Brooklynization, Paris Powwow and Sally Shan’s Birthday

The Brooklynization of Uncle Steve continues as I find a better product, a better meal, a better conversation and all around better attitude there. I hit Union Pool yet again, and caught Dead Stars– a fabulous band. Cousins Jaye Moore on drums and Jeff Moore on guitar are legendary in Japan, so I’m told, from their previous band, Orange Park. Jon Watterberg plays bass. They were absolutely brilliant. You know a rock band is solid when you’re hearing their set for the first time and the songs catch you. Afterward we all hung outside by the wood burning fire pit and talked rock n’ roll hootchie-coo. I am so tired of the jaded haters and wannabes who have taken over the Manhattan club scene that I retreat to Brooklyn constantly to hang out with homogeneous hipsters wearing variations of the same plaid. At least there’s good conversation and an unending supply of said hipsters. Everywhere I go there is a party. I bought a Diet Coke at Union Pool and they charged me a buck. The only thing you get for a buck in a Manhattan joint is a wrapped white mint from the bathroom attendant.

I played a little skee-ball at Full Circle Bar and had a seriously fantastic meal at Vutera, where waitrons Jeff and Sarah made it special. The large table next doo, presided over by my new best friend Jeff Shonert, engaged us in witty conversation and party games. It’s like that every night. I’m going to Brooklyn Bowl tonight and this is either a severe midlife crisis or the real thing. Speaking of the real thing, my second foray to the Belmont Lounge’s Stones night proved to be even more satisfying then the last. This is a beautiful, friendly, fun crowd .

I chatted with my jet-setting pal Paul Sevigny about the weather and the whether or nots. He’s in town after Costa Rica and on his way to Paris with the lucky ones. My pal Malcolm Harris is already there and I asked him to give me a blow by blow of all the ooh la la action. He says:

“’I’ve got to be honest, not much on the way of reporting on Paris nightlife. As much as there are a lot of places open, the only place that really matters and has a heart and soul is Le Baron. They seem to get nightlife and embrace all the creatures of creativity. Le Régine, Le Montana, Le Magnifique and- uggghhh VIP – all seem to lack a true vibe. They all seem like people crammed into a box because it’s just a little better than staying at home… For me all roads lead to Le Baron. No matter where I start the night, for some reason the New Yorker in me leads me to Le Baron. So if you want me to cover the nightlife, just know that all roads lead to Le Baron.”

Sally Shan is a tenacious presence on the night life scene. A year ago when she was starting out, I interviewed her and she says I gave her the push and the credibility she needed. This may or may not be true, but a year later finds her growing and very relevant to owners concerned with the bottom line. The bottom line with Sally is that she consistently generates money for clubs in need of that stuff. I asked a highly successful club owner and marketing guru what the story was with Sally Shan. He said, “Sally has the remarkable ability to deliver a spending crowd. While many promoters only can bring people to a good party, Sally’s crowds are loyal to her and will follow her anywhere. Once there, she takes care of them and ensures them a great time.“ I caught up with Sally and chatted with her on her “Nightlife Anniversary,” celebrating the annual date she got into nightlife, near to her week long birthday celebration.

Its been a year since you started working in nightlife. How did you start your business and where is it today? Like with any business, I started with an idea; how could I make some money in this damn recession? So I started with one party. That one party went from one venue a week to three to now six parties at some of the top venues in NYC. Along with that I’ve expanded to incorporate a team of promoters, artist managers, fashion and charity events, and corporate sponsorships.

What clubs do you work at now? I get requests from a lot of different clubs all the time. The key places I’m working at right now are Greenhouse, Hudson Terrace, Tenjune, Marquee, Kiss & Fly, Pink, La Pomme.

What does your crowd expect of you and how do you make sure they get it? As you know here in NYC we expect everything, and that’s what I deliver. Best venues and locations, hottest DJs and music, beautiful people and atmosphere and, of course, Sally Shan, they get me too.

What’s the difference between Sally Shan the brand and the person? Sally Shan the brand is the experience I create, it’s what I give back to people. Sally Shan the person is what I do to stay balanced. What creates that balance is my integrity, values and purpose. That’s what allows me to go and build a great brand.

After promotions at clubs where does your brand go? My brand goes everywhere I go, and where it’s going is to creating corporate alliances. For example Svedka Vodka is sponsoring my birthday party. I’m establishing relationships with clubs internationally to take the Sally Shan experience worldwide. I’m working with designers and brands to promote charities and private events. It’s really about creating a world of lifestyle that has me looking at all forms of media, print, digital and possibly television. It should be a fun ride.

Who are your influences, mentors, idols in clubs and out. You mean besides you Steve? Well, the world I came from is one that was always immersed in live entertainment. Broadway, theater, TV and film. So now I take a lot of that creative energy to create live experiences for people in club and party settings. I choose my mentors and idols from a wide range of places, mavericks and pioneers in film, music and fashion. All the things that make up part of who I am.

Where do you hang when you’re not working? I take my brand with me everywhere but I also know when I need to recharge. I frequent Miami and LA for a quick break.

What are you going to be when you grow up? My best ideas have come from breaking the rules, being creative, not knowing what an adult would do, so I hope I don’t grow up too quickly.

Your most satisfying club experience? Ask me after my birthday celebration week. It starts tonight at Hudson Terrace with DJ Peter Paul and DJ Alan Liao. Sunday it’s at Tenjune with a special guest performance and Tuesday at Greenhouse there’s a birthday CD tribute for my EDEN party. I have a feeling that those will be one of my best club experiences.

A Little Snow Never Stopped the Rolling Stones

The snow came down like in Zhivago, a beautifully white biblical level disaster that wiped out streets and most of nightlife. A coincidence– the pleas of two beautiful women–tore me from my home and hearth. Proceeding the girlish pleas, bartender and muse Sara Copeland and photographer/filmmaker/bon vivant H. Spencer Young called me. They had been at the Vanity Fair event at the IAC building. They gushed of Maggie Gyllenhaal, Kehinde Wiliey and the cast of Green Day’s American Idiot braving the elements to be there. Somehow the event was crowded. Afterwards, they joined me by the fire and we smoked cheap cigars and watched Big Love reruns until the call of the wild, wild blizzard and a need for meatballs drove us into the beauty. We walked over to the Meatball Shop devirginizing the snow and throwing balls of fluff at taxi cabs. We ate hardy fare and root beer. It was then that the phone pleas started.

With most promotional units texting that their galas had been canceled the beautiful and adorable Stephanie Nicole Podasca texted me that the NYC Rolling Stones party was still happening at the Belmont Lounge. She was telling me for weeks that this was the best game in town. Beside being cute and adorable and beautiful, she is sharp, smart and ultra hip, in a good way. The phone also rang with my Miami gal pal Donya, in for a couple of days to enjoy the weather, looking for something to do. We all decided to head to the Belmont Lounge to catch a good party while on the way we were catching snowflakes on our tongues.

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The Belmont was amazing. Maybe the storm culled out the losers. The crowd was stunning, all dressed like Rolling Stones covers from the ‘60s. It was “Under My Thumb”, “19th Nervous Breakdown” and obscure and familiar cuts offered by DJ Kelle Calco. I told him of my rare, mostly unrecorded Stones collection and my encounters over the centuries with members of the band. I asked him to tell me what’s up with this night.

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“We are really psyched that you came by to check out the party and glad you’re truly into the music! I have some pretty cool Keith Richards bootlegs with all kinds of rarities on them, maybe we could do a trade! The story about how the night came into being is actually pretty cool. I had the vision since the summer, just kept telling everyone I met that I was going to start a Rolling Stones dance party. I originally had the feeling it was going to happen in the bar where Keith meets Mick during the ‘Waiting on a Friend’ music video. Turns out that place closed. I was disappointed. One night in December, after a bad date, I went into the Skinny on Orchard Street on a Monday night to get one last drink at 3:30am. This unlikely fellow from Connecticut comes up and says he digs my groove and invited me to a big loft party afterwards, started talking about going with the flow, positive vibes, etc. I didn’t believe him but after talking about all that and having nothing better to do, I just went with it. Sure enough, I show up and it’s happening, and I’m pouring another drink when I realize that I’m in a private gallery of all these rare Stones photographs somewhere around 25th Street or so. Just as I wake up my buddy to tell him how cool this was on the phone, this girl walks up to me and introduces herself. I start telling her how crazy it is to end up there because they’re a big inspiration and trying to start this party. Then she says she just came from a meeting with the owner of Belmont Lounge who said he was looking for something new…and basically that was that, right there in front of some print of Brian Jones at 6am on a Monday night, go figure.”

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My crew and I had a blast. Over the years I have learned that on the days when the elements are roaring, the meek shall inherit HBO and microwave popcorn and there is a great party going on somewhere and you need to find it. Stones night at the Belmont is a great party. The players gave me the old, “if not for the snow it would be more crowded” rap but it was crowded enough and it was a great crowd. To say that it looked like a fabulous beer commercial at times might be accurate, with whispy women in whispy outfits and men whose hats were weightier than they are. But it was more than that it had beautiful diversity and infectious spirit. Everybody was buying us beers and making us feel just lovely. Donya, Danny and Lou, the Miami/New York crew had left The Standard to be here. On rough nights the hotel bars and lounges do well as their tourist occupants must not waste a night out, but fear being stranded somewhere in the big city. They stay close to their warm rooms. So it’s tourists hanging with tourists believing they’re having a New York experience. Donya knew better and had a much better time at the Belmont.

The Rolling Stones party manifesto:

“THE NYC ROLLING STONES PARTY IS A DANCE CLUB about Rock N Roll, Love, Light, Laughter, Ecstasy, Inebriation, Grit, and Glamour spreading and celebrating the spirit of a band who laid the bricks of urban bohemia and then proceeded to walk it barefoot. This is a place for souls who know that god still needs guitars and hearts don’t beat to a click track. As one million dreamers tap their toes and tune into Jagger’s lips and lyrics spitting on and all about the streets of New York….the very streets that we’re groovin on tonight…..we will be the faces they dream of, and this, my friend, is where those faces will meet.”

This party has the Uncle stamp of approval. If you need me next Thursday night for an old story, a comforting shoulder or a lustful liaison, I’ll be there.

Photos by H. Spencer Young

The New Regime: Hunter Parrish, Sebastian Stan, Jonathan Groff

Jonathan Groff, who one day earlier wrapped his first film, Ang Lee’s Taking Woodstock, is the veteran of the bunch. After his Tony Award-nominated performance as the libidinous Melchior in Duncan Sheik’s Broadway masterpiece Spring Awakening, he went on to star in Hair and later, this month’s off-Broadway adaptation of Craig Lucas’ Prayer for My Enemy. In Woodstock, the baby-faced charmer channels Michael Lang, the charismatic creator of the world’s most notorious music festival. “On the very first day of shooting,” he says, from the basement of Manhattan’s Belmont Lounge, seated next to Sebastian Stan, who can be seen on NBC’s newest dystopic drama, Kings, “Ang held this big good luck ceremony where he blessed the cameras and the crew, and we all lit incense. There I was, sitting next to Eugene Levy with a stick of incense against my forehead. It was kind of surreal.”

Sprawled on a nearby banquette, Hunter Parrish, who plays the troubled son to Mary-Louise Parker’s drug-peddling soccer mom on Weeds, and who recently took over for Groff in Spring Awakening, shares a surreal experience of his own. “There are a couple of scenes in the show that are about, um, self-pleasure,” says the star of the upcoming film 17 Again, in which he plays Zac Efron’s bully. “After one show, this guy was like, Will you take a picture doing that with me?” Parrish didn’t, but smiled at the little pervert, proof that even though these actors are just starting out, they’ve already learned to play the game.

Photo: Victoria Will