating, while stained glass provides the backing to the bar

We Love to Party with Erich Conrad, Viva La Fashion!

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This Saturday, come follow us to the nightlife playground Erich Conrad has prepared. If you don’t already know, Erich Conrad, partnered with Paper Magazine’s Drew Elliott, is highly reputable for throwing some major ragers. This time he is launching his new weekly party titled “prettyugly”, which is pretty funny, and I’m pretty sure it will be #prettyfun. Some downtown cuties will be in attendance including art favorites Mike Bailey-Gates, Hari Nef, among others. 

The Paramount Hotel, which became very relevant with NYC’s sultry Queen of the Night, is located within Times Square so don’t be afraid to get too crazy because you have all of the lights, all of the lights…

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Last Friday Night Richard Kern Release Party + Yelle Afterparty

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Last Friday night New York City, the incredibly talented Richard Kern—an artist that has inspired me with his youth portraits, particularly Contact High and his younger video works (Lydia Lunch)—held a book release party for his latest, titled Girlfriend Boyfriend (Shizen Books, Design by Peter Miles).

At the top of Webster Hall, a long narrow room was decorated with his collective photos featured in the book being sold, depicting the ever-so colorful backdrops he’s known for. In attendance: Olivier Zahm from Purple Magazine, my former boss and exceptional New Yorker Chrissie Miller, alongside friend (Purple Mag) Caroline Gaimari. A fresh batch of hip Japanese youth, which is always dope. The turn-up was successful and everyone had a great time.

May I also mention…..There were limited edition Richard Kern panties!

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Yoko and Richard
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Shake Down 1979. Cool kids never have the time.

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Chrissie Miller with Purple Mag’s Caroline Gaimari

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Olivier Zahm

Following the Richard Kern book release party, I had attended Yelle’s post-Iriving Plaza performance after party, meeting my favorite one and only Blackbook Editor-in-Chief Jacob Brown. Sophia Lamar, the fairy godmother of my dreams, was there, cherished by all young gay boys that surround her and artists alike. Yelle had her own table surrounded by cute French guys, which, in my drunk stupor, had flirted with only to find that most were straight. Oh well!

It was a fun night and she looked amazing. New York loves you, Yelle. Check out her latest single featured on the latest album.

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Yelle being fierce.

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Queen bee Sophia Lamar

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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. 

Door Deity Wass Stevens’s Birthday Bash!

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Tonight, that old waskel Wass Stevens will hold his annual birthday bash. Yep, he has one every year. In some sort of weird astro-coincidence /convergence thingy I have been DJing them about once a year and on this date! Wass is my boy going back to the Flinstones days of nightlife. Tonight he is calling it “The Rock N’ Roll Birthday” and promises an evening of “Booze, Babes and Headbanging.” I’m DJing early, like from 10pm to 12am and then the real DJ, Scram Jones, will save the day…er night. 

This shin-dig is at Avenue (116 Tenth Avenue) and Wass is inviting “friends, deviants and creatures of the night.” I don’t know how old the dude is. He ain’t Steve Lewis old, but he has to be way up there… maybe Eddie Vedder or or Joe Girardi old. It don’t matter much I guess in the scheme of things, for as Groucho Marx once offered, “you are only as young as the woman you feel.”

There aren’t a great deal of real deal doormen left, as most have retired or even passed or become obsolete now that, of course, the game has changed. Wass goes back to an era when the doorman curated the crowd in coordination with the operator. Now the realities of this modern era have most doormen acting as salespersons, coaxing bottles from wannabe tycoons and players to be named later. Avenue is a bit different, although there certainly is some of that. They have their crowd and always love the lovely, but of course make the unknowns and club tourists buy significant amounts of bottled booze to get in. 

Wass is more than a door person. He is an actor with a lot of listings on his IMDB page ,and has a piece of Rivington Tattoo (175 Rivington Street). He is a man about town, an all around nice guy, a man’s man and a women’s man, a bon vivant, and above all else a friend. I will be there to fete my man. My first song will be ZZ Top “Sharp Dressed Man” and I will digress from there. 

Oh, if you want to attend tonight’s festivities you need to get someone in the know…a publicist, promoter or maybe even a soothsayer or witchdoctor. The door is gonna be tough and without Wass out there, a bit less artistic. 

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

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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

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.