I was asked by my editor to compile a list of the best joints on any given night — i.e. Mondays at Butter or Tuesdays at Rose Bar. As I travel in and enjoy many scenes, I answered the question as where you might find me on any given night. As has been pointed out constantly in the comments section, I am a flaming schizophrenic, so what I feel like doing one night might not apply a week later. That said, here are my choices, with explanations and alternatives for the left side of my brain.
Mondays at Butter: After seven years, an intelligent, hot, mixed, fun crowd gathers in what might just be the city’s must-be-seen/-scene party. I love Antik as well; although the place has lots of issues, it really feels good on a Monday, especially downstairs in the “dive bar.” Tuesdays at Rose Bar: Although I actually never go there, I hear only good things from the bestest of peeps. My New Year’s resolution this year is to be there very often, if the fabulous Nur Khan doesn’t tire of me.
The left side of my brain gravitates to the undeniable Beige party at B Bar. It’s been around since the birth of cell phones. This institution is still my kind of place. And I hear Bungalow 8 is becoming seriously fabulous as well. Oh, and Beatrice Inn. Wednesdays at Marquee: A mix of everyone, and a lot of people normally not there, keeps this night vibrant and relevant. This is the only night many Downtowners makes the trek to outer Chelsea. Thursday at 1Oak: Richie Akiva, Scott Sartiano, Jeffrey Jah, and Ronnie Madra have the best joint in town, period exclamation point! The Eldridge is also mighty nice on this night. I wrote about the Eldridge the other day, and they felt I had unfairly bashed them. I totally support young Luke Skywalker, er, Matt Levine — he just can’t rest on his laurels. If this small LES joint is to live up to its potential, then it has to keep working at it.
Friday at 1Oak. (OK, by now you’re getting the picture.) I went this past Friday and was stunned by the relevance of the crowd. When Bill Spector, one of those guys around town who often says something bright when he opens his mouth, told me it was not their best night, I looked around and thought, “Wow!” 1Oak is the wow factor that’s been missing from clubs for quite a while. It’s Butter Mondays on steroids and you will find me there. There are too many small, great, alternative places to mention here, and I am so optimistic about Ella. Saturday I hit 10 joints. Santos’ Party House is the place I send people when I want them to have fun without B&T entanglements.
With Rose Bar, 1Oak, Beatrice Inn, and sometimes Socialista, there’s continued vibrancy at the top of the heap. The modelista scene is banging. The hipsters have a zillion joints and an entire neighborhood or hoods in Brooklyn. Yet the fabulous fashionistas are having a harder time finding purity in clubdom. I have high hopes for Webster Hall, which I am renovating, or shall I say, “restoring” to its incredible historic grace. Talk of a Suzanne Bartsch/Kenny Kenny night with all the unusual suspects attached will surely fill that cavity. The necessary lowering of prices bodes well, coupled with a need to embrace and mix opposing crowds to fill recession-emptied rooms. We are on the verge of a rebirth of club culture. The ingredients are all here, with masses of people looking for good clubs. As the broker jokers are economically rendered second-class citizens, a more creative element may indeed slide into that void.
1Oak, often criticized by the haters (defined as those who can’t get in), has a crowd that is so cool and sharp that making money comes easy to them. It isn’t Lehman losers drooling over the models. It’s stylists and creative types mixed in with the rich and the upwardly mobile, fabulous, successful, and sexy people who are making their mark. It also has just enough street edge and music props to push it past the pretenders. There are many gay people, there are many people of color, young and young at heart. These labels aren’t as relevant for the smart set that merely needs to know that you offer something. As I was hanging outside the joint the other night talking the talk with owner Scott Sartiano, his partner Richie Akiva joined us. As Richie exited, a couple of well-dressed girls snuck in the back door in a power move. Security politely removed them, but Richie enjoyed their daring and asked them in. The poor cuties, not realizing the owner was trying to help them, said some unfortunate words — and still Richie tried to help them. With a line of people waiting hopelessly to get in. A line, by the way, full of people that would be welcome at any club within a mile of the place. Richie still took the time to know his customer and do the right thing. It is this one-on-one dedication that is so lost on the current crop of operators who think of themselves as being above the “common people.”
The only thing preventing a golden age of clubs is the continued harassment by what appears to be an out-of-control and corrupt police force, and the power trip of old buddies on community boards. We may be facing tough economic times, but a vibrant club scene may be the result of this mess. If the bottle service glut of the last 10 years has ruined the club scene, then the demise of the boring stockbroker set might be just the ticket to get us through the depression of the recession.