Don Hill’s Opens: Best Place in Town

I was faced with a dilemma last night, but I’ve had many a night filled with impossible dilemmas, and panic was not an option. Fashion Week and two undeniable openings converged to force a ‘what to wear’ crisis. The place formerly known as the Boom Boom Room was re-launching for the season. I had RSVP’d, as required, and looked forward to a rooftop soiree with the swells on the most perfect of nights. I was set to go when I perused the fine print: Black Tie. My plans involved that party, and then I was to go to Don Hill’s for their opening night. The requisite old black leather jacket was out of mothballs and ready to rock and roll. I pondered which was worse: black leather at Andre Balazs’s pleasure dome or a tux at Nur Khan and Paul Sevigny’s rock and roll palace? When it comes down to a tux or a leather, I’m going to side with the street. I sent regrets to the PRs, and will head to the Standard for some boom real soon.

Don Hill’s has been servicing rock and roll purists for nearly two decades. The collaboration between crusty old good guy Don and men about town (and many countries) Nur Kahn and Paul Sevigny figured to be amazing. Last night was realness. For me, it instantly became the best place in town. Paul and Nur are purists. They are deeply rooted in tradition, and respect of the old while embracing all that is good in new. They overhauled the aging Don Hill’s club with reverence to the zillion great acts and nights that made this place home to generations. There were new crystal sconces, a few plush tables, and the stage was enhanced—but it was basically the same place I had been to countless times before. The Michael Schmidt Sailor Jerry motif had given way to new art by street warrior Harif Guzman. Familiar images that cause so many to pause and absorb on walks, runs, and bike trips adorned every wall. I asked Harif to talk about his work and his vision of Don Hill’s. I was sent this:

Harif Guzman:

Black fine artist stuck in a street artist body. Harif’s art translates into what nyc craves and yearns for in a complete world of what downtown nyc was and will be again. His art is alive with images and his imagination is free to create of the moment pieces that are not only one of a kind but created on site as Don Hills inspired him to discover his past, present and future. Harif is an artist that speaks to the true nature of what art is, the love of creating, discovering the core of art. Creating pieces on site he sculpted, painted, wheat pasted, designed and envisioned what Don Hills is and will be, nothing contrived and staged – the reason we all moved to nyc, the drive of individuality and being able to create. Harif has taken it to a different level in which he divulges his ideas into true statement pieces that one can stare at and want to own for themselves but the beauty lies in that they are created for the public to enjoy.”

I love what they’ve done with the place. The most significant change, besides the four strobe lights Nur bought yesterday to jazz up the live performances, is the sound. The sound is insane. While Black Rebel Motorcycle Club showed all why they were chosen to open this Mecca, Nur boasted—rightfully—about the sound. “Volume goes up to 11,” he quipped in a Spinal Tap straight face. “Bringing it back to ‘78,” he offered, as the hottest crowd I have seen in years danced and rocked to BRMC. He yelled for me to hear “They don’t wanna stop playing, this is not a job for them” It wasn’t for me either, as covering this show amongst these people was more fun than my first date with Jeannie Luvullo. I found myself in a model mosh pit: Tall, frenzied beauties banging into each other. Every rock face in town was there for the show and the action. This wasn’t a bottle/model/black card crowd. There were no poseurs—only participants. That moment in rock when a band becomes one with the crowd extended for an hour. It was tantric.

Don Hill’s is a bit cleaner. I congratulated Don once again, and toasted him to another 19 years. This isn’t rock and roll high school, not college, university, and not grad school. This is PHD-doctorate rock, and easily the best joint in eons. I’m thinking of moving to Spring Street instead of Brooklyn. James Huddleston (ex-Jane Hotel) was manning the door: a great choice. Paul’s familiar face, Megan, will be there tonight, and I will as well. I can’t leak to you what they have planned for the next couple weeks, but I can talk about years. Nur and Paul are dedicated to bringing back rock to its roots for their stellar crowds. The crowd last night was better than any I’ve seen in quite some time. Absolutely beautiful, really active, fun, and social. People were hanging out, drinking, meeting each other, and actually laughing. Don Hill’s is instantly the best place in town for people like me. Paul and Nur’s usual, unusually hip and attractive followings were visibly enjoying the birth of an era. Instead of milling around, swaying to pathetic excuses for DJs while sipping expensive booze in an overdone garage, they were feeling at home, and being sexy. Chloe Sevigny and I exchanged cheek kisses and chatted about all the things we always chatted about before she scurried into the night with Lissie Trullie and their clan. Don Hill’s may not actually be perfect, but it is perfect for me. I’m there tonight again, and tomorrow, and I’ll be there every night until they tell me I can’t come anymore.

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