As I told you earlier in the week, there is a lot going on as clubroom continues to play its never-ending game of musical chairs. Thank goodness I was left standing with the silly music playing sans chair many years ago and can quietly watch from the sidelines. Travis Bass, who had such a big hit with Madam Wong’s and Red Egg and those Swedish dinners on Delancey, has taken the revamped Tribeca Grand and made a go of it with a pop-up bar. He insists it’s not really the TriBeCa Grand because it has its own entrance, but it still is so shhhh, Travis, I mean what’s the point. He also is calling it a pop-up because, like many things in nightlife, the parties come with an expiration date. That date is still undetermined but a guess would put it in mid-November.
At that time, the EMM Group’s much anticipated 199 Bowery space will open. I drive by it almost every day and just love the Monopolgy motif on the construction barrier. EMM’s foray into downtown fabulous includes ex-Collective Hardware maniac Stuart Braunstein and, I hear, ex-White Noise and ex-Mansion man Luke Brian Sosnowski. Luke has a downtown sensibility but also has the ability to sell bottles. This is promising to be a bit of what The Box offered, without the shock and awe. They are looking for talented performance-types, and my guess is that this space will be a hybrid of what EMM does and what these and other players do. It may just scratch that all-things-to-all-people itch that nightlife hasn’t returned to in a bit. The developing cabaret, performance club on Bowery seems highly exportable to cities like Vegas and AC. This is a winner.
Here, Travis Bass gave me all the details about the yet-to-open Bowery spot, pop-up bar, his role in it all, and his greatest weakness.
You launched Tribeca Grand at the close of Fashion Week. Was that a strategy?
We didn’t want to launch the “Bottoms Up” pop-up bar on a high during Fashion Week and then have half our crowd leave for Europe for three weeks, taking us down to a lower note. So we launched it when they were gone and it did amazing! Now everyone is talking and hearing about the pop-up party known as “Bottoms Up.” Now that everyone is back from Paris Fashion Week, we are gonna take it to a higher note!
What goes on here? Who comes? How has this place reinvented itself?
What goes on down there is magical. People have really been able to lose themselves and dance their asses off! The crowd is much of the same loyal fashion/art downtown crowd that we have picked up along the way since Red Egg and Madame Wong’s, with some new faces mixed in that are really into this new concept of dancing a bit and then hiding.
First off… Bottoms Up is not in the Tribeca Grand Hotel, but a world onto itself. You can’t enter through the hotel. We took the space into the basement and turned it upside down and made it the place you come to party and dance all night! Before that, it was a great space to see big bands and go to early parties. We built it out as a place you can go crazy on the dance floor or vanish into all the hidden spaces. It’s a place where you can escape from everything that is happening on the streets above you. We were going to call it “Pop-Up Vegas” as it feels like a casino, in the fact that time there has no meaning.
199 Bowery opens, and you leave. What can you tell me about EMM Group’s latest adventure and your role in it all?
The space on Bowery is going to be amazing. It will be a culmination of everything that my team and I have been doing for the past two years. The space will be like nothing you have seen before and, using the abilities of EMM, we will be able to curate experiences that have never been possible before in our scene.
Are you a promoter? A curator? A director? All of the above? More?
Dictator or Director?? Ha!
I think the best way to describe me would be all of the above, except a promoter. I put together the team and then work with my team to curate the room. I like to come into a space that no one else wants or even thinks about, move a few things around and punk it out for a few bucks so we make the money back the first weekend.
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
My #1 strength is my ability to surround myself with an amazing team that truly loves each other and will go to battle for each other — Eamon Kelly (Best Friend/Door), Vance Brooking (Best Friend/sweetest human alive), May Kwok (Best friend/DJ) — all three have been with me since Madame Wong’s and Red Egg. Our bartenders Dave Mason and the two George’s have also been with me since Wong’s as well
My weakness is trying to find a balance in life while being in the nightlife industry. Being a healthy person that does clubs is a contradiction of terms. I am in love with the punk rock lifestyle and attitude of doing clubs, and it really hurts the day after. Like many people that do clubs, we all need to find a balance between the late nights and having a normal life.