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.