London Opening: Buddha-Bar

The veritable epitome of pre-Millennium glitz, glamour, and decadence, the Buddha Bar brand represented all the swinging internationalism of the onset of a bright new century. Alas, its London outpost fell victim in 2010 to the sobering, post-2008 reality. But just as we witness the resurrection of the Beatrice Inn and Bungalow 8 in New York, the London Buddha-Bar has risen anew in Knightsbridge, its globally-visioned grooviness fully intact.

Cheeky cocktails like Oh My Dog!!! and the Heart of Darkness (we’ll spare you the Colonel Kurtz quotes) complement the sort of sexy, elaborate pan-Asian treats so beloved before the comfort food onslaught. The decor, naturally, is gloriously extravagant, a sensual overload of neo- Colonialism, Oriental baroque, and, well, lots of flashy 21st Century lighting. Buddha, naturally, also makes an appearance, this being his kind of hang.

Brooklyn: The Borough That Never Sleeps

On any given Friday night, South Williamsburg, with its stately brownstones, vinyl-sided walk-ups, endless apartment complexes and sagging warehouses, is a virtual ghost town. The only people on the corner of Rutledge Street and Bedford Avenue are two Hasidic men in mid-discussion, dressed in black overcoats. Tonight is Shabbat, and so this neighborhood, heavily populated by Orthodox Jews, sleeps.

Further down Rutledge, toward the East River and the imposing Manhattan skyline, a group of scruffy friends loiters outside of a nondescript warehouse, smoking cigarettes, talking about nothing in particular—their very presence the only tip-off that something unusual is underway upstairs. A rickety staircase leads to an architectural mishmash of smaller, incongruous rooms haphazardly stitched together and packed with strangers, artists, freaks, slummers and revelers. In the main room, tropical plants and Christmas lights line the walls and ceilings. A group of burly stoners wearing sunglasses are plopped on a couch watching a distorted video of what looks like a nightmare about ballroom dancing, as imagined by Chuck Close. The light prances, refracted through clouds of cigarette and marijuana smoke.

This is the Newsonic loft, a sweaty hideaway of progressive music, video art and altered states, which houses a monthly blowout thrown by the glam-rock outfit Dynasty Electric. Initially a showcase for that band’s psychedelic sound, the party has evolved into a popular, unauthorized venue for a litany of emerging Brooklyn acts and their devotees—a house party open to the public.

The crowd in the back room undulates to the sounds of experimental Latin band Navegante, who are in the midst of thrashing through a potent, bongo-infused cover of Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus.” The walls rumble, and in any other neighborhood, or on any other night, the noise would warrant a hundred complaints. But there will be no police interference. It’s Friday, and on the holiest of nights in this community, phones are off limits. “Plus, our neighbors support us,” says Dynasty Electric’s lead singer Jenny Electrik, one of the loft’s four tenants. “They are a mystical people and they see us as mystical, too.”

Every weekend, parties like this are thrown across Brooklyn’s sprawling urban expanse. The supra-neighborhood that encompasses Williamsburg, Bushwick and Greenpoint has become the epicenter of a certain boho-hipster lifestyle and aesthetic, attracting young people from across the globe. The Manhattan transplants who move to Brooklyn, in search of cheaper rents and the creative freedoms they provide, have brought with them some of the more established borough’s recreational habits. The result is an endless network of parties that borrow from traditional nightlife practices (cover charges, doormen), but ignore the rules imposed by law and economics (smoking bans, last calls) and go down in irregular locations (an auto-parts store, a stranger’s loft).


New York has always had a culture of hush-hush social milieus. “You can read Malcolm X’s biography, where he talks about the sort of underground spaces that were up in Harlem when he was a kid,” says Jeff Stark, the founder of Nonsense New York, a nightlife website that sends out weekly e-newsletters and bills itself as a “discriminating resource for independent art, weird events, strange happenings, unique parties and senseless culture in New York City.” Stark says, “An unbelievable amount of underground nightlife goes on in New York. The police and the city government have made it so hard to play by the rules.”

Nowhere are these rules more deeply felt than in Manhattan. In 2009, Beatrice Inn—a West Village speakeasy that was the city’s unquestionable “it” spot since opening in 2006—closed after the city burdened it with repeated crowd and smoking violations. Shortly after, the Jane Hotel and Ballroom, which looked to be the Beatrice’s successor, was derailed after neighbors tirelessly leveled noise complaints. This past February, the Department of Health cracked down on five nightspots over violations of the city’s smoking ban, forcing them to appear for hearings that could result in heavy fines or closure. In March, when Beatrice owner Paul Sevigny opened his latest venture, Kenmare, in NoLIta, the State Liquor Authority required assurances that it would only be a restaurant—not Beatrice redux—before granting him a liquor license.

As Manhattan becomes more and more affluent, a trend that even the current recession has not reversed, homeowners feel entitled to get what they pay for: a quiet street, a good night’s rest. In the city that never sleeps, it’s always someone’s bedtime, and if that someone happens to have a cell phone and deep pockets, rest assured the party will be over as soon as they can dial 911.

For all of these reasons, many nightlife lovers have skipped across the Williamsburg Bridge. DJ Justin Carter did this very thing when he moved his Mister Saturday Night parties from Manhattan’s Santos Party House to the Market Hotel, an underground loft in Brooklyn. He believed that a non-traditional venue, where money was not the bottom line, better reflected his values. Besides, in Brooklyn, the neighbors, twentysomethings hustling to make it in the city, are more likely to join the party than shut it down.


Roughly every second Friday, a warehouse on the fringes of Bedford-Stuyvesant opens its doors to hundreds of people. The space is home to a party we’ll call “R.” (One of the conditions of being able to publish photos from inside the space was that we wouldn’t mention the party’s name or address.) It looks like the devout followers of Burning Man ditched the desert for an industrial warehouse. The place is a night terror of sneakers, roses, dolls, stars, flamingos, disco balls, baubles, Chinese lanterns, giant candy canes, bras and countless other identifiable and unidentifiable objects. It’s as if Daniel Johnston sawed open his head and the contents floated to the ceiling.

The rooms—it’s impossible to count how many—overflow with costumed performance artists: A topless transsexual sings to an admiring audience; grungy musicians tinker with homemade rubber band harps, creating dystopian rhythms in front of a papier-mâché mosaic; an Andy Warhol lookalike pulsates on the dance floor to bursts of drum ‘n’ bass; a man screens black-and-white silent films to a half-rapt, half-disinterested audience. The collective din is R’s only soundtrack.

A mysterious girl who looks lost in a ’90s rave tells me to lick my pinky finger and dip it into a plastic bag filled with white powder. “Now put it on your tongue,” she says. It tastes like chemicals. “You just did pure MDMA,” she says, smiling.

Later, a thin, bearded man—his hairy shoulders exposed in the strapless white dress he’s wearing—offers me his plate of mac-n-cheese, which was for sale that night, along with hefty servings of $5 pot brownies. It’s this kindness-to-strangers mentality that defines most off-the-beaten-path events. Brassy Puerto Rican girls, Leary-like neo-hippies, goth and punk kids, Williamsburg hipsters, New Yorkers and brave high school students all dance, writhing en masse—a collective waving of freak flags.

R has been going strong since 1994. How it has managed to avoid mainstream attention in a media-saturated city like New York—where secrets are not only hard to keep, but actively hunted down and exposed—is miraculous. It’s scarcely covered online and has no Wikipedia page. When our photographer showed up at its doorstep in early March, vigilant employees immediately tried to turn him away. “We don’t do any press,” they said.

Not all Brooklyn parties dealing in the illicit, “underground” scene are as secretive as R. Williamsburg’s Monster Island Basement is only blocks away from Bedford Avenue, the neighborhood’s busiest street. The Market Hotel is right off the intersection of Myrtle Avenue and Broadway, steps from the nearest subway station. These places skirt the line between licensed venues and basement parties.


Instead of official websites, they advertise through online social networks like MySpace and Facebook, and also have listings on popular nightlife directories. What distinguishes them from traditional spaces—aside from dinginess and billows of cigarette smoke—is the attitude. “You set out to do something that’s about the music, the audience and the culture,” says Eamon Harkin, who, along with Justin Carter, runs the Mister Saturday Night parties. “It’s about the ‘why.’ The ‘where’ is a byproduct of that.”

That “why” isn’t necessarily beholden to any particular party. The Brooklyn underground is not immune to the fickle tastes and high turnover rates that afflict Manhattan nightlife. The Shank was a shortlived but legendary after-hours party on Bayard Street in Greenpoint. Its popularity peaked in January of 2009, and it imploded shortly thereafter. In July of last year, The New York Press ran a cover story detailing the Shank’s spectacular downfall. After becoming notorious for its all-night parties, it started attracting drug dealers, underage kids and thugs. According to the Press article, the original crowd of “rock-band dudes and vintage-store employees,” stopped coming.

In recent months, a new Williamsburg after-hours party has emerged that DJ Jonathan Toubin, a Bayard Street regular, calls the new Shank. “Everyone involved in the Shank, except for the owner of the building, got back together and started the Saturday party at Badlands,” Toubin says, referring to the dusty, graffiti-marred garage a few blocks from the NYPD’s 90th Precinct. Its door reads “Whore House.”

On a recent Saturday at Badlands, an aggressively hip crowd lined up inside, waiting to pay the $5 cover and get past the monolithic bouncer. (At unauthorized parties, nothing happens on the sidewalk, including lines and smoking.) Last call was hours ago, and for this carefree group of partygoers, sleep is an afterthought. “If you dropped a bomb on the space, you would knock off half of the city’s bar staff and DJs,” says Toubin, who also manned the decks that night. “The rest are people who heard about it secondhand and are looking for something to do.”

Loose wires dangle from the ceiling, and tags like “I Love Jew York” are scrawled on the walls. Beer and cheap, migraine-inducing liquor is for sale, but most people have brought their own. Toubin is perched above the crowd in a makeshift DJ booth spinning 45s, and people in leather jackets and hooded sweatshirts use the wires to pull themselves up a narrow staircase to an alcove of couches. Rumor has it that rapper Cam’ron is there. The crowd is noticeably amped about this possibility—a surprise given how aloof they hope to look. But then, they’re young and healthy, drunk and fucked up, here to dance and play, scream and have a good time. Outside, the sun is shining.

Photography by Robert Whitman, Maia Wojcik, and Dana Decoursey.

Not the New Beatrice? Regulars Say Kenmare Will be Second Coming

Overheard last night: “Darling! (double air kiss) I feel like I never see you anymore since the Beatrice closed!” “I know, I feel like no one knows where to go anymore!” “That will probably change now that Paul’s new place is open.” About a year ago in New York, there was a bar with a neighborhood feel, that was actually not in the neighborhood of any of its regulars and eventually pissed off the actual neighbors. This was a bar that people knew to steer clear from if they were avoiding a friend, one they could flock to after fashion events and where they’d inevitably end up whether they wanted to or not. Some felt smug for gaining access, some were just happy to drunkenly sink into a backroom banquette. Some are truly sick of people talking about it, but no one can deny, the Beatrice Inn was a staple part in the New York nightlife diet before shuttering. While Paul Sevigny swears Kenmare, his newest joint venture with Rose Bar‘s Nur Kahn, is “not a new Beatrice,” the all too familiar private party “commitments” the duo made to “friends and family” during fashion week, coupled with the opinions of Beatrice regulars past, seem to point to a second coming.

Not too long ago, I sat on the steps outside of the Bea with George Gurley. He had been temporarily banned from entry for his Who’s Who at the Beatrice Inn, a map of who sat where and what they talked about for Fashion Week Daily. Gurley was optimistic that Sevigny would “find a way” to forgive him and let him back in. Among his list of notable regulars: Lindsay Lohan, Mary-Kate Olsen, documentary filmmaker Jack Bryan who Gurley noted as a “Social Butterfly” and “smooth with the ladies,” and Paul Johnson Calderon who he characterized as an “”outrageous hipster-fashion-socialite-blogger dude.”

While Sevigny is still trying to “find a way” to open up his beloved watering hole, Bryan doesn’t see Kenmare as a waiting room for that to happen:

“I think it will bring everybody. With only brief interruptions new York night life has been dead since the Beatrice closed. People are itching for excitement as it’s been feeling like a dead town. Hopefully this will be the thing that ends this collective nightlife hibernation it feels like everyone’s been going through since Beatrice closed.”

Paul Johnson Calderon shares this sentiment:

“I have no doubt that the Beatrice fanatics will flock to the joint en masse. We were a family & we’re very supportive of our patriarchal nightlife gurus.” He admits that collaboartive effort may bring different crowds, but adds: “this city is chock full of great people and chic, awesome scenes, but is in desperate need of a good stomping ground. It’s men like Paul and Nur who quench our lust for fun as we give into our urge to surge through the night.”

image Calderon at the Beatrice

Though there have been many options for nightlifers to make themselves at home, there has been a discernible lack in continuity in the shape of the crowds and atmosphere within these other establishments. The Jane had to cool her heels, White Slab is always promising but the crowd is less than encompassing, and Chloe 81– once known as the white hot ‘new Beatrice’- burned out too soon. As Kenmare prepares to host Prabal Gurung and Proenza Schouler after-parties this week, Sevigny tells Grub Street that he isn’t interested in creating a new Bea, stating “Beatrice is not a franchise,” No, but with the help of his devoted nightlife disciples, the well documented preceding regulars of the Beatrice Inn, what he might be creating is something closer to its spirit than any of these alternatives formerly touted as the ‘next Bea.’ Photos via Facebook and Vogue

The Most Important Clubs of the Decade

The aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks left the city’s economy in shambles and redefined the psyche and habits of nightlife. Many clubs, lounges and restaurants could not withstand the loss of tourist dollars and general economic downturn. By mid-decade a new way of doing business and new problems changed everything again. The club world will never be the same. In the scheme of things, writing about the effects of the 9/11 attack on clubs is unbelievably trivial. Yet the business of clubs is ever changing, adjusting to the world at large and this event, and the events that resulted from it, defined the fading decade.

Bottle service, which had its birth in Korean bars and euro clubs like Club A and Au Bar, had been around forever. By the mid-nineties clubs like Chaos and Life had adopted the concept and soon VIP rooms were replaced by table service and dance floors shrunk to accommodate more seating.

After 9/11 people started to travel in packs, finding safety in numbers and comfort with larger groups of friends. The horseshoe banquet, with its physical limitations of seven or 10 people, gave way to bench like seating able to accommodate much larger groups. Cell phone and text messaging made it easier for people to communicate with friends at other clubs and large groups would get larger as the party was found at one spot and not another.

The first decade of the new century saw a massive rebound as the club world rode the rush to riches. The real estate boom forced most operators into the city and created “club ghettos” of the Meatpacking District (mepa) and West or outer Chelsea (ouch). The smoking ban and the impact of chatty patrons put neighbors desperate for sleep and increased property values in constant conflict with nightlife. This conflict led to an unprecedented bureaucracy for licensing and systematic and often unfair harassment of establishments. Community boards learned how to wield their power and enforcement agencies backed by politicians and the real estate industry fought in courts and in the press.

Out of all this adjusting and jockeying, a half dozen places thrived and left their mark. Here are the most important joints of the last 10 years, all of which started after 9/11, as what happened before seems like part of another age.

Marquee: Clearly the most important club of its time in terms of impact. Marquee was the big enchilada for at least five years. It took bottle service from a concept to an international way of life. Bungalow 8: Amy Sacco‘s joint was the final destination for the elite on any night. Everybody who was anybody showed up for a final drink or chance to score at this amazing place. The rest of the joints in town were places to park until Bungalow got good, which was very late. The Beatrice Inn: Although its short life span would normally preclude it from this list, the impact, the importance of the Bea is so obvious in its absence. As every hipster in town fled to the new world of Williamsburg, the Beatrice showed that it’s still much better in the big city. Butter: Seven years of the best night in town, Monday, make it undeniable. I went last night to the last Monday of this decade and it was still so hot that this story is late today. Richie Akiva, Scott Sartiano and crew have achieved great success at 1Oak but there’s is nothing better than Butter. Lit: Erik Foss has almost as bad a reputation as I do in many circles but he’s loved by many more, and few can be indifferent about either of us. Lit is perfect. Andy Warhol once told me, “No place that is too neat or too clean can be any fun.” Lit is not neat. It doesn’t look clean and it is unbelievably fun. Foss keeps it simple and real and you will find me at Lit after Times Square Thursday night. Pacha: There was a time when mega clubs were the only way. Palladium, Limelight. USA, Tunnel, The Saint, The Sound Factory, Redzone and so many more defined nightlife. Now only Pacha survives as a true mega club. Sure it could use a hipster element, but it’s the only true international club presence NYC has got. M2 is an uber-lounge, an adjustment to the table service era. Webster Hell is a great venue, but a terrible club and an embarrassingly bad operation.

Williamsburg: I’ll just lump it all together as one idea, but of course only space and time allow me that pass. Williamsburg is not one nightlife idea. It is thousands of them and a community so vibrant that it often makes Manhattan look passé. Originally a cheaper alternative to Manhattan rents, it is now in largely better than the Big Apple if you’re looking for a creative, youthful set that finds little in the city to excite them anymore. If I find myself the right girl, I’ m out of here and over there.

Pink Elephant, Rose Bar, Cain, Goldbar all have made their impact as others surely have. I’ll stick to my list, but certainly welcome comments.

Le Baron’s Baron Andre Saraiva Hangs Ten with Quiksilver

André Saraiva probably has an absurdly high number of frequent flight miles racked up on Air France due to his Transatlantic flights back and forth from Charles de Gaulle to JFK. After all, he is the man responsible for creating the crème de la crème of Paris nightlife and for being a co-owner of Beatrice Inn on this side of the pond. In Paris, Le Baron is one of Saraiva’s most famous lairs — complete with saucy red velvet walls — for coolest of the cool set. In addition, he also owns a spot in Tokyo, several outposts scattered about the City of Light and hosts “Le Baron Party” down at Art Basel Miami. And let’s not forget his respected skills as graffiti artist.

Monsieur A, Saraiva’s stick-figure character in hot neon pink, made a grand appearance in the United States for a Belvedere Vodka campaign. Recently however, he also linked up with Quiksilver — one of the biggest surfing, skateboarding and snowboarding apparel companies. Quiksilver turned 40 years old and in honor of the iconic brand’s birthday, it held an all-out blockbuster bash at the Grand Palais. Yep, that Grand Palais in Paris built circa 1900, complete with a gothic-like glass dome. Saraiva was commissioned to paint all around the venue and created a handful of limited edition surfboards. We caught up with the impresario amidst the chaos of rampant skateboarders inside the historic local — also found out a bit more about why he and Quiksilver came together and his opinion of what’s currently happening in the wee evening hours.

How did the collaboration with you and Quiksilver happen? I had met one of the guys from Quiksilver and had also been wanting for a long time to paint some surfboards and work with [surfboard] shapers. We had some friends in common and the guys from Quiksilver invited me to Biarritz, France — it’s one of the best surf spots of all of Europe — they have their shapers and their workshop there. So one day, I worked with a few of their shapers there, stayed for a week working on the base of the boards…painting on the glass on the boards. So that’s how it began, with me painting only a few unique pieces and boards for them. I spent time with them…we’d work in the morning and the afternoon and at the end of the day we’d go and surf together. It was really an amazing time.

What are you doing for Quik’s 40th Anniversary in Paris? Quiksilver is doing this big event here at the Grand Palais. It’s this really old school, amazing place, where normally big Chanel shows take place. It’s really interesting and an amazing thing to have something that’s more street culture being part of the Grand Palais. They asked me to paint a bit all over the walls, in the skatepark and on the ramps. It’s fun to be part of this project.

Do you have any plans to do additional collaborations with Quiksilver on its clothing collections? No, it’s more the unique pieces…that’s the project that I really loved, working with the old school shapers where every board is unique. That’s the beauty of the surfboards, they are all handmade. They are all special down to the size, the balance, everything is unique for each person. That’s what I really like to do.

When did you first start to get involved in nightlife? Since I escaped from home when I was 12 years-old! I used to go out at night and go to clubs. I couldn’t go home when I was kid, because when I used to go out, I would lie and say I was staying at some kid’s place. So, I used to sleep in the clubs until the first subway was open and then go home and then say I was sleeping over at my friend’s place. So yeah, since I was a kid! Nightlife was really a part of graffiti, so I would paint at night too….

It’s synonymous…. Yeah, it goes together. The night is more than a time and place; it’s where I always felt free. It’s where and when people are more open minded.

When did you open your first club? I was organizing rave clubs in Paris at the end of the eighties and early nineties and was always organizing concerts and was always just into music. I had to organize them because I had to have a place to listen to the music I loved! Because, there weren’t places in Paris where could I hear it. Then one day, with one of my best friends, we decided to build a place where we could go…where we could have our music, our club. My crew, my music and the people in bands that I love. So, we made our place for our people and that’s how we started Le Baron.

What’s the biggest difference with Parisian and New York nightlife? There is a simple difference between New York nightlife and Paris nightlife. In New York everything ends at 4am and in Paris everything just begins at 4am. We’ll go until 7am.

When do things close down in Paris? We can go after hours…there are lots of places to go. Still tough, still dealing with noise and with neighbors, but there are still places to go.

You have a vested interest in Beatrice Inn. As we all know it’s been closed now for quite some time. What’s happening? Yeah, but Beatrice is coming back soon. We all want Beatrice back…it’s going to happen.

In New York, it seems that places just get closed down left and right. Everything is controlled. Let’s go back to the roots of New York. A place where artists can create and be in the city…where they can go and show their ideas.

Right now, how many spots do you have? Le Montana, Le Baron, Moon…a lesbian bar. Soon, Beatrice is coming back. I’ve been working on the Boom Boom Room with Andre Balazas — doing consulting on art direction. We have a club in Tokyo called, Le Baron Tokyo, a little bar with dirty French karaoke that I made with my friend Marc Newsome. A few restaurants, a few hotels…different little things.


Thanks, Awards and Powers Irish

It’s that time of year when thanks, presents and awards are given out. My experience–okay, they mean my age–often has me asked to judge some award or another. I’ve been around a really long time. When I started out a club was something you hit a drunk on the head with at a saloon. The good people over at Night Club and Bar have asked me to judge some categories for them this year for their Nightclub and Bar Awards, “To recognize and applaud the best in U.S. nightclub and bar concepts and operation”. There are concerns that revealing this top secret info will result in corruption or subtle persuasion. I must agree that shocking as it may seem, some people in the club industry cannot be trusted to play fair. So I wont tell you what categories I’m judging, but I’ll say this: If you are a nominee, don’t call me about anything. No need to catch up, or chew the fat, or see how I’m doing. I’m doing great. If you were me you’d be doing great too.

And the nominees are…

Bar Awards Categories ●Bartender of the Year: Sponsored by Absolut Vodka ●Beer Bar of the Year ●Cocktail Lounge of the Year: Sponsored by Absolut Vodka ●Hotel Bar of the Year ●Small Wonder Bar of the Year ●Sports Bar of the Year ●Wine Bar of the Year ●Nightclub Awards Categories

Club Awards Categories ●Mega-Club of the Year ●New Club of the Year ●Nightclub of the Year ●Ongoing Promotion/Party/Event of the Year ●Resident DJ of the Year ●Single Promotion/Party/Event of the Year ●Ultra-Lounge of the Year

These awards will be presented at a VIP reception at the Nightclub and Bar Convention and Trade Show, March 8-10. It’s the 25th anniversary of Nightclub and Bar and they are to be both congratulated and taken very seriously. For further information try

The other day, a bunch of guys and dolls from my generation of clubbing were sharing stories and Powers Irish whiskey at a dive bar in the l.e.s. See, it’s not all Boom Boom Room, 1Oak and Avenue for your humble servant. I likes to mingle with the peeps too. We were having one of those back-in-the-day discussions, and it was presented that the big difference between now and then is that everybody who hangs in Williamsburg today were the bread and butter of cool clubs then. There is a lot of merit to this argument. I had been to BK earlier in the evening. I go there as often as I drink and hit a few spots. It is getting harder for me to celebrate the validity of New York nightlife when every bk place I visited was vibrant and packed, and more importantly devoid of bottle service baboons. Uncle Stevie finally discovers Brooklyn! It’s not at all like that. The mega clubs from back when had hipsters as filler rather than the frat boys. The hipsters just don’t bother much with NYC joints, as few in the city cater to them. Still there is Brooklyn cool and Beatrice cool, and that gap is so big you could drive a PBR delivery truck through it.

My night got fuzzy over at 200 Orchard where I was commanded by a family member, Jamie Lynn Dutro, to meet her newish beau Alan O’keefe. Alan was hanging with us until he joined his band Des Roar on stage. Described as “California Sonic Bobby Socks Rockers,” the band totally blew me away. It was really refreshing that Alan can back up his accent and all around nice-guy rap with musical chops. He will be fully indoctrinated into my clan this Thanksgiving over dinner and some more Powers Irish. Bartender/proprietor/guitarist/vocalist Graham Finn was serving me Stella’s and Irish before his band The Dead Sparrows took me back to my rock and roll roots. I loved 200 Orchard–hot crowd, basic no bull rock and roll. They even had Andy Rourke from the Smiths DJing. We popped across the street after to the 6th Ward where old friend Jimmy Gestapo from seminal hardcore band Murphy’s Law and pals talked about the dearly departed and the time before man and such.Don’t let me get started. We raised our glasses to Ray “Raybeez’ Barbieri, frontman of Warzone, who is still with us even though he is not.

Beatrice Redux: Does Olivier Zahm Know Something We Don’t?

I came across this photo yesterday on the Purple Diary and didn’t much consider the caption: “[Graffiti artist] Andre in front of the soon to be reopened Beatrice Inn, New York.” Fans of the shuttered speakeasy have been eagerly awaiting a revival since it was first padlocked back in April.

But no matter how many times Chloë Sevigny supported her brother Paul by wearing that Save the Beatrice T-shirt, the recent problems over at the Jane Hotel & Ballroom suggest things aren’t looking good for these West Village dens of debauchery. As Purple commenter The Nike Nabokov says, the Beatrice “was looking pretty dilapidated a week ago.” But then, Andre and Purple editor Olivier Zahm are close with Sevigny and so probably have some inside information about the resurrection of the bar that wouldn’t go down without a fight.

New York: All the Week’s Parties

Just heard a very realistic rumor that East Village hipster standby The Annex has been sold and will become, of all things, a sports bar. In honor of the decline of yet another club kid landmark, the infamous electro-nu-rave Ruff Club party will be throwing a final hurrah for the sweat den it made popular on September 11, bringing out some underground all-stars: the Misshapes, Spencer Product, and the Ruff Kids. Another fond farewell to a Friday night hotspot that many called home.

It’s been interesting keeping tabs on this moody teenager we know as NYC nightlife. As staple bars close, the beloved Beatrice for one, patrons react as like displaced persons, leading a moveable feast in search of their next home. Keeping a regular weeknight schedule has been futile, as flash-in-the-pan venues like Chloe 81, which used to rule Wednesdays, cool down after losing a place in the rotation. These changes, however, open up the field for some new players. Thursday is becoming a great New York night, with two parties on opposite sides of Manhattan drawing their respective crowds. Likewise, people are turning to venues with solidarity, places that have stood the test of time (if not just a few months) to become sleeper hits. While many spend more of their evening arguing about where to go than actually going anywhere, here are some suggestions for parties on the verge — and old favorites rising to the occasion — for every night of the week.

MondayLit (East Village) – With Le Royale creeping out of the picture, Lit now has a refreshed patronage and a fresh outlook. ● Le Souk (East Village) – It will take a little while to regain the status their Monday party once enjoyed, but this mischievous restaurant is poised for a steady comeback thanks to a loyal following. ● Stanton Social (East Village) – In the spirit of restaurants shape shifting into nightlife, this table-hopping joint has been a mainstay on Mondays, though it may seem a left-field choice. The mounting interest in doubling your fun at dinner attracts a diverse crowd.

TuesdayAvenue (Chelsea) – Beatrice reggies rejoice! Todd and Angelo bring their special brand of refusal to the plush doors of this slick lounge — with Wass! It’s an all-star door, meaning you’ll find a mix of Beatrice groupies dressed up in nostalgia, seated next to high rollers and genuinely pretty people. It’s like a temporary shelter built for nightlife refugees, though this could prove to be long term. ● Rose Bar (Gramercy) – Indeed, the beautiful people have been planted here for a while now. So what? It isn’t any less of a party just because it has been around the block. It’s comforting to know that whenever you might desire being near to big art, Lily Donaldson, a mixed crowd, and a rope you might not get past on a Tuesday night, this is your go-to. ● Above Allen (Lower East Side) – Promoters? Bottle models? Hipsters? Ballers? Promoting hipster bottle models with money? All here on this diverse, overstimulating Tuesday night. Go, dance, get drunk — especially if you and your group are at a loss on Tuesday night.

WednesdayMinetta Tavern (Greenwich Village) – For once, go to this ubiquitous restaurant for the bar. Indeed, the bar lives in the shadow of the food, but the cocktails and bartenders really round out the celebrated establishment. Wednesdays are particularly wonderful here because those on a trendy feeding frenzy are less inclined to stick it out through the night. This means a better crowd, and a better chance to actually get seated — even if it isn’t your main concern. ● 1Oak (Chelsea) – The Koch twins once did a bang-up job on Thursday nights, but the shared sentiment about this golden child is that Wednesdays are now bringing the crowd. “It’s organic, a phenomenal mix of people, and there are usually surprise performances,” one faithful patron says. Indeed, the midweek party hits its stride, and even celebs like Rhianna — who showed face here just last Wednesday — have been known to drop in. “The best part is,” the patron continues, “the B&T crowd isn’t in full force and you actually get to enjoy the surroundings.”


ThursdayJane Hotel and Ballroom (West Village) – Steve Lewis calls the Jane the Obi Wan Kenobi of nightlife. “It is proving to be the savior,” he says, and really, the Jane is something to get excited about. Though some nights showcase bland party princesses better served for the Meatpacking District, we both agree there are enough pockets of poise on their Thursday night to negate the posturing — a feat Lewis says makes this fete a new staple in a nightlifer’s diet. “Any day of the week could be a good night to go to the Jane.” ● BEast (Chinatown) – Ryan McGinley’s Thursday party proved to be a hit with the gays, then came the girls, and now Thursday night is just a mecca of mess (in a good way).

FridayWhite Slab Palace (Lower East Side) – While some things should be kept a secret, this must be said: the decrepit oyster bar throws a pretty great party on Fridays. Known as the Swede Party the music is satisfying, the crowd is fashionable and extremely drunk, and the bartenders seem to be having just as much fun as everyone else. The front seems like a quiet pub, and just like all fronts, appearances are not as they seem. Though the place has caused rumors to fly about questionable activity, it all seems like good, clean fun, aside from the sweaty, dirty dance floor that is. ● The Standard Beer Garden and The Standard Grill (Meatpacking District) – The property is an all inclusive playland. Start off in the garden, if you can stand the crowded atmosphere. Great for a leisurely cocktail to begin the night, especially since you won’t be able to spend your entire night here. After you’re unceremoniously booted around 12am (though the fun sometimes ends around 11pm because of “neighborhood concerns”) gather ’round the friendly front tables and make friends with the rest of the drunks. Sometimes it boasts an unsavory crowd, but the property must be savored in the summer as a premier adult playground.

SaturdayVon (NoHo) – We’ve done everything a person could do on a Saturday night, and we’ve found that staying in or hiding from the masses are usually our best bet. Hiding counts for something at Von, because it isn’t the upstairs bar we’re after, but what’s hidden below it. Try to find it while it’s still mythical.

SundayGreenhouse (Soho) – For those that need their dance fix on Sunday night, Kenny Kenny and Susanne Bartsch bring them great happiness. Though Sundays aren’t at a loss for dance parties, the Vandam party is particularly worthy to check out. ● Goldbar (Nolita) – You can carry the party from brunch to Broome Street, where you’ll probably run into fellow brunchers still carrying on. Very much the Cheers of nightlife, thanks in part to the work of doorman Jon Lennon. ● Sway (Soho) – Sway is still around, and it is still a place to house the freaks and friends of Sunday night. Last time I casually dropped in for a drink, the bartenders were randomly handing out shots, and a colleague of mine was caught crawling around on the dance floor.

Photos by Frank Horvat

Five Easy Pieces: The Best Nightclubs in the History of New York City

These days, I write for BlackBook the magazine as well as online. The magazine has limited space, and I have long stories to tell. Here’s the expanded version of my September print column.

As I wander around Manhattan on deserted summer Sundays with my entourage of furry mates, I sometimes pass an old warehouse or deli that once was the hottest place around. Sometimes I sneak a glance and try to remember where the bars or DJ booth were. The Petco on Union Square, for example, was the Underground, and after that The Palace de Beaute. I smile at reptile food where lounge lizards chatted up debutantes to Jellybean Benitez beats. The “five best clubs in my memory” is an exercise I try every couple years. The list can change, as my memory serves me in some strange relationship with the amount of distractions cocktail waitrons serve me. It’s my memory, and as I’m sure there were amazing clubs before my time, I’ll leave that list to some other dude. You wont find El Morocco on the list, or even the Copacabana or Latin Quarter. I’m sure these were swell places, but before my time. The Peppermint Lounge — a club where the young Beatles played — must be noted, but again I was playing with tin soldiers at the time.

The five best clubs in my memory are Studio 54, Area, The World, Max’s Kansas City, and Paradise Garage. Now there can be valid arguments to replace the last two with a Danceteria or a Tunnel or even Save the Robots. You peeps can play that game all night if you like. I’m sure I’m forgetting joints, but anyone who has spent as much time as I have in clubs can be forgiven an omission or two. Besides these already mentioned, other great ones in no particular order: The Saint, Limelight, Club USA, Red Zone, Mars, Bungalow 8, Palladium, Life, Lotus, Spa, Sound Factory, the Roxy, Xenon, the Underground, Heartbreak, Nell’s, and NASA.

CBGB’s is missing from the list. Although I saw some pretty great shows there — including a triple billing of the Police, Talking Heads, and the Ramones — for the most part I never featured the place. To me it was the Grateful Dead of nightlife. Never really a top band, but they survived so long. They refined their sound and reputation, had a loyal if confused following, and absolutely get an A for effort if not a G for greatness. CBGB’s had its moments, but in my mind doesn’t crack the list. The top five changed the way things were done, were way ahead of the curve, are still talked about or remembered by generations too young to have ever gone, and they offered great music, crowds, and diversity. Diversity is missing with the Paradise Garage, as musically it was Larry Levan and a few other pharaohs offering disco and house to a predominantly gay and black crowd. Its greatness and the religious devotion of its patrons still echoes through clubdom. Larry Levan is the Babe Ruth of DJs, and the Garage was his Yankee Stadium.

With the exception of Bungalow 8, no current club is listed. The current crop needs to be judged from a distance. Marquee, the dominant club of the bottle era, may qualify if it finds some new life and relevance to add to its legacy. Butter is great, but it’s just one night; the Beatrice was well on its way but flamed out a bit soon. Hopefully its legacy hasn’t been written yet So here’s my own personal current top five, with nostalgic setlists provided by DJs and other friends.

image The greatest club of all was Studio 54 (254 West 54th Street). Here Mick wooed Bianca and Truman Capote told wondrous tales to the likes of Elizabeth Taylor and Andy Warhol. It was the playground of the smartest set of my era. Carmen D’Allesio, the VIP hostess, said it was great “because it was the type of crowd that we trusted. It was a conglomeration of the best of the entertainment and music business, the fashion world, and the international crowd. Ian Schrager and Steve Rubell produced events that nobody had done before Studio or since Studio.” Now it’s a theater. Waiting for Godot is playing. The crowd only needs a ticket to see the show — there is no door policy, and Liza and Pele probably wont show. Setlist: “Bad Girls” (Donna Summer), “Love Attack” ( Ferrara ), “Ring My Bell ” (Anita Ward), “This Time Baby” (Jackie Moore), “I Love the Nightlife” (Alicia Bridges).

image Area (157 Hudson) was grand, according to former employee Desmond Cadogan. “At Area there was no VIP room. If you got past the door staff, you were a VIP. Everyone was hanging out together from art and movie stars to sexy yuppies and skanky hos.” The Area space is under construction; according to a friend at the building department, it’s to be “first floor offices, second floor lofts, third floor lofts …” The space also held Quick, NASA, and the Shelter. As I was standing there remembering the sounds of DJ Mark Kamins while listening to the buzz of circular saws, a neighbor whispered to me “Don’t buy there!” They didn’t want the clubs, and now they don’t want the gentrifiers. Ah, it made me wonder. Setlist: “I Feel for You” (Chaka Khan), “You Make Me Feel” (Sylvester), “Why” (Yaz), “Relax” (Frankie Goes to Hollywood ), “The Dominatrix Sleeps Tonight” (Dominatrix), “Slave to the Rhythm” (Grace Jones).

image The World (254 East 2nd Street) was a mess. It was my fault, as I helped run it. It was where house went from the Paradise Garage crowd to the hipster crowd. It’s where hip hop broke out from the streets to everywhere. Public Enemy played, plus Salt-n-Pepa, and Beastie Boys, but also Bowie and Sinead and Bjork and even Neil Young. One night Pink Floyd rolled in unexpectedly and wowed us. It was a place where Keith Haring was arting up the bathroom stalls and Andy Warhol was calming me down. It was dangerous and smart. It was Caroline Herrera wearing a zillion dollars worth of emeralds while project kids popped and spun. Owner Peter Frank says, “The true stars of the World’s universe were the club kids and patrons … when they came through the doors, they became anyone they wanted to be.” The building was torn down some years ago. Today the East Side Tabernacle resides on the first floor, while upstairs East Villagers listen to music that broke there back in the day. Setlist: “Paid in Full” (Eric B and Rakim), “Yo Bum Rush” (Public Enemy), “Saturday Night” (Schooly D), “Open Your Heart” (Madonna) , “Brass Monkey” (The Beastie Boys).

image Max’s Kansas City (213 Park Avenue South) was rock and roll hootchie coo. Dead Boys guitarist Cheetah Chrome offers, “Max’s was great because of the feeling of family there, from the Mickey Ruskin days right through to the day Tommie Dean closed it. It was one of the few places on the planet many people felt at home, and I’m proud to count myself as one. Hell, I even liked the food.” Max’s first incarnation was the Ruskin era. Andy Warhol, Lou Reed, Robert Rauschenberg, Debbie Harry, and the amazing New York Dolls defined New York nightlife. That time alone would put it near the top, but its second Tommie Dean reincarnation was the Ramones and the Dead Boys and Wayne and (eventually) Jane County. It’s a deli now, next to the W Hotel on 17th and park. Been in there a thousand times before this piece, and I never realized it was here that I had tea with Johnny Thunders. Setlist: “First Rock Star on the Moon” (The Brats), “Rocket USA ” (Suicide), “Flip Your Wig” ( Jane County ), “Final Solution” (Pere Ubu), “Blitzkrieg Bop” (The Ramones).

image Paradise Garage (84 Kings Street) was indeed a garage but paradise was never known there until the great Larry Levan showed a disjointed world how to love and support each other. Out of his great heart a sound developed that still rocks clubs all over the world today. This was his house and he is the legend — the standard bearer for so many. Paradise Garage is like that De Niro character from Awakenings. It was asleep, but suddenly from nowhere rose up and enjoyed a magical period of sound and joy and meaning, only to eventually slip back into a mundane coma. The building now stores Verizon trucks. Designer Malcolm Harris found himself there. “As a young African American moving to New York, finding the Paradise Garage was as close to finding a spiritual oasis or tribal commune as one could possibly get. A night at the Garage was a revival meeting, tantric healing, and primal orgy rolled into one. Larry Levan was a spiritual healer and leader, and we all knew every weekend when we left on Sunday morning our souls would be filled until we met up at the same time the following week to receive his gospel: LOVE IS THE MESSAGE.” Setlist: “I’m Every Woman” (Chaka Khan), “Le Freak” (Chic), “You Stepped into My Life” (Melba Moore), “I Will Survive” (Gloria Gaynor), “Feed the Flame”(Lorraine Johnson).

See also: Five Wheezy Places: New York City’s Most Overrated Nightclubs