GOODNIGHT MR. LEWIS: Webster Hall Closes, Avant Gardner Opens…Eureka!

The purchase of the iconic East Village club, Webster Hall, by concert conglomerates AEG Presents and Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment, with Bowery Presents taking over the booking, marks the end of big club entertainment in the Borough of Manhattan. Sure there are a couple of venues of size still going through the motions, but nothing that I consider worth the cab fare. Smaller spots thrive with rumors of new joints opening coming at me just about every week.

However, community boards determined to make Manhattan a bedroom community are only giving out 2AM licenses, a strategy that will eventually end the game as we know it. The city that never sleeps will seemingly go to bed early. The problem with 2AM closings for the city’s economy are profound, except for big real estate interests. The restaurant industry may lose its last turn if revelers don’t book 10pm reservations in order to enjoy lounges and dance clubs that close at 2. Taxis, Ubers. 24-hour delis and all the other places and services that feed on late night partiers will surely suffer. The incomes of future Broadway stars and artists and actors who live off tips will decrease as rents soar.

Yet in what will from this point on define this tale of two cities, Brooklyn’s Cityfox has been granted a full liquor license over the objections of local community boards. This 6000 person capacity, 80,000 square foot venue promises to be all things to all people and will surely be a boost to everything Williamsburg/Greenpoint/Bushwick. Long ago the “bridge and tunnel” patrons of Manhattan clubs migrated to the “city,” gobbling up condos, while the artistic, creative types crossed those dreaded bridges and formed the creative cauldron that now includes parts of Bed-Stuy and Ridgewood.




The new owners of Webster Hall will reportedly spend $10 million to make the space, which has thrived for well over a hundred years, a more comfortable and modern venue. I believe the place is landmarked, and that raises the question on what can be redone and what must remain as it ever was. I talked to a couple of Webster Hall employees and one predicted some of them will retain their jobs. They couldn’t say whether club nights will be part of the new programing or how the reported $35 million purchase price will be divided among the huge Ballinger family which operated the spot since 1992.

Soon there will be very few reasons to travel into Manhattan. Every shop or restaurant worth its salt will find a niche in the outer boroughs. An entirely new city has emerged and now it is grander on most levels than our original city of dreams. I was at Webster Hall last week for Kayvon Zand’s fabulous Saturday night fete on the VIP balcony. I sat right about where I had seen The Ramones and Tina Turner and a hundred legendary acts. Down below a rather not very large crowd stood around watching a DJ while a few actually danced. Kayvon told me his crowd loved the big club experience that they had heard about in the history books. I smiled thinking to myself that this wasn’t it.

Cityfox’s new Bushwick spot called Avant Gardner will more than provide an alternative. The reasons people dressed up and went out hasn’t changed in 20 years, and it won’t in a hundred years or a millennium. We go out to meet each other, hang out in front of the DJ booth or the fire under the stars. It is here that we seek ourselves and display it and share it with others. The redefining of Webster Hall and the promise of Avant Gardner is a eureka moment, a passing of the torch. Manhattan as an “in” spot will still flourish in its nooks and crannies, but the heavy lifting will be found across the East River.



GOODNIGHT MR LEWIS: NYC’s Goldbar Celebrates its 10th

Goldbar, the brilliant lounge/club on Broome Street, just celebrated it’s 10th Anniversary. It was a black tie, champagne fest, with all the beautiful people in attendance…and me.
It was just days before The Box celebrated its decade of fabulousness. In human years, that means these nightspots are basically 100 years old. Add to that 1OAK just celebrating its 10th, and it begs the question of what allows them to not only survive but to thrive, while so many others wilt under the pressures of an ever changing nightlife landscape.
 GoldBar started as a club-too-far on the edge of Little Italy and Soho. Being away from the maddening crowds proved to be a winning idea.
It always catered to a well-healed crowd, original owners Jayma Cardoso, “Gentleman” Jamie Mulholland and Robert McKinley created a celebrity studded spot that was always a stop for those in the know. They were also into a more progressive style of music than that featured in most bottle boites; and Robert McKinley had designed what, in my opinion, remains one of the best rooms in town. Most importantly, its reasonably small size meant that it rarely compromised its door.
Over time, as the scene evolved, so did Goldbar. Led by new owner Shaun Rose and his partners Jonny “The Lover” Lennon and Luke Sosnowski, it’s now possibly better than ever, and inside word has it that it will be expanding to other spaces in its second decade.
The club world, of course, has now been divided into Manhattan and Brooklyn. Still, it says something that three of the remaining top spots have been around for a decade; in Madmen, remember, it was explained that “New” is the best word in marketing…but “Nostalgia” is a potent second. Many regulars now consider them homes away from home – even if the players pulling the strings understand the necessity of constant reinvention – while holding on to the values that got them there.

GOODNIGHT MR. LEWIS: An Interview With Sandra Bernhard

Every year at this time I get a chance to chat with the legendary performer and comedian Sandra Bernhard, who will do her annual holiday show – this year titled Feel The Bernhard – at NYC’s Joe’s Pub Dec. 26th – 31st. At times like these, we need her wisdom and wit more than ever. 


Welcome back to NYC. For many the mood in America and especially liberal minded places like NYC is one of despair or at least apprehension. Is there more opportunity or even responsibility for you to break down what the hell has happened and how we should go forward?

Well, I believe my work is always imbued with a political consciousness but above everything I am there to uplift and entertain which I will be doing this year now more than ever.

What words of advice do you have for those of us left speechless by current events?

Like Michelle Obama, I will try to go high, through my performing and social commentary. I believe events will unfold that will reveal the true nature of this country and what everyone needs in order to live a happy, healthy existence. That’s what I can do every day. 

Is Donald Trump a comedic goldmine? Certainly SNL has risen to the occasion. 

Whether he is or not, I would have much preferred the very unfunny Hillary Clinton. There are many other sources of comedy for me that I would prefer mining!


Talking about this year’s show at Jee’s Pub – will it offer an angrier you, a more philosophical you? What can we expect?

Total fun and entertainment honey, I can sock it to you without taking you down, If I’ve learned anything from all the years in this business, it’s to be able to poke at the embers without starting a forest fire.

This year you worked with Bette Midler on the Marc Jacobs Spring/Summer 2016 ad campaign. When you two were together, was it as fun as it sounds?

I actually didn’t spend that much time with the Divine Miss M, I simply showed up and hosted her wonderful spring fund raiser for NYRP. My dream is to do a duet with her. I have also had her on my SiriusXM daily show Sandayland, which was very insightful and entertaining; getting to know Bette a little bit has been a dream come true.

Some poet said the show must go on…  what will you be up to in 2017?

My daily radio show #Sandyland on Siriusxm, which I am enjoying so much; also continuing to tour with my one-woman shows, developing scripted projects, and maybe translating the radio show into a TV platform.

GOODNIGHT MR LEWIS: Vox Noctem’s ‘Higher Vibrations’ Promises Holistic Sex New Year’s Eve Experience

For many, New Year’s Eve is a desperate quest to drown away sorrows, blast away evil spirits and purge the previous year with hopes of a clean slate for 2017. And with a vicious election cycle, a world seemingly out of control and the death of so many of our cultura icons, 2016 seems best relegated to the bottom of a bottle.

Millions will see that ball drop live in the sanitized, security conscious center of the universe. But for those hoping to experience the turning of another year as a thrilling, emotional catharsis, consider the April Love and Karlie Dean curated event, Vox Noctem’s Higher Vibrations – which will be held in a 10,000 square foot “Speakeasy Spa” in Brooklyn.

It will allow for the rare opportunity to usher in 2017 in a whole new state of mind.






Tell me all about the space. What will go on there?

Our curated and immersive theatrical performance art at Vox Noctem has always strived to guide members of our community through an introspective and enlightening experience. Higher Vibrations asks you to join our holistic journey through the elements, generating a meaningful farewell to our past endeavors, while confidently leading us into the New Year.

There are several segments to the experience?

We’ve broken down our 16 hour experience into four sessions within our 10,000 square foot spa oasis; attendees will not only have access to typical spa amenities – jacuzzi, aromatic steam room, saunas, cold plunge, health tonics and wholesome food concoctions – but also have the opportunity to engage in sensual encounters with souls on a similar vibration. Prepare to be saturated with sounds that will utilize your body’s desire to dance through our illustrious selection of DJs, that have been hand selected to highlight each portion of our healing journey.

What about the music programming?

We’re are excited to bring a diverse lineup of male and female artists including Oceanvs Orientalis, Coyoti, Elé from Berlin, Kelly Kellam, and surprise guests still to be announced. 

Higher Vibrations is part of a broader approach to the nightlife experience? Tell us about events planned for 2017.

Our hopes for the future… a central focus at Vox Noctem is changing the way we socialize; and in organizing this event, our hope is to promote a healthier alternative that still satisfies all the desires of our beloved creatures of the night. As an all female production and creative collective, we’re using Higher Vibrations as a push to deviate from the norm by addressing the lack of holistic outlets for the New Year that the health conscious community is faced with.

What are your hopes for the future?

A central focus at Vox Noctem is offering a healthier way to socialize and experience nightlife, to infuse feminine energy and sex positivism into each of these carefully curated events. Also, to strive to create a platform for a wide variety of artists to showcase their work and talents, and an environment where people feel free to express their truest selves, whatever that may look like.





GOODNIGHT MR. LEWIS: Studio 54 DJ Nicky Siano Will Play Brooklyn Next Week

Next Wednesday, November 23rd, Thanksgiving Eve, Rebecca Lynn will present her Native New Yorker Party at Black Flamingo, 186 Borinquen Place, Brooklyn. “The Master of Disco Soul” Nicky Siano will be spinning. Nicky is the last surviving resident DJ from Studio 54, the greatest club of all time.

Nicky goes back. He is credited with starting many  DJ techniques, such as beat matching. He also designed the first crossover and built the first bass horns. He was a mentor to legends Larry Levan and Frankie Knuckles. But he isn’t resting on his laurels or living in the past; he’s touring to sell out crowds and producing.

Admission is free with RSVP.

I caught up with Nicky for a chat about it.

You will be playing Black Flamingo in Williamsburg, an area which arguably is the epicenter of NYC nightlife. What do you think of this shift from Manhattan?

It had to happen, since Manhattan has made it well known they want no nightlife there. People need a release, that’ss what life is all about, and Manhattan has shut its doors to that.

How much of your set is the same that you played for Mick Jagger and Bianca and Truman Capote, et al at Studio 54?

Probably none….I am now playing more of the rare jams from the early seventies and edits I have done uniquely for my appearances.

Was the disco era the most fun time in nightlife?

Absolutely, ’cause it was all new.  I was thinking just today, I want to go out tonight, a Thursday night, and I didn’t know where to go. In this age of technology I had no idea where to go. But if it was the seventies, I know I could go to Hollywood and see Richie Kaczor, or go to Limelight and hear Michael Cappello, or go on over to Round Table and see a drag show. Today you have a lot of one off nights here and there, but the last club that I thought had a nightly vibe was Cielo. Now I have no idea what is happening down there.

What do you feel about EDM?

EDM is already on its way out, and has no long term lasting power. Do you think in 20 years people are going to be listening to EDM favorites on the radio? No way, ’cause people like to sing along to songs and if you don’t have words, well, it is rare that a jam hangs on without a good chorus….people are still listening to 50s radio, 60s rock, and dance from the 70s has never been bigger.

Do any old Studio 54 heads ever catch your gigs?

All the time, the old heads come out; and the new kids…I have developed this whole new crowd that is just crazy about my music.

Also tell me about beat matching, crossovers and the technical development of DJing. And do you use Serato?

No, I stopped using computers while mixing, I used to use Ableton all the time, then I was toying with Serato; but what I noticed is that people who come to the club do not like computers in the booth. Somehow they feel ripped off by that…they always think you’re cheating, and in a way, you are. It is much easier to match with Serato and Ableton especially….now I just use decks. It is harder and more time consuming, but i’m getting very used to it….and the crowd seems to be responding incredibly.






The 101 Greatest Clubs of All Time: GOODNIGHT MR. LEWIS

Above image by Joseph Anthony Thomas

The task of developing a list of the top 101 clubs of all time proved to be daunting. It isn’t necessarily a list of Steve Lewis’ favorite clubs. Some changed the way business was done or introduced a new form of music or had fabulous club personalities involved. Some of these places lasted for years and had good and bad incarnations. Some, like Beatrice Inn, were short-lived but dominated the night.

Clubs that are currently operating had a hard time ranking high as the jury is still out. Places like 1OAK and Marquee will surely end up higher when they finally close, assuming that ever happens. House of Yes and Paul’s Baby Grand are better clubs than many of those ranked above them but they are fairly new. (Note: After hours clubs are not eligible.)

Maybe this is the first list and “we” will revisit after some feedback. Time will tell.


1) Studio 54

The Babe Ruth, Michael Jordan and Michael Jackson of nightlife, with celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor, Mick and Bianca, Truman Capote etc. Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager mixed in the best of everyone and went on to invent boutique hotels. Undisputed best club ever.

2) Area

Downtown culture taken to the limits. Changing themes recreated the club every 6 weeks or so. Eric Goode and his brother Christopher, Shawn Hausman and Darius Azari created a space that transcended the word “nightclub”. It was more like a performance space and/or art gallery with the celebrities and fashionable people acting as the materials used to complete that evening’s vision. The bathroom scene was hedonistic. The crowd was beyond excellent, a who’s-who of downtown as well as up. Nothing has come close to it since. If you met someone fabulous during the day you could say “I’ll see you tonight” without having to mention where.

3) The World

Introduced both house and hip-hop to the downtown crowd. A glorious dilapidated old ballroom attracted the slumming tuxedo crowd and the hip street kids. Its stages offered live performances by Bowie, Pink Floyd, Neil Young, Sinead, etc. They broke through the walls and less than legally annexed the tenement next door and called it “It”. They served vodka in coffee cups and got away with it. The World had music industry cred with resident DJs Frankie Knuckles, David Morales and Black Market’s David Piccioni.

4) Max’s Kansas City

An art crowd consisting of Warhol, Rauschenberg, Larry Rivers mixed with Rene Ricard, Allen Ginsberg, Burroughs, Philip Johnson and the uptown slumming set. Music from scenesters The Velvet Underground, Bowie, Marc Bolan, the New York Dolls and Patti Smith. Springstein performed with Bob Marley as the opening act. Deborah Harry was a waitress. After that era came the Ramones, Sid Vicious and that lot. The food wasn’t bad. And it kept much of downtown’s rock scene alive.

5) Paradise Garage :

DJ Larry Levan is a deity. He passed on in 1992, but not before he took dance culture to another level. He is still worshipped today with yearly reunions and tributes. The Garage was his house for a decade. Everything that came after owes something to the Paradise Garage.

6) Mudd Club

Steve Mass kept his patrons on their toes with ever changing installations and cutting edge music. Keith Haring curated the art shows. It was the hipper downtown alternative to Studio 54. Richard Boch, Hattie Hathaway and many others manned a tough door that decided if you were in or you were out. Being in was life-changing.

7) Danceteria

I like the Rudolf, John Argento, Ruth Polsky incarnation. Danceteria introduced Madonna to the world. She was in good company with Sade, Billy Idol, New Order, The B-52’s, The Smiths, Run DMC, LL Cool J. and countless others. The crowd was dressed up and had fun. Easily could be considered the best of the best depending on your choice of hair.

8) Nells

Nell Campbell, the wonderful, unpredictable host created an intimate alternative to the mega clubs of the time. Small and exclusive it was known for its music and for supposedly turning away Cher. It was a family affair and those still with us meet once a year to celebrate.

9) Palladium

With over 100,000 square feet to play in, Palladium was Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager’s new toy after they cashed in their get out of jail free card. It was 5000 diverse people dancing under art by Haring, Basquiat and Francesco Clemente. It was Studio meets the East Village.

10) Mother

Home to the incredible Tuesday night Jackie 60 party. Hasidic men caressing the ankles of drag queens while the hippest sipped strong drinks, feeling validated for their lifestyle choices. Johnny Dynell and Chi Chi Valenti and all their unusual suspects gave us what we wanted and needed. Meatpacking District when the streets ran with blood.

11) Limelight

Peter Gatien’s church of the misbegotten was out of control in an era when that was considered a good thing. It all ended quite badly but not before changing all the rules. Often forgotten in all the Michael Alig hoopla is the incredible musical programming.


Limelight image by Brooks Osman for

12) Tunnel

Another Gatien masterpiece that ended awful. Tunnel at times had 7 DJs on 7 dance floors. Thousands got in and thousands were turned away. The bar and DJ in the bathroom made it the sexiest place in town.

13) Life

For a long time Life was the last great club. Life’s Hip Hop Room was super hot with DJ Mark Ronson coming into his own. I saw Puffy and Jay-Z get up to give a newly arriving Stevie Wonder their table. It was Titanic-era Leo and there were live shows from Siouxsie and Isaac Hayes and Grace Jones. Pretty crowd, always mixed, always fun.

14) The Saint

Bruce Mailman’s gay mecca in the East Village, The Saint was built on the bones of the old Filmore East. A projector like the one at the Hayden Planetarium enlightened the high domed ceiling. State of the art lights and sound drove the place into a frenzy even as it swam upstream against the increasingly devastating AIDS crisis.

15) Beatrice Inn

In its short life Beatrice attracted the young and the restless, the rich and beautiful. It made money while being incurably hip. If it had lasted it would have been much higher on this list. It doesn’t matter, as co-owner Paul Sevigny never looks for or encourages accolades. Toughest door in town made it delicious inside. His current spot, Paul’s Baby Grand, picked up the torch.

16) Marquee

Marquee has ruled its scene for over 10 years. It now has incarnations overseas and in Vegas, where it was a game changer. Sells bottles like crazy, but more importantly it sells fun. It changed the way the worldwide club business operates. TAO/Strategic Group is now the pinnacle, especially to all its dwindling competitors.

17) Webster Hall

To deny Webster Hall a top spot in this list would be a blasphemy. Incredible music programming and the best room in town make this place undeniable. It is a club for the masses but if you look with the right kind of eyes you will be surprised. Bowie used to pop by from time to time to see a show. It’s been around for over a hundred years. It will be there when everyone on this list is gone.

18) Sound Factory

Sound Factory was primarily a late night venue and therefore borderline eligible for this list. I found myself there at 2pm more than a few times and once or twice much later…earlier? Everyone came for Junior Vasquez, who became the undisputed heavyweight DJ of the world after Larry Levan’s passing. When you walked in you asked “what kind of mood is he in?” You hoped they answered, “pissed off.” Back then he was pissed off very often and always better when.


Image by Joseph Anthony Thomas

19) Don Hill’s

The place was named for him, he booked the entertainment, hired the staff, he answered the phones, greeted the guests and I suspect at the end of the night he swept out the joint. His incredible heart and ability to connect with the right people and right talent made this place one of the top rock clubs ever.

20) Pangea

Michael Ault made the partying of the jet set seem like an art form. He now rules in places like Singapore, a regular jet set stop.

21) The Box

Still strong after so many years, The Box took shock and awe cabaret to a new level. I miss my pal Raven O, the master of ceremonies and master of anyone who ever looked at him. The Box sold tables to swells while a mixed crowd mixed it up. Like the great clubs of yore, The Box brought all genders, people of different economic condition and all that. Truly evidence that it still can be done.

22) Bungalow 8

Another place that was almost after hours and possibly not eligible for consideration. Amy Sacco, Amy Sacco, Amy Sacco, say it loud and it’s music playing, say it soft and it’s almost like praying. Always the incredible host for those who go bump in the night.

23) The Roxy

It really only had one great night but it was really great. Mark Berkeley and John Blair catered to the “Chelsea Boys” bringing Pride to the Roxy’s giant dance floor for years. Plus on weekdays, there was rollerskating. Gene Dinino operated. Prior to 1985 an earlier incarnation of Roxy was operated by the late, great Steven Greenberg (230 Fifth Avenue) at the same address. It was very hipster in a Buffalo Gals sort of way. Ruza Blue, John Baker (Gee Street Records) and the coolest of the cool mixed, while forward thinking DJs spun hip-hop and early electronic dance music. It was a Malcolm McClaren, Run DMC. Madonna, Kurtis Blow kind of place.

24) Boom Boom Room (Top of the Standard Hotel)

You can’t call it Boom Boom Room, as a place in San Francisco has prior right, but everyone still does. The most wonderful views and that’s before you look out the windows or stand on the beautiful roof. The best designed place in town. For the gorgeous.

25) Pacha

After 10 years and the sudden death of “the nicest person in nightlife,” Rob Fernandez, owner Eddie Dean closed the mega-club. Pacha defined house culture in NYC. It fought off all competitors and terrible police harassment, but ended as most of the dance parties migrated to Brooklyn. Eddie is opening something new soon, in Brooklyn. He has lots of other events up his sleeve.

26) Twilo

Junior Vasquez, Danny Tenaglia, Sasha & Digweed and a host of international DJ talent played on Steve Dash’s incredible Phazon sound system.

27) Mars

Rudolf and Yuki Wattanabe offered up DJ Mark Kamins, Duke of Denmark and a slew of other musical geniuses to an unforgiving crowd. It was formed at the beginning of the Meatpacking redux and attracted the downtown centric fashion set and post Danceteria alumni.

28) Splash

A gay club that lasted forever and a day (22 years). The best Go-Go Boys in town taking showers and such fueled its Chelsea sexiness.

29) The Loft

It can be argued that David Mancuso’s underground and private parties gave birth to all that followed from the Paradise Garage to the Brooklyn scene of today. It can be argued it wasn’t really a club. It can be argued it should be number 1 on this list.

30) Cielo

The house that DJ/owner Nicolas Matar built has over a dozen years under its belt and shows no sign of losing its grip on the NYC club scene. A room built to enhance its incredible sound system attracts top DJ’s who play to a purist crowd. It gave birth to Output, which anchors the Brooklyn music and nightlife renaissance.


31) Copacabana

The Studio 54 of NYC’s Latino nightlife culture, Copa has moved around but basically remains the same. Of course its early incarnation (from 1940) attracted a suit and tie, wiseguy wanna-be set, as seen in Goodfellas. The Supremes debuted here in ’65. For the downtown crowd it will always be known for nightlife goddess Susanne Bartsch’s monthly soirees.

32) Spa

When Life club ended half the team went to Spa the other half to Lotus. Here Richie Akiva and Scott Sartiano, Noah Tepperberg and Jason Strauss grew into club moguls. A tough door by legends Kenny Kenny and King created a mix of the beautiful and famous with the hipsters of its day.

33) Lotus

See above. Mark Baker and Jeffrey Jah with all around great-guy partners David Rabin and Will Regan (who had a good run with Rex) launched the Meatpacking District as we know it. It was models and bottles and those who pay for that.

34) MK

Area’s Eric Goode opened this supper club with the help of Serge Becker (La Esquina) and Andre Balazs (Standard Hotels, Chateau Marmont). It had a dance floor downstairs with a warning bell to alert DJs and patrons of a raid by authorities. (There was a time when Cabaret laws were enforced.) An adult crowd celebrating their successful lives was kept in check by a pair of stuffed Dobermans.

35) Lit

Eric Foss’s dive club probably employed a cleaning crew, but they were grossly overpaid. No one cared, as good liquor in a relatively clean glass with edgy music attracted an edgy crowd for over a decade and a half. Openings at the legit Fuse Art Gallery in the back ensured the smart set would always return.

36) House of Yes

Maybe it’s too soon to say yes to this Bushwick playpen, but I find it to be the nearest thing to clubs of my Wonder Bread years. Great music, inspiring visuals and performance artists give it a modern Brooklyn edge. It’s very friendly.

37) Spy

Doorman King’s no-nonsense approach to Spy’s door made this super lounge. You were either cool or a fool and fools were never tolerated. Its comfortable couches and table hopping set made it for a moment the only game in town.

38) Redzone

Maurice Brahms of Infinity, Underground fame opened this Hell’s Kitchen spot when it really was hellish. Somehow the smart set migrated to it. The upstairs was celebrities dining and dancing while downstairs world class house DJs like Frankie Knuckles, David Morales and Dee-Lite’s Dmitry played to packed houses. Grace Jones on New Years Eve was one of the single best club nights I have ever experienced.

39) IOAK

Richie Akiva with Scott Sartiano and Ronnie Madra took the model/bottle formula and made it great. Mixed format DJs, notably Jus Ske, entertained this upper Meatpacking venue. Still open, it may rise on this list in time.

40) Paul’s Baby Grand

For a long time I and others walked around with T-Shirts begging to ‘Free The Beatrice’ – a reference to #15 on this list. Paul Sevigny has another hit on his hands, but in his true style, doesn’t want to bring attention to it. Shhhh!

41) USA

The least of Peter Gatien’s spots, but still pretty hot. A Blade Runner décor by Eric Goode with some help from Michael Alig brought the local Times Square feel inside. Still, after all is said, the magic, the crowds, the impromptu performance by Prince, the Gaultier chairs or the Mugler Room, the thing that is remembered most was the slide that took you from the mezzanine to the dance floor or first base to third in a few seconds.

42) The Building

An old Con Ed Power station punctuated by a couple of Frank Lloyd Wright chairs, the Building had musical chops but a very low legal capacity, due to exits found only in the front. It couldn’t stand the heat it was attracting but it is remembered fondly for it’s music and mixed crowd. It had a great operating team of Eric Goode (Area, MK, B Bar, Maritime) Howard Schaffer (The Standard Hotel), as wekk as Patrick Moxey and Chuck Crook, who had been throwing Payday parties when they were asked to join in. Designer/operator Carlos Almada celebrated the Building’s industrial roots.

43) Club 57

John Sex, Ann Magnuson, Keith Haring, Joey Arias, Johnny Dynell, Afrika Bambaata are just a few of the downtown dignitaries that graced this St Mark’s bohemian paradise. It was performance art, sex and drugs. The Tuesday Monster Movie night was a scream.

44) Pravda

Rudolf in a pre-Danceteria incarnation that lasted only one night. It was by all accounts a perfect night that nobody has anything bad to say about it.

45) CBGB

The Grateful Dead of nightlife. Seen as great because it was around forever and had some memorable moments. Its contribution to the birth of Punk is well documented. It offered bands like The Ramones, Talking Heads and Blondie a place to grow, but mostly it was bands from Ohio with mullets and beat up vans. It was more of a venue than a club.

46) The Palace de Beaute

A post- “The Underground” hipster hang where the Petco is now in Union Square. It was celebrities galore hanging with the hip crowd. Tuesday Night was Larry Tee’s Love Machine with host Ru Paul. “Can you say Love,” the future superstar would ask. Favorite memory: Timothy Leary hosting Grace Jones’ birthday…pr was it the other way around?

47) Bowery Bar (B-Bar)

The restaurant morphed into a club of sorts at night with portable DJ booths and table hopping. Tuesdays ran forever with glorious hosts Eric Conrad and Edwige Belmore.

48) Sound Factory Bar

Not just a little spin off of the big place, SFB had its own cred. I remember hugging Vogueing legend Willie Ninja as he manned the door before going in to groove to Frankie Knuckle’s offerings.

49) Avenue

The jury is still out on this upper Meatpacking spot. It has had great moments and steady success; the crowd is always beautiful and there are always famous faces. Its comfortable size allows it to run pure, rarely compromising its door, usually manned by actor, bon vivant Wass Stevens. The staff is brilliant and music always fun. Like so many currently open clubs it will probably climb up this list in time.


50) Rose Bar

With a zillion dollars of pop art hung around the place, the Rose Bar needed a player worthy of it all. Ian Schrager tapped Nur Khan, who curated beautiful nights for beautiful people. Acts like Guns ‘N’ Roses played the small room.

51) Hurrah

A video rock club. It is said that just before he died Sid Vicious assaulted Patti Smith’s brother and was arrested. This club was so hot that prior to Studio 54’s opening Steve and Ian offered Hurrah honcho, the great Arthur Weinstein, a piece to join them. He declined and said, “ then they buried me”.

52) Infinity

Maurice Brahms helped write the book on how large clubs operated. Known for its unique neon lights and mixed gay/straight crowd, Infinity was so incredibly hot that no one was surprised when it was destroyed by a fire.

53) Output

Declared that Williamsburg/Greenpoint was the new place to party, and no one could argue. A large club from Cielo DJ/owner Nicolas Matar, Output rolls on and like other current clubs may, in time, climb up this list.

54) Pyramid Club

A rare Cabaret License in the East Village spawned this amazing cabaret. John Sex and hundreds of others performed their hearts out for an adoring crowd.

55) Centro-fly

A club built with a musical agenda and a 60’s pop art theme, attracted a mixed bag.

56) Au Bar

For the uptown crowd a place to see and be seen before slumming downtown. I didn’t like it but cannot deny it.

57) APT

Probably the smallest place on this list, it actually did feel like a party at someone’s apartment. A very hot spot with a loyal following, APT helped evolve Meatpacking from the meat to the meet.

58) Wetlands Preserve

A dozen years of nightlife meets environmental activism. Known for endless jams from acts that now could sell out Madison Square Garden.

59) Cain

The class on that strip of clubs on 27th Street in OUCH (Outer Chelsea). Operators Jamie Mulholland and Jayma Cardoso kept it pumping with beauty and black card magic until the neighborhood was pulled out from under them.

60) Sway

Another Nur Khan hit, this long running lounge might be best known for its Morrissey Night, which began in 2003 and lasted until the place closed at the end of 2015.

61) China Club

No club list could discount the China Club. The thing most clubbies remember is the Monday night party from Frankie Scinlaro. The Yankees’ drank cocktails with movie stars while a decidedly adult crowd danced in suits and cocktail dresses. Early on rock superstars like Bowie, Stevie Wonder and Elton John played.

62) Moomba

A super exclusive VIP with all the usual suspects. For me it was all about Samantha Ronson. It closed suddenly, but for a few years it was a must stop.

63) Bonds International Casino

Located in Times Square, it was a dinner club in the 1930s. In 1940 it became Bonds Men’s Wear. In 1980 it was a club again with the same name. In 1981,the Clash played 17 legendary shows and everyone went.

64) Jeromes

Made famous by Lady Gaga and her sort of good/bad romance with manager Luc Carl. The place had musical chops and a hip rock crowd and lasted long after the love died.

65) Milk Bar

The legendary Arthur Weinstein with a little bit of help from his friend Scotty Taylor and his wife Colleen Weinstein created this next level lounge. Anything went and everybody had to go.

66) W.i.P./ Greenhouse

It was short lived but ambitious enough, as Work in Progress makes the list and takes Greenhouse with it. An extreme art club W.i.P. was a legitimization of the brilliant illegal Bowery art club Collective Hardware, for a minute the best place in town. Greenhouse had its moments, but clubs that feature Hip Hop are often the subject of police harassment. The final straw was the melee involving Drake and Chris Brown.

67) Peppermint Lounge

There were multiple incarnations of the Peppermint Lounge, including the one the Beatles played. “They” say Go-Go dancing started here. After it closed in 1977 it had a run as G.G.s Barnum Room, before being reincarnated in 1980 with acts like The Cramps, The Bangles and Joan Jett. It then relocated to lower 5th Avenue. It was always edgy, sleazy and felt kind of dangerous in the best sort of way.

68) Pink Elephant

Pink Elephant started small on 8th Avenue just below 14th Street, with a fun Euro/model/well-heeled crowd. Rocco Ancarola tossed enough napkins into the air to fell a small forest. Pink moved to that West 27th Street club strip and thrived and then survived even as the police harassed all others out of business. It landed with a thud on West 8th Street. My favorite name for a club ever.


69) Cat Club

Tommy Gunn and the Cat Club Dancers entertained the chic rock set in the late 80’s early 90’s. Lots of great bands played to a crowd with big hair. Dress code: Black and easy to remove.

70) Shelter/Vinyl

Although actually 2 different clubs in the same space, there was some overlap. Shelter featured N.A.S.A., the rave-like Friday nights, attracting the youngest crowd I have ever seen. Legendary DJ D.B. ruled. Saturdays were the domain of Shelter DJ Timmy Regisford. Spinoff parties still exist today.

71) subMercer

Gabby Meija ruled this deep underground club in the basement of Andre Balazs’ Mercer Hotel. It was great DJ’s, an adult crowd and a strict door policy from major players Richard Alvarez and Moises Santana. You always felt you were at home.

72) Stereo

Mike Satsky and Brian Gefter’s cooler than cool Outer Chelsea spot. It was too close to the edge to survive, but left an impression. Now they have Provocateur and the new and truly great Flash Factory.

73) GoldBar

It has gone through many changes from the Jamie Mulholland, Jayma Cardoso days, but it seems, after 10 years, to be finding new life. Jonny “The Lover” Lennon has a lot to do with that, as does new owner Shaun Rose.

74) S.O.B’s

Since 1982 Larry Gold has offered up World Music and everything that means. Tito Puente, Marc Anthony, Celia Cruz, Eddie Palmieri, Astrud Gilberto are just a few of the names that have graced its state.

75) The Underground

Another Maurice Brahms entry, The Underground had its share of celebrities and fabulousness but will always be remembered for Baird Jones inviting a million-plus free guests.

76) Hiro Ballroom

A gorgeous room for the gorgeous people, shown best when Eric Conrad was hosting.

77) Suede

It wasn’t much to look at and the West 23rd Street location wasn’t wonderful, but it had something intangible that kept them coming back. To the numerous celebrities that came over and over again it was a place where they could be themselves and not their image. It was an adult crowd that loved life and each other. When you walked in the room you felt you belonged, a lot of that due to proprietor Eyton Sugarman and pal Seth Harris.

78) Plaid

It makes the list because it was a club dedicated to the new music, fashion, lifestyle scene that was streaming back and forth between Manhattan and the new art haven of Williamsburg, Plaid was surely ahead of its time. A performance by Ol’ Dirty Bastard sanctioned by last minute talks with his parole officer rocked the house.

79) Crobar

It had its moments, especially when Johnny Dynell and Chi Chi Valenti were hosting, but it never lived up to its size. Later incarnations of the room like Mezmor and Mansion didn’t do well either. The room was immense, used originally to blow up the floats for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. Maybe all the energy just floated up to the high ceilings.

80) Provocateur

Mike Satsky and Brian Gefter made Provacateur a guest list only club, creating a layer of exclusivity that shocked the system. Evenings were curated in advance and decisions made at a higher pay grade. They also booked stadium level EDM DJs into their smallish room. They made their own rules and have had continued success. Like so many other active clubs their final spot on this list is TBD.


81) Heartbreak

Mondays were the best night. The place literally was a cafeteria during the day and stainless serving stations were pushed to the side. It was rock music, some of it older than me.

82) Home Sweet Home

Lives up to its name with a super friendly crowd and comfortable décor. Just messy enough to wipe away any pretentiousness. Been there for a minute yet still thrives even though its clientele has mostly moved to Brooklyn. Go when Jonathan Toubin is spinning.

83) Veruka

Noel Ashman’s great club/lounge had a celebrity at every table and hordes clamoring to see them. A shout out to Tim Spuches (Hotel Chantelle) who kept it all smooth.

84) Happy Valley

The Susanne Bartsch nights were always wonderful. The night Dita Von Teese performed in a giant cocktail glass was shock and awesome. Jeremy Scott designed the room, offering up a DJ booth that looked like a disco ball.

85) Pizza A- Go-Go

I love everything offered by Vito Bruno, from his sexy after hours club AM/PM to his creation of freestyle sensation Noel, who was swept off his feet while bussing tables at Palladium. Only Vito could take a pizza place and make it an “in” spot. I saw the Beastie Boys there before they could shave.

86) Better Days

Better Days offered up even better nights to a fully devoted dance crowd. Its run from 1972 until 1990 featured resident Bruce Forrest and a who’s who of house legends including Frankie Knuckles, Francois K, Kenny Carpenter, Tony Humphries, Robert Clivilles and many more. Probably should be higher up on this list. It was important.

87) The Jane Ballroom

Players Matt Kliegman and Carlos Quirate need to be mentioned and it might as well be for The Jane. Their run at the Jane Ballroom has been over the top wonderful.

88) Lot 61

Amy Sacco in a less intimate space than her stellar Bungalow 8. It was cocktail culture to the 9th with 60 plus different Martinis sipped under serious art. I liked to sit under a Damien Hirst and watch Amy work the room.

89) Pianos

This lower Eastside venue/club, which opened in 2002, still packs them in. It’s hipster heaven. One of the few places that draws the Brooklyn crowd to Manhattan.

90) The Bowery Electric

Somehow an old school, East Village rock club was recreated on the sacred intersection of East 2nd Street and the Bowery, officially dedicated by NYC as Joey Ramone place. This is hallowed rock ground. Bands, black leather and hairdo’s and hairdon’t’s, bring you back to a pre-gentrified EV. Kudos to rockstars Jesse Malin and Johnny T. who just get it.


91) Chaos

It can be argued that modern bottle service started here or at Life. Chaos was the place for the well healed to connect, as well as models and those who chase them or are chased by them.

92) Home/Guesthouse

Owner John Bakhshi dominated the B crowds on West 28th Street, when it was a strip mall of nightlife. Solid mash up music programming at Home and Euro-centric House in Guesthouse brought out all the bottle buyers. There wasn’t a dry table in the house. It had its fair share of the rich and famous as well. These 2 clubs along with Bed and Spirit were carved out of the same building that once housed Sound Factory, Twilo, John has found great success lately at Beautique.

93) Esquilita

It lived in a couple of locations, but altogether Esquilita, the legendary Latin LGBTQ club, lasted just short of 50 years. That’s 1,000 in human years. When Lady Bunny did her one woman shows there, That Aint No Lady and “Clowns Syndrome,” the place hosted a more diverse crowd. Esquilita couldn’t survive the “clean up” of West 39th Street.

94) The Ritz

Jerry Brandt’s amazing concert hall also featured dancing and huge video screens. The Ritz had the distinction of occupying the spaces of two top 20 clubs . It originally was where Webster Hall is, and then moved to the West 54th Street space where Studio 54 had been. Always a showman, Jerry operated the prehistoric Electric Circus on St. Marks in the 70’s.

95) The Village Gate

From1958 until 1994 Art D’Lugoff offered up Jazz and cool original shows. Dizzy Gillespie,Wynton Marsalis, Dexter Gordon and the like performed. A benefit for Timothy Leary had Jimi Hendrix and Allen Ginsberg perform. A National Lampoon production of Lemmings offered John Belushi, Christopher Guest and Chevy Chase. It also hosted the club Peace with the brilliant Lesly Bernard hosting.

96) The Fun House

A mega-club with legendary superstar Dj John”Jellybean” Benitez. 2000 people could be on hand to listen to sets that lasted as long as 12 hours or even 14 hours. Jellybean was on top of the world playing Freestyle music to massive crowds while engaged to Madonna.

97) Coney Island High

The entire crowd looked like they worked at Trash and Vaudeville and many probably did. It was super sleazy and easy. I had to keep repeating to myself rule #1… “never, ever go home with a girl whose hair can hurt you.” Well rules were made to be broken, especially at Coney Island High.

98) 1018

Vito Bruno’s Free Style palace also hosted great concerts. It got hairy at times. In fact the local precinct had a pool going regarding what time the first call of the night would come from the place. I always had fun. Dj Roman Ricardo always delivered.

99) Madam Rosas

Sometimes when a place is off the beaten path it can be a good thing. People like to explore the undiscovered country. Madam Rosas behind the American Thread Building attracted a very sharp set of celebrities and downtown fashion, art types. Jean-Michel Basquiat Dj’d there. It was another jewel-box type club, small, perfect in contrast to the giant joints that were dominating the scene.

100) Crazy Nanny’s

A crazy, friendly Lesbian Bar on lower 7th Avenue. I was only there once, invited in by a familiar face at the door while I was  walking my Chihuahua, Arturo. Arturo got up on the bar and said hello to everyone much to the patrons and my delight. Arturo was usually a nasty dog but the positive energy of the place put him at ease. Me too.

101) Carmelitas Reception House

Few noticed what looked like a small wedding hall or bordello on the second floor of the Southwest corner of 14th and 3rd, above Disco Donut. It hosted Lesbian nights and the amazing Stacy Fine’s amazing Lite Lounge.

Honorable Mention: Plant Bar, Passerby, Darkroom, Morriseys, Tatou, Bentley’s, Lucky Cheng’s, Tenjune, Boy Bar, Wax, Fredricks, Tramps, Peggy Sue’s, Canal Room/Shine, Shout, Whitenoise, Surf Club, Studio B, Time Café, Club Zanzibar (Newark), Snitch, Ice Palace, Beauty Bar, Xenon, Club Edelweiss, PM, Verboten

Dishonorable Mention: Expo

GOODNIGHT MR. LEWIS: ‘Glory Daze: The Life and Times of Michael Alig’ PIcked Up by Netflix

Word comes that Glory Daze: The Life and Times of Michael Alig has been picked up by Netflix. This is great news for writer, director Ramon Fernandez and producer Lisa Brubaker. The movie will now be seen by the masses who may be exposed for the first time to a period of nightlife that is looked back at as either wonderful or horrible or both. I enjoyed the movie. It has a different feel than the 2011 documentary “Limelight” from Billy Corbin, Alfred Spellman and Jen Gatien. Jen is of course the daughter of the movie’s focus, Peter Gatien, and I felt the film was a very fair and accurate portrayal of the life and times of the enigmatic club king. I have been told that Peter wasn’t happy with the project and was hoping for something that showed him in a more favorable light. I think he got off lucky.

Glory Daze is very Alig-centric and that is always problematic. I still talk with Michael at least once a week. I often hate him, but I always calm down and embrace my life long friend after apologies are exchanged. I am as wrong at least as often as Mike. He remains a passionate player nowadays involved in multiple book, art, TV and magazine projects. He is a bit unstable but after 17 years in prison it amazes me how well adjusted he is. Glory Daze was screened for the people who were interviewed in it. Many of them saw for the first time a bigger picture and heard the opinions of others who experienced those days.

The mega clubs of that era had multiple dance floors, Dj’s, and crowds of all types. The rooms were dark with distracting , pulsating lights, fashion statements and the antics of the fabulous. The clubs were designed to be alternative universes to the real or day world. One person’s experience of a single night out would be entirely different from another person. Looking back, most memories are obscured by drugs and scandals. After 20 years it seems impossible to have a consensus. Here are the views of Glory Daze from the players involved.


                               Michael Alig

“I love the footage of old New York, the graffiti bombed subway cars, the abandoned buildings, the garbage cans burning on the streets. That was the NYC I arrived at in 1984 and it was nostalgic for me. Plus it put the whole story into context, how the club kids came into the world in this post-disco apocalypse: the death of Andy Warhol, the looming AIDS crisis. The club kids were really a reaction to all that and this is the first film to show that side of the story.

I think Glory Daze is fair. No one is all good or all bad. Everyone is a little of both. There are scenes in the documentary that make me cringe – I was such a spoiled brat! It’s a wonder I had any friends! There are things I am incredibly proud of, the way the club kid scene gave so many disenfranchised people a sense of home, family.

I can’t believe there is even a question in peoples’ minds whether or not I am sorry for what I’ve done. Some wonder why I don’t say ‘I’m sorry’ more often. I just think those words are so trite. No mere words can make up for what I’ve done. In fact I feel they trivialize the crime. I believe in karma, and I have a lot of atoning to do in this next phase of my life. Acts of kindness, altruism. Helping others. Getting back to the roots of the original club kid movement. Actions, after all, speak more loudly than words; but yes I am very sorry for all the harm I have caused, It embarrasses me that I could do such a thing and cause so much pain. Nothing I’ve ever done.or will ever do will make up for my actions 20 years ago.”

                       Ramon Fernandez (Writer/Director)

“The picture was very much the peeling of an onion for me. The more interviews I gathered and the more research we did the further the abyss stared back. Just a trove of information. The interesting thing about documentaries, especially ones with such volatile characters, is that they write themselves; and I’m pretty much tagging along with the audience. When I started I had an idea of what the film would be, but by the end it had really taken a life of its own.

New York of the 90s really represents a special time and place for me. A place where there were huge dance floors that acted as a great equalizer. It wasn’t about making money, though money was made. It was about your contribution to the room. Period. It transcended race, sexual orientation and economic class. Once it went away, the city never fully recovered. I wanted to remind the audience of that era with all of its decay and danger, but also just how fucking fun it was. I framed it through the experience of the one guy who truly personally changed the zeitgeist for a moment. In all of its glory and tragedy.”

                       Lisa Brubaker (Producer)

“As this piece is a contemporary documentary, we were pretty much just along for the ride.  I had pretty much read every book and article I could get my hands on while producing the film, and thus had a pretty good idea of what had happened with regards to Michael’s crime, which was confirmed throughout the interviews.  The fact that it would take him another 4 years to get released after his initial parole date was…unplanned, and extended the life of the project way beyond what I could ever have imagined.  We had, from the outset, intended on letting the story write itself, not influencing what happened in any way, skewing shots, or painting any type of inaccurate picture of sainthood or otherwise.  I think we were able to accomplish that goal.

I was drawn into nightlife personally and professionally like a month to the flame, a true club-rat at heart.  Unfortunately I moved back to NYC in 2001, so I missed the Limelight, Tunnel, et al in their pure unadulterated forms. Michael, and Angel’s murder, are quite polarizing subjects – Did he fulfill his debt to society? Can one ever? – and we put a lot of effort into telling all sides of the entire story; or more accurately, letting the story tell itself.  Making this movie allowed me to peer through a window into the past, and to allow the audience to do the same.  To experience just a snippet of a fascinating, spectacular explosion.”


                    Victor P. Corona, a sociologist now at NYU

“Ramon and Lisa created an extremely thorough and visually dazzling record of New York’s nightlife history. It’s a fascinating film that anyone who loves a New York dancefloor should see right away. I heard great feedback from friends all around the country and now they’re anxious to come to the city.”

                     R. Couri Hay, publicist

Glory Daze is an insightful, but scary flashback to drug-filled nights that lead to an inexplicable tragedy. In his heyday, Michael Alig was the most talented person in nightlife. I hope his self-destructive story serves as a warning to everyone that sees this film and goes out after midnight.”

                    Victor Dinaire, DJ / Producer [did the original music for the film]

Glory Daze took me right back to my favorite club era,  of The Limelight and The Tunnel.  The story is accurate and lays out the chain of events that ultimately led to the infamous murder of Angel.  It was an honor to be involved with this project.”

                     Ernie Glam

“It’s not easy documenting a scene that was incredibly fun and zany, but that also served as a stage for scary drug abuse and the horrible death of my friend Angel Melendez. Glory Daze captures the charisma of many people involved in the New York City club scene while depicting Michael Alig’s journey from a charming and inspired party promoter to a depraved junkie. Michael is a longtime friend, so I had a front-row seat to his tragedy. I recommend it because it’s accurate, and it also made me laugh and cry.”

                    Johnny DynelL, DJ/ Club Legend

“At the time people asked ‘how could such a grizzly murder happen in our world?’ This film, while showing the colorful glamour of the Club Kids, explains how.

                   Gerald McMahon – Michael’s defense attorney

“Whatever you say or think about Michael Alig, he is a one-of-a-kind. And this film captures that.”

                   Kenny Kenny, former Limelight Doorperson/ Club Legend

“It’s not up to me to forgive or not. I have already. No one seemed concerned with Angel’s parents. We were friends with people who were worse than Angel, it’s just that they had more charm and charm is always forgiven even in hideous crimes. It isn’t up to us, it’s up to Michael to heal himself and up to Angel’s family to heal. The thing with Michael, it’s an obstacle in his way, being famous, and he keeps thinking of ways to move past it.

Netflix will cut it down to about 90 minutes. This will please many. For me, I couldn’t get enough, which probably shows I hung around a bit too long back in the day. Some poet said  ‘you can’t go home again.’ Well Ramon Fernandez proved that wrong.”

GOODNIGHT MR. LEWIS: Is Peter Gatien’s Limelight Lawsuit Really Valid?

It has been reported in reputable periodicals like the NY Post that the Dream Hotel in Hollywood will open a nightclub to be operated by those heavyweights from the Tao Group, Noah Tepperberg and Jason Strauss. These guys have opened some of the most successful spots on the planet; but the surprise was the decision to name the new club Limelight. According to reports Peter Gatien, the major domo behind the original Avenue of the Americas legend is shocked by this use of “his” trademark and he intends to sue. Although he doesn’t seem to have renewed that trademark in over a decade, the lawsuit says the name is his and he claims to be discussing a relaunch of his Limelight in NYC and other cities. There is more to this story than meets the eye; more than a clash of titans, it’s a clash of eras.

Sports fans do it all the time. They argue whether or not Muhammad Ali could whip Mike Tyson or Jordan versus Lebron or Koufax versus Kershaw. But comparisons really can’t be made as the times are different. The same applies for the wonderful world of nightclubs. When the Limelight NYC opened in November 1983 there was no bottle service, a great deal of the city was in disarray, the economy was shaky, the hotel industry was a fraction of what it is now, tourism as well. There were far less nightclubs and the science applied to modern clubs was prehistoric. Cocktail culture was of the Mad Men variety, and there were probably only a dozen recognizable vodkas.

In 1983 AIDS was just a distraction, not the epidemic that would change the way people club and date. People could smoke cigarettes with their drinks. There was no internet or cellphones, as clubs promoted with mailed or handed out fliers and phone calls. They didn’t need to compete with online dating sites. Regulation was soft depending on the relationships with the local cops and / or robbers. In this stone-age, Peter Gatien built an empire that dominated the city until 2001. Besides Limelight he operated Palladium, Tunnel and USA; on a good week as many as 40,000 patrons enjoyed Peter’s hospitality. It ended badly with court drama and fines and jail and even deportation. Peter is now allowed back, and he visits from time to time. There has been talk of resurrection.

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Image: Brooks Osman for

While Peter the Great was running his empire, Noah and Jason worked as promoters, graduating to owning the small lounge Suite 16 where they made a mark. Then in 2003 they opened Marquee and a new empire was born. Full disclosure, I designed both the Limelight and Marquee with Colleen Weinstein’s help. I was a director of Peter’s clubs and went down with his ships. Noah and Jason worked for me at various clubs but have taken that experience to another level, and are now the biggest fish since Moby Dick; with all due respect, Peter Gatien’s dark empire is merely a sardine compared to what they have built.

That brings us back to the lawsuit. Why on earth would they bother with that name? Limelight to most is a club that is synonymous with drugs and arrests and murder and an era of lawlessness that has been banished to documentaries.  For what it’s worth there was a pre-Gatien, unrelated Limelight in the West Village; there was a Tunnel Bar in the East Village while Gatien’s monster club Tunnel ruled the West Side. Names are often recycled. Often logos and whether one place can be confused with the other plays a part in deciding right of use. The Hollywood spot, from what I have been told, has little similarity with the haunted church where the Limelight Mall now resides.

Peter Gatien was in his day the best there was; however, accusations of the books not being kept in order, of many people getting paid in cash, and many people not being paid at all resulted in bad memories for some and jail time for Mr. Gatien. Drugs were rampant, though a court ruled he wasn’t legally responsible for the mayhem that made Limelight the best club of its era. The State Liquor Authority and any local community board would most likely refuse Peter his second coming.

On October 4th, 2007 the then-exiled Peter Gatien opened up Circa, a multi-million dollar super club in Toronto. It was the hottest place in Canada. There was bottle service and big spenders and club kids and world class DJ’s. Pharrell, Gaga, Kanye, Rihanna all graced the stage. Peter seemed to have a hit. In February 2009, with familiar disputes over bookkeeping, high costs and lots of other bad tidings, Peter resigned. Mega lawsuits followed but were eventually dismissed.

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F. Scott Fitzgerald said “there are no second acts in American lives.” I guess Peter can be thankful he was born in Canada. And although I can’t see a return to his glory days in NYC, I can see him doing a spot in Mexico or some such place where a checkered past poses few problems.

This story will soon fade away, as an insider at the Tao Group tells me that they will not go forward with the use of the name. They say they own it but will not use it. My source says, “it isn’t worth it to have the new, beautiful space involved on any level with Peter’s name and this sort of publicity.” A source told me that Tao Group did intend to use the name Limelight in L.A., and the only reason they are not using it now is because of Gatien’s lawsuit.” The source also says that, “Tao group does not want to delay the opening of their new rooftop restaurant and pool, even though it is going to cost them money to redo whatever they have already done using the name Limelight. They intend to hold Gatien responsible for that because the name Limelight is being used all over the U.S.

Indeed, some poking around reveals the name Limelight being used in over a dozen places nationally and internationally, including a pretty big club in North Carolina, as well as Aspen, Denver, Portland and even Thailand.

 Images courtesy of Magnolia PIctures

GOODNIGHT MR. LEWIS: The Revenge of Andy Warhol

A long time ago I lived , worked and played in a world without end that indeed ended. I was running nightclubs and looking in the mirror a lot. I had always dreamed of meeting famous and wonderful people, gorgeous women, and smooth operators. I had little sense of reality back then as everything was moving too fast to ponder. Most of the fabulous turned out to be a little short of being the gods they were in my dreams and over time I became more and more jaded.

Then I met Andy Warhol. At first I could only mumble when he’d stop by some club I was curating; but then I relaxed. One night at The World on East 2nd Street we didn’t have a working toilet in the whole place. The cleaning crew had been stiffed by one owner or another and the place was a shambles. It was a glorious dump to begin with, but this was beyond acceptable. Andy walks in. I stutter something like, “Andy, the place is a wreck, the toilets are all busted and garbage is everywhere” Andy offered, “Don’t worry about it, any place that’s too neat or too clean, can’t be any fun; and this looks like fun.” He dove into the multitudes and the crowd parted like the Red Sea for Moses. He had calmed me down, validated my entire existence and defined my club philosophy for the next decade.

From time to time I’d see him around. At a fashion show for Kohshin Satoh at the Palladium I was talking to him when a television reporter asked him why he was at the show. Andy replied that he liked Kohshin because Don Johnson wore his clothes. The reporter asked why that impressed him. Andy deadpanned, “because I think I look like Don Johnson”. I didn’t laugh as the reporter tried to understand what was going on. She slipped away and Andy looked at me and I felt he liked that I “got it.“

Sometime later in 1987 I was co-producing another Kohshin show at The Tunnel. Miles Davis, Jerry Casale (Devo) and Andy were celebrity models. In rehearsal Andy looked sick. I turned to my partner and mentioned it. He chided, “What do you want to do, send him home? Everybody is coming to see him!” I walked over and asked Andy if he was okay. He wasn’t great and looked paler and weaker than ever. I moved him to a dressing room on the audience level with Miles Davis so he wouldn’t have to navigate some stairs that were part of the show. I didn’t send him home.

Warhol Death Daily News

He died shortly after a routine Gallbladder operation at New York Hospital. Some club people teased me in a snide, half-joking, half-truthful sort of way that I had killed the superstar. “Maybe,” one club owner said, “if you had just sent him home he would have gotten treatment sooner or the strange circumstances of neglect which to be proved fatal wouldn’t have played out.” I, after all, spotted that he was very ill, I was in a position to help and did nothing.

Over the Fourth of July weekend as I lay in Mount Sinai Hospital in Astoria with a renegade gallbladder, I thought of Andy and wondered if he was a mean spirited spirit. For me, this was the summer that wasn’t, as I spent my hours hooked up to liquid food, antibiotics and painkillers. I had incredible hallucinations until the hard stuff gave way to Percocets. It was Andy’s birthday August 6th; he would have been 88.

Lately Jean-Michel Basquiat seems to have taken the crown as the most significant artist of that era, with paintings that could have been bought for peanuts then selling for millions now. But Andy changed the way we look at the world; his influence goes way beyond paint on canvas. I have his signature tattooed on my left arm. I looked at it often as I convalesced at the Surf Lodge out in Montauk near where Andy had a home. I’ve been given another chance despite acute kidney failure, acute lung failure and lots of other organ malfunctions – I am still here to tell the tale. On September 20th I will have my gallbladder removed, and I hope Andy has no problem with that.