Nights of Columbus

Columbus Day creates a sort of/almost three-day weekend and a Sunday night where more people are out than usual. I received more calls last night from people ‘looking for a good time’ than my self-soliciting ex-girlfriend did on a weekend night. I didn’t really have answers for these party-seekers. I offered up Cielo and Vandam at Greenhouse, but for some…not their scene. I rattled off the usual places, but few of my suggestions were well-received. Sundays at GoldBar are good (to dot all my i’s) but some members of my crowd are less visually stimulating than some doors allow, so, I didn’t send them to see Jon Lennon. I sent a couple friends to the 5th Anniversary of Pink Elephant the other night, and they brought in a third wheel of misfortune. The door correctly taxed the crew, and I called to apologize. The same thing happened over at Simyone where a gal pal who isn’t hard to look at brought a couple of friends who were 4 or 5 sheets to the wind and, of course, not door-worthy. So…don’t call me for guest list help for a couple weeks, children.

My crew parked next door at Son Cubano where I met them. It was a blast. There were three people in the place—including staff—that had a chance of getting past Alex Julian at Simyone’s door, but it was a party and I know one when I see one. You could sit anywhere you wanted, and I bought four drinks and got decent change from two twenties. It took ten minutes and then I went to Simyone’s with my friend and was treated like Mick Jagger. I was escorted to owner Eugene Remm’s table where I was introduced to Mickey Rourke. I couldn’t see Eugene and asked Pavan Pardasani where I could find him. Pavan has found a home at EMM group and I wish him well. He’s a good, hardworking guy, and he’ll thrive under the golden umbrella that Eugene and partner, Mark Birnbaum, have created. Eugene was DJing and really doing a decent job. He had it all together: hands, body posture, even the headphone tilt was right. Everybody was having fun, but there were very few unusual suspects. It was packed and all the girls were tall and pretty and all the guys were dressed well and the place looked nice. It was Tenjune déjà vu. It certainly seems like heaven to the bottley/modely crowd that was swaying to the sounds but I, of course, like a dirtier (or at least grittier) kinda joint.

I was back in Son Cubano in a jiffy enjoying a $7 beer and deflecting drunken revelers from the women folk. It felt nice to pay for a drink. The old school clubs were different—sort of a cross between the two places. Old heads said hello at Cubano and I felt comfy there. Saturday night took me to Lit, a grungy oasis that’s still vibrant and relevant after seven years. Leo Fitzpatrick and Justine Delaney got my attention. My Blackberry was vibrating so often by those lost souls looking for a good time that I almost had a sexual experience. Lit was wonderful. Sure there were trust fund kids in gaggles, slumming and funning, but there were enough core downtown types to keep it real. Leo and Justine attract enough trendoids and the bartenders have great tattoos. So I stayed for hours.

The next day was spent watching HBO and Showtime reruns and debuts. We also caught the Columbus Day Sopranos episode. That’s the one where Tony’s crew gets all worked up as Native Americans are protesting Columbus because of the genocide he might’ve begun. The Italians in this TV comedy/drama see old Chris C. as a hero, a symbol of Italian heritage and pride. The Native Americans see only thugs and a lost world. There was a time when each club had a Paulie Walnuts type hanging around. The good ol’ days were a blast for those dancing to legendary DJ’s, at legendary hot spots. But, things behind the scenes were not always so gentile. That seems to be long-gone now, as the demise of the Teflon Don seems to have relegated such characters to TV screens and Pulp Fiction.

So, on this Columbus Day weekend, while watching Eugene Remm DJing with Mickey Rourke (who isn’t really a bad boy but often plays one on the big screen), I thought back to that different world. Today’s owner is a businessman and has little street in him. With a few exceptions, most wouldn’t have lasted ten minutes in a day when you had to watch what you said and who you said it to. There really isn’t any true grit left in Clubdom. Sure there’s some grunge and a little edge but the romanticism of the nights of Columbus Days is long gone. I’m glad for that and see it clearly now for what it was: a great big lie like Columbus discovering America or the cover up of the genocide or the faux exclusiveness of most joints in town. The current crop of clubs have—for the most part—become mere escapes from mundane realities. The old joints were hotbeds of culture, fashion and ideas. Envelopes were opened, limits pushed and you could really get hurt if you crossed the line. There’s a feeling of rebirth in club life lately. The recession has gotten some juices flowing and a return of creative types to the scene. Still, without the Paulie Walnuts types lurking in the shadows, it lacks a little edge. Not such a bad thing, trust me.

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