I keep hearing about the good ol’ days, and how nightlife sucks and such, and I’ve got to tell you that it’s a whole lot of bunk. From a guy who put quite a bit of the good in them there good ol’ days, I’d say it’s better now than then, and the myths people are floating about what was amazing, are merely drug clouded memories of youth gone wild. Comparing then and now is like comparing Muhammad Ali to Rocky Marciano, or to the heavy weight champ of today, whoever the hell that is? Different eras have different ground rules and different sensibilities. Today’s world is faster and more specific. People seek a purity in their nightlife experience. They seek specific peeps on specific nights. Specific scenes with specific sounds in specific sized-places. They want it rock or hip-hop or mash-up or house or gay or straight—or whatever—and only that. Diversity has become a four-letter word.
The mind set is, if it’s Tuesday, they might want a club that holds 274 to 326 people—all rockers between the ages of 21 and 23 ½, downtown, graduated Brown, Harvard or Princeton, blonde to dirty blonde, with men between 5 foot 7 and 6 foot 2, and only hot girls, with only punk or glam or classics. No metal, no female vocalists, except for Joan Jett or Patti Smith (not Smyth). Maybe Debbie. Any deviation makes them scurry to the next joint. The days of yore, when clubs were giant United Colors of Benneton ads, with diverse music in multiple rooms are as gone a Mets playoff chances. That club doesn’t exist because the only people who want it are too old to go out anymore, and support it. Yearning for the Golden Age of Clubs, that early 80’s to late 90’s thing, is like pining for pre-Revolution Paris through Marie Antoinette’s naïve eyes. That club era was grand, but nothing like now.
A couple of years back, I predicted we were on the cusp of a Golden Age of Nightlife. I was right. I love being right. I was a little wrong in that I thought Mansion was to be part of it, that’s because my eyes were trained to see the mega joint as the vehicle for greatness. The current crop of operators aren’t skilled in the craft of running spaces as big as air craft carriers, and the public no longer wants that. The scene has adjusted, and changed, and has gradually become as brilliant as it ever was. Nirvana has arrived. It isn’t perfect—nothing is, except maybe my first and second wives. It is surely fun and exciting and fulfilling. It is getting better every night.
The vibrancy of the Brooklyn scene services a generation that couldn’t care less about a Manhattan they see as increasingly irrelevant. New clubs and restaurants will be redefining the fall. There are way too many to name, but here’s a sampling. The Darby, a new restaurant from the Butter boys, is fab if I do say so myself. Next Tuesday, Lavo will become heaven and haven for the uptown set. Pre-opening glimpses have been well received. There are at least 2 large house clubs. District 36 and Sankeys will spinning at us real soon. Double 7 looms. I was minding my own business, walking along, and was invited in for a peek, but out of respect for pals Will Regan and David Rabin, I decided to wait for a formal invitation. My spy told me that it is beautiful, and very near. Everything is round, walls, DJ booth, bar, seating—everything. Meanwhile my favorite haunt, subMercer will reopen this Wednesday, after it’s annual summer vacation, and Boom Boom Room will get it’s mojo back, as the flock comes home to roost. White Noise is quickly becoming that rock and roll church that has been missing since Snitch was shuttered. Amanda Lepore’s Big Top with Kenny Kenny and crew, hold court to a brand new crowd of club kids who aren’t likely to kill anyone, and chop them up. They dress up as before, sip cocktails, and are nice to each other. They are ever so refreshing. Man about town Patrick Duffy is gearing his hit spot B.E.S. for the fall season, while readying Café b.a.f.a. (by artist-4-artist) and a little sister to B.E.S. in Williamsburg. His amazing Tuesday nights at the still-vibrant Box show us how it’s done. The man wants to build an empire, and I can’t see why not.
Provocateur is still killing it, as is Kenmare. 1OAK, Avenue, and a ton of other joints are still slamming. I could go on and on, and I haven’t even mentioned joints like Pacha, and Lit, and Goldbar, which absolutely have magical moments and even whole nights. There are choices upon choices, and tourist money, and business credit cards, to keep it all afloat. New Yorkers are still alittle broke, but are not broken, and the recession that almost killed us, did make us stronger. Despite looming, and possibly dooming, regulations the scene is bigger, and I say better, than ever. Clubs are social, and music based, and not drug based, as was so often the case. Sure, you mostly can’t smoke, but is that really a bad thing? The clubs are sexually charged, and there are ton’s of places where buying bottles is not an issue. There are some seedy after hours spots, but without the rampant drugs. They only attract the desperate and lonely, or the gamblers, and frankly, I don’t need it, and neither do you. Art openings, performance artists, burlesque, comedy, and music scenes are everywhere. Hotels are hotbeds of nightlife, with more attention to food and beverage tasked to them everyday. Even museums and public spaces are hosting parties with imported DJs promoted to crowds. I’ve seen a lot. I have a unique perspective, being so old, and still so interested in the happenings of the night. I think we are in the middle of the best of times. As a famous poetress once crooned, “These are the good old days.”