Nightlife That Makes You Feel Like A Good Person

On Wednesday night we dressed like Eskimos and attended a private screening of director Ariel Vromen’s The Iceman at the Bryant Park Hotel’s screening room. Club legend Danny A. Abeckaser invited me and mine to the show. Danny plays a pivotal role in the flick as the best friend to leading man Michael Shannon. Michael plays hit man Richard Leonard "The Iceman" Kuklinski who had somewhere between 100 and 250 successful whacks before they caught him in 1986. The film is filled with familiar faces, from Ray Liotta, James Franco, Chris Evans, Stephen Dorff, David Schwimmer, and Winona Ryder. Winona ruled. Danny A. had his usual crowd of models and the folks that hang with them, and a good time was had by all. It’s good to see one of the good guys in the club world breaking out and living his dreams on the silver screen. The movie is chilling and captivating. It will come out in a couple of months.

Advance tickets are on sale for The 4th Annual Two Boots Mardi Gras Ball Benefit for The Lower East Side Girls Club happening at Le Poisson Rouge on Fat Tuesday, Feb. 12th. They have Cyndi Lauper and ?UESTLOVE doing the King and Queen of the Mardi Gras thing, and performances by Pitchblack, EMEFE, The Ambitious Orchestra and powerhouse DJs Roxy Cottontail and Beverly Bond. All sorts of other acts and stilt walkers and body painters will be part of this for such a great cause. The Lower East Side Girls Club helps young girls climb out of bad places, giving them guidance and support as they try to make their dreams come true. My pal Jenny Dembrow is a honcho over there working tirelessly to make it work. Tickets are $25 or $125 for the dinner, booze, and reserved seating. Get them here.

Just a word to all: it’s real cold out there, even for those who can afford warm clothes and shelter from the elements. Be aware that around us there are people who don’t have the ability to get by on their own. If you have stuff you’re not wearing that can help another, this is a good time to make room in your closet. Donate your goods to one of Goodwill’s NYC locations here and feel like a good person instantly.

The Day After Birthday Bash: Feeling Like a Million Yen

My birthday bash at Avenue last night proved to be more fun than a barrel of monkeys. I am limp and drained and wonderful. I feel like a million yen.  Avenue asked me to throw my party there and I couldn’t say no. The good people at Avenue/ Tao Strategic Group have been work associates, friends, and family from the good old days when I was that maniacal Steve Lewis guy. They put up with me then and celebrated me yesterday… in style.

Wass Stevens in a leg and foot cast, making it look sharp, greeted my mixed bag of guests and let most of them in. We chatted at the front door, where he counted his blessings, which included surviving his terrible motorcycle accident, good doctors, and the love of a great woman, Lydia Rivera. Lydia slept on the hard hospital benches, waiting to be there when he woke up. They have been dating for a while now and I am so happy. I have known Lydia for years and she is simply wonderful. Guys like Wass need women who will be there when it counts. Lydia is a keeper.
 
Inside, I was greeted by a giant silver mylar "STEVE" balloon which made me laugh and smile and swell. The Avenue staff all were expecting me and all took the time to say hey, tell me they were there for me and mine. A flashing Mr. Lewis sign designated my tables. Their tech person had everything I needed for my DJ set. In short: it was perfect.
 
Every operator talks service and organization, but few come close. Sometimes they are organized but miss the most basic necessity for success. For me, that is the family or team spirit that is instilled in the entire organization. Noah Tepperberg sat next to me, introduced me to his fabulous friends, and told me that the staff was excited that I was having my party there; it showed. Andrew Goldberg was the point man. I asked him to sum up his approach to throwing a good party. He said, "We focus on passion, enthusiasm, and we strive to have the team concept which we hope will translate into a great guest experience."
 
The cake was amazing. They sent over some Artichoke Pizza (Noah is a partner). They delivered bottles with a fun, not forced demeanor. The honchos in the organization took the time to send me an email or text congratulating me and thanking me for doing my party there. My DJ set was 30 minutes of raw, hard rock. The equipment, booth, tech support and sound in general were perfect. Club God Danny A introduced me to Stella Keitel and told me about his new movie project. Promoters seeded tables near mine, to mingle some beautifuls in with my crew. They all paid respects. I felt…respected. This is the art and science of nightlife at its best. I chatted up Lulu Johnson about her new line and her famous mom who I have always loved. Dean Winters, now known to the world as "that Mayhem guy" came by and hugged and chatted and promised to meet up for dinner soon. Blasts from my distant past chatted up new friends. I went home all warm and fuzzy.
 
For one week in a row, Le Baron is the greatest club in New York, the world, the galaxy. I know they  will thrive and lead us to a better place and mindset. These guys are pros. The New York nightlife bubble keeps expanding with fabulous places opening up in every corner, catering to all sorts and situations. Players from everywhere and lifestyle are plotting for a bigger piece of this Big Apple pie. I go out almost every night and I observe a great deal of mediocrity making great deals of money. I think everybody in the game right now is doing well. This may change. As real players open up more and more new spots, the phonies will be left more alone. I walk into places and the staff is miserable, being treated like slaves by owners or operators who think thats how things work. It may work for a minute or two longer, but those that run a place like it’s an army will soon lose to those that run things like its a family.

Uncle Mike’s Closes, McCarren Park Pool Opens…

Matt De Matt’s birthday bash at his Gaslight annex G2 Lounge kept me away from Danny A’s latest screening as, once again, I couldn’t clone myself. Danny Abeckaser used to be best known for the company he keeps which includes boldface names like Leonardo DiCaprio and scores of models and beautiful people. Now more and more he is becoming a celebrity in his own right, having been a promoter and owner and club personality for decades. He works as both an actor and producer and has recently completed Freelancers and The Iceman. His role as drug dealer Jackie Solomon in Holy Rollers, a film he also produced, has me salivating for his next project. There will be other screenings, goes the logic, but I’ll have to wait until next year for Matt De Matt’s birthday.

At the party I was pleased to get a chance to chat up my friend Mason Reese who followed a childhood commercial acting career with a club/restaurant career. He may be small but he has big ideas and it was wonderful to catch up. Dina Regine and I exchanged war stories about DJing (she still does it) and people and places. It was an age-appropriate crowd for me and I’ll just leave you with that straight line. Yeah, I’m not getting any younger and neither was anyone in that room except maybe Matt who looked great and was certainly full of less BS than I hear from most people of his stature in the biz.

I like the concept of the “F**K the Hamptons” bikini and champagne brunches at Lavo on Saturday afternoons. I like that all the people in this town that I don’t enjoy as much as they think I do leave town each weekend for that never never land (as in I will never go there unless paid well). I am hearing raves about McCarren Park’s newly-opened pool and recreation facility for all the scruffy hipsters in Williamsburg. I had a blast last night at Hotel Chantelle which got its air conditioning together. The crowds – those that didn’t melt last Thursday – returned to enjoy the show and especially the roof. Debbie Harry came by to visit her pal DJ Miss Guy and I had a few minutes to chat with her. Last night I hung with regulars Tommy London and Marty Concussion of the Dirty Pearls. They were busy being boys-to-men…and back to boys-at-the-bar with Luc Carl. Before next Thursday’s DJ gig at Chantelle, I will see them perform at the Highline Ballroom with Bebe Buell, The Killing Floor, The Noise, and Ingrid and The Defectors.

My newest friend was telling me right before my DJ gig about her favorite bar: Uncle Mike’s. Less than 10 minutes later she received a message that announced its immediate closing. I’m rethinking my friendship… this girl is dangerous. The message said:

"tomorrow, Friday, is closing day for mike’s. we are throwing an ‘end of the world’ party. I expect everyone to make the bar as much money as possible if we want guaranteed jobs at the other company bars. the $ Friday needs to be huge. I couldn’t tell anyone until now, ring as much as possible. sell decor sell chalkboards, hats, glasses etc. starting at $10 the money will be very closely watched. drop text and Facebook bombs NOW. twitter, call, etc. put it on the sign in the am. sell every drop of liquor in here at full price. I need $6000+ tomorrow."

Uncle Steve is heading to Uncle Mike’s tonight with cash in his pocket. Yesterday I told Mason that the business is booming and that everyone is making loot. I might have misspoken. Come join me at Uncle Mike’s and I’ll buy you a beer…or maybe a barstool.

From Club Man to Actor: Danny A. Works With the Best

Danny A. Abeckaser has made the transition from hosting boldface names to being one. The longtime club owner/promoter is usually surrounded by the beautiful and famous at the chicest of clubs. He has a piece of Avenue, and I find him there when he’s not out in the world shooting some flick or another. The good clubs aren’t good because the celebrities go there. The celebrities go to the good clubs because the people there allow them to be themselves and they know that what happens in there stays there. Danny A., as we all know him, has been the guy with the table, the mega-star, and the models, going back to when I was doing it well. Early on, I saw him in a club-like flick called Point&Shoot, and found it amusing. His production of and performance in Holy Rollers made me a true believer. Hey…I’m a fan.  He has remained a friend and I enjoy catching up with him and talking about what he is up to.

You have a great role in the new flick The Iceman with Michael Shannon, James Franco, Chris Evans, Ray Liotta, David Schwimmer, and Winona Ryder. This is big time. Tell me about your part and about the film.
I’m so excited for The Iceman. It’s been two years in the making. I play Dino Lepron, who’s the Iceman’s best friend. He’s the only guy the Iceman really loves and trusts. Acting alongside Michael Shannon was amazing; the guy is so good he makes anyone he’s in a scene with so much better. I’ve known the director Ariel Vromen for years, and when he told me about it I had to be in it. It was just shown in Venice and Toronto. Should be out end of this year.

You just finished some work with Martin Scorsese. Tell me about that and how you hooked up with Marty…er, Mr. Scorsese?
I did three days on The Wolf of Wall Street. Just being on set and working with Scorsese was a dream come true. The roll is very, very small. But it’s Marty. I would have gone to Japan to be an extra, so that was great.

You will be in another film which headlines Woody Allen as an actor. Are you blowing up? Tell me about this film and the path it took you to get here.
Yeah, I just got cast in a small role as a rabbi in Fading Gigolo. Starring Woody Allen. Directed by John Tutoro. Very exciting. I don’t care about the size of the role. I just want to work with the best. So I feel very blessed.

I remember Point&Shoot, and thinking how amazing it is that you’re this club guy, a high-end promoter/owner type, yet you have this movie career.
Point&Shoot. That was fun. That’s when I said, “I like this. I want to keep doing it.” I’ve always wanted to act and produce. I acted in a few small things as a kid. But now I feel it’s what I was meant to do.

I loved Holy Rollers and have seen it many times. I appreciate it more each time. You had a production credit in that flick, as well as your acting performance in the pivotal role of Jackie.
Jackie was a character I felt I wanted to play first, very early in my career cause I felt I know that guy. I needed to feel comfortable with my first big role. Being in the club business, I’ve met lots of guys like him.

Have you been planning this movie career all along? Will your club career be coming to an end?
Nightlife has opened so many doors for me since it’s kept me around amazing people. But only after doing The Iceman did I realize how hard this acting thing is. You have to put in the work and time to do it on a high level. I’m very lucky to have Noah Tepperberg and Jason Strauss as partners at Avenue and a few other small things. Without the freedom of knowing Noah is there to make sure everything is good, I wouldn’t have been able to go away and shoot for two months at a time.  Like I said, I’m very blessed and excited for the future. Excited to see what happens.

I love that you, Steve Lewis, loved Holy Rollers and always says nice things about it. It made me go out and work harder. So thanks. Peace. 

Last Night: Andrew Goldberg’s Jungle-Themed Birthday at Avenue

The good ones know how to do it right. We ate late and headed to Avenue in a car. The lines outside were huge and we opted to get dropped up the block so some of the folks could have a smoke before the door drama. Wass greeted us with enthusiasm. My old friend and I have spent a lifetime in clubs, but nowadays we catch up only when I pass by. Wass was positively dapper, wearing a tie to die for. In fact, I touched it to make sure no little animals had actually died for it. Showing no lingering damage from his motorcycle accident, Wass and I spoke of new tattoos and a visit to his new shop: Rivington Tattoo N.Y.C. I promised to get my next ink there, but realize I’m getting my kraken at East Side Ink next. I’ll get my Winona Forever with Wass. If my other careers don’t work out, I may find a job in Coney Island. Is that still there?

Andrew Goldberg was dressed like all the extras in a Tarzan movie, in keeping with the jungle-themed event. I forgot about the dress wish and looked like a SWAT team member all in black, including a black Mets hat which I have been wearing in irony until I became an actual fan. Andrew was truly happy as a thousand hands and smiles were directed at him as he worked the room. We small-talked as he took me to Noah’s table. Noah, Danny A., and I talked the talk. Noah was very proud of the new sound system, which was taking the crowds ever higher. New lights created even more energy. We talked of gin and beer and what we hear, and I kissed the girls and made them cry and went into the night.
 
Today is way too busy for last night and I needed to rest up. I have been told I’m not as young as I used to be. We watched Law and Order, which always delivers. We were lucky as it was an old one with Jerry Orbach in charge. The first scene had Wass playing a cop. We giggled at the coincidence and noted how much more handsome he looks these days. Carlos Leon was in the next scene, then an old bartender of mine, then someone else. Maybe there were even more familiar faces on that episode, but my dreams took me elsewhere, comforted by the realization that for whatever it is, nightlife has connected me to people that I truly love and respect and want to be around. Maybe that’s why I’m still in it.

Danny ‘A-List’ Abeckaser

Danny A. has been a fixture in New York nightlife since the mid 90’s. He is known as a promoter/owner and certainly a player. His “friends” are often the young Hollywood set and all the models, actresses and bright beauties that are part of their entourage. After a dabble here and there in film Danny has now produced and stared in Holy Rollers, a buzz film about Hasids from that “un-gentrified” part of Brooklyn that smuggle drugs from Amsterdam. At Sundance he received support from his pals Gerard Butler, Bradley Cooper, Kevin Connolly, Adrien Brody, Adrian Grenier, Wilmer Valderrama and Guy Oseary. He even got a favorable notice from Harvey Weinstein, who called Danny’s performance “awesome.” His New York premier the other night was all that it should’ve been. Everyone who is anyone in the scene was delighted by Danny A., the movie star. He even has a new— or I guess an old—name now. The Danny A. we all love is now the equally loveable Danny A. Abeckaser. I will just assume that the middle “A” stands for awesome or amazing or “A” list. I caught up with my old friend and asked him about what it all means.

First congrats! As an A-list promoter/owner who has been know to travel with celebrity friends, how do you perceive how a successful film career will change your relationship with the club people and the celebrities? I hope nothing changes. The fact that I’m friends with actors that became movies stars as our relationship evolved has nothing to do with why I consider them really good friends. I’ll also be in the club business for the rest of my life, no matter how my film career takes off.

How long have you been acting and where do you want to go with this? I’ve been acting all my life and I want to go straight to the top.

Who or what helped you create the character you play in Holy Rollers? Being in the club business, I’ve been around a lot of shady characters. It was not a far-fetched thing for me.

Is this the end of Danny A and the beginning of Danny A Abeckaser? Or has Abeckaser always been here? It’s always been there, buddy. It just needed time to evolve and to wait for the right moment to strike

Of the other players in club land who else do you see as an actor? DJ Juske.

What else are you working on in film and is acting your goal or do you see yourself directing or writing or doing something else? Well, I was both a producer and an actor in Holy Rollers, so I think my main focus will stay with those two things, but you never know.

Tell me about working with my dear friend Jen Gatien. Jen is awesome, she’s a dear friend of mine, too. She brought a lot to the table and did so much for the film. She was awesome to work with.

Can I have your autograph? Why in the world would you want that?

When does the movie come out and where? It comes out May 21st in New York and LA. In New York it’s playing at the Landmark Sunshine on East Houston and the AMC Loews 84th Street. In LA it’s playing at the Landmark. Other cities will open in the weeks to follow, so check out holyrollersfilm.com for the full schedule.

Industry Insiders: Fabrizio Brienza, Signor West

Mr. West’s exuberant Italian door person Fabrizio Brienza on looking marvelous, not being a crackhead, and how he selects New York sexpots to cross his velvet ropes.

Where do you hang out? When I don’t work, I never go out. For me, it’s like going to the office on a Saturday. I don’t want to do that. I live in Tribeca, and I go this little Italian place called Capri Café. It’s very low key, but they are my friends who run the place, and they cook just like my mom. So I go there all the time. I like the Tribeca Grand sometimes. For places to go out, I like the Box and Rose Bar. I like places that are a little bit underground and not commercial at all. I like to hide sometimes. I don’t like to be in the club with all the club people all the time. I like to be the opposite. Low key. For outdoor bars, I like the rooftop at the Gramercy Hotel.

Who are two people that you admire in the nightclub industry? I admire Suzanne Bartsch. I really admire her. She used to do my parties when I worked at Pivali (a club in New York). And I admire her because she’s the real deal. Nobody can do a party like Suzanne. Her parties are guaranteed to be incredible. I also admire of course, the people I’m working with now — Danny Devine and Jus Ske. They’ve been in the business so long, and they know what’s up. I admire Danny A, because he is a great promoter. He really knows everybody in town — in the entertainment business, in every business.

How would you describe yourself? I think I’m pretty unique. I don’t really like to describe myself. I’d rather other people describe me. What am I going to say? That I’m the best? No.

How are you different when you’re working? When I’m working, I always put up a show. I try to be the idea. It’s like being on stage. I like to dress up. I like to look different. I like to look like I’m in a movie. I wear a big fur coat and suits. I think the look of nightlife is everything. It’s a superficial world. If you look good, you are good. If you don’t look good, you’re not good. The sound and the visual are everything in nightlife. Visually you like to see beautiful people and with sounds, you always love to hear good music. I try to give people these two things the most.

What is one thing that people may not know about you? That I’m not a crackhead.

What is one positive trend that you see in the nightlife industry now? I think that in the moment of recession, it’s a good time to be creating and doing something different. Because I think that’s what the nightlife is all about. I hate the corporate parts — they all look the same. I like the edgy stuff. I like when people take risks, and people are leaders and not ships. I like when people open up their clubs, and they want to do something different that’s not all about the trends. They know that a trend isn’t going to work, and they’re never going to be original. I think that now is the time to create art. Nightlife is an art. So to me, the more original you are — the better it is. Respect yourself, don’t be afraid, and have fun with it. It’s not like you’re murdering anybody. I like when people express themselves, and I wish they expressed themselves more. Especially in New York — it’s supposed to be the best city in the world. I would like to see more crazy people out. Crazy good, crazy fun. It’s not like the nightlife is corporate work. It shouldn’t be like Meryl Lynch. I would like to see more free minds and free-spirited people doing whatever they feel like they need to do.

What’s the crowd like at Mr. West? Mr. West has a very nice crowd. Upscale, cool people. Lots of models, some industry people, lots of hipsters, some celebrities. A very cool crowd.

If someone came to the door at Mr. West who wasn’t on the list, what would make you want to let them in? First off, I’m just gonna look at the fashion. If her fashion looks good and she’s stylish, that’s enough for me. Cool, stylish, dressed like she knows what’s up. If she’s beautiful — done. That’s all I need to know. Then if she’s like a serial killer once she gets in, that’s her problem. To me, if someone looks good, that’s enough.

What are you doing tonight? I’m working. Unfortunately.

Photo: Chelsea Stemple

Good Night Mr. Lewis: Chip Off the ‘Ol Bloc

Here we have two guys with great educations and skill sets that chose to get into the club biz instead of pursuing traditional careers. They took the route of promoters, honed their skills, made relationships, made contacts and have taken the job to the next level, now working multiple clubs on multiple nights. Matthew Isaacs and Jordan Harris are part of an intelligent subset that doesn’t actually own a club but does own a marketing entity that isn’t limited by ownership. The Bloc Group is built for speed and versatility, and its ability to fill small or large rooms with a specific demographic makes them very valuable to clubs in need. The industry has evolved from a time when an owner and a couple of partners would throw on a DJ, hire hot staff, and open the doors. This partnering with promoters who bring in supermodels and celebrities, but not necessarily the masses, marks a development that will redefine club promotions. Danny A. has brought his bevy of beauties and movie stars to hot clubs for quite some time, but his pairing with savvy producers like Matthew and Jordan gives owners an opportunity to have a defining night delivered to them hook, line, and sinker. The fact that they are able to task multiple venues on a single night was unheard of just a year or two ago.

Tell me about your company: Matthew: The Bloc Group is a New York City-based marketing and nightlife promotions company.

And did you guys start off as promoters? Matthew, how did you get into the business? M: Actually we didn’t start as promoters. I started off in Mark Baker’s office. I was there for about eight or nine weeks, and then I got moved over to Lotus, where I worked in house for about a year and a half. Jordan: We actually know each other from doing some very small promoting during college.

Did you guys go to Cornell together? You went to Cornell, right Jordan? J: Yes, and I had a friend at Cornell who grew up with Matthew in Soho. So we were connected a few years before; over a couple summers in a row we would do small promotions together with a group of our friends. Nothing super serious.

Matt, what did you do with Baker? M: Baker’s office was one of my first jobs out of college, pretty much on an assistant level, but I guess I demonstrated some kind of talent within it, and I went over to Lotus and eventually took over their marketing and promotions programs. And I think that was probably during years two to four at Lotus.

I think Lotus came into its own during years two to four. Mark is one of my dear friends, he’s one of the nicest guys in the business, I’ve known him for many years, and he’s a good person to start to work for because he really does know his stuff. So, after a period of time as promoters, you guys started looking around … J: Well, I think Matthew saw some potential in the job he was doing. We obviously knew a lot of people around the city, so he came to me and said, “Why don’t we start doing this a little more seriously, in addition to the jobs that we’re doing now?” I was doing a marketing job full time at that point at a high-end concierge service. And we sort of got together and we started on one weekly party.

Which party? J: Thursday night at Manahatta, on Bowery. M: Manahatta, that was our first party, I think that was mid 2004. At that point we didn’t go into it subbing and bringing 20 people; we just went full on and started producing this Thursday-night party.

Did you like that party? J: Yeah, it was our first one! M: At the time we loved it … It was a great time because we didn’t know too much. I was at Lotus so I had some exposure to the nightlife community, but at the same rate we weren’t as involved as we are now, so it was just very enjoyable from the onset. But that quickly changed, I think anywhere between six to nine months into it, we were balancing day and night jobs, but that’s a pretty typical situation.

So then you made the decision to start the company? M: Yes, we went full on and started the Bloc Group.

So what I find really interesting about the Bloc Group is that a few times you’ve had a strategic partnership with Danny A. at Upstairs and the Plaza. Basically you provide a large compatible crowd that spends money, and Danny A. brings a very high-end crowd. How did that relationship work out, who approached who on that? M: Well, we had been working with Danny A. for about three years, I think. He first approached us at Marquee on Tuesday nights, because we were there pretty much from the beginning of the party. M: When Danny opened Upstairs, I think he realized he needed a little extra push in addition to what he was doing. Unlike the situation at Door, which was very very private, he didn’t necessarily want to over promote the club, but he wanted an extra fifty people around so that it wasn’t ever quiet or boring. J: He wanted a great crowd that would spend a little bit of money and would also mix in very well with what he brought to the table.

So you brought in an extra 50 people and these were your higher end people? So in a sense you had the ability to upgrade your scene because you were exposing your good people to Danny’s brilliant people and that really helps. M: And it wasn’t a conflict of interest for our business because a lot of what we do is really promotional management, which is kind of the way a modeling agency would manage their models. A roster of 40 or so sub-promoters that we assign to all these weekly events, but we’ve been doing it long enough so that we know how to manage these parties.

How many nights are you involved in around town? M: We work generally 5 nights a week, but there are between 10 and 12 events on those nights. About 2 or 3 a night.

So you have two or three different venues on a given night, you have promoters that are signed to each one, you may mix them, or boost one, manipulate the sub-promoters to enhance the crowds? J: Yes, we have a big team that controls the network of our people and just make sure that each particular party is busy and going well each time.

I always say that a club is defined by its filler. The problem with club owners is they don’t understand that. Most clubs spend all their money on the high end and assume the filler is just going to show up. You guys are against that theory, and that’s how you make your money. J: Well, we do both. We can do high end and we can do filler.

But you’re making your money and people are hiring you because you can do both? M: It depends on the capacity. When we were working with Danny, when we were running Upstairs with him, or at the Plaza, we were delivering what we believe to be a really high end crowd. Some places we’ll provide him high end, it really depends on the venue and what their strategy is.

But you’ve built yourself a company that can do a lot of things. You can do event management; you can book entertainment and run shows and things like that. M: I think Jordan and I decided a couple years back that we really wanted to concentrate on building our company and building it so we could take on specific marketing projects or event planning gigs. And although we’ve had a good amount of success with promotions, every year we see other things we’re doing getting more and more successful. At the moment we have a roster of corporate clients that we work with on a retainer basis, Showtime, Ciroc Vodka, In Touch Weekly, etc.

How about DJ’s? Do you have a stable of DJs? J: Yeah, we have different DJs.

Since you have about ten events a week, wouldn’t it be a good idea to have regular DJs you work with and just have a little bit of control over them? Because in a sense you are owners, you are owning the entity. M: Well we only own it on the nights we produce the parties. J: Certainly we might make more money than a lot of the owners out there if we did that.

Well certainly you do, don’t you? Isn’t that the whole point? J: I think that’s what we’ve been weighing, when we’ve had opportunities in the past couple years in terms of ownership. It’s weighted against, ‘hey we’re going to make less money if we do this but it would be a great next step.

So you really have graduated, you’re not promoters anymore, you are a marketing company that works in partnership with other clubs. So you have created your own industry? M: Yes, we’re a marketing company geared toward everything nightlife. So a big corporate entity might come to us and say they want to do a nightlife program, they want us to cater to their talent at night, lets say Showtime for instance.

So, what’s the next step? M: Well I think we’re always going to continue developing the marketing end of Bloc Group. J: I think it would be very helpful if we had our own place to call home, it would help the other arms of the company, and we could take it to the next level.

Having your own club? J: Yeah, obviously Noah Tepperberg having his own club, he was really able to take his marketing company to the next level by having Marquee as his venue.

I never wanted my own club, I always considered myself a barracuda, rather than a reef. I didn’t want to be stuck on a coral reef; if my coral reef started to die I wanted to be able to swim to the next one. M: It’s nice not having that liability.

Read Part 2 of Steve Lewis’ interview with Matthew Isaacs and Jordan Harris.

Industry Insiders: DJ Jus Ske, Master of Western Decks

Mr. West co-owner and DJ Jus Ske talks about blowing up, speeding up, and building up.

Favorite Hangs: When I’m in Tokyo, I love Feria. It’s a very high-energy, New York-style club abroad. David Guetta’s “F*** Me, I’m Famous” parties are always insane, and I love those. When I’m in NYC, you can usually find me at Mr. West, 1Oak, Beatrice Inn, or Rose Bar.

Point of Origin: I was born in Manhattan and have lived here my entire life. I think a lot of my musical influence comes from my dad. Everywhere we went, he was constantly playing music in the car — funk, 80s, jazz, classic rock, Latin — you name it, I heard it as a kid. When I was 21, I started at Life, promoting Friday nights with Mark Ronson. Mark was really the one that got me into DJing. He taught me the basics, and I took a big interest in it from the start. A few years later, I was promoting and starting to DJ at Lot 61 with Richie Akiva, and from there, everything started to snowball. Before I knew it, I started getting recognized by a lot of big-name people and was being asked to spin at clubs all around with world.

Occupations: I just opened a new club with Danny Divine in West Chelsea called Mr. West. I’m also continuing to DJ all over the place — I just DJed at Diesel’s XXX party in Brooklyn and was also in LA for DJ AM’s welcome home party. I really want to own more properties. I’m loving what Danny Divine and I are doing with Mr. West. and I’m excited to see what we can do next … maybe a hotel. I’m also thinking about possibly getting into acting and maybe releasing a DJ album soon.

Side Hustle: I have a clothing line called Danucht. Its very street couture, and I have a good handle in the design process, which is a pretty cool new world for me. I’m also a part owner of Oso energy drink, which can be found all over the city at places like Mr. West, Rose Bar, Marquee, etc.

Industry Icons: I really respect Richie Akiva as a veteran of the industry and his ability to pull together all the right elements of a party in order to make it perfect. I also admire Danny A for the way he can bring together the best crowd. Noah Tepperberg has proven time and time again that his business savvy is unmatched in the industry today. No one can run a business like Noah. All of these guys have the ability to maintain the sexy and classy integrity of a party by recognizing that it’s not always about making money.

Deck Trends: Music in NYC is definitely changing. It’s becoming a lot faster, which is great because it really increases the energy in a club. I’m starting to hear less hip-hop and more electro and dance, but I can never get enough of my hip-hop and rock and roll.

Known Associates: Shout out Pharrell, Zac Posen, Kanye, Noemie Lenoir, Mark Ronson, Mario Sorrenti, Jessica Stam and Kaws — all of these people have been huge supporters of Mr. West, and I can’t thank them enough.

What are you doing tonight? I’ll be at Mr. West.