Two Reasons You Have to Go To Webster Hall Tonight

The 8th Annual Paper Nightlife Awards will be held tonight at Webster Hall and everybody is going. These are the Oscars of nightlife, and so watching what the nominees and guests are wearing is everything. The categories are divided into two parts that People’s Choice and Paper Magazine have chosen. The People’s Choice part was infamous for ballot-stuffing, but they seem to have made it harder to just keep clicking that button for yourself or your favorite employer. The public gets to vote on: 
– BEST NYC PROMOTER
– BEST CLUB SONG
– BEST NIGHT TO GO OUT
– BEST MEGA DJ(S) WITH ONE NAME
– BEST MEGA CLUB IN THE USA
– BEST NY PARTY MUSEUM
I’d like to give an award to the person who came up with those categories.

The Paper chosen winners will come from a heavily skewed "new" list because that’s the way they want to roll. The categories here are:
– BEST PARTY
– BEST BAR/LOUNGE
– BEST HOTEL WITH A NIGHTLIFE SCENE
– BEST ARTY PARTY SPOT, BEST DJ
– BEST PART-TIME DJ
– BEST RESTAURANT WITH A NIGHTLIFE SCENE
– BEST CLUB
– BEST BEER GARDEN
– BEST NIGHTLIFE SOCIAL MEDIA STAR
– BEST NIGHTLIFE PERSONALITY

I don’t believe in "the best" in nightlife. Besides, if there was a best it would probably be over and on to the next by the time you are done reading this. The best of anything in nightlife – and don’t let anyone tell you differently – is what you like. To many, Lit Lounge is nirvana, and to others it’s a pigsty, a hole in the wall that smells bad and plays music nobody has ever heard of. But those are the same reasons why it’s nirvana to so many. These days, a joint could be the greatest show on Earth one night and a nightmare on any other. Clubs are no longer all things to all people as they have become very specific.

DJs, on the other hand, tend to trend, and it is common to hear the same tracks as you bop from one joint to another. Paper’s DJ category does seem to reward those less likely to play predictably. In that category, my favorite DJ not named Paul Sevigny or Jonathan Toubin is nominated. That’s Elle Dee. I love the "BEST PART-TIME DJ" category as it recognizes the "everybody is a DJ” era that I have become so involved in. Paper has been around for a long time, and some of the players who made it great are still around and as credible as anyone to give these awards. One of those venerable Paper players is the sparkling Mickey Boardman, who is celebrating his birthday today and tonight.

While I am out and about and at Webster Hall, I will certainly stop by Riot Avenue, my Thursday DJ partner Sam Valentine’s weekly Wednesday event there. Sam will be joined by Avi Miller. Among the hosts is the absolutely fantastic Bless Fantastic.

This Friday there’s a party across the pond that I wish I could attend. Old friend, DJ, producer, composer, innovator Larry Thom better known as Larry Tee will celebrate his birthday at Larry Tee’s Super Electric Party Machine at East Bloc, 217 City Road, London, England. I don’t even like to travel uptown so I send best wishes to one of the best.

Richard Alvarez On Tonight’s Art Soirèe at Stash

Despite my big hoopla Tuesday night at Avenue, today/tonight is my real birthday. It is very common in clubland to celebrate your special day on another day. I remember, back in the day, every time a Quentin Crisp or another not-so-rich celebrity needed $500, we would throw them a birthday party and give them the loot and a phony club dinner. Sometimes six months separated the event and the reality. A rival club honcho asked me why I did my bash at Avenue and I referred to yesterday’s article and told them that "they asked." It was wonderful.

Tonight I will work on my birthday; I guess I’m working right now…writing this, but I never think of what I do as work. My DJ agent Adam Alpert of 4AM is constantly reminding me of that. Tonight I will be a working DJ at Richard Alvarez’s art event at Stash. That will be from 9 to 11pm. I will then rush off to Hotel Chantelle to DJ from 11:15pm till around 4am. Miss Guy, Michael Cavadias will also spin. It’s been fun. Please come and say "Happy Birthday" if you wanna.
 
Richard Alvarez and I have been friends for generations. He is often seen at the chicest joints, doing the door…"WORKING IT". He is unbelievably fabulous and dear to my heart. He is also very talented. I asked Richard to do the paintings that adorn the entrance sequence of Stash. Tonight’s soirèe celebrates that work and the ridiculously wonderful Richard. I asked him about tonight.
 
What is this party about?
I’ve always sought alternative spaces in which to showcase mine and friends’ work, a residual of the whole DIY ethic, so having a space which is open and wants alternative sort of events is always on the radar. I was fortunate in being asked and delivering the sort of work that doesn’t require a masters in fine art to understand. I always get off when all sorts of people have an opportunity to view art. I believe we should be surrounded by and allowed to bask in ART, so any chance I get in pushing that agenda, I grab – an open bar, in a well developed space where everything is designed for the feeling of transporting you, and great music!!!!!! That just sounds like somewhere I would wanna be at so that’s what the party is all about.
 
Like many people in nightlife, you are an artist supporting yourself; tell me about your night work.
 
Steve, I am so LUCKY!!! I really have been given such great venues to work at. I always say I want my place (which I really do see as my house) to be an interesting mix; all of anything is boring. People go out to meet and be inspired. I mean, if you work in a law firm you would rather go to a venue that wasn’t filled with the sort of people that inhabit your office!!! You know I always try to create a space that I would wanna go to. Music is also such an important element, with a good sound system and music that isn’t being blasted on the radio, mainstream tunes are just as exciting when sandwiched between obscure dance tracks. The whole experience has got to be about having a night, being fun, easy on the ears, eyes, and wallet!!!
 
Where have you worked, and are you currently working?
 
Presently, I work at subMercer and a party called Nouveau York on Sundays. Wow, let’s see: I started working in one of the installation booths at Area, the door at The World Bar, Crobar, Cielo, Vinyl, Club Shelter, everywhere!!!!!
 
Nightlife seems to be making a comeback after a few years of doldrums. Why is it happening again, and where do you go when you’re not working? Where do you send hip friends?
 
I think everything has cycles, everything. I would also imagine the current financial scene has a lot of people staying put, not travelling as much but still wanting to have some fun. Brooklyn has the hot parties (illegal). Brooklyn is really the cool-school. I think more and more venues will be opening on that side of the city. I’m gonna get sh*t for this, but the subMercer is KEWL, Le Bain is also, Top of The Standard is so grown-up I LOVE!!!!!! Santos Party House is fab, Cielo has the best sound system, Pacha stays open late and has some fierce after-hour vibes. I mean, the city is still hot, but I really do follow the DJs, so wherever they play I’ll go. Competition is the best cause we gotta stay on top of our game. The more, the better… I think.
 
Tell me about your art: where it came from, where it is today, and where you are taking us.
 
As a kid, my mum used to read all the newspapers. I would always wanna take the type and create new verse with them (I did not grow up in a enviorment where art was even a proposition). Years later I learned of Andy Warhol and the whole idea of art for the masses. In the Bronx, most of the men in the building I grew up in were locked up, so they would always send these foil and glass crafty art pieces. They would also send there mums, wives, sis etc. those velvet paintings so I was exposed to the cheesy, crafty art projects that had an impact on me. Of course, I didnt realize it until much later. I also worked at Patricia Field as a teenager. Keith Haring use to sell his shirts in the store; we were the only store to carry them for awhile. In fact, every Sunday, after a long Saturday night out at The Garage, I’d be in the back folding his t-shirts all day!!!! Anyway, Keith created a free South Africa t-shirt and for a display he painted this huge mural on the 8th Street store window facing the street. I think that had a major impact. See, I paint on glass. I paint on the back, so I paint in reverse. I use a concoction that I’ve developed, my "Bitches Brew," if you will, adhesion. It’s all about the glue!!!! Glass is tricky to get paint to stick to, so I use polymers glitter paints that react to light and movement. If you dance looking at my work, you see things that you’d miss from just one angle. I LOVE that because then the viewer and the art really create this relationship that really is a personal thing, which is what good art should do; it should speak to you, create a feeling in you. I try to get that out of the work. It really is difficult since creating feelings it is hard, you know, making somthing that will still dance after I’m gone!!!!! That’s what I hope to achieve. As you can imagine, I’ve got my work cut out for me!!!!!!

Zev Norotsky On the Launch of New Electronic Dance Music and DJ Magazine “Elektro”

Electronic music has changed nightlife forever, for better…for worse. It has made DJ’s rock stars, strange and remote places destinations, and has filled clubs and stadiums. It’s inspired Woodstockian festivals. It has defined, along with mash up/mixed format, a renaissance in nightlife. When clubs were going through their doldrums just a few years back, it was argued that there had not been a new genre of music to lead us out of the boredom. Mixed format combined other genres and was considered by some to be a sort of wishy-washy sound for the musically-challenged masses. DJs like AM certainly shattered that misconception. Electronic was lumped in as a progression of house and not much new. This has proven to be an inadequate description of the sound that has swept the world. Many DJs I have spoken to speak of how it has united people worldwide, as superstar DJs play for hundreds of thousands, from Asia to South America.

Zev Norotsky formerly of Mirrorball and Get There PR, has joined Harris Publications as president of its H360 Group. They are launching elektro, a new magazine…
"[It’s] geared toward electronic dance music/DJ fans… elektro’s mission is to take you behind the turntables and into the lives of DJs, sharing their passion for the music, giving fans an all-access backstage pass. From Tiesto’s sold-out gig, to David Guetta’s new album and the Swedish House Mafia’s unreleased track, elektro will show you the tools to make the music and the lifestyle they live. Electronic music is now the fastest-growing genre in music. DJs are the new rock stars and are selling out arenas around the world. elektro brings you face- to-face with the fans that attend these events, along with powerful marketing solutions including print, online, and experiential activations at sold-out shows and festivals across the globe."
Tiesto is on the first issue’s cover. It will come out quarterly. I sent Zev a few questions (electronically of course) and got these answers:
 
What is elektro?
elektro is a new platform for electronic dance music enthusiasts to learn about DJ culture and their favorite artists and producers. It’s definitely much more than a magazine as we have also built in a comprehensive digital ecosystem and a large special event calendar for 2012 to round out our presence nationwide. This includes our online hub at www.elektrodaily.com, very active social media engagement, and strategic partnerships with Spotify, future.fm, mixcloud etc. We will also be distributed at all the large festivals including Ultra and Electric Daisy in New York and Las Vegas, etc.
 
You have been a promoter/marketing guy;  is elektro an exit strategy…a way out of nightlife’s day-to-day, er… night-to-night, or a natural progression and a deeper commitment?
I must refer to a quote from Steve Jobs where he said, "You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards." I got my start in nightlife very early working the doors at Limelight and Kit Kat Klub when I was in college, striking out a few times on my own and eventually landing with Eddie Dean at Pacha NYC.  Nightlife is my absolute passion and I like to say that I got my Masters following Eddie around as we launched the Pacha brand in America. That was, by far, the most valuable experience of my life as I learned not only the importance of branding and guidelines, but also how vital nightlife can be to the world of marketing and how strong the connection is between consumers and brands. I have been jumping up and down on corporate board room tables for the last four or five years, begging brand managers to pay attention to what’s going on in electronic dance music (EDM) and people are finally paying attention. It’s an amazing feeling and now I have elektro to make sense of it all. I never could have imagined this starting out but when I look back it all makes perfect sense.
 
Everybody in the world is going electronic..or is it elektronic… as online is more and more the way people want it…why print?
We are very in tune with the digital space. I actually moderated a panel a few weeks back during Social Media Week based on a theory that the explosion of EDM in America is intrinsically tied to social media; that’s why we have created an extensive online presence across every single medium there is for us to share content. We are curating playlists with Spotify, streaming from events with future.fm, YouTube, Instagram, etc., you name it. The honest answer is you need everything to succeed and we take a 360 approach here. The sweet spot for me is how everything connects from the live events, the social media, and the print piece. That gives us maximum leverage as both an editorial property and a marketing vehicle for brands.
 
How did Tiesto become your first cover boy?
This was such a no-brainer for me; he is arguably the most iconic DJ of all time and truly personifies how far dance music has come in America, from the initial burst in late ’90s, to now. I literally made a mock-up of elektro about a year ago with him on the cover to show my partners what I look at every day to remind me how this all started.
 
It’s a quarterly; will there be events to celebrate each issue at various clubs around the world? Will the cover boy be the DJ? Will the distribution of the magazine at these events be a huge part of the marketing strategy?
Absolutely. We are gearing up for a massive launch during Miami Music Week. In addition to a private launch party with Roger Sanchez that we are hosting for the industry on Thursday, March 22 at The Setai, we are going to be distributed in the VIP section at Ultra, are an official media partner of Winter Music Conference, and will be hosting events all week at the National Hotel, Villa221, Mansion, as well as a big in-store event with Guess Jeans on Saturday 3/24. We’re also working on an official launch party in New York on April 14th at Pacha NYC which will be a sort of homecoming for me I guess, so I’m definitely looking forward to that.

Andy Rourke Talks About The Smiths & This Weekend

This Saturday, August 4th I will whisk myself east for a daytime (2pm to 4pm) DJ gig, poolside at The Montauk Beach House, for the swells that are finding nirvana there. It’s their inaugural year and I’m hoping I won’t blow it for future generations. I’m opening for Andy Rourke (ex-The Smiths). Terry Casey is the resident DJ, and he and Matt Thomas set the whole thing up. I’m excited. I’ll blow by the hated Hamptons in the wee hours and grab a chaise lounge and some sun until called upon to move the masses. I have no idea what to spin to a poolside brunch crowd but figure I’ll start with Bo Diddley’s "I’m a Man" and go from there. Like most DJs, I have over 10,000 tracks to choose from. Many guys have 10x that amount. The crowd has been described to me as intelligent and not desiring of the requisite top 40 that I hear everywhere. DJs mostly just shrug and say things like "I give them what they want.” My second track might be the Stones’ "You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” I try not to plan; it’s usually a waste of time. If the music required could be predicted, iPhones and mixed DJ sets would replace us all. I met up with Andy Rourke at his East Village Radio Show, I brought along photographer Lela Edgar to capture the interview. The three of us slipped next door to Lil’ Frankie’s and enjoyed the atmosphere.

We’re going to work together this Saturday at The Montauk Beach House via Terry Casey. I’m opening for you, not unlike Bowie opening for The Smiths, right? Ok, wrong. What kind of music can be expected?
Well, Steve, me and you go way back; the last time I saw you was in Limelight Club’s VIP attic space –  I think it was 1984!!! Heady days indeed. You can open up for me anytime, but you will never be Bowie 😉 Regarding my DJ policy: I kind of play whatever the fuck I want, but always in a nice way. You have to test/read the crowd and see what they are dancing to. I like this challenge; I tend to play classic songs that have stood the test of time.

I just saw the new Clash documentary, The Rise and Fall of the Clash, at the CBGB Festival. You met Joe Strummer and have a tale. Tell us.
I had the pleasure to meet Joe a couple of times at the Glastonbury Festival. The first time was around his now-legendary camp fire, with some of his crazy but lovable friends; there was usually weed and mushrooms involved. The second time was one year later at Glastonbury again; this time I was playing bass with Badly Drawn Boy. We were chilling in the back of our tour bus and Joe just appeared in the back lounge with the biggest spliff known to mankind and insisted we all partake. We did! Joe will always be sadly missed.

You and your new bride Francesca have been married for three weeks. Congrats! Tell me about being a happy middle-aged rocker
I’m a happy man who just got married to my wife Francesca; that’s all you need to know.

What are you working on?
I have a project with Ole Koretsky called JetLag. It’s taken us a few years to get right and also find the right musicians. Recently, we played four successful gigs in NYC and we are about to film a video to promote one of our songs "Falling Apart.”

Looking back at the bands, the lifestyle, the fame, what are you happy to have left on the table and what would you grab back first?
I had an amazing time with The Smiths…SHIT! When I started with the band I was 17. We split when I was 23. I would leave the band politics on the table and take back the super gang/friend mentality that we had. When we were a team we were invincible!!! Money can’t buy that feeling. Show me the table.

On your East Village Radio Show, you were talking about the Bowie book. Tell me about the show, that book, and the era.
I do my show every Monday on eastvillageradio.com, It’s called JetLag – the same as my band. I play songs that I love and also get to interview some great people. A few weeks ago I interviewed Nile Rogers from Chic, It was an honor. For instance, today I just interviewed Peter Doggett about his new book, The Man Who Sold The World: David Bowie in the 1970s. It was a pleasure to speak with him – lots of insights. It’s a fascinating read.

Andy Rourke

Tuesdays Rock: See Two Bad Girls and Legendary Photographer Mick Rock’s Exhibit Tonight

Yesterday I told you guys that Tuesdays in this town are off the hook. I can never decide between Frankie Sharp’s Westgay party at Westway and Lyle Derek’s Dropout bash at W.i.P. Westgay is beyond, beyond for those who are in the know –  and I guess that now includes you. Tonight, resident DJ maniac Jon Jon Battles is joined by JD Samson. Amanda Lepore is there as well doing…well, Amanda Lepore things. Lyle Derek has Lady Starlight at W.i.P. in her first live show in …well…ever. There will be a DJ set by CREEP.  I just must be there or there but alas, I will be elsewhere.

I’ll be DJing tonight at Avenue from 12:30 until 1:30 and I am pumped. Avenue is a great place to spin, from a DJ perspective. The professionalism of Tao/Strategic Group organization manifests itself on every level, including a user-friendly DJ booth and a staff that enjoys helping you feel comfy on every level. DJ Price will take my humble offerings to the next level. He will entertain me and everyone else in the always-packed-with-a fun-crowd room while I work the room after saying "hey" to not- seen-enough friends. I’ll buy a couple bottles of Beau Joie Champagne, as bubbles are always fun. I don’t drink very often but do adore that bubbles and sparklers combo. It makes me want to shout "Wheeee!" On the invite for tonight, I got a relatively huge billing over DJ Price, an apparent nod to age before talent.
 
Amanda Lepore
 
I will be in a seriously fabulous mood because, before all that mayhem, I will be at the wonderful The Bowery Electric (327 Bowery @ Joey Ramone Place, 2nd Street), at 8pm, to catch two bad girls I’ve never been cool enough to catch. It’s Zoe Hansen and Mary Raffaele presenting TWO BAD GIRLS (GOOD BAD), described as "A Night of Rock and Roll Attitude and Outlaw Hilarity" featuring readings and performances by REVEREND JEN,PAULINA PRINCESS OF POWER,MARY "RAFF" RAFFAELE, ZOE HANSEN, HEATHER LITTEER aka JESSICA RABBIT, FACEBOY, THE PRETTY BABIES (FEATURIING MONY FALCONE, LINDA PITMON, DEBBY SCHWARTZ, TAMMY FAYE STARLITE, JASON VICTOR), HANDSOME DICK MANITOBA with JP "Thunderbolt" PATTERSON, on percussion (Mr. Manitoba’s first ever, onstage, public "RANT!")"
 
Zoe says:
"This night has been a constant work in progress between Raff & myself. We wanted to not only have a reading, but a show. A tribute to the New York EV life, & years gone by, literature, comedy, burlesque with a splash of Rock N Roll all over it. We wanted real talent, which is most of our good friends, so it was hard deciding who we could scramble together to fit in on our bill. I am honored to say that we are truly proud of our all star line up. Raff & I promise you a real outlaw, loud, music inspired, hilarious bunch of performances, really entertaining, & all you have to do is just show up!"
I asked Raffaele a few questions:
 
Tell me about the event.
Zoe and I wanted to put together an event that would showcase our own talents as well as our friends’. We are writers primarily, but watching a series of people read off of pages can be dead-boring, so we decided to mix it up. We have a stellar line-up of very interesting, creative people who will be singing, performing spoken word, and doing plays, and we’ll have one really fun band. I am honestly excited about the people we’ve chosen and I’m glad I’m going on first so I can focus on really watching what they’re doing. I am really proud of all of the acts.
 
Tell me about our dear friend Zoe.
Zoe is my partner in crime: she calls me Patsy, I call her Eddy. She is whip-smart, super-creative, and very hard-working. She can do absolutely anything she puts her mind to. With her, anything is possible. I am very slow-moving in certain ways and Zoe is very good at lighting a fire under my ass. Plus, she’s easy on the eyes and no matter what kind of trouble we are in, she always makes the adventures seem classier with her accent.
 
I"ve always seen you as a rock star, always been a fan of Cycle Sluts From Hell. Tell me about that career and the other one with Patricia Fields.
I prefer being seen as a rock star! I got into daytime work after working in clubland for many years. Giuliani broke my heart – it was just too hard to continue trying to fight the good fight for decent nightlife. I was tired of getting screamed at at 2am by random task force fruit fly police, so I moved into day jobs. I have been with Pat for about 10 years; I take care of the money-end of things for her. But I am leaving in two months – I want more time to write a book and I burnt out on office work. It is an amicable parting and I’m helping them to find someone new and I will train the person, as my position is complicated. I am probably going to get back behind the bar. I’ve already started doing a Friday happy hour at Bowery Electric in preparation for my departure.
 
——————————-
Mick RockAs if this evening were not already too packed with wonderment, legendary photographer of all things rocked and rolled Mick Rock will show for the first time ever his artwork, "based on his iconic rock ‘n’ roll photographs… The show is presented by CATM Chelsea with a private after-party to follow."  The "expected to attend" list includes Mick and friends " Lou Reed, Todd DiCiurcio (Artist), Scot Lipps (Owner, One Management), Amanda Ross, Chelsea Leyland (DJ), Ben Pundole, John & Joyce Varvatos, Timothy White (Photographer), Alberta Cross (Band), Gary Graham (Designer), Paul Johnson Calderon (Reality TV Star), Michael H., Nur Khan, Mazdack Rassi (Founder, Milk Studios), Rebecca Dayan (Model), Clem Burke (Blondie), Tennessee Thomas (Actress, Drummer for The Like), As Light Takes Over (Band), The Ravonettes, Cory Kennedy (Model), Jessica White, (Model, Actress), Jamie & Daisy Johnson (Daughters of Jets Owner)".
 
 
It’s a 7pm to 9pm thing at 500 West 22nd Street at 10th Avenue. If you don’t know who Mick Rock is, this is a good time to find out. Chances are you have seen his brilliant work on album covers and such for decades. Yeah, he was the guy who took that Bowie/Ziggy Stardust shot and that one of Iggy you thought brilliant, that Blondie photo, and thousands of others – one more iconic than the next.  It’s 40 years recording and making rock history. Look him up. He Googles well.

How Birthday Boy and Strategic Group’s Jonathan Schwartz Stays On Top

When I was king of the castle, people were always surprised that I did any "day" work for my nightlife career. They actually believed I woke up at 4pm, had a swanky brunch, went to a boutique, bought a dozen expensive looks (on the cheap), had dinner at the best place in town (on the cuff), and then showed up at work (game-face on), barked some orders, and waited for the fabulous to show up. Nightlife doesn’t just happen. The few that make it look easy are the ones that rarely sleep and are completely enveloped in their work. It’s a thousand phone calls, a million texts, tweets, tumbles, and face-to-face meetings – yes, people still do that. It’s adjustments of what ain’t working, and refining of what ain’t broke. It’s a thousand small things that add up to big bucks at the end of the year. You are never alone, but you often feel isolated and detached. My ex used to say that when I opened a club, it was as if I was its heart and I had to keep beating or it would simply not work. An old adage that I always kept close said, "It’s not just a nightclub…but a way of life.”

Jonathan Schwartz is doing it, and doing it, and doing it well for the biggest game in town: Strategic Group. He is having his birthday tonight at Lavo, naturally. A super-duper, uber-secret DJ is promised. Since I DJ on Thursdays at Hotel Chantelle, I gave Jonathan my birthday wishes. I still haven’t figured out how to be in two places at the same time.

I caught up with the young Jedi Master and asked him all about it.

First of all, happy birthday. You are celebrating at Lavo… Tell me about the reason behind that choice of venue and what I might find if I could attend.
Hey Steve, Thank you for the birthday wishes, always good catching up with the man who’s seen it all AKA MR. Lewis! Ha. Celebrating my birthday at Lavo NY tonight because I think it’s the most well-rounded venue in NYC right now, and for me, it’s my Cheers. The venue delivers on hospitality, with great service, lighting, and sound, Top DJ talent such as Avicii, Calvin Harris, Tiesto, and Nicky Romero, and international crowd, image, special effects, and much more.

With that said, I can’t think of a better place to invite my oldest and newest friends to celebrate another year as the summer approaches. Thursday night you will find NYC’s elite and, what we all know as "the industry" crowd, along with friends looking to let loose to great music and champagne.

What is your role with Strategic Group and what is a typical day/night like?
My role at Strategic Group is head of nightlife marketing and programming,
My day-to-day consists of:

10am: in the office (working on promotions, talent-buying, concepts for nights, and working with my co-workers Rich Thomas and Andrew Goldberg to help curate the venues we call home (Lavo, Avenue, Dream Downtown, Marquee, Artichoke). Anything I can do on a given day to better the overall business, that’s my goal. As of late, much of my focus has been on our DJ line-up at Lavo NY –  not only booking an act, but making sure it’s the right date is equally as important.
Noon: take a few meetings, coffee, lunch, meet with people for future business and ideas.
2pm: staff meetings
3pm: payroll (make sure promoters/DJs I am responsible for are being paid properly and on time).
4pm: outreach, touch base with people, connect, reconnect.
6pm: what am I doing tonight…make plans for a given evening. I know I’ll always be with my close crew, but who do we want to let in that night to join us?
Dinner: host a dinner and go out to our venues. My favorite nights to go out are Thursdays at Lavo, and Tuesday’s new house music night at Avenue.
12:15am: arrive to club, host important guests (could be DJs), someone looking for a BIG night out, and my friends.
4am: go home (maybe stop at Artichoke pizza on the way, ha).Go through my phone and make sure I replied to everyone for that day – both business and personal. Always try to be accessible and available.
530am: SLEEP

Tell me about the Hamptons.
For the past eight years, I’ve spent a lot of time out in the Hamptons. Last summer was a very successful summer for me personally, as well as for the team I worked with out there.

I will decide about this coming season after my birthday. The Hamptons are filled with mostly the same faces year in and year out which is what I love most about it; it’s comfortable, and you know people on a very personal level.

I’m looking forward to deciding where my Hamptons outpost will be this coming 2012 season and letting people know next week, but I do know I’ll be spending a lot of time at the Stadium Red Estate house as much as I can, as I love the events my close friends Claude and Lee throw there.

How did you get into the biz and where are you headed with it?
I got into the business on a small scale when I was a junior in college. My three best friends and I started promoting parties over the summers when we were home and on winter breaks. We simply would invite our friends, and it started to escalate quickly, from 100 people, to 300, to 800 people. They eventually went on to finance and internet marketing, and I decided to stick with the hospitality business.

Post-college, I went on to direct promotions for former venues Manor and Arena before meeting Noah Tepperberg and joining the Strategic Hospitality Group family four years ago.

Today, I focus most of my time on Strategic Group and Tao/Lavo group venues, the Hamptons, and my most recent passion: Bounce Music Festival. The Festival is a college music festival touring company that brings some of the biggest acts into college towns. The most recent show was in Bloomington, Indiana for what’s known as Little 500 weekend, featuring Tiesto, Alesso, Tim Mason, and Topher Jones. My partners, Brandon Silverstein and Jared Lyons, are juniors at Indiana University and you will be interviewing them in years to come, I am sure!

Future plans are in the works since everyday something new gets thrown my direction. I’m always moving forward, never being stagnant. The hospitality industry is about staying ahead of the curve, finding trends before they occur, and putting my personal twist on them. With that, I have some fun ideas I’m working on bringing to life that I believe people want to experience.

Legendary DJ & Producer Mark Kamins Has Passed Away

The rumor mill has it that legendary DJ/producer Mark Kamins has passed. A massive coronary in Guadalajara, Mexico where he (pictured, last on the left) apparently was teaching was cited. He was having heart problems for a few months and about three days ago went to see a cardiologist. Yesterday he wasn’t feeling well and went to a hospital and passed away. Facebook, often the fastest bearer of good and bad news, has it being true. A number of close mutual friends are sadly confirming that this club/music legend has moved on. Mark was best known for helping sign a young Madonna to Seymour Steins’ Sire Records and producing her hit "Everybody." That was back in 1982. 

He worked with David Byrne, Ofra Haza, Karen Finley, and UB40 and Sinead. He had a heart of gold and a million friends. I just got this news about an hour ago and I am a bit shaken and not stirred to write anything. I will say that when I spoke to him a number of months ago, he seemed pressured. Some are saying he needed a heart bypass and didn’t have the means. Word came to me that his ex has confirmed. I’m not sure how this will become official … move from rumor to fact. That’s all I know except that Mark was beyond a legend. He was exceedingly human. He was vulnerable but sure, brilliant yet lost, a good friend but often very much a loner. I DJ’d with him at subMercer a couple years back and it was just about the most fun I’ve had at that game. Justin Strauss was whispering the names of obscure tracks Mark was spinning, and I’d go to the booth and say "hey, I was going to play that" and he was incredulous and amused. Mark tried to help me DJ but of course that was impossible. He was a titan and I a mouse. He was just grand. 

Here is an interview I did with Mark in the mag back in December 2008. Rest in Peace, old friend.

Legend has it that Mark Kamins was bugging Sire Record’s Seymour Stein for a producing gig, and Stein told him to get his own act. That act turned out to be Kamins’ ex-girlfriend Madonna. Stein was so anxious to sign the material girl that she was rushed to his hospital bed to get it done. Mark’s production of her first single “Everybody” still bangs dance floors today. Kamins’ production career includes work with the Talking Heads, Sinead O’Connor, the Beastie Boys, and my old friend and Danceteria bartender turned performance artist Karen Finley. When I was going through my wonderbread years in the nightclub world, I looked up to Mark and always felt privileged to have a few minutes of his time. I caught up with him via Skype as he is now living in Europe, and we chatted about the music and the rise of the International DJ.

Where are you now? I’m in Paris, then I’m going to Moscow, and then Tokyo for a month.

You’ve made a life for yourself as a traveling DJ. Well, now I’m like Barbara Streisand — I’m on my retirement tour, then I’ll come back out of retirement next year.

Can a person like you retire? I don’t think so. DJs will play till they die.

Years ago before I was in the nightlife business, I looked up to you like you were a god. You were one of the people on the scene who was not just making music but was also leading the way, taking everybody to a place they hadn’t been before. Where was your beginning in this business? I was always just a guy who played records at parties, from when I was ten years old on.

You DJed at places like the Mudd Club, Danceteria, and Peppermint Lounge. My first gig was at Trax, which was the rock club on 72nd and Columbus. And that’s when Jim Fouratt and Rudolph heard me and Sean Cassette play, and they decided to put both of us together in the booth at Danceteria.

What are your memories of Danceteria? There were at least three Danceterias; the first one was on 38th Street, and it was an illegal Mafia club with no liquor license, but we sold drink tickets. Jim Fourrat had this concept of bringing the bands, and Rudolph had this concept of image, and we were the first club to have video. The magic of the first Danceteria was Jim and Rudolph taking Sean Cassette from Hurrah (which was Arthur Weinstein’s first club) and then taking me from Trax, where I played Motown and hardcore R&B, and putting us together in the booth at Danceteria. We opened at 8 p.m. and played till 8 a.m., which was the first time two DJs played together for 12 hours. Sean would go into punk, and I would go into James Brown and beyond, and that was the magic of it. This was around the beginning of the new wave era, with the coming out of the Sex Pistols. Those were the original seeds of new wave.

New wave to me was one of the most fun music genres. I guess now that music is going that way, the electronic music is happier. Do you see that in Europe also? What’s going on in Europe right now is amazing; it’s a very 80s feel, but its very electro. A lot of bands want to sound retro; they don’t want to sound fresh from all the new technology. They want to record on tape, they don’t want to record on the computer. So it’s really exciting when I listen to these kids, even my son’s band, The Young Lords … it’s amazing, that these young kids can take the new music and do that again.

In the 50s we had jazz, the 60s rock, 70s disco etc., and somewhere around the 90s and 2000, there wasn’t much new music being made. Now it seems that there’s a new type of music or a new energy coming. Can the mash-up be considered a genre? No. I’m a DJ, and every DJ has the same record — it’s how you play that record, that’s what makes a difference. So what’s happening now is that new kids want to hear live music, and its killing old school guys like myself and Frankie and Jellybean. Rock bands are doing DJ sets, which is now the hippest thing in Paris, and one of the hippest things in New York. So, in a funny way we’ve gone the full circle — we killed live music and bands in the 80s, and now they’re killing the DJs.

Bring me back to a time with the Beastie Boys, with Madonna and seeing a type of music, seeing a person like that — the talent of the Beastie Boys coming up through the nightclubs. First of all, I think Danceteria was a magical space like Andy Warhol’s Factory or Max’s Kansas City or CBGBs. Jim Fouratt and Rudolph had this amazing finesse to hire people that they believed in. Why were the Beastie Boys the sweepers at Danceteria? Why was Madonna one of the dancers? Why Sade was the bartender at Danceteria? That’s crazy shit man. So you’re talking about a magical moment, a magical space, and a magical time where it was the beginning of something. Even Karen Finley was the bartender, and LL Cool J was a busboy. Rick Rubin, who is now one of the greatest producers in the music business, his first gig was playing with the Beastie Boys on the second floor of Danceteria because I had to go to a gig in Europe. I have a Polaroid picture of that night.

How did you help to launch Madonna’s career? I produced Madonna’s first record, “Everybody”. I discovered her and brought her to Seymour Stein. At that time, I was working for Chris Blackwell at Island Records, but I was the DJ for the Talking Heads so I knew Seymour. I brought Madonna to see him, and he gave me a singles deal, and then we did it. That was probably her best record, the only one she made with a live drummer.

You went on to work at other clubs like Mars, Tunnel, Palladium, and at one point decided to take your show on the road and you ended up in Russia, Japan, and Brazil. Every time I spoke to you, you were coming from someplace like that. A lot of club promoters and club owners came to see me, and they would come up to the booth and say, “Forget about what’s happening here, would you come and play in my club?” And I became the first DJ that was booked to travel and play in all these other countries.

That was unheard of, and I remember you bringing back world beats, stuff from Greece, Spain, Africa, that people had never heard of. And Belgium and Japan also … there was one record shop in Japan called Wave that actually had every record from every country in the world.

There was a time when DJs didn’t travel internationally, and the beginning of it was with you, Mr. Mark Kamins. I opened the doors for a lot of guys, especially in Japan. We opened the first real nightclub in Japan called Turia, and then a few years later we opened Gold, and that was the first club where every two weeks I would bring in a DJ from New York. I loved it. It was the first time David Morales, Little Louie Vega, Dimitri, and all those guys left New York City.

DJ Manero on His Art Project at the New Museum and How He Got His Name

We are always defending the ‘city that never sleeps.” The people who keep it awake, and the bedroom-community types who want it to turn in early and watch Leno, are always at odds. Nightlife supports hundreds of thousands of people, many of which are using their night careers to chase other dreams. There are the classic waitron types trying to be actors and the bartenders who paint up a storm when not swinging liquor. Roman Grandinetti, also known as DJ Manero, has deep club history and is now using all his skills to curate an art project described as Sound Graffiti.

"…the creator of CNNCTD+, Roman Grandinetti. In one month’s time he put together 100 influencers to create playbuttons for the New Museum store on May 1st, created a scavenger hunt series of SOUND GRAFFITI outlets around the city including the heart of the Fashion District and a wall on Kemare with Jason Woodside. This team has created a lot of content over the last month with connections to over 100 influencers including Pharrell Williams, Maria Cornejo, Cindy Sherman, Santigold and other icons like George Lois and other cool fun NY hits like Katz’s Deli and The Meatball Shop.”

On Tuesday, a private party at the New Museum will preview the public opening on the following day. They say the "goal of CNNCTD+100 is to showcase a cross-section of New York City culture that highlights the multidisciplinary connections of contemporary culture. Music inspires fashion, street art inspires fine art, youth inspires establishment."

It will be "Roman Grandinetti (a.k.a DJ Manero) and his team selected 100 heroes and creative leaders from various disciplines to participate in the project.

Participants: Mario Sorrenti, Maria Cornejo, Nanette Lepore, Rebecca Minkoff, Michael Pitt, Cindy Sherman, Pharrell Williams, Scott Campbell, Santigold and iconic NYC personalities and companies including Katz’s Deli, FourSquare, and Ricky Powell…. The complete list of participants won’t be revealed until the night of the event but includes dozens of big names and surprises…The public can buy tickets @ the new museum store online to come see  the show as well. There’s only 100 spots open to the public as well."

I caught up with Roman and asked him all about it:

What will people be seeing/hearing?
I think what people will see in the show is a wide range of talent and the vastness of our creative vision – we have chefs, models, DJs, producers, curators, photographers, fashion designers, creative geniuses, and we hand- selected a few people who we think are next.

Tell me about yourself. Include your journey through clubland.
I’m 25 years old and I’m a Brooklyn-born Italian. I started out promoting and selling tickets at around 13 for every teen night. Later, when I turned 18, I worked for Rob T and later Uriel – who I believe introduced us for the first time years ago. He let me pretty much run my own nights and put me at the door. My family decided it was not a good idea for me to go to school in Brooklyn anymore -and I got into High School of Art & Design. Going there changed my life. It opened my eyes to not only a whole new world, but it introduced me to a whole another world. I stopped promoting, got into the whole downtown thing – graffiti and sneakers.

I was one of the first employees at A Bathing Ape. I met every rapper you could imagine in the place. While I was there I started a sneaker event called Soledout NYC. I put three of them together from what I learned from promoting. The events did around 2,500 guests per event. The money gave me leverage to fully stop  promoting and kinda enjoy nightlife for myself. I started going to PM, Butter, Cain, Lotus all of them while being underage – haha. At that time I started to look into the DJ stuff but didn’t take the leap yet. At A Bathing Ape, Steve Rifkind walked in and changed everything. I started interning at Universal music, servicing records to DJs – which really got my gears turning to become a DJ. I was hired a month later. I worked in the marketing department with Akon, Wu-Tang, Asher Roth and had an opportunity to work with Marc Ecko and Swizz Beatz.

While I was there, Steve was a huge supporter of mine and helped me out a lot. I published my first magazine’ it was this 6×8 FREE pocket-sized magazine, dubbed connected – it had Swizz Beatz, 50 Cent, Pharoahe Monch, and Mark Ronson on the cover. I soon left Universal and worked on connected, which is now "cnnctd+”. I became very close to DJ Vitale and Sal Morale, who opened the door to the DJ world to me. They introduced me to the model promoting world. Vitale and Tommy Virtue taught me pretty much everything I know and made sure I knew what I was doing before I even played in a club. I worked with childhood friend Gezim for booking help and Uriel gave me the name "Manero” because everyone used to call me “Young Travolta” since I looked like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. Also, I grew up in Bensonhurst/Bay Ridge and walked the same blocks he did in the movie.

So your DJ career took off…
DJing became my main source of income. Vitale continued to push me to get better at DJing. I truly feel he’s one of the most talented DJs in this city, and I would spend hours watching him and Sal. I’d listen to all of DJ Riz’s mixtapes, trying to develop my own style, which Vitale and another big help in my career (Mel Debarge) told me would come in time. I had the opportunity to play every venue in the city, was handed money to play a record, and played for countless celebs. Some of the celebs I was allowed to talk about and some I was never allowed to.

I tried the traveling thing and, for a short period of time, really was a career DJ. I was traveling weekly and ending up in rooms I would NEVER step foot in and it kinda made me see a clear vision of what I want to do and what the life of a traveling DJ is. So I started to save a bit, get a bit more into music production, and really focused on creating a career. I fine-tuned the gigs, did what is a right fit for me as a DJ / trying to mold myself. I bought an office/studio space in Chinatown. I started out just doing remixes and slowly looked for some interesting work to work on during the day to stay creative. Got cnnctd+ rolling again and my girl’s father introduced me to the owners of playbutton to maybe help out with some marketing stuff.

Since the day we met, I have done a collaboration with HBO and How to Make it in America, created one of the first interactive street murals on Kenmare between Bowery and Elizabeth (across from the recently-opened Ken & Cook), and now I’m producing a show of 100 influencers at the New Museum on May 1st. Thus far, I have Cindy Sherman, owners of The Meatball Shop, Mark Borthwick, The Fader, Mario Sorenti, Illesteva, Andre Sariva, Katz Deli, and Scott Campbell – all showcasing works alongside myself. My girlfriend Bibi Cornejo who is a major help and supporter of cnnctd and Sal Morale.

What’s the New Museum event going to be like?
The point of the show is built off of what NYC nightlife used to be – a collective group of influential people all in the same room at the same time, all looking for an interesting time/conversation. Hopefully everyone leaves inspired, creates an idea for something new, and everyone gets to meet some interesting people

He’s Back: Tonight’s W.I.P. DJ Aaron James

A Welcome Back Jack party is a must-attend. Jack refers to Aaron James. Aaron returns from abroad (and maybe a broad), has honed his skills, and is ready to take on the town. He is a great DJ, landing in a town that has accepted mediocrity in that job. It’s not necessarily anyone’s fault. There are probably more fantastic DJs than ever, but we are in a time where there are more venues than ever. Every Tom, Dickwad, and hairy-assed Jerk is now a DJ… err, including me. The loosening of restrictions on dancing in non-cabaret licensed joints has every restaurant, lounge, and hole in the world with a DJ booth. Most DJs use computers to ply their trade so the need for a space-consuming DJ booth is no longer a concern. A table in the back of the room works just fine. W.I.P., just about the best joint in town for a crowd that doesn’t want the same old mash-up sounds and black card weilding suits is getting their Wednesday night party together. Tonight, it’s DJ Spooky joining DJ Aaron James who returns from a long hiatus. Aaron used to work with me back in the day and I’m gonna come by and give a hug.

Where have you been?
I left the States in late 2008 following the Rock The Vote Tour (RTV), an epic experience which saw me collaborating with the likes of The Beastie Boys, Sheryl Crow, Eve, TV On The Radio, Santigold, Talib Kwele, Jack Johnson, Bootsy Collins, Santigold, on and on. The City was under the hammer of the Recession, and I had been in a rut for quite some time … too much monkeying around, not taking things seriously, squandering a lot of opportunities. RTV was a huge wake-up call as to what could be achieved if I put my heart and soul into it. Following the Tour, I manifested an opportunity to serve as creative director of a new venue in New Delhi through an old friend. We went on to win the Best Club in the city that first year, and it became one of the transformative experiences of my life. I could not have imagined then that I’d spend the next three years of my life in India, but the fun kept coming, and it was as if I was aging in reverse. And so I stayed, rocked every major city in the country, got ranked in the Top 10 DJs living there, and most recently toured with Pitbull on his first-ever India tour. The last year or so I have had a concerted focus to travel and play outside that country, and slowly I’ve been crossing cities off the list … Columbo (Sri Lanka), Kathmandu, Shanghai, and Ho Chi Minh.  When I get back there, I plan to hit the SE Asia circuit hard … the region is so alive, the economy’s cash is rich and eager for Western entertainment … and I am ready for bigger, more exhilarating markets.
 
What type of music are you offering up?
My repertoire has expanded ten-fold. Schooled in the NYC lounge scene, I have never been a single-genre DJ … and now even less so. In my last few weeks in India, I rocked a reggae party, a Latin party, commercial house, progressive/tech house, dubstep, breaks, and glitch. I’m all over the map really, but I obviously tailor the set for the particular venue and audience. It keeps it fun, and keeps me fresh.  I’ve learned over the years that if I’m bored, it can only mean one thing … I am boring.  I intend to keep mixing things up going forward, take risks, be daring.  And I will never again allow myself to be lazy, otherwise this job, not to mention my life as a whole, becomes meaningless.
Aaron James in Magazine resized
 
What do you fear about NYC nightlife these days? What are you hoping for?
Hahaha, fabulous question. Happy to say, all my expectations would just be hearsay, drawn from the input from friends who’ve been here this whole while and remain disillusioned with what’s going on here. I’m gonna give NYC a chance to surprise me, and find out for myself where the scene is at these days. I want to be startled. I hope to find a thriving, vibrant, diverse, sexy … more organic, and loving kind of energy than when I left. I still do miss the old-school New York vibe, when it was less about the posing, and more about the dancing and the loving. Is it impossible for us now to go forward by going back to that, I wonder? Let’s see. As for any personal fears, I suppose in the back of my mind I fear falling into the same color-by-numbers rut I was in before, musically speaking. But I’m determined not to let that happen. I’m sure it all boils down to the choices we make, so I’m looking to make only good ones. I’m confident there is a role for me to play here where I can bring my own personality to the tables, I just need to find it. Certainly making my "debut" at W.I.P. tonight (Wed) is a damn good place to start. There’s been synergy from the get-go. Andrew Lockhart of projekt:nyc roped me in. An old friend, he’s been on the cutting-edge for years. And I knew from the moment I sat down with Stuart Braunstein it was a perfect fit. I asked him what he expected of me musically, and he said for me to be myself and do "Me." Now that’s music to my ears.  
 
Tell my readers about your NYC DJ experience and why you are back?
I started out DJing in NYC back in 1997, two years after moving here. My first-ever gig was at Match Downtown for $60 and dinner for a six-hour set. Through Match, I met someone who hooked up a fashion event in the Sullivan Room at Life, more like a photo shoot with background music. The dullest gig imaginable, but that’s where I met Mark Baker who commented that I had played his favorite song that day … and the next thing I knew I was the regular Friday resident in the Sullivan Room for the hottest club that New York had seen arguably since Studio 54, and certainly ever since. In fact, you gave me many of my early breaks, Steve, and I’m happy to give credit where credit is due. Those were memorable years, and I went on to spin in most of the major venues across the city, including a two-year residency at Crobar.  Shortly after Crobar, I became disillusioned somewhat with the scene and put the bulk of my energy into private events, which at the end of the day were more lucrative and less taxing. Truth be told, I have to acknowledge as well that the scene may have become disillusioned with me. One of the biggest promoters in the game at the time once said that I didn’t take my job seriously. Though it hit me with the force of a battleaxe, he was right, and those words have been an inspiring force in my professional life ever since. I’m back now, primarily because my business visa expired, and to refuel my energy reserves that have always been deeply rooted in this city. I may have left New York, but New York never left me. The city itself, and not the nightlife scene, is what excited me most about coming back.  Just walking the streets again makes me feel so damn alive. I can’t say how long I will stay here before again heading abroad, for now it remains indefinite, but while here I definitely feel excited about the opportunity to shine. 
 
Aaron James resized
 
What’s still in your set from the last time you were here?
Virtually nothing, I presume. I’ve got a whole new bag of tricks. For the most part, I was caught up in the Top 40 sing-a-long karaoke machinery that had become NYC nightlife. One of the reasons I ventured out was out of boredom, and likewise, to prevent myself from becoming boring. I’m not against commercial music per se; I just needed a break from it. I needed a game-changer. Playing abroad, people were more tolerant and let me flex my creative muscle. If you don’t flex your muscles ever, you can’t build them.
 
Were you so much older then and younger than that now? Or are you now wise beyond your years?
Brilliant, thought-provoking, and particularly relevant question. It wraps my brain into a pretzel. Let me say this: it feels BIG to be back. There is nothing like reinventing oneself that is more challenging, and thus more exciting. I’ve always been wise beyond my years, but I haven’t always been smart, and I’ve made some unwise decisions along the way.  Not to say I’ll never make another mistake, but I don’t know that person anymore. I am not the same "Me," both personally and professionally.  I wouldn’t call this defining moment a disconnect at all, more like a seismic reconnect. For the past three years, I have been through an intense period of growth, a tsunami of change. Now in the calm after, I have a chance to truly reflect and feel it all catch up to me somehow. It’s as if there is this seamless fusion going on where my Past is pouring into my Present, assimilating and bridging the two worlds … and I am becoming more and more whole. At the end of the day, I am more happy than I have ever been, and I am more healthy mentally, physically, and spiritually. What else matters really.