District 36: What Music Scenesters Have Been Waiting For

Yesterday evening I traveled uptown to an inconspicuous location in the Garment District to preview the forthcoming club District 36. Nestled just north of Herald Square on 36th street, the owners have shunned all the fads and pretenses that night clubs are typically founded on, putting together an interesting space built specifically for club music aficionados. Its location, carved out of an old garment warehouse, at first seems an odd choice for a hopeful hotspot, but as I traipsed through the space with a couple of PR folks and Damien Distasio, one of the club’s principal investors, I realized that their choice of zip code, when paired with the club’s layout, DJ lineup, and—most importantly—one of the best sound systems in North America, is a huge part of the new dance club’s draw.

The space is custom built for the underground music scene, house heads and techno lovers foremost. The graffiti art, simple embellishments, and sound system, which persuaded Victor Calderone to move his popular Evolve party from Pacha to the mid-sized (14,000 feet) District 36, reflect this lifestyle. Aside from downtown’s Santos’ Party House, there really is no comparable joint. It’s smaller than Pacha and Mansion, bigger than Cielo, and already feels like you’ve stumbled across some amazing secret warehouse party in Stockholm – absolutely no traces of the kind of cattle herding we see at the bigger, DJ-centric venues. The atmosphere seems right up Musical Director Taimur Agha’s alley. Agha is one half of the duo behind the Blkmarket Membership parties – parties that now lead the underground house and techno scene.

The entrance, from what I can tell thus far, is plain and too-the-point. Instead, first impressions are made courtesy of the thumping bass just behind the front wall. But you wont be entering just yet. Instead, head to the left and make your way down a set of stairs decorated by street artists. When downstairs, you’ll still be teased by that pulsing sound system as you check your coat or have a lounge cocktail. When you make your way upstairs once again, you’ll be on the other side of those walls, gazing up at a giant disco ball surrounded by tweeter speakers and a spray of LED lights. The DJ booth is the main event: it’s metal, wire, and painted gray – a simple, raw backdrop for the mammoth speakers that tower over the dance floor.

“We open October 22,” Distasio is telling me as we lean over the banister on the top floor mezzanine, overlooking the dance floor. “That date seems like years away.” One can tell that Distasio, a no-nonsense New Yorker previously involved with Miami’s Twilo, is the father of this space. They were scheduled for a September opening, but like all new spaces in New York, have succumbed to the City’s permitting fire drill, pushing back the date another month. But as the date moves back and more is revealed about the space, the city’s house heads are getting more and more excited. It’s the perfect tease. Mid-October is the perfect time to draw them out to an area that turns into a ghost town past 10PM. Susan Barscht is rumored to be heading up the grand opening party, and the hard-hitting DJ lineup has yet to be revealed.

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