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.

DJ Uncle Mike’s New York City

Smells like teen spirit! Actually it smelled like a million cigarettes. My travels and travails took me to Circa Tabac, where my pal, DJ Uncle Mike, was offering Smoking Lounge Sundays. Circa Tabac is one of a handful of NYC places where smoking is permitted — and therefore celebrated. Located on Watts Street by that umbilical cord that attaches Manhattan to the hinterlands (otherwise known as the Holland Tunnel), it is the cutest little spot. Sitting there, listening to Mike’s varied tunes, it felt like the old days—before regulations took the edge and threw it over to Brooklyn and other exotic lands.

It was a time when, upon returning home after a night on the town, it was required to have a quick rinse to get the gray residue of a thousand cigarettes out of your hair before passing out.

Many people say that losing the freedom to smoke took the edge out of nightlife. There are, of course, places where determined or irreverent scenesters still light up, but the city did go ape shit over enforcement of this rule. Smoking has basically gone into club extinction, or at least the endangered list, much like the cashier booth or the Drag Queen dancing on the bar. Circa Tabac does have smoke filters and in the warmer months they open big windows, but the place is infused with the familiar smell. The place packs out on most nights, and Mike and others are trying to boost the off nights. It felt good to hear the music, sipping a drink under low lights while whiffs worked their way to the ceiling. Smoking has it’s drawbacks, but it does make a place seem sexier.

Uncle Mike is a familiar figure to Bungalow 8 veterans. He lit up that joint for 4 years, playing everything that ever mattered. Huey Morgan of the Fun Lovin’ Criminals nicknamed the bearded Michael Schnapp, who was at the time working as an A&R guy at EMI records. Mike told me he had a scout who brought him “a ton of shit and nothing worked. Everything sounded the same to me, everything was the same thing. There was a tape left and I asked my scout what was that and he said nothing, just some guys I work with over at Limelight. I said let’s hear it. It was different: strange, good, magical. I liked everything. It was weird hearing something so new that I liked so much. So I took them to meet the boss, and he asks them if they want to make a record. They agree, and he tells me to make sure they don’t starve.” Fun Lovin’ Criminals went on to success, although mostly in England. Huey and Fast (Brian Leiser) were no longer employees at the Limelight, rather celebrities in their own right, but there was never a change in demeanor. They remained true to their school, friends, and the streets they spoke of in their music.

Then Michael—Uncle Mike—became a full time DJ in ’95. “I’m like one of the guys who went the other way. Most DJs leave to become producers, or music company guys. I went from A&R to DJing. He showed me his setup: a laptop with a Serato computer program, his Rane Mixer, and the special case that he carries them in. He smoked while he mixed and told me the people at Circa Tabac are real nice. On Saturdays, he does the early set from 4PM to 9PM over at Brooklyn Bowl. “Anything can happen, from a Pink Floyd cover band to original artists. A couple weeks ago they had this performer, April Smith, doing original rock. Keep your ears open about her. She can really sing.” After the Brooklyn gig he eats and heads to White Noise, where he spins from 11 until close. He tears it up. Next Sunday he’s pushing the First Annual Brooklyn Springtime Guitar Show at Brooklyn Bowl from noon to 6pm. Admission is free. He says it will be “like a combination of 48th street—you know, where Sam Ash and Mannys are located—hipster Williamsburg, and high-end, out of state guitar collectors. There will be rare guitars that go for 10K, plus to everyday beat up rockers stuff. Like a cool guitar strap that Keith Richards would love.” The after party at Circa Tabac will be a smash. A week later he’ll celebrate his birthday at the spot. He is ageless, celebrating a number somewhere between Justin Beiber and me. will tell you more.

Farewell L.A. & Notes from Santos’

I left California with fun facts resonating in my head. First, I heard that In L.A. there are more medical marijuana distribution joints than there are Starbucks. Secondly, the people who live in Venice Beach call themselves Ven-utians. My crew has settled there and in West Hollywood. I ate strange fruit and peed next to movie stars in restaurant bathrooms. I had conversations with local nightlife shakers about celebrities as commodities and their car-based clientele. In good old New York it’s hard to make a place that is what we call a “destination” work. Notable exceptions have been Bungalow 8, Area, Cielo, Lotus, and The World, which popped up in hoods that were less than traveled.

In L.A., everyplace is a destination. Pals Marc Rose and Med Abrous joined my clan for coffee and cocktails at Chateau Marmont, which is of course the chicest place ever. They told me about Spare, a project they are collaborating on at the Hotel Roosevelt. Spare will apparently feature a couple of bowling lanes and of course the greatest cocktails and service ever. I love the idea. Marc and I talked about my old Bowlmor Lanes Monday night club leagues. Bowling is mad fun, and a couple of lanes may need to be expanded on.

Marc worked for me back in the Life days, and I always thought he was the best of the young studs. He went West to find his future as so many of my crew has. It sure was swell sitting by the pool and talking on the cell at The Standard in West Hollywood, or strolling with kids on the Venice Beach boardwalk. I have to say, my recent Williamsburg move might not satisfy my urge to change. It was like the voting on Tuesday: A reaction against, rather than a positive acceptance. After Williamsburg, it will not be Bushwick for me. I seem to have developed a fetish for palm trees.

It must be noted that this Saturday,Tao Vegas is celebrating 5 years of doing it, and doing it, and doing it well. The property is a machine that captures the imagination and loot of thousands every week. It remains fresh and fun, as the players involved have evolved the space, keeping It energized. DJ Vice will entertain.

I missed the great artist/photographer Andres Serrano’s musical offerings at Lit last night. We e-mailed each other and he assured me that Brutus Faust will gig again. Traveling just a few days has distanced me from the NY scene. From afar, I noted the closing and the reopening of Santos’ Party House. I put in my 2 cents about what happened, but feel the press release from the day after the closing speaks well on the impact of random acts of unfair enforcement by city agencies. Santos was allowed to reopen after this release:

Dear Friends,

Yesterday was one for the books at Santos Party House. We had been working since the morning in preparation for the 20th anniversary celebration of the legendary record label Ninja Tune, in addition to the string of amazing Halloween events we had been working on for months. At around 9:15pm, the mounting excitement was crushed when the NYPD barged into the club and informed us that we were to cease operations until further notice. Needless to say, we were shocked.

The summons we received lists a few minor incidents that occurred months ago for the most part, all involving people not under the direct employ of the club. While many of the allegations listed in the order are simply untrue, we take most offense to the argument that SPH promotes behavior that causes “ irreparable harm to the City of New York, its residents and visitors.” Our intentions are exactly the opposite. We are a mom-and-pop business that strives to maintain the cultural and creative traditions that make this city such a miracle. SPH does not condone any illegal activity and has always gone above and beyond recommended security protocol to ensure a safe environment for patrons and staff. Spontaneously closing an independent business that has continuously cooperated with authorities (on one of the most profitable weekends of the year) is not the answer. It’ s absolutely ridiculous. Steve Lewis succinctly wrote today, “ Has anybody been in Madison Square Garden during a concert? Drugs are in schools, playgrounds, offices, parks and, quite possibly, every building—commercial or residential—in town. Nobody thinks of closing these places down, only the clubs.”

We have a hearing on Monday and are confident that we will be cleared of any wrongdoing and will resume business as usual shortly. Until then, we encourage our allies in nightlife to remain vigilant and protect your businesses. We are deeply appreciative of the outpouring of support in the press and on the internet. Our apologies go to the incredible event planners and customers that we intended to share the weekend with; we wish you a killer Halloween. Please bear with us as the best is yet to come.


Santos Party House

27th and 28th Street Ghostown: Clubland’s Lost Nabe

For years the epicenter of vibrant NY nightlife, the west 27th/28th street club corridor is now a virtual ghost town. Tonight, Scores will celebrate its anniversary, with Damon Dash DJing. I’ve been facebooked, texted, tweeted, and called to attend this gala. Noel Ashman and a zillion promoters insist I attend. I might not go— never been a strip club guy. No homo, I just don’t head to that area these days. But there was a time when I was there almost every night. The core clubs of that mall, Pink Elephant, Cain, Home, Guesthouse, and Bungalow 8 are gone, as are the cops on horseback and the Kleig lights that put virtually the entire area out of business. Gone also are a couple thousand jobs in an economy that needs jobs. A visit to the M2 website revealed an ad promoting Common and DJ Funkmaster Flex on May 14th. I guess I missed that as well. Tomorrow I’ll be meeting with Joey Morrissey to find out if the mega club will reopen—if he even knows.

A few months ago I attended the closing night bash for Cain. Outside, a reporter from the New York Post asked me why Cain was closing. I pointed to the new building being put up across the street and told her that the Post was partially to blame. I said it was no coincidence that the rezoning of the neighborhood allowed developers to develop those luxury residential building, which resulted in the harassment and closing of the clubs. I pointed out how the Post stirred up the feeding frenzy with its call to arms after the unfortunate death of Jennifer Moore. My comments weren’t used.

Last week, the NY Times reported that the highly successful “fast tracking” of liquor licenses would not be put out to pasture. When new State Liquor Authority chairman Dennis Rosen implemented the program, almost 3,000 license applications were awaiting processing, with 9-month delays very common. The SLA is now sitting on under 900 and there are plans to go back to normal, with state inspectors doing the heavy lifting. The program allows qualified liquor license attorneys to self-certify that the facts on their client’s applications are indeed facts. The budget crisis in Albany, with a moratorium on overtime for state employees, necessitates the continuance of Mr. Rosen’s solution. This is good news for clubs, bars, and restaurants, and good news for business in general. New licensing means new jobs in construction as well as hospitality. Community Boards are severely at odds with a state that may finally be recognizing the potential in sales tax and new jobs the hospitality industry offers.

The difficulties bars and clubs impose on a neighborhood can usually be solved. A new construction project I am working on at 146 Orchard Street is engineering a complaint-proof establishment, stopping the belly-aching before it happens. A new ceiling in this establishment has a layer of sheet rock, with a layer of insulation between it and a new ceiling. The new ceiling is suspended from springs and is 3 additional layers of sheet rock thick, and that’s before the finishing materials of wood and wallpapers are applied. All ductwork is treated to a soundproof construction. Sound will be hard-pressed to find the ears of good neighbors. The problem will be when those dreaded smokers pop outside for puff-and-chats. Responsible management must enforce respect and demand soft talk. This can be done.

What’s been a real problem at hotspots is cabs honking. The clubs have lobbied for a cop from the Paid Detail Program to be allowed to work outside to enforce the quiet. You see Paid Detail cops inside banks and other businesses. Commercial establishments can hire a uniformed patrolman to act as security. Licensed premises are the exception. Raymond Kelly, the police commissioner, has nixed the idea of his soldiers working near bars and clubs. Potential corruption has been cited often. A possible solution is to use Department of Transportation employees instead of cops. A uniform with the authority to write a costly ticket may well serve the community. Sometimes it seems that a solution isn’t being sought at all. It can feel like constructive dialogue falls on deaf ears. The club community moves into neighborhoods that are so often derelict, filled with prostitution and crime, like West Chelsea and Meatpacking, and spend millions of dollars to turn these hoods around. Politicians are prompted to rezone these districts for mixed-use, allowing residential construction. The real estate industry then builds high rises and city agencies persecute the clubs until they go out of business. This is the reality of West Chelsea. It seems the city just wants the clubs to disappear or move on to another unattractive hood and start the process again.

Maybe I will go over to Scores tonight. Noel Ashman has invited me a hundred times since Friday. Nostalgia begs me to revisit the strip club that I enjoyed until just a few years ago. I’ll walk down 27th street and then up 28th. It will be a relaxing walk down memory lane and, frankly, I could use the peace and quiet.

Nightlifer’s Response to Haiti

Lelaine Lau is a fixture in NY nightlife, working at fabuloso places like the Breslin, Mercer Kitchen, Hudson Hotel, Balthazar, Bungalow 8 and a ton of etcetera’s. She is the founder of Saloniere 403, a cultural salon. While most of us have only offered our relegated thoughts to the continuing disaster in Haiti, Lelaine has gone down there to try to do something.

What was the purpose of your trip to Haiti? I teamed up with a foundation aligned with Columbia University’s Earth Institute to explore potential educational and cultural partnerships which we hope will help to uplift, celebrate and heal Haiti and her people. The project is centered around the content recently released music of ‘Alan Lomax in Haiti.’ Lomax was an ethnomusicologist, who, at the age of 20, was commissioned by the Library of Congress to go to Haiti and explore the roots of folk music in 1936. For a year he traveled around Haiti to record traditional Haitian music, celebrations and rituals. His recordings include everything from Rara, Troubadour, Merengue, Carnaval, children’s songs and around 90 hours of audio and film. This treasure trove of vintage Haitian culture remained unmastered for decades until after his death.

The idea of recovering and restoring cultural works, museums and other places of heritage brings about an excellent opportunity to dovetail with other efforts in preserving Haiti’s rich cultural history. The relief efforts are addressing immediate needs, while our efforts address the long-term rebuilding of national pride through educational and preservation initiatives. We hope to develop a strong cultural curriculum alongside Haitian educators and scholars, while also working with groups who further preservation and repatriation. Who did you go with? I went with a friend, Kimberly Green. She’s based out of Miami and is president of her family’s foundation, The Green Family Foundation, which has been funding anti-poverty development and healthcare interventions in Haiti for 10 years. A few years ago, she began funding the first Millennium Village Project in Haiti alongside with the Earth Institute, an initiative spearheaded by noted economist Jeffrey Sachs. The project is geared toward attaining the UN’s Millenium goals by developing sustainable and long-term economic solutions by empowering the country on a community level, so these villages may lift themselves out of extreme poverty. It is a hand up, not a handout. I must add that Kimberly is a woman who has a led a truly remarkable life. I am honored and humbled to be her friend and so inspired by all she has done. She is a free and kindred spirit, and has made tangible contributions to the world and those less fortunate. We actually have discussions about developing new terminology for ‘philanthropists’ like her to denote not only those who give in order to promote systemic change, which is typically a harder sell in the charitable world, but those who are also willing to roll up their sleeves, do the work and get dirty. I just don’t feel the words charitable or philanthropist do justice to what she does. How did you get involved? Kimberly and her good friend Fisher Stevens had come up with the idea of doing radio PSAs using some of the Lomax material to highlight the history and culture of Haiti instead of just lamenting on the grief and devastation. I ended up collaborating on the text read by Sting, Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts and got a major crash course in the history of Haiti during the 48 hour process. This is a girl who really has great ideas and knows how to make them happen! Was this your first trip to Haiti? Yes, I had never visited an impoverished nation, much less one that was in a state of emergency. I came almost two months after the quake, but the devastation was still profound. It was a roller-coaster ride of conflicting emotions. There is no denying the horrific conditions they are living in, but the Haitian culture, it’s people and the enthusiasm that surrounded this project was euphoric. What was your first impression? The dust created a dark haze that covered the city. It was like nothing I’ve ever seen before, even as a native Angeleno. We could barely make out the coastline. The thing that struck me the most was the very poignant entrepreneurial spirit. People were selling things on every corner, people moving with purpose, one man striding along with a shirt, tie and tie clip. The industriousness is impressive, but it’s not regulated which is a set-up for another economic disaster. I saw a popcorn machine, shoe shine and car wash on the edges of camps. Some of the camps are not officially acknowledged or serviced because they fear the camps might become permanent down the line. What surprised you about Haiti? There appeared to be a sense of outward normalcy for businesses and for the upper-middle class. We met with many arts and cultural groups, business owners and department ministers who were back at work to try to instill a sense of normalcy. Of course we heard horrible stories, many people lost family members, but we also visited private homes, some of which had no, or very little damage at all. Even though they weren’t affected on a personal level, they still were passionate about the rebuilding, which colored almost all of our interactions with the local Haitians. Another thing I was surprised about was the number of hotels and restaurants that were open for business. I learned that some of the owners had conflicting feelings about reopening, especially with camps very close by, but they were supporting the economy and families that worked there. I was given pause one evening when I heard an unsubstantiated rumor that 2 people were kidnapped outside of the restaurant we were in while we were eating inside. I was quite impressed by the quality of the food. As we’re on the topic of hospitality, I have to say that one of my biggest disappointments was not getting to experience RAM night at the Hotel Oloffson. RAM is a Voudou Rara band that throws a legendary party every Thursday night, which I’m told is one of those absolute musts. The hotel and the grounds are very grand and huge – the hotel itself has a storied past. Understandably, the Haitians are still in mourning, so now is not the right time, but I eagerly anticipate the day I can have the experience.

Did you meet some interesting people? I got to meet a man known as the Mango Man, he works with small farmers who supply his mango-exporting business, and he was delightful and a wonderful fountain of information as to the way things work in Haiti. All of the people involved in the arts group are just really soulful people. I think the evening spent with this group was my favorite. We broke bread together, shared lots of wonderful ideas of our hopes for Haitian recovery and they taught me how to play the bongos Jean, our driver, was hilarious and a bit of a playboy– each of his girls had a different ringtone! A couple of times he would take down these back roads that were unpaved, narrow, even narrower by rubble, where we didn’t think had an outlet and inevitably we’d find ourselves back on the main road, having bypassed most of the traffic. I was really excited about getting to meet Paul Farmer. He is one of the founders of Partners in Health and is a legend for his work and dedication to the people of Haiti. His work has influenced the policies of World Health Organization for treating TB and HIV/AIDS. We also had a chance to visit Sean Penn’s operation and I came away deeply moved by his passion and commitment, both in the immediate and the long-term. I was tremendously inspired by the Dean of Haiti’s Quisqueya University Jacky Lumarque. The university is considered to be the best in Haiti and was completely demolished by the quake just as it was about to open. Post-quake, when many foreign universities offered to take in his students the Dean said, “The University is here, it is people, not buildings. It is in our hearts and minds.” The students are currently volunteering in Haiti and getting hands-on experience across sectors such as medical, psycho-social, education and child development.

What did you learn about Haiti? I learned that Haiti is a country that grabs you and doesn’t let go. I felt it, and in all of the reading I’ve done in the last week, about various artists, even in a National Geographic article from the 30s, there it is time and again – Haiti over the years has caught the imagination and hearts of so many people. image

What would you leave us with? Early in the trip, I came across a work of graffiti depicting Haiti crying as she’s asking for help. I later learned that this was the handiwork of a young man named Jerry, a man that was behind much of the graffiti around the city. After doing some research on him, I discovered a really cool collaboration that he’s participating in with a NYC arts professor named Pedro Lasche. Anyone in the international community can send a message to the Haitians in Port au Prince that will be interpreted into a work of graffiti by Jerry, for $25. I just think it’s a really cool initiative. In the same vein, the upcoming NY ArtExpo, which is running from March 25 to the 28, has given a booth to a group of Haiti-based art galleries for the duration. All proceeds from this booth will go to support the rebuilding of the Centre D’Art in Haiti. The Centre D’Art was instrumental in building international interest in Haitian art in the 1940s. My understanding is the booth will carry a wide array of Haitian art, so please go find yourself a new favorite artist and support the preservation and restoration of Haiti’s cultural heritage! And finally, I ask that people support the development of a watchdog group, which will hold the many, many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Haiti accountable for the money, which at last count amounted to $3.8 billion dollars, raised for relief and rebuilding. It is time for organizations operating in Haiti to be vetted, to be transparent and to be coordinated and organized so that efforts and funds are not squandered. The Haitians have a right to know where this money is going.

Groups Cinema Under the Stars: This group has been screening films in the camps, sometimes working in partnership with international groups. Friends of FOKAL: Implements a variety of programs aimed at supporting the development of children and the young, youth organizations, youth civil society associations, the peasants and women’s organizations. They are partnered with libraries all over Haiti, and provide cultural programming and activities. Haiti Aid Watchdog: This group is working to independently track the impact of the relief and humanitarian efforts in Haiti, facilitate communication among partners, encourage the Haitian population to play a more active role in this initiative and ensure that the majority of the Haitian people really benefit from this aid.

The Closing of the Club Formerly Known as Cain

Last night I attended the wrap party of what might be remembered as one of the great clubs of the bottle era. In reality, the Cain we all knew closed a long time ago. The redux as Cain Luxe never caught on with the crowd owners Jamie Mulholland, Jayma Cardosa and Robert McKinley were accustomed to entertaining. The neighborhood, Chelsea, had died a quick death from enforcement malpractice after city zoning procedures changed the area from commercial to mixed use. The rebirth of Cain as Cain Luxe didn’t work and probably never could have. Perhaps last night signaled the end of an error.

Those in attendance were saying goodnight to Cain and ignoring the Luxe part they never cared to know. The neighborhood’s new residential high rises provided ample motivation to destroy the Chelsea club mall that stretched from 27th to 29th street. The police barricades, search lights and cops on horseback were no longer in sight. They had already completed their mission and destroyed almost all the business on the once thriving block.

As I strolled down 27th street you could hear a soggy pretzel drop as I passed by the bones of once thriving clubs. Gone were Bungalow 8, Home, Guesthouse and Spirit. A few long-legged ladies approached the door where Pink Elephant once roared as if they were lost in time. They must of come a few years back and thought it was still a relevant club. The Elephant has left the building and only Pink remains as management changed and the old owners moved on to friendlier ‘hoods. There were more security and support staff outside than patrons. There used to be lines of hundreds.

I was greeted at the door of Cain Luxe and treated like I was Elvis. Jamie Mulholland greeted me inside enthusiastically, smiling like I was delivering him his morning coffee and croissant. I congratulated him and he looked at me like I was going to deliver a punchline. I told him he had so much to be proud of. The smile he had practiced all week faded. I said that club god “Steve Rubell couldn’t have made Luxe work” he almost offered a “but” but I wouldn’t let him. “You did a great job no one could have made this work with the police and the constant harassment, Cain will be remembered as a great club.” It was hard for him to accept this praise. Club moguls never want to close the doors. This crew still has GoldBar, which is still so fun after 3 years. The Surf Lodge in Montauk is brilliant and set to reopen with the season. The Bahamas is said to be beyond cool. As hard as it must be for Jamie to say goodbye to his baby in reality it will give him so much more time to excel at these places and elsewhere. I almost asked him who he sold the place to as if you my readers might care who or what will be there. I didn’t think you were interested.

He got me and mine some waters and got me to PR guru Steve Kasuba and we worked the room our way while Jamie went off to do the same. I saw real estate honcho Steve Kamali, who was just named on Societe Perrier as number 5 on the “The 10 Most Beloved Nightlife Impresarios in New York City.” I came in at number 8. I asked to be removed due to technical difficulties, but no one was amused.

The crowd was confused. They couldn’t decide whether they were at a wedding or a wake and I finished my exercise of shaking hands and straining for names and went towards the door. As I was leaving a security guard, with a rubber stamp in hand, asked me if I was “coming back tonight.” I looked him in the eye and said “No and never again.” He was not amused. Outside the New York Post hit me up for sound bites. As usual they were interested in what Lindsay Lohan or Paris Hilton did when they were at Cain. They asked me why they closed and I pointed to the new residential buildings going up across the street. I told them that the New York Post had spearheaded a campaign of bad publicity about the clubs on the block, a campaign that eventually helped drive the crowds away. I turned them over to the always dapper Cain alumni Randy Scott and slipped back into the present.

We hit the quiet streets and stopped at Marquee to see how the SL design was holding up. It looked good, still crazy after all these years. We strolled down 10th Avenue to Avenue, chatted with actor/door god Wass and popped inside the bottle-popping Mecca. Noah Tepperberg and I talked shop and exchanged inside info that’s so hot-to-tell that I wont tell it. The crowd at Avenue was stunning. Wealthy, dressed and having fun like those types like to have fun. We made our loop and went to 1Oak and chatted serious chatter with the players who play there. Again we were off into the night. About once every week someone asks me if I miss it. The glamor the clamor, the riotous nights. I do sometimes, but walking towards 9th avenue holding hands with a person who only knows and likes the person I am and doesn’t know the person who used to be Steve Lewis, I felt very warm fuzzy and satisfied. I had done the best job I could have back then and like Cain, I think I will be remembered fondly. After all, I am the 8th most beloved nightlife impresario in NYC.

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.

A Gift List for Clubdom

The ghosts of Christmas past drive me to self-analytical frenzy, that gets mixed in with the shopping and the holiday greetings whirlwind. Then there’s the, “I love her, she loves me not, she loves me, I can’t stand her 75 percent of the time” pantomime. That leads into who? what? where? New Year’s Eve desperation. With work and traffic, money runs and non-stop Christmas muzak, I think I’m starting to lose it. Gonna leave you to your thing and I’ll go do mine. Before I go, I’m going to give some clubs some uncle Steve advice: What “should” each club want for Christmas?

Avenue: A deep breath. 1Oak: Another year like this one. Or better– like the year before, as the recession comes to an end. Boom Boom Room/18th floor: A laugh track and a high-speed money counter. Bungalow 8: A real deal redux and a neighborhood revival. The Jane: Another chance! The Beatrice : Clarity. Rose Bar : A Basquiat and a big hug. Provocateur: Patience and humility. Simyone: Diversity to go along with all that quality, good looks and charm. Rdv: A “stay true to your school” t-shirt. Cielo: A moment away from cops and courts to concentrate on the real club side of things. Pacha: The same plus a VIP host who knows everybody in clubdom and gets them to come. Lit: A clone for Mr. Foss and a swiffer sweeper. Apotheke: More of the old (crowd) and more of the same (delicious cocktails). Greenhouse: One clear public message besides the green thing or the green thing and chain of command. Juliet: A new lighting concept and lots of fabric. Hudson Terrace: The Copacabana. The Eldridge: 25 more square feet. M2: A real good old school club night with lots of familiar faces. This place rocks when filled with good peeps. La Pomme: Time to build its own crowd. GoldBar: A gold medal for Jon “the legend” Lennon and a little more light. It’s too dark to appreciate the crowd. Marquee: Glass and maybe a once a month huge DJ and a clearing out of the furniture. Webster Hall: Convictions. Southside: Brotherly love. Ella: A little respect. Gansevoort Roof, Highbar, Empire Hotel: Eternal sunshine, endless summer. The Box: Moist towelettes and more Patrick Duffy.

Who am I to tell all these young studs what they may or may not need. But I do remember something James Brown once said: “I taught them everything they know, but not everything I know.” Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Midnight’s Children: New York Nightlife Icons

Every field of endeavor has its icons, and nightlife is no different. To be an icon in this world, one has to be successful and stay relevant. After all, you’re only as good as your last party. For every genuine icon, there are swarms of scenesters who occupy the pantheon in their own minds — putting the “I” and “con” in the word. But it takes a certain amount of swagger to succeed in this business, so they should be forgiven. Besides, they are always the easiest people to shop for around Christmas: any mirror will do. Listed below are my six New York City club icons — solo artists and teams — and the up-and-comers with the potential to replace them, if only their predecessors would move to India (or somewhere even more remote, like Brooklyn).

ICONS: Club owners Noah Tepperberg and Jason Strauss, who scored big with Suite 16, Marquee, TAO New York and Las Vegas, LAVO and the new super-hot gastro-lounge Avenue. WHO’S NEXT: Eugene Remm and Mark Birnbaum currently operate a number of A-list properties including Tenjune, Abe & Arthur’s and Simyone, and have put together a strong marketing company in Emm. If they’re missing an ingredient, it’s downtown cool.

ICON: Nur Khan, whose sophisticated rock chops and social skills (his friends include everyone from Beck to Alexander McQueen) are tough to duplicate. When Rose Bar is at its best, it’s the best in town. WHO’S NEXT: Bowery Electric’s music junkie Jesse Malin, with some help from Rose Bar’s DJ Nick Marc, might do the trick. Throw in Mark Baker for the high-end crowd.

ICON: No matter how many times his sister wears one of those “Save the Beatrice” T-shirts, Paul Sevigny’s iconic inn looks like it has shuttered for good. WHO’S NEXT: Carlos Quirarte and Matt Kliegman of The Jane Ballroom and The Smile come pretty close, but they need a Chloë. Here’s looking at waifish downtown rocker Lissy Trullie.

ICON: For years, Bungalow 8’s affable Amy Sacco has been the reigning queen of New York nightlife. WHO’S NEXT: If Sacco stays in London to be closer to her Blightly Bungalow outpost, which seems possible, could model-turned-club promoter Emma Cleary step up, with a little seasoning and help from Serpentine’s Patrick Duffy?

ICONS: Club czars Scott Sartiano and Richie Akiva of Butter and 1Oak fame. WHO’S NEXT: The pair’s partners in 1Oak — Jeffrey Jah and Ronnie Madra — are ready and able to slide right in. With a clipboard courtesy of door guru Binn and the hustle of promoter Adam Alpert, plus the high-end hip hop reach of DJ Cassidy or his manager Yoni Goldberg, they might just have enough edge.

ICONS: Party promoters Susanne Bartsch and Kenny Kenny. WHO’S NEXT: If these two took a powder break, heirs apparent Ladyfag and Desi Santiago would need to go for the gold. Clubdom is a numbers game and a merger with Mr. Black’s iconic Stuart Black would be necessary.