It’s hard to keep track of all the comings and goings of nightlife people and parties. Promoters take their parties from one venue to another looking for a Nirvana where their soirée can stick and they can make steady loot. Good weekly nights can run years and years at the same place with seemingly little effort; however, sometimes when the rug (or the club) is pulled out from under them, they will try to duplicate their success at another venue — and miss the mark. Sometimes the grass often seems greener at the new place on the scene, but there are so many variables to a successful party and promoters forget or maybe never understood what made their party click in the first place. Such things as location, attitude of unfamiliar staff, prices and all around vibe can be killing factors.
Susanne Bartsch abruptly ended her Sunday night Vandam party after it was less than a smash at Le Baron. After a brilliant opening night it didn’t really work again. Susanne has opted to wait for the inevitable spring for a relaunch — somewhere else. On paper it looked like a perfect fit, but that paper didn’t have the weather report on it.
At the Greenhouse/W.I.P. venue that Bartsch ruled on Sundays for eons, early shock at the downfall of a formerly awesome weekly event turned quickly into professional proactive action. Greenhouse assessed what they had going for them and continued on with another Sunday party — and it’s a hit.
Seamus Regan one of the top bartenders in this town. His nightlife pedigree includes Magnum, Lava, Chaos, Chaos2, Limelight, Life, Plaid, Cheetah, Select, CroBar, NA, Nells, Spider Club, DarkLight, Elsinore, Bantam, Home, Guesthouse, W.I.P., and Greenhouse just to name a few. Reagan took the bull by the horns and created a new night out of what normally would be defeat. Seamus has owned and operated a few bars, run the door at joints, but he loves the action banging out drinks. He went to NYU for finance, spent some time on Wall Street and even owns Salon 13, where, by the way, you can get a good haircut. His grandfather helped start the Bartenders Union and his sisters are in restaurants… He has the pedigree. I asked him how he came to maintain the Sunday nights at Greenhouse after the best promoter in town walked away.
Suzanne suddenly left. Was your first reaction to close?
Not at all, I felt obligated to keep the event running. I took it over because of my love of the night. Kenny and Suzanne left on good terms. I’ve had a blast working with them these last six years. Jeez, I go back with Kenny right around when I met you at the front door of Limelight… so that’s about 1992? I think I missed five Sundays in the last six years. Sundays are a labor of love. It takes a lot to get me out of the house on a Sunday. Trust me on that. Yet I’m definitely programming from the background. So basically no one knows it’s me. Not because I don’t want to be associated, but I believe the kids working for me deserve their shot in the spotlight..
How are you making the new Sunday party work?
The Sunday party is still going on at Greenhouse. Its’ still LGBT-oriented as well. I hired the up and coming new drag queens, hosts, performers, porn stars and DJs to perform — kids you would hire, Steve, if you had creative control. You’ve always had that eye for talent, brother. I took in Acid Betty, Pusse Couture, Epiphany, Jimmi Sprinkles, Scotty Rox, Cazwell, and Peppermint — true performers in their own right.
I am adding raunchy shows and surprise contests to keep the crowd motivated all night. Hell, last week the drag queens were chasing patrons around with a leaf blower filled with confetti… The room was a sea of gyrating patrons for as far as the eye could see. We couldn’t get people in the door fast enough… It worked… The contests… well, they will remain a secret for now. The shows… well, you will just have stop by and see for yourself.
Is it growing or just maintaining?
It’s getting huge. I’m giving the new kids a chance and it’s working. Kids from Hells Kitchen, Harlem, Williamsburg, Greenpoint, kids that are out every night of the week, kids who spend all week working on their outfits and hours on make up just ‘cause they love it are embracing the new fun. Promoters are chomping at the bit to work for me now on Sundays. Word has spread that it’s an open forum of freedom and expression.
The staff all stuck through the change?
I’ve had the same hand picked hardworking bar crew from day one. Blaise, Anthony Philips and Freddy. Their personalities add to the mix every week. Blaise’s incessant need to remove his shirt even in 10 degree weather… We still bet every Sunday on what time he takes his shirt off. Don’t ever tell him though); Anthony’s constant, cheerful banter; Freddy’s charming demeanor. And me, well me… I’m just lucky I guess. I’m pretty sure you once wrote you were taking myself and Blaise on the Noah’s Ark of nightlife in BlackBook a couple years ago.
Are you surprised the Le Baron party didn’t work?
That’s not my place to say. Le Baron is a beautiful space. Kenny and Suzanne have an amazing eye for curating events. I truly wish them the best.
What are other nights like at Greenhouse?
Greenhouse is an institution. There are not a lot of nightclubs out there that survive six years. There are definitely not a lot of nightclubs out there that survive six years, pack the place when open and outshine at providing a unique product on a nightly basis. Greenhouse excels at this performance.
Why is it important that a club that has mostly hip-hop and house programming have an alternative night?
That’s a great question. I will answer it this way: When Greenhouse is one gigantic dance floor on a Sunday, there is an energy that reminds me of my younger days at Limelight, Tunnel, Palladium, etc. There’s that feeling of belonging, exploration, identity, and excitement that’s so hard to find these days in other nightclubs. It’s so homogenized. Everyone cares about the bottom line and rightfully so. But the fun usually happens when you don’t. Why let a legendary night fade away…