Fourth of July Nightlife: Behind the Scenes

The Fourth of July weekend looms, ready to empty Manhattan of its denizens of the night. Quite a few people have cut out already, leaving club operators in a quandary. With so many of their regulars away in exotic lands, how do they generate income to pay their bills, and how do they make staffing decisions? In an age of instant awareness, clubs that are crowded will become known to people who find themselves in empty rooms. A text, a tweet, or a call has them scurrying to find the crowds, and a well-run and established club has a leg-up on competitors.

The smart clubs employ PR companies that get the name and image of their clients to the masses both locally and throughout the world. While Manhattanites are off to vacation hovels, New York City becomes a destination for millions who want to see the fireworks and enjoy the hot town. These tourists with no job to wake up to want to go out to party. They almost always have only a name from a celebrity sighting, a synopsis in a city guide, or the word of their hotel concierge to steer them to the right nightclub. These concierges are heavily swayed by what they read in Page Six and New York Magazine.

PR companies worth their salt keep the name of their clients out there. Nightlife sections of lifestyle magazines and blogs are constantly updated with images and blurbs to attract those not normally looped in. Concierge outreach programs are used by the smart venues. A rep from the club visits chic hotels regularly and establishes relationships.

During the normal course of business throughout the year, the guests of these concierges are given preferred treatment for entrance and often other incentive-filled deals, like discounts on bottles. These concierges are sometimes tipped back by clubs for sending spenders their way but get much of their loot from satisfied customers. On weeks like this, when tourist dollars are the salvation, these concierge programs can save the day. Tourists don’t have work for days to come and are raring to go, eager to spend beaucoup bucks in places they have been convinced are ultra exclusive.

The best joints in town will lower their standards to fill their rooms. It is an opportunity for those allergic to the Hamptons and other cricket-heavy lands to get into places that normally exclude them. It can set the tone for a relationship with a doorman and club staff and ease entry going forward. Door people welcome familiar faces who have proven themselves to behave "correctly.” A borderline "no" can become a consistent "yes" if an effort to impress is made. Operators have a hard time staffing long weekends. Their employees, like most people, have other places they’d rather be. Staff are told in advance to not even think about being MIA, as operators can’t predict how busy or not they will be.

I will see the fireworks from the roof of the Tribeca Grand Hotel where there are stirrings of a rebirth of its traditionally vibrant nightlife culture. I have attended a couple of swell events there recently and I hear word of more to come. It has always worked for me. Multiple rooms, great sound, delicious drinks and even food, and the sexiness of the atrium and rooms up above have made me a regular over many years.

On another note, I was completely captivated by the new Wes Anderson flick, Moonrise Kingdom. I advise you stop reading this right this second, leave your house, and head over to your nearest cinema and see this film. Hell, quit your job…go now. Yes, I am that age. Yes, I had one of those Davy Crockett hats and I was the nerdiest, bespeckled scout. The world of my New England summer youth is there to be seen. I even had an eternal love that lasted an entire summer. I camped out, was bullied and fought back, and thought I knew everything about the trees and the winds and the animals of my wooded universe by the infinite lake of our seasonal retreat.

I’ve gotta go…I’m gonna see it again.

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