DJ Aaron James On His Year In New York And Blast-Off To India

The way New Year’s Eve is falling on a Monday is a huge boon to marketing. Christmas spirit, gift returning, leftovers, and hangovers will linger until at least Wednesday, but by late Thursday/Friday, people will be desperate to have their big night plans finalized. A long weekend without work distractions will mean ginormous last-minute sales. I will DJ at the Dream Hotel Downtown which has sooo much going on and a built-in audience… I love hotel parties. I’ll tell you all about it early next week. After my gig, I’ll head over to a very private friends-and-family preview of an old club made new. This joint will help define this decade of clubdom. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to talk about this yet, but I’m sure club insiders know what I’m talking about. More on this after the holiday.

Tonight, the tireless Wendy Diamond is throwing her 8th annual Toys for Dogs holiday benefit in support of Hurricane Sandy animals. There will be photo-ops with a "celebrity" Santa, and lots of rescued dogs to mingle with. Dogs torn from their families or just plain lost and living in shelters will get a toy to ease their loneliness and confusion. The event will be at Amnesia, which in case you forgot is at 609 W. 29th St. from 6:30pm to 8:30pm.

My pal DJ Aaron James is off to India for New Year’s Eve and a bit after that. He’s having a Blast Off To India Party at the Dream Hotel Uptown next Wednesday, December 26th. I asked him about his year-long stay with us here in the Big Apple.

It’s been a year that you’ve be in New York…
It’s hard for me to fathom it’s been almost one year since we last spoke about India, my travels, and my expectations for NYC nightlife upon my return. That seems like a small eternity ago.

When and why are you leaving?
I’m flying out next Friday the 28th … back to India to DJ New Year’s Eve at the world-class Shiro in New Delhi, and then to move every dance floor in India and SE Asia I can get my hands on. Considering I don’t even have a lease or any other thing binding me here, for me it feels like a full-on shift. It’s crazy really, like picking up from where I left off on a life over there … a twin universe almost of an entirely new set of friends, family, lovers, inspirations, dreams.

How long will you be gone? What’s the plan?
I’m on a one-year business visa, so unless I end up marrying some irresistibly alluring Indian woman, I’ll be back eventually. Haha. Actually, plan is to pop back in a few months to tour with one of my all-time favorite recording artists: Vanessa Daou. She’s dropping a new album in the new year, and has graciously asked me to be her U.S. tour DJ. I hadn’t planned on coming back until the visa expired, but considering I’ve been a fan of Vanessa’s since as long as I can remember, I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

I always knew I would be going back. It was only a matter of time. I’m not running away from New York or NYC nightlife as much as I’m branching out and seeing as much of the world as I can before I get too old and turn to dust. In the past year, I’ve seen the best we have to offer and the worst. I guess I’m just in a humble, grateful mood.

New York’s been good to me this year. Having come back last January with nothing at all in the pipeline, I’ve managed to work hard, keep myself more or less out of trouble, and pay off some $50,000 in debt, which was the main reason I stayed on so long anyway. And for the first time in as long as I can remember, I am entirely debt-free and feeling light as a feather because of it. Mission accomplished, and how could I be mad at that.

You’ve been back for a minute. What do you think of NYC nightlife?
I’ve come to accept the nightlife scene here for what it is … though I haven’t truly defined what “it” is. It’s less than I remember from years past, but so much more than much of the world has to offer. I rather focus on the positives now, and not be that hater that says the nightlife sucks now and forever and that there’s no hope. There are small beautiful pockets of resistance everywhere in this city – some sparkle and glimmer of originality exists as it once did, just perhaps it’s harder to find.

I love this city, I do. I only wish sometimes we could lighten up a bit, take ourselves a little less seriously, or with less vanity … and just dance, man. These days to me, nothing else matters. Off I go, always letting go.




An Unforgettable Interview at Amnesia with DJ Joachim Garraud

Face it: Time isn’t on our side. Nobody with any real get-up-and-go has time enough to get it all done. Not really. So what to do? Prioritize, for one thing. Then bust ass. That’s why I found myself out on the street in front of Amnesia on Saturday night chatting with superstar French DJ Joachim Garraud. DJ JG, as I’ll call him, was one of two crowd-wowing headspinners — Bob Sinclar was the other — slated to mark the Ibiza nightspot’s return to South Beach.

Thing is, Bassnectar, Miguel Migs, Matthew Dear, and Little Dragon were also in town that night, and I’d arranged to interview each of them, too. No easy feat, even for someone as relentless as myself. Thank Zeus, JG has the good sense to be in cahoots with Amnesia Marketing Director Gianfranco Dussena, who acts like getting things done is his entire raison d’être.

JG and I had earlier knocked off an email quickie for NBC Miami, so I already knew that he’d been in on the design of Amnesia’s over-the-top light set up, as well as the club’s very own in-house studio (in fact, he was instrumental in its creation). He’d also told me that this Saturday night’s spin would be the first of many more to come. What I couldn’t see in his eyes via email was how downright excited he was about the show he’d put together for Amnesia’s opening weekend, a show that owes as much to prog rock as it does to the pump-and-grind of the Parisian dancefloors where he made his reputation.

Okay, so not quite. But JG tells me his “keytar is the same one used on Pink Floyd’s Animals tour” (“That’s history!”), and that the show’s ultra-vivid visuals track back to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (“my all-time favorite”), right down to its scene-stealing homage. Add the circa-’78 Space Invaders from which Garroud’s “Invasion Tour” gets its name, and you’ve got the kinda fuel that’a powered many an epic spectacle of the era — and then some.

Also fueling things is arch French explicitist Michel Houellebecq, who’s both punned and honored on JG’s “We are back” t-shirts (really). Whether folks get the reference or not is anyone’s guess, but it’s a kick he’s keen enough to put it out there. It’s also encouraging to know there are DJs who are with it enough to allude to low-slung high lit and not let it get in the way of the wow.

Later that night, just as promised, Joachim Garraud swooped down from the skies and transported a packed house of alien-masked dance fans to a place well beyond any ordinary final frontier. From what I hear, a large part of that party still hasn’t returned home. I, for one, can’t wait for the day when they all can meaningfully tell Houellebecq “We are back!”

Photo by Jeffrey Delannoy

AllSaints & MTV Want Fashion Fans to Party in Ibiza

Lots of AllSaints Spitalfields news today. First, the British brand announced the launch of their new sale site, which will feature archived merchandise from the high-street retailer for up to 50% off. Second, they’re teaming up with MTV Ibiza to turn their culture, fashion, and music formula up a notch. Starting July 1st for 10 weeks, MTV and Ibiza super club Amnesia is hosting I Want My MTV Ibiza, a live music night featuring headliners like Snoop Dogg, Robyn, Mark Ronson, and Duran Duran.

AllSaints fans have a chance to win tickets every week.

Simply “like” the brand’s Facebook page and follow them on Twitter to learn how to win. If you need further convincing, take a peek at the show’s killer line-up here (and shop for your outfit here, while you’re at it).

Nightlife To-Do List: This Week’s Events

Fashion Week is over, and with it, loads and loads of free booze. There are, however, a multitude of events on the agenda this week, some offering the promise of free and/or cheap drinks, some offering a fairly expensive brand of cool, and some offering reasons enough to try sneaking past the door without an invite: just like fashion week. While you’ll probably still be clamoring to get into Don Hill’s and the other venues that seemed destined for greatness this past week, these special events are worth crashing, dropping cash on, dropping by, or otherwise taking advantage of. And while you may not be able to see Courtney Love perform anytime soon, there are some insane shows scheduled for the music-lovers amongst us.

Monday Parties to Crash ● Barenjager Bartender Competition at Macao Trading Co. Skilled tenders compete from 7:00 to 10:00pm in the First Annual National “Fight for Your Honey” Barenjager Bartender Competition. The grand prize for these liquor slingers: a trip to the 2010 Oktoberfest in Germany. ● Swarovski Elements presents 22 Ways to Say Black at Phillips de Pury & Company from 7:00 to 10pm. Aside from the auction of 22 designer dresses for charity, peeping Carla Bruni would be reason enough to crash. ● It’s game night at Soho House! Play Candy Land, Yachtzee, and Jenga with other civilized folk at the members-only den. Ticketed Events ● Ne-Yo performs at Amnesia with DJ Bobby Trends. Admission is $30 ● NY Ministry of Rum Festival is happening from 5:30 to 9:00pm at Papilion Bistro. Drink and talk shop with other rum aficionados for $50. ● Alta Cucina hosts The Summer Kitchen, Panini and Gelato class. Date night alert—learn how to make authentic gelato, panini, and pizza at the Alta Cucina Epicurean Center. Parties for the People ● Sleigh Bells play Webster Hall at 8pm for a mere $8. You’d be crazy to miss this band for this price. ● Catch the Klaxons at Bowery Ballroom at 8pm for $20. ● The East Village’s White Noise is one of those awesome bars that closes its doors at 2am, but if you’re already safely inside, you can party all night (well, until 4am), which carries the connotation that anything goes. Pierre Stone and Ben Brunnemer DJ the Monday night “Fever” party: “that ol rock and roll and good people, no disco shit.” ● One of our all time favorites, Franco V, DJs along with Eli Dias at the Mondays @ Kenmare party.

Tuesday Parties to Crash ● Super-excited for the first US Scotch & Soda store opening in Soho at 274 Lafayette Street (and Prince). There will be complimentary beer, wine, and specialty cocktails by h.wood.tea, and music by Chairlift. Again, invite only, but at least take a stroll by. ● The Train & The Box New York celebrate their Spring/Summer 2011 collection with an after party with Paper Magazine at Avenue from 9:30 to 11:30pm with faves Matt&Maia DJing. ● Gansevoort Park Avenue hosts their official Opening Celebration party with The One Group, Michael Achenbaum of the Gansevoort Hotel Group, Jason Binn of Gotham magazine, and Steve Birkhold. ● Fulfill your dream of crashing a Martha Stewart party tonight in the jungle of the New York Botanical Garden at the reasonable hour of 5:30pm. Join Martha Stewart for an evening of mixology, and enjoy a champagne cocktail and herbal appetizers. At 7pm Martha will also share her secrets for growing and using herbs in delicious end-of-summer cocktails. Divine! Ticketed Events ● Showtime has their own rooftop, and for $25 you can enjoy unlimited cocktails from 6 to 8pm at Cassa Hotel and Residences. This will be the last hosted rooftop event by Showtime Original Series, so expect to rub shoulders with Showtime’s nearest and dearest. Parties for the People ● Disco Down is still happening at Happy Ending, and it’s still free booze from 11 to 12pm, and still no one is going? No, people are going. Michael T emailed My Open Bar to personally say that Disco Down is not dead: it’s been well and fine, and on the main floor of Happy Ending. ● Glasslands Gallery‘s weekly Black Majik Tuesday is pretty hip with the kids, thanks to badass local DJs and great bookers. Free vodka from 8 to 9pm on Tuesday nights helps with the hipness. ● Ra Ra Riot play Bowery Ballroom at 8pm for $20 admission. You should catch them now before their ticket price inevitably goes up, i.e.: the kids are talented. ● Pavement, yes that Pavement, hits Central Park’s Rumsey Playfield at 7pm for $38.50. As part of their reunion tour, they’ll be playing this spot all week.

Wednesday Parties to CrashBlue Ribbon hosts a bash in honor of their new partnership with Renaissance Hotels at the Renaissance Hotel Times Square. Taste the new “Classics Menu” from 6:30 to 8pm. Invite only, so crash with caution. ● IMPROVD opens their shop-in-shop installation with a cocktail party at Atrium from 7 to 9pm. Parties for the People ● Your new favorite band, AKA the Crocodiles, play Mercury Lounge at 7:30pm for $15. ● Bobo throws themselves a birthday bash complete with half-price cocktails and finger-foods from 7:30 to 12:00am.

Thursday Parties to Crash I dont know of any. Do you? Then comment below. Ticketed Events I dont know of any. Do you? Then comment below. Parties for the People ● Rock out to Simian Mobile Disco at Santos’ Party House. $10 is a steal for a sweaty good time of this caliber. Doors at 10pm. ● Gallery Bar rocks at their Mating Season Extreme party (whatever that means) with two floors of insanely awesome music: Dances With White Girls, DJ Messkid, and Jane Bang. Big draw: from 10 to 11pm, you can slam $1 tequila shots and $2 drafts. Then there’s a 2am open vodka bar. $3 cover, and snaps by The Culture of Me. ● If you missed Sleigh Bells earlier this week (for shame), you can see them open for LCD Soundsystem at the Wellmont Theater. It’s 35 clams and doors are at 7pm.

Where Celebs Go Out: Richard Gere, Don Cheadle, Ethan Hawke, Wesley Snipes

1. Richard Gere, at the premiere of Brooklyn’s Finest: My favorite restaurant has to be the Bedford Post. 2. Don Cheadle: BOA, in L.A. 3. Ethan Hawke: Manganaro’s, on 9th Avenue. 4. Wesley Snipes: That’s gotta be home. My wife is an excellent cook! Where do I like to go? Oh, La Dinastia, the Cuban-Chinese restaurant on 72nd, near Broadway. 5. Hoda Kobt: I love 21 Club. I love Tabla. I love Shake Shack, just their burgers. ‘Cause the first time I saw a line, I thought, ‘Who would wait in a line this long for a burger?’ And then I realized, ‘I would.’ There’s something about the size, the texture; they’re moist, they’re delicious. And I like Kefi — on Columbus — the best, best Greek food ever, delicious.

6. Antoine Fuqua: Carmine’s. They have Carmine’s in New York and L.A. 7. Richard Belzer: I hang out in bed with my dog! West Branch is one of my favorites. It’s up here on the west side on 77th and Broadway. And all of Drew Nieporent’s restaurants. Yeah, I get around. 8. Wade Allain-Marcus: I go to a spot like Legion in Williamsburg. It’s a bar. It’s a beautiful thing. 9. Nicoye Banks: I like the Hudson. The Hudson’s always good. The Mandarin has a nice lounge on the 35th floor, if you really want to relax, look at Central Park, be smooth. Good restaurant — Parlor Steakhouse on 90th and 3rd. 10. Grizz Chapman: Actually, I work. I don’t really hang out too much. Favorite restaurant is The Palm, the one on the east side. Being that my diet has changed, my favorite dish would, probably, just be vegetables and chicken. 11. Kevin “Dot Com” Brown: I don’t get a chance to hang out, like I used to. I come to these events, and I never remember the name — I just follow the flyer; whatever address is there; I just follow the address. But I never remember the names of the venues. And when you’re not at an event? City Island. I go to Sammy’s — I go to Sammy’s seafood in City Island, and I overeat! 12. Andre Brown: I hang out at the Rose Bar, the GoldBar, Juliet — that’s about it. 13. Daymond John: Restaurants: I always go to Nobu, Blue Ribbon. Bars, I go to Tenjune. Clubs — well, Tenjune’s like a bar and a club — I go to the Greenhouse and I go to M2. 14. Shannon Kane: Wow! I don’t really hang out at a lot of clubs or anything like that, but I have some really great restaurants in L.A. One of them is El Cholo, a Mexican restaurant. Any favorite dish? The vegetarian burrito, and the fresh guacomole — they make right in front of you. 15. Michael Martin: I used to love Bar Code. It’s, actually, gone now. I love club Amnesia, great place. The Tunnel is gone now. Tammany Hall — that’s a great one. 16. Wendy Williams: Victor’s — Cuban food. 17. Sherri Shepherd: There’s a restaurant on 56th, between 8th and 9th called Bricco’s. And it’s just a nice, little family restaurant, and I go there with everybody because they got fresh Italian food, and the owner — oh, my gosh — he kisses you like you’re the most amazing woman in the world! 18. John D’Leo: John’s Pizzeria in the village has, probably, the best pizza in New York. 19. Carrie Lowell: Bedford Post — the restaurant we own. 20. Lili Taylor: I love Bar Pitti. I like the Cuban restaurant in Harlem on 125th. Sylvia’s Soulfood in Harlem. 21. Bethenny Frankel: I like Kraft. I like the Strip House. I like Abe and Arthur’s. I like steakhouses. I need meat on the bone. I need to feed the baby! 22. D’brickashaw Ferguson: Probably, Junior’s. In Brooklyn? Yeah, gotta represent! Other than the cheesecake, I’m a big fan of their barbecued chicken. 23. Ellen Barkin: I don’t have [a favorite restaurant]. 24. Lena Olin @ “Remember Me” premiere: My favorite restaurant in the city is Nobu! 25. Gregory Jbara: The Standard Grill right now is open now till four o’clock in the morning, and they have a phenomenal menu. They have great waitstaff and you can always get a great meal, after the rest of the town is shut down. I’d recommend the oysters. They have a phenomenal selection of east-coast oysters. Also, they serve an appetizer of dried-crust cheese with English radishes. And you look at it on the table and you go, ‘What am I supposed to do with that — plant a garden?!’ And then you taste it, and you go, ‘This is a brilliant, original way to start a meal.’ Corner Bistro has the best burgers, but, if you want the best glass of wine and want to sample wines, you go to Dell’anima, which is down just south of 14th on 8th Avenue. 26. Peyton List: I love going to Dylan’s Candy Bar. I always go there and get treats or chocolates. I, actually, love the bakery called “Baked.” They have the best Chocolate Cloud cookies. What’s that? It’s a chocolate cookie, and it’s really thick and I love it, ’cause it’s so chocolatey, and I love chocolate! 27. Greg Bello: Oh, Jesus! Oh, I can’t give away all those secrets; then everyone’s gonna find out and they’re not going to be hot anymore. I don’t know what to tell you! Actually, probably, the Boom Boom Room is the hottest room in the city right now. 28. Allen Coulter: Del Posto, Peasants, Ouest –said with a French accent, but I can’t do it, Barney Greengrass. 29. Tate Ellington: ‘Cause I live in the Williamsburg area, one of my favorite places is DuMont. DuMac and Cheese is one of the greatest meals I’ve had in New York. There’s a place called Barcade which is pretty wonderful, as far as a bar, but it’s gettin’ a little packed, nowadays, but it’s a good place and the bartenders are nice. Huckleberry Bar is a nice, little cocktail lounge. 30. Peggy Siegal: Oh, I like the Monkey Bar. I like the new Jean-Georges restaurant at The Mark Hotel. I like 21, the Four Seasons, Michael’s, the Waverly Inn, the Standard Hotel. What else have I missed? I don’t know. Any favorite dishes? No, I’m always on a diet!

San Francisco: 10 Best Spots for Microbrews

imageSometimes you just want a beer and a burger. And other times you want a microwbrew and a Kobe beef burger. This list is for the latter.

1. Rogue Ales Public House (North Beach) – 31 flavors of hops n’ barley. 2. Toronado (The Haight) – An altar to the beer gods. 3. San Francisco Brewing Company (Financial District) – $1 happy hours for the in-house dirty dozen.

4. Anchor Brewing Company (Potrero Hill) – Best free brews in town — just sign up for the free tour. 5. Skip’s Tavern (Bernal Heights) – Epitome of neighborhood dive with live jazz and blues nightly. 6. Amnesia (Mission District) – Fine selection of local beers and saucy sangria in brothel-like surroundings. 7. Dalva (Mission District) – Straight-up party music, no foolin’ around. 8. Zeitgeist (Mission District) – When all’s said and done, a fine place to fritter away the day. 9. The Alembic (The Haight) – Far away (p)ales slum with local brews. 10. Elixir (Mission District) – Unassuming and casual … just what a local watering hole should be.