I was recently asked to give Hotel Chantelle a little kiss. You know, tweak the lighting, paint some walls, and pick out some fabrics for the soon-to-open rooftop bar. It’s been a nice little gig, as everyone involved is mad cool. After a couple of weeks, I decided to go there on a weekend night to see what’s going on. Frankly, I had heard mixed reviews: sometimes stellar, and sometimes less than great. I saw for myself. What I observed was actually fabulous.
It’s not hipster, but there are plenty of hipsters. It isn’t glam, but there was some of that rolling through. It wasn’t gay, but there were plenty of queens enjoying themselves. It was a mixed bag of mixed nuts of all races. In short, this little—but actually big— 3 floor joint “on the wrong side of Delancey street” was doing what so many proclaimed couldn’t be done: recreating the joints of yore, attracting and servicing people who love people. People who love people are, of course, the luckiest people in the world. It seems to be happening naturally, but things like this are rarely uncontrived. Tim Spuches, a club veteran, lurks in the shadows. Chantelle had great music on the 2 floors currently open and serious drinks. Familiar face Alex Sumner manned the door. The roof— which is fabulous—is being developed for brunch and early evening cocktails. It seems to be that unpretentious place where people who don’t want to hang out with clones of themselves are gathering.
Nightlife is vibrant, and the spring brings new hope to new endeavors. Most places somehow survived a winter like no one remembers (not even I), and an economy that has made unemployment a badge of honor. The rich clubs are printing money with gross receipts hitting numbers not conceivable in years past. The science of extracting loot from what is now called “table service” as opposed to “bottle service” has small venues ringing cash in on one night what the great spots of yore did in a week. Manhattan, counted KO for hipsters so many times, is resilient as new life brings it all back. My Home Sweet Home night, and my Chantelle night proves not everyone plays in Brooklyn, as that L train goes both ways. Maybe everything is moving a little south in Manhattan, or even a little west sometimes. Nightlife is probing the creases, occupying any and every nook and cranny. Downtown, as they used to call it, finds itself comfortable in a variety of locations. Williamsburg and Bushwick and poverty all has taught a generation that getting around via subway is way OK. Trains at 3AM-ish are filled with the dressed and ready as opposed to the traditional working class crowd.
A business lunch at Miss Lily’s had me glad-handing someone at most tables as the scene continues to flourish around the clock. Just a great place, as Sege Becker and family always get it right. As a designer I am always awed by his work. Miss Lily is perfect.
Shocking word comes that familiar man-about-town, Raul Barrera, who has has turned himself in after allegedly almost decapitating his gal Sarah Coit. A familiar face, not to mention a Facebook friend, Raul was supposedly enraged over a split in the relationship. I never suspected that he would be capable of such an act, and I generally look for the worst in everyone. Reports say he owned up to this horror and now faces an end to life as we know it.
My dear friend Kayci Ryan Rothweiler will perform this Wednesday at my favorite haunt for the last decade, Lit. Show starts at 8:30. Kayci is rock and roll as I know it. I caught her once before and I’m going once again.