Memorial Weekend Recap: How to Do Summer in the City

This weekend was spent walking dogs, DJing, and watching war movies — 3 of my 5 favorite things. As the city emptied out, those who are not inclined to wallow in traffic and party like it’s 1999 enjoyed the relative quiet. Clubs in NYC were quiet as well, with many joints closing, and others pared down to skeletal staffs. With almost every real DJ cashing in out of town, guys like me had a chance. On Thursday, I opened for my friend Paul Sevigny at the roof garden of the glorious Hudson Hotel.

I left Paul with an upbeat track and he surprised me (and everyone) by turning to Mambo and assorted tracks often associated with the Riviera. Think: The Talented Mr Ripley. It was amazing, and the crowd went with it completely. Paul always surprises, and he always pulls it off. I took his lead and played soul and such for Stuart Bronstein and Ronnie Rivilini’s Canal Room art soiree on Sunday. A very hip crowd gathered to catch the bands, see the art from various geniuses, and listen to the DJs that followed me.There were things going on this weekend because experienced operators created something out of nothing.

One of the old war movies I caught was Oscar winner Patton. In a scene where the rowdy General is mustering his army to counter a German surprise assault at the Battle of the Bulge, Patton remarked that this is the time when all the hard work and training pays off. He would march his men for days in the worst winter in memory to win the day. As most joints lay fallow this weekend, I found out that Marquee had done great. Their Friday was banging and their Saturday just a little off. I texted co-owner/operator Noah Tepperberg, who told me Rocco Anacarola’s Sunday party at Lavo NYC was slammed, and that his Vegas joints were “like nothing he’d ever seen.” Indeed, weekends like this is where the experience kicks in. With a city and suburbs of 20 million + people, a zillion tourists visiting, and ships filled with sailors, there was no reason to be empty. I went to see The Hangover 2 and every show was sold out. I visited a couple of parks in Brooklyn and Central Park and they were jammed with young people who would make fine customers if only operators and promoters knew how to reach and entertain them. I always knew how, and although I was a little slower on Fridays and Saturdays, I was always OK. My Sundays were always banging and made up for any and all loss of revenues. I worked hard for my money.

What I saw in clubland this weekend was disgraceful emptiness due mostly to laziness and inexperience. The club scene is bloated with operators who basically fell into their roles as hundreds of small places replaced the mega clubs. Every nook and cranny now vies for a crowd of scenesters and hipsters, and it is indeed easy pickings until they have to perform outside the normal routine. Places like Marquee have spent years establishing a brand which, of course, is exported to Vegas for huge pay days/years. The myriad of non-branded places fail to open elsewhere and die on 3-day weekends. The tourists and New Yorkers in town this weekend knew that Marquee and a handful of other places would be fun and the quality of the music and staff would guarantee a good time. Marquee in New York may not be what it was 8, or even 5 years ago but it still makes loot and has a hundred million dollars worth of Vegas branding keeping it potent and potentially relevant again. Branding pays dividends. Most places can only stay viable for a year or 3, as most operators are functioning using systems they learned from other players. These systems often become irrelevant or just dead wrong or useless in time. The real players have learned to evolve and evolve their methods.

On another note, an operator asked me what I thought about letting sailors in to there joints as Fleet Week brought in thousands of these fellows. I sternly replied ‘let them in.’ I can’t imagine why anyone would keep them out— unless they were drunk or acting disorderly. On what grounds legal or moral can they be denied entry? If they’re old enough, that is (many are not). They are certainly dressed, and are deserving of the respect of the club community, especially considering the times and Memorial Day.

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