I am bedridden so this is going to be sort of left unwritten. Tonight there is yet another 2feet@12inches art opening reception. I DJd the last one of these treats by Robert Aloia and crew and it was sold out, got raided, was the most fun. Tonight’s event is at White Rabbit ‘s White Box at 145 Houston Street. The event – curated by Aloia, Bill Spector, Frankie Cedeno, and Laksmi Hedemark – will be one of those great adult events that we so often long for. I’m DJing from 10pm to 11pm if I can make it out of bed. If Shorty, Small Change, Sal Principato, or Julie Covello/ DJ Shakey won’t cover for me, Jazzy Nice, or Greg Poole surely will. I’m excited to see buzz-band Roma and hang with old friend Dominic Chianese. This shindig starts at 6pm and goes to 2am.
Tonight marks a new beginning for The DL, a joint at 95 Delancey that was doing very well anyway…thank you very much. It’s luscious, sprawling, and enclosed rooftop brings the crowds – rain or shine, winter or summer. The launch of its Wednesday gala brings events on three floors, with notable DJs Prince Terrence, Carol Shark, Miss Guy, and Michael Cavadias on the top floor. Dirtyfinger and JLamar will be on the restaurant level as Sam Valentine and I recreate our rock and roll hootchie koo on floor two. I’m double dipping with an early gig at EVR, which attracts a totally adult fun crowd. My peers can pop by for a drink and still be asleep right after Letterman.
Seva Granik is behind this revival at The DL with partners Richie Romero and Bill Spector. I think this will a be back-in-the-day good time. Everywhere I go people pat me on the back and tell me how much fun they had in the "good ol’ days." They refer to me as "a legend," which always has me checking my pulse. To repeat some lyrics from my real "good ol’ days" …"These are the good ol’ days." Although I understand that I did some things back then that was all things to some people, I do very much like to be defined in the now. Now…tonight I will DJ 55 years of rock and roll from Carl Perkins to Rival Sons, and if you tell me I look good, I will smile but will be thinking less of you.
As I pointed out, The DL was doing fine before all this. Their restaurant serves serious food and they fill the place with great crowds who keep coming back for more. They will expand into more vigorously programmed weeknight soirees, timed to hit a warm weather season that sees them attracting throngs. I have been thinking about the first song for the new soiree and it will be "You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory’ by Johnny Thunders, a childhood friend. Yeah, I’ve been rolling and rocking for a minute.
Oh, lest I forget: Happy Birthday to Prince Terrence… Oh, and I’m back from that wedding in Puerto Rico, tanned from the hot sun and plump from mofongo. There may be a time, ladies and gentlemen, when you can truly say "Goodnight Mr. Lewis" as a future of quiet walks on endless beaches with puppies and my gal and friends on warm sunny days seems an inevitable conclusion to so many nights spent in so many loud rooms. I may end up swimming with the fishes after all, and the guy serving me Limber De Coco popsicles won’t think of calling me a legend.
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Harbour Drive, the much-anticipated Soho restaurant-lounge, has hit a reef. Two of the four partners have left the project following the community board’s refusal to grant anything but a 1 a.m. license to the Spring Street side of the establishment. The space has two rooms and two bars — one with the Spring Street address and another with a Hudson Street address. The Hudson Street address was granted a full (till 4 a.m.) license. Despite this setback, the remaining two partners, who wish to remain anonymous, will forge ahead.
I asked promoter Bugsy — who, along with Bill Spector — has decided to move on why they couldn’t operate with this arrangement. Bugsy believes that they won’t be able to make money without full use of the smallish space. It seems that a previous tenant operated Green Room there and drove the octogenarian members of Community Board 2 crazy. So why did they grant the 4 a.m. license to the Hudson Street side? Why wouldn’t you qualify in both sides, if one side is ruled acceptable? Bugsy replied, “It made no sense.” Having worked on this project for over a year, they now walk away with nothing. All involved have spotless records and invested with the understanding that licensing would be granted.
Unless the remaining partners can reapply, change minds, or get around this devastating ruling, many people will now be left without jobs, and the city and state will lose tax revenues. These times call for leadership to step up and get such important decisions back into the courts and away from a non-elected community board, which will invariably be at cross-purposes with a drinking establishment. In this atmosphere — where an investor with a clean record must lay out hundreds of thousands of dollars and, in most cases, millions before knowing if a license is granted — it will be increasingly difficult to build. What happened at Harbour Drive is happening throughout the city; obtaining a liquor license has become nearly impossible. These times cannot afford the loss of jobs, taxes, and sales of goods imposed by community boards, which are usually comprised of people who do not actually represent the needs of the community.
I was asked by my editor to compile a list of the best joints on any given night — i.e. Mondays at Butter or Tuesdays at Rose Bar. As I travel in and enjoy many scenes, I answered the question as where you might find me on any given night. As has been pointed out constantly in the comments section, I am a flaming schizophrenic, so what I feel like doing one night might not apply a week later. That said, here are my choices, with explanations and alternatives for the left side of my brain.
Mondays at Butter: After seven years, an intelligent, hot, mixed, fun crowd gathers in what might just be the city’s must-be-seen/-scene party. I love Antik as well; although the place has lots of issues, it really feels good on a Monday, especially downstairs in the “dive bar.” Tuesdays at Rose Bar: Although I actually never go there, I hear only good things from the bestest of peeps. My New Year’s resolution this year is to be there very often, if the fabulous Nur Khan doesn’t tire of me.
The left side of my brain gravitates to the undeniable Beige party at B Bar. It’s been around since the birth of cell phones. This institution is still my kind of place. And I hear Bungalow 8 is becoming seriously fabulous as well. Oh, and Beatrice Inn. Wednesdays at Marquee: A mix of everyone, and a lot of people normally not there, keeps this night vibrant and relevant. This is the only night many Downtowners makes the trek to outer Chelsea. Thursday at 1Oak: Richie Akiva, Scott Sartiano, Jeffrey Jah, and Ronnie Madra have the best joint in town, period exclamation point! The Eldridge is also mighty nice on this night. I wrote about the Eldridge the other day, and they felt I had unfairly bashed them. I totally support young Luke Skywalker, er, Matt Levine — he just can’t rest on his laurels. If this small LES joint is to live up to its potential, then it has to keep working at it.
Friday at 1Oak. (OK, by now you’re getting the picture.) I went this past Friday and was stunned by the relevance of the crowd. When Bill Spector, one of those guys around town who often says something bright when he opens his mouth, told me it was not their best night, I looked around and thought, “Wow!” 1Oak is the wow factor that’s been missing from clubs for quite a while. It’s Butter Mondays on steroids and you will find me there. There are too many small, great, alternative places to mention here, and I am so optimistic about Ella. Saturday I hit 10 joints. Santos’ Party House is the place I send people when I want them to have fun without B&T entanglements.
With Rose Bar, 1Oak, Beatrice Inn, and sometimes Socialista, there’s continued vibrancy at the top of the heap. The modelista scene is banging. The hipsters have a zillion joints and an entire neighborhood or hoods in Brooklyn. Yet the fabulous fashionistas are having a harder time finding purity in clubdom. I have high hopes for Webster Hall, which I am renovating, or shall I say, “restoring” to its incredible historic grace. Talk of a Suzanne Bartsch/Kenny Kenny night with all the unusual suspects attached will surely fill that cavity. The necessary lowering of prices bodes well, coupled with a need to embrace and mix opposing crowds to fill recession-emptied rooms. We are on the verge of a rebirth of club culture. The ingredients are all here, with masses of people looking for good clubs. As the broker jokers are economically rendered second-class citizens, a more creative element may indeed slide into that void.
1Oak, often criticized by the haters (defined as those who can’t get in), has a crowd that is so cool and sharp that making money comes easy to them. It isn’t Lehman losers drooling over the models. It’s stylists and creative types mixed in with the rich and the upwardly mobile, fabulous, successful, and sexy people who are making their mark. It also has just enough street edge and music props to push it past the pretenders. There are many gay people, there are many people of color, young and young at heart. These labels aren’t as relevant for the smart set that merely needs to know that you offer something. As I was hanging outside the joint the other night talking the talk with owner Scott Sartiano, his partner Richie Akiva joined us. As Richie exited, a couple of well-dressed girls snuck in the back door in a power move. Security politely removed them, but Richie enjoyed their daring and asked them in. The poor cuties, not realizing the owner was trying to help them, said some unfortunate words — and still Richie tried to help them. With a line of people waiting hopelessly to get in. A line, by the way, full of people that would be welcome at any club within a mile of the place. Richie still took the time to know his customer and do the right thing. It is this one-on-one dedication that is so lost on the current crop of operators who think of themselves as being above the “common people.”
The only thing preventing a golden age of clubs is the continued harassment by what appears to be an out-of-control and corrupt police force, and the power trip of old buddies on community boards. We may be facing tough economic times, but a vibrant club scene may be the result of this mess. If the bottle service glut of the last 10 years has ruined the club scene, then the demise of the boring stockbroker set might be just the ticket to get us through the depression of the recession.