Five years of life in club years is like seven dog years, so Pacha is arguably almost as old as me. The absolutely ancient Pacha has been celebrating its five years by showcasing some of the DJs that have helped define it. There was David Guetta last Friday, Kaskade last Saturday, and Luciano will be there tonight. I will try to get there this evening, but I will for sure attend the Erick Morillo/Fedde Le Grand DJ extravaganza Saturday night. It hasn’t been an easy five, as economic downturns and over-zealous city agencies have been a constant threat to survival. Few clubs have survived, and those that have aren’t what they used to be, with, of course, the Don Hill’s exception. That joint is now way better. Marquee was around five years ago and is still going strong, although its core crowd has moved on to Avenue and Lavo. Webster Hall has been around for more than a century and still thrives as a live music and big DJ mecca. Cielo was there over seven years ago, and still is.
Pacha, Webster, and Cielo all have a large following of house music heads. Clubs that feature house music seem to remain relevant to their crowds long after the swanky hip-hop, rap, mixed, or open format joints. Those clubs designed around the table and its particular 21st century sociology lose their chic factor over time. Chic is as important as the music. Although the types of DJs that play at those slick spots are often brilliant, it is possible to bounce from club to club and hear one particular track at all of them.
The house DJs are offering a more complex set, with unique remixes and more variation. Yet to many, house just doesn’t float their boat. Except for the spectacle of it all, I rarely get excited – I can’t usually tolerate this format. I’m an old-school rocker. Rock clubs fare poorly with few exceptions, as rockers just don’t spend very much. The few great places in the borough of Manhattan – Lit, White Noise, and Bowery Electric – have a devoted following who often buy nothing more than a couple of beers. Hard to make ends meet like that. House heads are sort of a religious cult with temples all over the world. They are trained to pay admissions, a rarity in other scenes, and some embrace table service, providing a much needed revenue stream.
The US of A, for a long time, was a leader in the house world, but now we follow the Brits and the Dutch and most everyone else. Pacha is the center of New York’s house scene. I do not discount the contribution of Cielo, but it’s small and house was meant to be played in grand rooms or stadiums. Webster often books great events, but as a concert more than a weekly scene. The jury is still out on District 36 (ask me again in 5 years). Pacha, warts and all, makes us relevant in the eyes of the international dance community. The relevance there is that it attracts gobs of tourists who recognize and respect the brand from its 20-something other international locations. House heads are a loyal bunch who return for good product. They come to dance, and as long as the sound system remains sweet, and the joint brings in DJ talent, the people will come. DJs like Danny Tenaglia will close their birthday week on Sunday with their “classics.” Congrats to Eddie Dean, Rob, and all the rest of the Pacha crew who have beaten the odds and still do it so well.