Diplo Headlines Huge Hush-Hush Event Tonight

Last night I bartended the Help Heal New York benefit at Pacha. I had not bartended since before you were born; the game has since changed. Here I am writing everyday about how to do this and how to do that, and my afternoons are spent designing bars so it was good to have this hands-on experience. I didn’t actually make a drink; I had minions to do that. I better correct: the love of my recent life, Amanda, made the drinks while I interacted with the patrons. It all went to charity – the price of admission, the drink revenues, and even the tips. The real Pacha bartender assigned to me, Megan, was amazing. Her smile and demeanor while slinging drinks for the cause and putting up with my antics was above and beyond. She is a great bartender and a wonderful new friend. Twenty-dollar bills and even some Benjamins flew over the bar to the tip bucket, which also benefits the cause. At one point I was squatted down picking up loot that slipped down from the bucket.

The DJs were just grand. I particularly loved Afrojack. I left before Erick Morillo went on, as I have to be up early for you…and looking good at that. At one point, Pacha owner Eddie Dean came by to hug and heckle me . He was accompanied by his sidekick, partner in crime, his "Tonto"… Rob Fernandez and DJ Sunnery. These guys threw money at us for the bucket as well-wishers gathered to shake hands and take pictures. All around us, thousands rose with the music… the love was apparent. DJ Sunnery , a big deal, was waiting to go on. He seemed as calm as a thoroughbred at the gate on derby day, ready to get this party started. I was told he is the nicest of persons and is married to the most beautiful girl in the world… Victoria’s Secret model Doutzen Kroes. I looked her up and, for sure, she is real, but alas I only have eyes for Amanda.  

Pacha is a monster. On every level, from the door to the staff to management, they are pros. Everybody talks a good game, but Pacha walks the walk. As those who know me know I am a rocker, and house or  EDM or whatever label is put on it in whatever decade doesn’t sooth this savage beast . That being said, being in a big room with a big DJ, big lights, effects and a big crowd is an experience unlike any other.

Before the bartending gig I was at 1OAK, tasked to DJ for Richie Romero at his birthday. I was to open for ?uestlove and Jesse Marco, and I had M.Ortiz opening for me. M.Ortiz was so great that I didn’t bounce him off, content to hear what he was offering. Amanda told me if I kicked him off, as some told me to do, she would "moida me.” Mr. M. Ortiz is getting ready for a British tour, and I expect we will be hearing his name often. He is really great. 1OAK was starting to fill up when the birthday boy finally showed. Richie Romero was zonkered as I wished him well. He has dodged almost as many bullets as your humble servant and it was good to see him surrounded by hundreds of friends and tacky balloons and such.

Tonight I will be at a big event in a big location…off the beaten path and super hush-hush as it’s sold out. Dos Equis is behind this shindig. Diplo will headline. There are six or so rooms of music and other distractions. I’m going to DJ for a short set along with Cobra Krames, Sam Valentine, David Katz, Justine D. Daniel Leyva, Fatherhood (Michael Magnan and Physical Therapy), Hayley Pisaturo, Shayne (Hood By Air), and 7aywana. There will be a lot going on at this happening and I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow. If you see me today, ask me nicely. I think there are three tickets left.

If I wasn’t obligated elsewhere, the place I would surely be is the Ava Lounge at the Dream Hotel up on 55th Street. A photo installation by Marko Kalfa will bring the sharp set. Liquid Lab, which I have to tell you about in depth on a later day, will provide fall cocktails. Fannie Chan wil DJ.

Another party worth checking out is the five-year anniversary of the Thursday Punk Rock Happy Hour at Otto’s Shrunken Head. My pals Traci Danielle and Joy Rider are doing the inviting.

Four Years Later: Remembering Michael Jackson Tonight and Forever

Yesterday, the streets were filled with people with pride and I was proud to live in a city that has traveled so far since I was a youth. Sure there’s a long road ahead, but yesterday the past I grew up in seemed as long ago as Howdy Doody. I was happy that W.i.P. got reopened for Susanne Bartsch and Kenny Kenny’s Gay Pride party. It will be interesting to see if W.i.P. stays open. I wish I had made it to the Mermaid and Gay pride parades but, alas, I was torn to many other elsewhere’s and must do’s. I did manage to get to the roof of the Standard with interior design icon Karen Daroff and her son Robert. Although it was dead summer and "the" crowd wasn’t supposed to be around, we found wonder in this wonderful place. I texted the manager Emily Rieman after, thanking her for her and the entire staffs’ brilliant hospitality. I told her Le Bain was an "oasis of classy fun in a world of soccer-hooligan saloons.”

Earlier in the evening we caught Lady Rizo’s act over at The Darby. It was classic songs sung with intelligence and grace over coffee, dessert, and some Beau Joie Champagne. We glad-handed all the unusual suspects before hoofing it west to Andre Balaz’ anything-but-standard oasis, dodging desperate suburban youth being hustled by bottle hosts at the joints along the way.

Tonight, after BINGO at the Bowery Poetry Club and after the Inked Magazine soiree at Lit Lounge, me and mine will head over to The Darby for The Fourth Annual Remember The Time Michael Jackson Tribute.

On the night of the day Michael Jackson died, we all headed to the clubs for some sort of reconciliation and grasp on the situation. Some use the expression "it will all come clear with the light of day" and I guess for many things light works, but for some concepts only the dark will help. Many tried to find answers by looking at the bottom of newly-emptied shot glasses…others in the eyes or chatter of friends or strangers. I got an education from DJ Cassidy at 1OAK. Tonight he’ll do it again, offering a barrage of Michael and I won’t miss it.

The day after Michael Jackson died I wrote a piece. It may be a little short on the facts we later learned, as it was written in the confusion of the tabloid headlines and lingering grief of the next morning, but it describes my mood and the love of precious life I found at 1OAK the night before.

Blackbook Magazine Goodnight Mr Lewis, June 26, 2009:

Michael Jackson: The Best Club Songs Ever

An autopsy may reveal it was pills or something similar that shut Michael Jackson down, but the heart really gave out because it once was loved by the whole world and wasn’t anymore. My emotions roller-coastered through a day of death and rumor. A great sadness consumed me as allegations and innuendo, tributes and music bombarded me through open windows and closed doors. From beat box radios and every TV in the neighborhood, I was told to remember, condemn, forgive, or just listen. The complexity of understanding the meaning of Michael Jackson’s death personally and on that grander scale became harder by the hour. I was enlightened by Jesse Jackson, Quincy Jones, Cher, Paul McCartney, and even Celine Dion. Everybody except Elizabeth Taylor was getting into the act — it is an act we and they will find impossible to follow.

From the point of view that I write about – the never neverland of clubs – Michael Jackson’s passing immortalizes the best songs I’ve ever heard on a dance floor. The music will live on as pure and wondrous and as perfect as the man himself was confusing. I won’t dwell on the bawdy stuff; plenty of others will milk that cow. I’ll just say flat out that "Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough" or maybe "Billie Jean" are the best songs I’ve ever heard a DJ offer. To this day they still blow a dance floor up.  Years ago, there were Michael Jackson club rumors. Some claim that he visited from time to time, unrecognizable in prosthetic makeup or with a face wrapped in scarves. The only place I know he went for sure was Studio 54. I asked Carmen D’Alessio about Michael at Studio 54, and she told me, "I of course remember him coming to Studio, 33 years ago. He was a kid releasing his first album. As the VIP hostess, I met everyone my dear, and I do recall clearly a 17-year-old Michael Jackson. He was nice and friendly, and I remember thinking he was very good looking." A quick Wikipedia read finds Michael listed first in a list of Studio 54 attendees. He led over Nureyev, Mick and Bianca, Elton John, Truman Capote, Mae West, Gloria Swanson, Jackie Onassis, and Elizabeth Taylor. Ironically, fair Farrah Fawcett was also listed.

I went to 1OAK, as a tribute was hastily put together with superstar DJ Cassidy only playing M.J. hits to a packed house of the beautiful. O’Neal McKnight danced and lip-synched to tunes, and Robin Thicke sang "Human Nature" in tribute. Cassidy asked over the mic, "Michael, why did we lose you this night?" When I arrived I was skeptical, thinking the idea of this tribute was almost cheesy — and it might have been if not for the sincere efforts by the 1OAK family. We were swept up in Michael’s massive talent as every single impeccably-produced tune held the packed house and dance floor. What other artist could have a catalog of songs that would hold a floor for hours?

I stood with Scott Sartiano and Ronnie Madra surrounded by a stunning and smart crowd. Sparklers announced bottles, and Cassidy offered, "We are here to celebrate the music and the life of Michael." The crowd roared and the waitrons poured, and I became a corny mush. I thought of the immense sadness that must have been consuming him at his end. I wondered if he indeed had just ended it, if he indeed had stopped cause he had enough. I thought of that traffic song, "The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys" — the lyrics, "If you just had one minute to breathe and they granted you one final wish, would you ask for something like another chance? Or something similar as this, don’t worry so much it will happen to you as sure as your sorrows or joys."

I wondered what Michael would have done with another chance. What would he have changed? What did he want that he, with all the fame and riches, never got? "We Wanna Be Starting Something" whipped the beautiful crowd into a frenzy, and the scope of our loss drove me to leave and find some summer air. It’s impossible to measure the wattage of the light that went out yesterday.

I remember watching James Brown’s funeral on TV and seeing Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton manipulate a frail Michael to the mic for a speech that was brilliant and eye-opening. He eloquently spoke of the soul icon’s love, contributions, and forgiveness as the Brown estate vultures loomed all around. The world that seemed to be tearing him apart will now fight for his bones, and it won’t be short or pretty. None of them will stop until they get enough, yet Michael Jackson’s life and much-talked about excesses leave us with a great lesson.

Is there ever enough? Can you ever stop? Is it human nature not to be happy with what you have and to keep pushing and fighting till the heart eventually bursts? If there is anything I’ve learned, it’s that all you have can be torn from you in an instant.

Rest in peace, Michael Jackson.

The New Marquee: Believe The Hype

While the folks in Washington DC struggle to raise the debt ceiling, the good folks of Strategic Group have literally raised the roof on the redone Marquee which opened last night. The roof is now 30 feet high, which is unheard of. The front wall is dominated by a 24-foot LED screen which flashes and pops and keeps the energy up. Costumed go-go dancers did their thing on elevated catwalks while EDM banged on. I said it before and I’ll say it again (probably a few more times): Marquee in New York City dispels the adage, “What Happens In Vegas Stays In Vegas.” It also knocks down another common saying: “Don’t believe the hype.” Believe the hype people; Marquee NYC is built for speed, sound, and sight lines.

Literally everyone in clubland was there to see what has been hyped as the next big thing in clubland. It seems bigger than before, as volume will do that, though the capacity hasn’t changed. I spent my time chatting up club royalty like Jamie Mulholland, who has had great success with Caine, GoldBar, Surf Lodge, and all sorts of excellent etceteras. Noah Tepperberg tore away from his table of gorgeous jet setters to give me the $5 tour. We posed for pictures on the way.

For the most part, they stuck with the floor plan I helped devise around a year ago. There was some furniture that wasn’t on the plan but Noah told me that’s going since it will be a big room for dancing. shows, and events – with considerably less seating than the Marquee design that was so successful before this latest incarnation. Noah thanked me for my minimal effort, recognizing that I have always had a special attachment to the venue which I helped design a long time ago, in what feels like a galaxy far, far away.

Alacran Tequila honcho Artie Dozortsev chatted me up about his White Mezcal Tequila bottle and the pink bottle he’s hyping for Valentine’s Day. A percentage of sales of Artie’s hot product will go to a variety of breast cancer awareness charities, thus defying another old adage… nice guys can finish first. I hung with Bill Spector and Richie Romero and Paul Seres and Pascal and and and…. I stopped to congrats co-owner Jason Strauss who was herding a bevy of beauties past the door bureaucracy. The staff was brilliant and helpful. Some dude once said, "you can’t go home again.” Baloney! I went to Marquee last night and It felt like home. 

Being the nightlife veteran that I am, (for those that don’t know, I used to be Steve Lewis), I went to Strategic’s other hot property Avenue to see how it was faring on a night when everyone was at their new elsewhere. Avenue was packed with an eclectic crowd. Sam Valentine, a big-haired rocker, hosted a table that wasn’t aware of the hoopla 10 blocks up 10th Avenue. The programming of those who wouldn’t know about Marquee or who dance to the beat of a different drummer…er DJ… was an act of professionalism that should be noted.

Avenue was doing business, maybe not as usual, but busy. Let’s just say it was doing business as unusual. Strategic’s great minds brought in folks to pack the place while most of their efforts and their a-team were occupied with the Marquee opening. To a visitor unaware, it seemed like a great club night. I did a walk through 1OAK, which was gathering steam and ready to embrace the late-night crowd that it always gets. Marquee’s revelers would surely be packing booths in an hour or so. 

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Rumor Has It: Butter Group Is Splitting Up

I guess it’s official, as Frankie Sharp – that promoter/host with the most fabulous following – lands on the cover of the Village Voice. It was 430am this morning and I was walking the puppies and grabbing bagels with the gal, when I saw Frankie’s fierce puss staring up from a stack of papers. We have been banging Frankie’s drum loudly here forever. He is the new, while almost everyone else is… experienced. Frankie has blown everyone away. His boyfriend is David Davis, my assistant/co-worker/partner in design.

The Voice tends to use terms like "savior of nightlife" and stuff like that and say there was little going on when Frankie burst on the scene, without recognizing the great divide in nightclub culture. While the rest of the world is getting closer to embracing gays as full-blown members of our society…(shoot, even Dirty Harry himself – conservative stalwart Clint Eastwood – is supporting gay marriage) clubdom has become even dumber. The gays and the straights rarely mingle in the same room as once was.

Frankie’s party is mostly gay and, of course, we love that, but there is another side of the coin as well. There are two parallel universes co-existing with one, not recognizing the existence of the other. Clubs, once so forward and influential, are more divided in lifestyle and music and ways of doing business than ever before. Congrats to Frankie for the well-deserved recognition.

On that straight front, there is rumor and innuendo on the top-tier places. I was asked by a realtor-type why I hadn’t talked about the imminent takeover of the Shadow space on 28th street. I told him I did chat with Mike Satsky of Provocateur about all that a while back, but have left it until now. Wanted to let them cross all the T’s and dot all the i’s. The realtor says its a 99 percent-done deal. In club life, when someone says it’s 99 percent done, I think there is bound to be trouble ahead. If someone says it’s 50/50 I think it might happen. 

With that in mind, my same source says there is trouble percolating at Butter Group. It’s always been brewing, but my realtor dude says that Richie Akiva and Scott Sartiano are on the outs, with various scenarios being talked about. Dividing up of properties is being chatted about. In the "I can’t believe it’s not Butter" category, my first design gig Butter on Lafayette is being renovated by my ex-partner Mark Dizon. Scott seems to be gearing up to run this show and maybe the new 1OAK LA, while Richie is on The Darby and 1OAK NYC all the way. My source says 1OAK Vegas isn’t worth fighting over. How much of this is real or not, I just don’t know, but a call that I am bound to get later today should fill in the blanks.

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From Avenue to Bantam to the Diner: The Never-Ending Night

I try not to write too much about what you already know. Everyone knows the bottle clubs, the scene clubs, the celebrity, the jet-set joints where money is no object – but then again, it is the object. These places are often considered commonplace by the common man who dwells in hipster havens and dive bars. That perception is wrong. There is validity to what these operators offer, although they aren’t all things to all people. Most people can’t afford to party there or they lack the looks or connections to pass through their velvet ropes. Once inside there is always action. Although the bottom line is the bottom line, as it is in most businesses (including the nightclub business), these clubs deliver a quality good time to their often well-know audiences. The DJs often play a set that contains crowd-pleasing, familiar tracks, but the DJs themselves are great DJs and giving the people what they want makes it fun -and what in the name of God is wrong with pleasing a crowd?

Last night I whisked myself to Avenue for club mogul Noah Tepperberg’s birthday. He co-owns a lot of places. Off the top of my head, he has pieces of Marquee (NYC, Vegas, Australia), Lavo (NYC, Vegas), Tao (NYC, Vegas), Marble Lane, Ph-D Rooftop, the aforementioned Avenue, Artichoke Pizza. There are all sorts of pool entities and spin-offs of these places now. He has many reasons to be cheerful, despite being half the man he used to be. Well, not exactly half, but he has lost a lot of weight by watching what he eats and drinks, and working out with a new trainer who Noah introduced to me last night. Avenue was packed with the beautiful, the rich, and the famous last night. The energy was through the roof. I’m not going to mention the celebrities that I saw, as that comes with the no price for admission. Avenue is a gossip-free zone and those that go know that.

We bolted into the night and popped by 1OAK, which was just getting started. A late-night rush comes from sister space The Darby Downstairs which closes early by NYC standards. The Butter Group operators, which own these properties and Butter, understand that after a while, crowds want to hop, skip, and jump elsewhere, so they engineer that hop-over to another one of their spaces. Thus, 1OAK gets a big late boost. We chatted up a looking-real-good Richie Romero and said hello to all the familiar faces of the vibrant staff as we headed into the night. We strolled to No. 8, where Amanda danced with Amy Sacco who was simply being wonderful. I hadn’t been before, as I rarely get over to this hood during the week. Currently, they aren’t open on Saturdays, but will be when the summer spins away. I loved No. 8. The music was amazing. Amy, one of the best operators in this business, was an active part of the action. At 8, I saw countless familiar faces. The crowd was mixed and adult and I loved it.

Still, the night had me moving, and we headed to The Electric Room, where Angelo made sure we were happy. Nur Kahn is in Italy with The Kills. In the past, when Nur traveled, The Electric Room often lacked…electricity. He and I talked about that a couple months ago. Last night, the place was pumping. Amanda said, and I quote, "The thing about this place is that it never compromises. When you walk in the door, you always hear great music and find yourself amongst a cool crowd.” She isn’t taking over this column, but she is spot-on about this spot. The Electric Room was fabulous.

Outside we ran into pal Dean Winters who was out causing mayhem but not as seen on TV. We chatted him up in front of the Dream Hotel, where we also ran into Limelight producer Jen Gatien. Jen, me, and mine spent an hour trading war stories and catching up. I told her she gave me yet another 15 minutes of fame as Limelight is now On Demand on Showtime. I am getting stoppedeverywhere. Someone asked me who I wanted to play me in the sure-to-come epic movie about my life, and as I looked at this silly person, I reached into my bag of stock answers for occasions like this and deadpanned the answer: “… Denzel.”

After the very brief chuckles, we headed to The Darby. I just wanted to see it in action. I occasionally pop in to see how it’s wearing and tearing. Designers do revisit their babies just to see how the fabric is holding up. Design is theoretical until a place opens. I like to see what I could have done better and what is working just fine. Dean Winters joined us at the bar and we toasted to something important to that moment. I stopped by Bantam as I headed to the Bridge. It was a classic 3am crowd of revelers enjoying the moment and the sticky liqueurs. Bantam is great for that first stop or that last stop, and not bad if you’re caught in between.

After we left and had our late-night meal at a diner, we arrived home just as the sun was coming up. We got the leash on Lulu and went to stock up on diet sodas and popcorn and such. As usual, my head hit the pillow at 6am and here I am at 10am talking to you. Someone told me yesterday that not needing sleep is the sign of a genius. I don’t know if there’s any truth to that, but if it is true I suspect that he’s a very tired genius.

This Just In: DJs Erick Morillo & Afrojack Join Pacha Benefit

This old guy once wrote: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way…." The quote begins Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities.  He continued  "…in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only." Mr. Dickens offered this tome in 1859, but was referring back to the French Revolution days. He might as well have been talking about now, for New York is a tale of two cities. While many of us are sipping lattes and talking football and going to parties, others are struggling in the cold, displaced and in despair.  It is the worst of times for so many of our neighbors while most of us are busy as bees, forgetting the destruction and "inconvenience" the storm brought, and readying for the holidays.

Last night at BINGO at Hotel Chantelle, a packed house laughed and squealed with joy as regular hosts Murray Hill and Linda Simpson returned to the stage after a two-week Sandy-induced hiatus. They were joined by Michael Musto who proved to be a joy. Like almost every event worth mentioning these days, this night was dedicated to raising money for victims of Sandy. Specifically, BINGO raised much-needed funds for the Ali Forney Center which was flooded by the imperfect storm. Homeless LGBTQ homeless youth can drop in when they need a place. 

Tonight I will party like nothing ever happened at The Electric Room where the dapper Nick Marc will celebrate yet another birthday. Partner-in-crime Justine D. will DJ. Kodi Najm of Hypernova will host. There are rumors of a proper English celebration with everyone involved partaking in heavy drinking and partying. This is rock and roll, followed by some rock and roll and then quite a bit more rock and roll. I’ll be there.

Tomorrow night, Richie Romero will celebrate his birthday and has tasked me to open up for real DJs Jesse Marco and ?uestlove. This affair is at 1OAK and I am very excited about it. I love the staff of OAK and, of course, Mr. Romero. As is his way, Richie was complaining about his age and other trivialities. I’m going to play tracks older than him to cheer him up. I reminded him that I have shoes that are older than he.

As I wrote the other day, I will then whisk myself up to Pacha for their Help Heal New York Sandy benefit where they have me bartending. Since I will have my CDs and headphones with me, I stand ready to pitch in if one of the following DJs fail to deliver: DANNY TENAGLIA, FRANCOIS K, SUNNERY JAMES & RYAN MARCIANO,  Chainsmoker, SHERMANOLOGY, DANNY AVILA, D BERRIE, AUDIEN HARRY, CHOO CHOO ROMERO, SHAWNEE TAYLOR (live), CARL KENNEDY, HECTOR ROMERO ,DAVID WAXMAN, CEVIN FISHER ,THEO, HEX HECTOR, PAUL RAFFAELE, CODES, ROXY COTTONTAIL ,SAZON BOOYA, DALTON, SIK DUO, CARL LOUIS & MARTIN DANIELLE, PAIGE, BAMBI and THAT KID CHRIS. 

Just added as we go to press are superstar DJs Erick Morillo and Afrojack. This is a serious not to be missed event. There are some fabulous surprises that, because of conflicts and dotted i’s and such, can’t be listed here but will be appreciated there. Among that illustrious crew are DJs from my management company 4AM. Chainsmokers are whisking in from Singapore and are off on tour but are stopping by for this fundraiser. Dalton has been debuting his new house tracks along the Northeast corridor, making stops in D.C., Boston, and Philly. 4AM just booked me for New Year’s Eve … yeah, it’s coming up fast.

Please help those still without, and as the holidays approach, be aware of those unable to have a normal celebration. Help where you can.

Spending Saturday Night with Madonna, You?

No place to go on a Saturday night? Well, if you find yourself in the same joint as Madonna, then I guess you’re doing okay. I will be in the same room as Madonna this Saturday night, as Smirnoff Nightlife Exchange Project is providing the action. I am told they’ll be sponsoring and curating parties occurring simultaneously in 50 countries on 5 continents. We get Madonna, and other countries get Kelis, CSS, Basement Jaxx, Janelle Monae, and of course, 40 plus more fabulous acts and DJs.

I am also told they will be giving away over 117,000 "carefully crafted Smirnoff cocktails." I’d love to see the math on that. The New York soiree will include Amanda Lapore, Amber Rose, Lady Bunny, and more. There’s some sort of competition going on. Apparently, the NYC event will "feature an incredible performance from dancers around the globe who are competing for a spot on Madonna’s next world tour.  The Material Girl herself will be on hand to crown the winner while DJ Martin Solveig will be spinning tunes between performances." This Martin Solveig dude is supposedly a big deal.

"Madonna, along with choreographers Rich & Tone Talaugea, will watch the final dancers perform, and select the winner of Smirnoff’s exclusive high-profile global dance competition. With art direction and choreography by Shay Norman, the 11 finalists will battle it out in front of over one thousand guests. The designated winner will become an official member of Madonna’s dance crew. The thrilling evening will also include Madonna’s personal selection to headline the event – DJ and Producer Martin Solveig. Solveig has been collaborating with Madonna on her upcoming album." With technology, social networks and all that, they claim that 10 million people will catch this thing. I will be on hand eyeing and ogling and snapping cell phone photos with the pack. What WILL she be wearing?

Somehow I am going to navigate myself over to the Highline Ballroom to catch Locksley. Not sure why I love this band so much. It is unusual for me to get excited for a live show, but I do know this: every time I put on one of their tracks when I am DJing, the crowd goes wild. My inquiring mind wants to know more.

Last night, I visited 1Oak to celebrate bon vivant, promotional guru, and all around good guy Richie Romero’s birthday. I walked past The Darby on a beautiful misty night where another birthday boy, Leonardo DiCaprio, was celebrating. Celebs were rolling in according to my spies, but we don’t name those kinds of names here. Richie got my full attention. 1Oak was filled with familiar faces. The word is that it has been completely revived since The Darby opened. Not that it had wavered much at all, but it traditionally has a great late crowd and The Darby skews early, and so the crowd heads over to 1Oak after. I had a blast. I stopped by Electric Room to chat with Nur, forgetting he was in LA. The very capable Matt Strauss entertained me and mine before we headed back to Brooklyn. There aren’t enough hours in the night.

The Top NYC Nightclubs To Hook Up With Models

Okay, we’re shallow, shallow people. Whatever. Sometimes it’s just fun to hook up with models. I wouldn’t know, but I have a couple of moderately douchey but lovable friends who say it’s "da bomb." Models are creatures of another world, a world like Avatar. And though they are scattered all across the city, there are certain nightclubs where we can confidently say “you will be breathing the same air space as a high concentration of models.” So here is our list of the Top NYC Nightclubs To Hook Up With Models

DJ Danny Rockz On Life As a Professional Party Starter

Tucked behind a booth, with his headphones, signage-emblazoned laptop, and two-disc turntable, stands the up-and-coming leader of the New York party scene: DJ Danny Rockz. Seen – and heard – at his resident spot at Provocateur, as well as such lauded New York hotspots 1OAK, The Darby, and Gansevoort Park,  this master of the mixes subconsciously dictates the tone and rhythm of our every groove, drink, and dance floor- rendezvous. Where there’s slamming tunes, there’s Danny Rockz. 

First things first: where did your name come from?
My DJ name was actually a nickname from high school, I had a few people that used to call me: D Rockz, I simply expanded that to Danny Rockz.
 
How did you first get involved in DJing?
It was something I started in high school. Freshman year I would go weekly and collect vinyls. It was kind of like a side hobby, something I was always interested in but I never directly involved myself in until college, when I got thrown into it. I was more into hosting parties with a friend of mine, and then one day our DJ didn’t show up, and my friend was like, "We really need a DJ for tonight, you have to take over." From that night on, I got thrown into it and I really started to enjoy it.
 
What where some of your first gigs?
The first residency I had in 2010 was with the Gerber Group. I was doing Whiskey Park for them on Fridays, playing all indie-dance and rock and roll, which built into doing Provocateur, which is my main place. I’ve been at Provocateur now for well over a year and a half, four nights a week. That’s my home away from home. I love the venue, the people, the staff. I don’t like their exclusive door policy, but if that’s the worst of it, I’ll take it.
 
Do you ever DJ out of town?
Yeah, out of town my main section is the Dominican Republic. The guys down there are so nice, the people are amazing, the food, the weather.
 
What’s the New York DJ scene like?
It’s just so flooded and crazy. You have to make yourself stand out in some way. I was honestly borderline going to give it up at the end of 2009; I had a full-time job, granted I wasn’t that happy doing that but I also wasn’t really that happy with the way the DJ world was going…the parties I was doing, the caliber of the people. So in 2010, I clean-slated everything; I dropped my job, stopped DJing, and just so happened to break-up with my girlfriend. I took the first two months of 2010 to think about what I want to do, what direction I want to head in. I started with a whole new image, new music format, started doing parties that I like, playing music I like, and it all just grew from there. The venues just started coming in.
 
What kind of music do you play now? What’s your sound?
I like playing a good rock and roll, indie-type set. I also like doing a true open format set where it’s not so slanted toward one particular genre or another, where it gives people a real diverse mix. I’ll play a few hip- hop songs, a few ’80s, ’90s, ’70s, ’50s, ’60s, house, rock, everything.
 
Is this influenced by what you grew up listening to?
All the music my parents and grandparents used to play, I despised. They listened to everything, from Sinatra, to Dean Martin, disco, to rock ‘n’ roll, ’90s dance, such a diverse mix. And I think that’s what’s affected me, because it’s all the music I like that now. I laugh about it now, because I go from hating it, to loving it, to playing it.
 
Besides the music you play, how else do you stand out in the flooded scene?
With your look, the job you do, your personality. Personality is the one thing I feel like a lot of people lack. Most people that stand out, stand out for a reason, and personality definitely plays a role. I’ve come across people that are looking to make it in the industry and it’s like talking to a serial killer or something.  
 
Ha! What do you say to them?
I’m like, "I have no idea what you’re doing, but you’re obviously in the wrong field. You need to be outgoing, you need to be enthusiastic." Everyone has their bad days, but if you go into this market with a negative outlook and negative mindset, or if you’re just a negative person, it’s really not a good way to go. You’ll be sick before you even get started.
 
How do you balance the pre-party music prep with your DJ hours? 
I DJ from 11pm-3am or 4am, but all the pre-party work that goes into it all is a full-time job in and of itself during the day. I pre-arrange the music before the party so I can just go to this one crate, organize new music, search for new stuff to play. One of my roommates has witnessed me doing an eight-to-nine hour shift, just searching for new songs.
 
How do you find new music?
I’ll go through different blogs in French, Spanish, Russian; you name the language and I’ve probably been on a blog that’s in that language. I’ve found some amazing music, some alright music. Most of my music comes from there. I buy stuff from iTunes, Beatport, websites like Hype Machine. Sometimes even YouTube, believe it or not. I’ll type in an artist or remix that I like and I’ll see what comes up in the suggestions and go through those.
 
And do you let those people know that you’re playing their song?
That’s the thing, it’s sketchy. As long as you’re not selling it or giving it away as a promotional tool, supposedly you’re in the clear. But that’s also why I put it on websites like Dubset; supposedly the artists get some money out of it all.
 
I’d imagine, even if you have most of the party music prepared, you’re constantly looking ahead to the next song just in case you change things up. 
Yeah, I like to be two songs ahead in my mind, so I have one song playing, one song queued up, and I’m looking at the song after that and the song after that. I bring a folder, and I’ll have them arranged in a specific order, start the party off at a modest vibe, and then build the energy up and maybe do a little rollercoaster effect where you have your ups and downs.
 
How are you hired for these parties?
Networking. Being social. I talk to people, meet people, follow-through. A lot of times you have to stay on top of people, but in the sense that you’re not overwhelming or creepy about it. You just want to be cool, just say, "Hey, what’s going on? How are you we going to make this happen," and it’s also hard too because a lot of people like to go for a manager, have somebody represent them. Now, I’m debating taking on a manager. I’ve basically done everything myself.
 
Is that rare?
It is kind of rare, especially to be working this much. One weird thing I don’t do that lots of DJs are involved in is this whole PR scene. They like to have themselves in huge papers and what-not. I’ve never been about that, not because I have anything against it, just because I feel like it doesn’t do anything for me and it’s a little tacky sometimes.
 
What’s the craziest experience you’ve had DJing?
I’ve seen everything I could possibly see. For me to see something that shocks me nowadays, it would have to be over-the-top. I couldn’t even put it into words what it would have to be. I’ve seen people get hit with everything in fights – tables, chairs, bottles- to people getting knocked-out. Years ago, I saw people get shot and stabbed.
 
Stabbed??
But I’ve also seen nice things, where people at partiespropose. Off-hand, one of my favorite parties was a corporate party for Halloween during that crazy snow storm. I thought no one would show up; the weather was horrendous, they were expecting 200 people. All 200 people came, in costume, ready to rage, at 8pm. It was the most amazing holiday party I’ve ever DJed in my life. They were such an exciting crowd. One guy dressed up in this wolf costume. It was an amazing outfit, and I kept playing the A-Track song "The Big Bad Wolf." Just imagine this guy in a wolf outfit, jumping around the room, people cheering him on, people getting hyped and crazier and crazier.
 
What’s the one song everyone wants to sing to, dance to, hear?
There are so many songs, it depends on the party. My new thing now is playing songs like "Rockefeller Skank" by Fatboys Slim. It’s such a ’90s breakbeat-ish song, but it has such energy and I love watching people rock out to this, saying, "I haven’t heard this song in so long!"
 
Do you write any music yourself? Play an instrument?
I used to play piano a little bit, but now I’m getting into music production which is pretty crazy. There’s a lot that goes into that. I’m gonna be creating my own tracks from scratch. I do it all at home using Logic.
 
Do you feel comfortable in the scene now?
Yeah, I’m very content. I’m happy to see how this year alone, my stats and traffic have grown on things like Dubset and my Twitter.
 
You are the one of the most prolific Tweeters I’ve ever seen.
I just try to be random and put whatever is on my mind at that time. I’ll mention music, parties I’m doing. Watching lots of growth makes me feel good. It makes me feel like I’m heading in a good direction.
 
What do you like to do in your spare time?
This past week, the only night I had off was Sunday, and I was looking forward to lying in my bed, watching a movie, and that’s it. This winter, I plan on doing several ski trips. I love just being outdoors. I do a lot of walking. Sometimes I’ll just find myself roaming around town for the heck of it, even if it’s just to clear my head.
 
I’m sure you have lots of followers and groupies. What’s the most memorable thing someone has said to you while DJing?
I had someone tell me recently they watched me DJ for a whole night and said, "I’ve seen other DJs play often, and I’ve never seen anyone quite as happy as you. You just have the cutest smile on your face the whole night." That made me feel really good. It’s definitely my happy spot.