Diplo Headlines Huge Hush-Hush Event Tonight

Last night I bartended the Help Heal New York benefit at Pacha. I had not bartended since before you were born; the game has since changed. Here I am writing everyday about how to do this and how to do that, and my afternoons are spent designing bars so it was good to have this hands-on experience. I didn’t actually make a drink; I had minions to do that. I better correct: the love of my recent life, Amanda, made the drinks while I interacted with the patrons. It all went to charity – the price of admission, the drink revenues, and even the tips. The real Pacha bartender assigned to me, Megan, was amazing. Her smile and demeanor while slinging drinks for the cause and putting up with my antics was above and beyond. She is a great bartender and a wonderful new friend. Twenty-dollar bills and even some Benjamins flew over the bar to the tip bucket, which also benefits the cause. At one point I was squatted down picking up loot that slipped down from the bucket.

The DJs were just grand. I particularly loved Afrojack. I left before Erick Morillo went on, as I have to be up early for you…and looking good at that. At one point, Pacha owner Eddie Dean came by to hug and heckle me . He was accompanied by his sidekick, partner in crime, his "Tonto"… Rob Fernandez and DJ Sunnery. These guys threw money at us for the bucket as well-wishers gathered to shake hands and take pictures. All around us, thousands rose with the music… the love was apparent. DJ Sunnery , a big deal, was waiting to go on. He seemed as calm as a thoroughbred at the gate on derby day, ready to get this party started. I was told he is the nicest of persons and is married to the most beautiful girl in the world… Victoria’s Secret model Doutzen Kroes. I looked her up and, for sure, she is real, but alas I only have eyes for Amanda.  

Pacha is a monster. On every level, from the door to the staff to management, they are pros. Everybody talks a good game, but Pacha walks the walk. As those who know me know I am a rocker, and house or  EDM or whatever label is put on it in whatever decade doesn’t sooth this savage beast . That being said, being in a big room with a big DJ, big lights, effects and a big crowd is an experience unlike any other.

Before the bartending gig I was at 1OAK, tasked to DJ for Richie Romero at his birthday. I was to open for ?uestlove and Jesse Marco, and I had M.Ortiz opening for me. M.Ortiz was so great that I didn’t bounce him off, content to hear what he was offering. Amanda told me if I kicked him off, as some told me to do, she would "moida me.” Mr. M. Ortiz is getting ready for a British tour, and I expect we will be hearing his name often. He is really great. 1OAK was starting to fill up when the birthday boy finally showed. Richie Romero was zonkered as I wished him well. He has dodged almost as many bullets as your humble servant and it was good to see him surrounded by hundreds of friends and tacky balloons and such.

Tonight I will be at a big event in a big location…off the beaten path and super hush-hush as it’s sold out. Dos Equis is behind this shindig. Diplo will headline. There are six or so rooms of music and other distractions. I’m going to DJ for a short set along with Cobra Krames, Sam Valentine, David Katz, Justine D. Daniel Leyva, Fatherhood (Michael Magnan and Physical Therapy), Hayley Pisaturo, Shayne (Hood By Air), and 7aywana. There will be a lot going on at this happening and I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow. If you see me today, ask me nicely. I think there are three tickets left.

If I wasn’t obligated elsewhere, the place I would surely be is the Ava Lounge at the Dream Hotel up on 55th Street. A photo installation by Marko Kalfa will bring the sharp set. Liquid Lab, which I have to tell you about in depth on a later day, will provide fall cocktails. Fannie Chan wil DJ.

Another party worth checking out is the five-year anniversary of the Thursday Punk Rock Happy Hour at Otto’s Shrunken Head. My pals Traci Danielle and Joy Rider are doing the inviting.

I’m Back: New Year’s Nightlife Rumors, Openings, and Transformations

So I’m back. Frankly, I was too pooped to write after that marathon of Halloween, Sandy, Christmas, and New Year’s. New Year’s was spent at the Dream Hotel Downtown. I DJ’d the Marble Lane restaurant and had the most fun. My DJ style is a bit pure. I mostly offer rock and roll some old soul as, after all, I am an old soul. I was smart enough to bring along a ringer, DJ Louis XIV, who is used to and embraces the commercial sounds necessary for a NYE good time. He and we rocked it…  by adding in hip-hop and R&B and other non- rock stuff. Before the crowds arrived, the staff was line-dancing to the Temptations and Bootsy Collins offerings I served up. Someone told me there were 300 people servicing the event. It was marvelous to see Strategic Group types like Jonathan Schwartz and Matt Stauss service the good time had by all. DJ MOS relieved us, and we scooted into the night.

New Year’s Eve is not as chaotic as I remember it. In Times Square, humans are herded into pens to watch the ball drop as opposed to the massive and sometimes violent chaos of decades ago. Even the clubs are adjusted. With transportation problematic, and most places farming out the night to promo groups with high ticket prices and open bars, there is less movement. People go to a place and stay there and then go home. New Year’s has become controlled and sanitized, leaving only Halloween for the madness.

I have lots of rumors and movement to talk about but am heading off to my day job. I’m designing a restaurant out in Huntington Long Island and a coffee shop uptown. Hotel Chantelle is getting a face lift, and I’ll be there tonight for the 2013 launch of BINGO with Linda Simpson and Murray Hill. Yes, I am spending a lot of time up at XL Nightclub. Contrary to many whispers, I am not involved in the spot, other than consulting on a renovation of one of the rooms. I love XL; it’s big and fun and the staff is sexy and familiar.

One other thing that pleases me to report is Frankie Sharp of Westgay at Westway Tuesdays is doing another night. He will launch Fridays (isn’t that clever) at Santos Party House come February. Santos is settling in as that one reliable club you can send your downtown types to without knowing what’s going on. There is something always going on. I took a mini tour at the new train-themed, Williamsburg bar called Passenger. It is wonderful, chic and stylish, and staffed well. I was just booked there for Sailor Jerry’s Birthday Bash next Monday. I love DJing Tattoo events. There’s so much more but I’m going to just get my feet wet today. Tomorrow, we will plunge back in.

Champagning Wednesdays Tonight, Spotted: Scarlett Johansson Getting a Tattoo

This Sunday I will DJ at the VAR Magazine launch at the Wooster Street Social Club (43 Wooster, Grand and Broome). Everyone knows the space from NY Ink. I have attended a couple of functions there and am looking forward to this event. I’m trying to arrange getting a tattoo in between DJ sets. There are a bunch of bands so I might be able to get a quickie. Has this been done? I’m such a visionary. It is an "art of tattoo event.” They say:

"The purpose of the event is to launch VAR’s inspired vision of tattoo and body art into mainstream culture. VAR recognizes the accessibility preferences of its readers and that with digital media and blogging comes on-demand video and audio interviews, image, and text at the tap of a finger or the click of a mouse. VARs first issue will focus on the desire for accessibility while returning to the tradition of fine art’s elite status as tactile object by publishing a traditional print edition."

FUSE TV’s very own Juliya Chernetsky will be the host for the evening. Sally Shan was my point person. I’m about to start a new round of tattoos and this is a good place to start.

Speaking of tattoos, the other day I caught Scarlett Johansson at Graceland, one of my favorite haunts, getting some ink. I don’t know what she got. Maybe I do, but I’ll leave that stuff to the gossip columnists. Speaking of gossip, I heard that one of my favorite heroines of nightlife is planning on a Meatpacking venture. Amy Sacco who has been, I am told, winning in London, is set to open up again in New York. If this is true, it is truly a reason to be cheerful. Nobody does it better than Amy.

My pal Nick Andreottola (I can never say his last name right…let alone spell it) is constantly inviting me to his highly successful Champagning Wednesdays at the Dream Hotel. Tonight I must venture up there – the one on 55th Street – because he has DJ Teal working for him. The idea of this early midweek event ( it goes from 6:30pm to midnight) appeals to me. This week, the party has moved upstairs to the Ava Penthouse Lounge of the hotel due to construction downstairs. A rule in nightclubs: if it’s not broke, don’t fix it but immediately export it to another location… and then another. So it goes with Champagning!

Downtown is being launched on Thursdays from 7pm till midnight at Villa Pacri (55 Ganesvoort) in the Meatpacking District. Bobby Blaze will provide the music. Villa Pacri provides an indoor and outdoor space so this figures to be a great early evening place to go to before the late night Meat mayhem.

The Leader of the ‘Twilight’ Wolf Pack: Chaske Spencer

Chaske Spencer is not a household name. In fact, when I hang with my neighbor and friend, it is more likely that someone will recognize me than the face seen by millions and millions. Chaske is a movie star who is well-known or, at least, well-seen as the head of the wolf pack in the Twilight movie series. Once in a while, at brunch, I’ll ask him to make that werewolf face and make him recite a line from the flick … he never goes for my bait. He just smiles that movie star smile and laughs that hearty movie star laugh. His star is on the rise and I suspect his anonymity will soon be lost. There are movies in the can and in the works and TV things being talked about. He is, like, 6’5,” good looking, of Native American heritage, and might be the nicest person I’ve ever met.

This Thursday he will have his debut photography show at the Dream Hotel, 210 West 55th Street, up on the roof. I will be there. I have been trying to get him to Monday night Bingo for a year and if he gets me uptown then he better show up for Murray Hill and Linda Simpson’s Monday Night Bingo extravaganza…or else. Chaske is half my age and twice my size and I’ve watched him turn into a bad, bad wolf many times….. so it might be a fair fight.

Let’s get the elephant-in-the-room question out of the way… I know you as a friend, a brunch and Bingo buddy (soon), but to a great many people you are the leader of the wolf pack in the Twilight movie series. Tell me about your film career and how it affects your normal routine for good …for bad?
Yes, brunch pals and hopefully go-to bingo pals soon. My film career started about a decade ago. My first film was a movie called Skins. The director was Chris Eyre. Since then, it’s been a slow climb to the working-actor mountain top. When I landed Twilight I was broke and hadn’t been able to land a job in two years. I actually thought that if I didn’t get this I was going to pack it in… call it a day on the acting career. For the good part, I’m working a lot now. I have three films lined up. They should be out next year. I also, just got back from Australia. I was filming a pilot called Frontier for NBC. I don’t let my career affect my normal life. I keep pretty low-key. It’s just a job that I like to do. I’m pretty lucky.

Have you always been a photographer? Tell me about your work, especially shooting rock bands. Which ones have you shot?
I’ve always been fascinated by photography. I wanted to be a painter but I found out that I don’t have the patience for painting. I like the instance gratification of a really good photo. I started taking photos as soon as I moved to NYC, when I was 22. I was using a Canon film camera. I bought it for very cheap at a pawn shop in Calgary, Canada. At the time I needed to spend money on food and rent, not film. So, photography sat on the back burner for a time but, since I’ve been working and traveling, I take my camera everywhere with me. I have a digital Canon Rebel. I started shooting bands a couple of years ago. My roommate at the time, Adam Morse, plays bass for the Five O’Clock Heroes. I started going to their shows and taking photos of them. I’ve also shot this band called Roma. I like going to clubs and finding bands to shoot.Chaske Spencer  You are a Native American. How did you grow up and how did you end up here? Also, tell me about your charity work and let’s throw Michelle Obama into this mess of a question.
I grew up on a couple reservations in Montana and Idaho. I moved around a bit. My parents were teachers and taught on Indian reservations. They did the best they could raising me with a strong since of self. But, living on a reservation I saw a lot of poverty and addiction. There is not a lot to do there, so I would get into some trouble from time to time. Nothing big; just regular teenage shit. It wasn’t until I started to go to an all-white school that I noticed how different things were, how the living conditions on a reservation are pretty much that of a third world country.

After high school, I tried to do the college thing. But I failed at that. I wasn’t doing much with my life. I was just hanging out in bars, getting drunk, and smoking a lot weed. One night I just decided I couldn’t keep doing the same thing over and over again. I decided I wanted to move to NYC. I bought an airplane ticket to NYC. I had saved some money from working some shit jobs.

But the weekend before I was ready to fly out, I got drunk and put my dad’s truck into a woman’s fence. I had to postpone my flight, and repairing the fence and her yard took all of my cash. So I ended up coming to NYC with only $100.

I look back on it now and I’m glad I left when I did. I was getting out of hand with the partying in a small town. My charity work comes from seeing a lot of bullshit that goes on in a reservation. I try to use the spotlight of the media to bring social cause to the forefront that wouldn’t normally be picked up by the mainstream media. One of the causes I’m in involved in is Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move. It’s to help inform people about eating healthy and getting exercise.

Where will the film world take you ideally, and where will photography take you ideally?
I don’t know where the film world will take me. I hope just to keep working. I love what I do. I’m a pretty lucky guy that gets to have a job that I already love to do. I learned a long time ago that you really can’t make a plan. Life takes you where you’re supposed to be. As a photographer? I hope that I can capture some really beautiful images. I hope one day to shoot some amazing landscape for National Geographic, or do a photo shoot with someone like Waylon Jennings. I love faces that tell a story.

You’re having way more than 15 minutes of fame, but I know you as this shy, polite guy. Is there a hunger for the limelight and loot? What else is driving you?
I’m not big into the limelight stuff. I found that out after the media blitz of Twilight, that the spotlight is not my thing. It’s a part of the job, and I can live with that. But it does make me uncomfortable. I try to keep a low profile while I’m in NYC. I do notice I’m getting more and more noticed in my hood. I do love making movies though. It’s like joining a circus. Playing pretend and having fun. And being a photographer is an outlet I have. It keeps the boredom away. Keeps me being creative. I had an acting teacher tell me once, “Don’t be an actor. Be an artist.” I try to live by those words in everything I do.

From Avenue to Bantam to the Diner: The Never-Ending Night

I try not to write too much about what you already know. Everyone knows the bottle clubs, the scene clubs, the celebrity, the jet-set joints where money is no object – but then again, it is the object. These places are often considered commonplace by the common man who dwells in hipster havens and dive bars. That perception is wrong. There is validity to what these operators offer, although they aren’t all things to all people. Most people can’t afford to party there or they lack the looks or connections to pass through their velvet ropes. Once inside there is always action. Although the bottom line is the bottom line, as it is in most businesses (including the nightclub business), these clubs deliver a quality good time to their often well-know audiences. The DJs often play a set that contains crowd-pleasing, familiar tracks, but the DJs themselves are great DJs and giving the people what they want makes it fun -and what in the name of God is wrong with pleasing a crowd?

Last night I whisked myself to Avenue for club mogul Noah Tepperberg’s birthday. He co-owns a lot of places. Off the top of my head, he has pieces of Marquee (NYC, Vegas, Australia), Lavo (NYC, Vegas), Tao (NYC, Vegas), Marble Lane, Ph-D Rooftop, the aforementioned Avenue, Artichoke Pizza. There are all sorts of pool entities and spin-offs of these places now. He has many reasons to be cheerful, despite being half the man he used to be. Well, not exactly half, but he has lost a lot of weight by watching what he eats and drinks, and working out with a new trainer who Noah introduced to me last night. Avenue was packed with the beautiful, the rich, and the famous last night. The energy was through the roof. I’m not going to mention the celebrities that I saw, as that comes with the no price for admission. Avenue is a gossip-free zone and those that go know that.

We bolted into the night and popped by 1OAK, which was just getting started. A late-night rush comes from sister space The Darby Downstairs which closes early by NYC standards. The Butter Group operators, which own these properties and Butter, understand that after a while, crowds want to hop, skip, and jump elsewhere, so they engineer that hop-over to another one of their spaces. Thus, 1OAK gets a big late boost. We chatted up a looking-real-good Richie Romero and said hello to all the familiar faces of the vibrant staff as we headed into the night. We strolled to No. 8, where Amanda danced with Amy Sacco who was simply being wonderful. I hadn’t been before, as I rarely get over to this hood during the week. Currently, they aren’t open on Saturdays, but will be when the summer spins away. I loved No. 8. The music was amazing. Amy, one of the best operators in this business, was an active part of the action. At 8, I saw countless familiar faces. The crowd was mixed and adult and I loved it.

Still, the night had me moving, and we headed to The Electric Room, where Angelo made sure we were happy. Nur Kahn is in Italy with The Kills. In the past, when Nur traveled, The Electric Room often lacked…electricity. He and I talked about that a couple months ago. Last night, the place was pumping. Amanda said, and I quote, "The thing about this place is that it never compromises. When you walk in the door, you always hear great music and find yourself amongst a cool crowd.” She isn’t taking over this column, but she is spot-on about this spot. The Electric Room was fabulous.

Outside we ran into pal Dean Winters who was out causing mayhem but not as seen on TV. We chatted him up in front of the Dream Hotel, where we also ran into Limelight producer Jen Gatien. Jen, me, and mine spent an hour trading war stories and catching up. I told her she gave me yet another 15 minutes of fame as Limelight is now On Demand on Showtime. I am getting stoppedeverywhere. Someone asked me who I wanted to play me in the sure-to-come epic movie about my life, and as I looked at this silly person, I reached into my bag of stock answers for occasions like this and deadpanned the answer: “… Denzel.”

After the very brief chuckles, we headed to The Darby. I just wanted to see it in action. I occasionally pop in to see how it’s wearing and tearing. Designers do revisit their babies just to see how the fabric is holding up. Design is theoretical until a place opens. I like to see what I could have done better and what is working just fine. Dean Winters joined us at the bar and we toasted to something important to that moment. I stopped by Bantam as I headed to the Bridge. It was a classic 3am crowd of revelers enjoying the moment and the sticky liqueurs. Bantam is great for that first stop or that last stop, and not bad if you’re caught in between.

After we left and had our late-night meal at a diner, we arrived home just as the sun was coming up. We got the leash on Lulu and went to stock up on diet sodas and popcorn and such. As usual, my head hit the pillow at 6am and here I am at 10am talking to you. Someone told me yesterday that not needing sleep is the sign of a genius. I don’t know if there’s any truth to that, but if it is true I suspect that he’s a very tired genius.

DJ Aaron James On His Year In New York And Blast-Off To India

The way New Year’s Eve is falling on a Monday is a huge boon to marketing. Christmas spirit, gift returning, leftovers, and hangovers will linger until at least Wednesday, but by late Thursday/Friday, people will be desperate to have their big night plans finalized. A long weekend without work distractions will mean ginormous last-minute sales. I will DJ at the Dream Hotel Downtown which has sooo much going on and a built-in audience… I love hotel parties. I’ll tell you all about it early next week. After my gig, I’ll head over to a very private friends-and-family preview of an old club made new. This joint will help define this decade of clubdom. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to talk about this yet, but I’m sure club insiders know what I’m talking about. More on this after the holiday.

Tonight, the tireless Wendy Diamond is throwing her 8th annual Toys for Dogs holiday benefit in support of Hurricane Sandy animals. There will be photo-ops with a "celebrity" Santa, and lots of rescued dogs to mingle with. Dogs torn from their families or just plain lost and living in shelters will get a toy to ease their loneliness and confusion. The event will be at Amnesia, which in case you forgot is at 609 W. 29th St. from 6:30pm to 8:30pm.

My pal DJ Aaron James is off to India for New Year’s Eve and a bit after that. He’s having a Blast Off To India Party at the Dream Hotel Uptown next Wednesday, December 26th. I asked him about his year-long stay with us here in the Big Apple.

It’s been a year that you’ve be in New York…
It’s hard for me to fathom it’s been almost one year since we last spoke about India, my travels, and my expectations for NYC nightlife upon my return. That seems like a small eternity ago.

When and why are you leaving?
I’m flying out next Friday the 28th … back to India to DJ New Year’s Eve at the world-class Shiro in New Delhi, and then to move every dance floor in India and SE Asia I can get my hands on. Considering I don’t even have a lease or any other thing binding me here, for me it feels like a full-on shift. It’s crazy really, like picking up from where I left off on a life over there … a twin universe almost of an entirely new set of friends, family, lovers, inspirations, dreams.

How long will you be gone? What’s the plan?
I’m on a one-year business visa, so unless I end up marrying some irresistibly alluring Indian woman, I’ll be back eventually. Haha. Actually, plan is to pop back in a few months to tour with one of my all-time favorite recording artists: Vanessa Daou. She’s dropping a new album in the new year, and has graciously asked me to be her U.S. tour DJ. I hadn’t planned on coming back until the visa expired, but considering I’ve been a fan of Vanessa’s since as long as I can remember, I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

I always knew I would be going back. It was only a matter of time. I’m not running away from New York or NYC nightlife as much as I’m branching out and seeing as much of the world as I can before I get too old and turn to dust. In the past year, I’ve seen the best we have to offer and the worst. I guess I’m just in a humble, grateful mood.

New York’s been good to me this year. Having come back last January with nothing at all in the pipeline, I’ve managed to work hard, keep myself more or less out of trouble, and pay off some $50,000 in debt, which was the main reason I stayed on so long anyway. And for the first time in as long as I can remember, I am entirely debt-free and feeling light as a feather because of it. Mission accomplished, and how could I be mad at that.

You’ve been back for a minute. What do you think of NYC nightlife?
I’ve come to accept the nightlife scene here for what it is … though I haven’t truly defined what “it” is. It’s less than I remember from years past, but so much more than much of the world has to offer. I rather focus on the positives now, and not be that hater that says the nightlife sucks now and forever and that there’s no hope. There are small beautiful pockets of resistance everywhere in this city – some sparkle and glimmer of originality exists as it once did, just perhaps it’s harder to find.

I love this city, I do. I only wish sometimes we could lighten up a bit, take ourselves a little less seriously, or with less vanity … and just dance, man. These days to me, nothing else matters. Off I go, always letting go.

 

 

 

The Bloody, Juicy Secret At Dream Downtown’s Marble Lane

Every night at Marble Lane restaurant in the Dream Downtown Hotel, patrons aren’t “screaming” bloody murder – they’re discreetly demanding it. Because off-the-menu sits the lobby restaurant’s bleeding, dripping, biggest secret: Murder by Burger, the 10-layered burger topped with everything from fried eggs and cheese, to bacon, mushrooms, and onions. The best part: it’s stabbed right in the middle with a steak knife and paraded to your table for all to gawk at. Delicious and deadly.

But it gets better: Marble Lane has provided the recipe for this burger – and while we’re probably not going to actually make it at home since such a colossal task is best for the pros, it’s certainly a nice list to post on your fridge and glance at as your reach for the Diet Coke. Take a look:

Ingredients:
8oz ground beef patty  
1 burger bun
2 slices comte cheese (2oz)
1 slice slab bacon (3oz)
1 fried egg
1 slice beef steak tomato (2 oz)- GRILLED
1/4 avocado, sliced
1 onion ring
1 oz sauteed mushroom mix (see base recipe)
1 oz caramelized onion
3 leaves bibb lettuce (1 oz)
1/2 oz of Memo sauce

Garnishes:
2 oz Memos sauce
2 oz stone crab sauce
3 oz ketchup

Season the burger patty with salt and pepper on both sides and place on the griddle.  Cook to ordered temp.

Top sliced cheese. Place in salamander and melt cheese.  Meanwhile griddle the bacon slice until crisp. Butter the cut bun and toast on griddle. Cut bacon in half and place on top of the melted cheese on the burger. Cook a sunny up egg and place on top of bacon.  Next add the sliced avocado.  Top that with 1 onion ring. Fill the onion ring with sauteed mushrooms and onions. Top  bibb lettuce and top bun.  Stab a pickle spear with a steak knife and "stab" the burger with it.

Serve with a side of french fries and half of a pickled jalapeno.

Get in the inside-info on Marble Lane and Dream Downtown, & follow Bonnie on Twitter here

Good Night Mr. Lewis: Legendary Parties, Legendary Men

Today is going to be short and sweet. The half of me that’s Jewish is having a huge argument with the half that isn’t and it’s best that I write half a column today. Tonight I will DJ at Champagning Midtown at the lobby-level bar at the Dream Hotel, 55th Street btw. Broadway and 7th Ave. Nick Andreottola and Nicole Rose, along with Dream honcho Ric Addison, are hosting this shindig which starts at an early 6:30pm and runs until 12:30am. They say the idea is "to celebrate life by drinking champagne.”  I have many reasons to be cheerful this week so I may imbibe. As many of you loyal readers and friends know, I only drink two or three times a year, whenever I have sex, so I’m going to go to my "sexy" set for tonight. That’s Chris Isaak’s "Wicked Game" to Donna Summer’s "Love to Love You Baby.” You get the idea.

The invite says "Music By Legendary Steve Lewis.” That’s nice, but every time somebody calls me "legendary," I quickly check my pulse. I remember the things that I have done and appreciate the respect, but I try to live in the real world I wake up to every day and want the things I do "now" to define me.

Tomorrow night I will miss (because of my Thursday Night Generation Wild party where I DJ with the Legendary Sam Valentine), the Salon 13 Benefit For Breast Cancer at B-Side. There will be a raffle including gift certificates from Salon 13, Thicker Than Water Tattoo, Bar Bone, Unleashed, Continuum Coffee, Back Forty, W.i.P., Bantam, Rex Hughs Dog Training, and more. Gotta go…

Oh, I almost forgot…. Happy birthday to legendary promoter, entrepreneur, all-around-nice-guy John Davis, who will be celebrating his 50th birthday. Sheee-it, I got shoes that are 50! John has moved his legendary Body and Soul party to the cozy confines of XL Nightclub, 512 W. 42nd St. This event, like my girlfriend ,starts at four in the afternoon. It ends around midnight (she can go all night). Legendary DJs Francois K, Joaquin "Joe" Clausell, and Danny Krivit will provide continuity as well as awesome sets. I worked with John and this party back at the legendary club Life back in ‘96 or ’97. The guy who ran that joint was some sort of genius or something…legendary.

Industry Insiders: Kevin Crawford, Private Partier

It’s all about turning ideas into reality for Kevin Crawford, who produces events for discerning clients at some of the most elegant and exclusive spots in New York, including  AVA Lounge and The Bar at the Dream Hotel and Inc Lounge at the Time Hotel. We caught up with him to learn how he got into the events business, and how he stays on top of it. 

Where are you from?

I was born in Hoboken, New Jersey and lived in the area until I was 24.  I was really into music at a young age and that is probably why I ventured to clubs when I did. I would always bother my grandpa for money to go buy vinyl records every week.  I think if I wasn’t doing what I do today, I probably would have been a DJ.

How did you get into nightlife?
The first club I went to was a place called Area and it was a party for Paloma Picasso. My friend Luis Nunez, who worked for David Lachapelle at the time, had taken his younger brother and me out that evening and I had never seen anything like it.  I was totally hooked. I tried a few different careers out over the years (booker at modeling agency etc.) but somehow always came back to the club.
 
What was it like working for (BlackBook nightlife columnist) Steve Lewis when he was a major nightclub owner and operator?
Working for Steve was a monumental experience. Nightlife in NYC was at its peak and there was so much going on every day, whether we were dealing with a temperamental Grace Jones who wouldn’t go on stage, or getting him up at 5am to appear on the Joan Rivers show (he loves telling that story), every day was something new and exciting.  If I told you what I learned from him I would have to kill you but it was an experience I look back on fondly.
 
What exactly do you do now?
I currently have an exclusive in-house deal at three venues operated by Loungebars Management — Ava Lounge /Rooftop and The Bar at the Dream Hotel and Inc Lounge at the Time Hotel — where I manage all events and marketing. In 2007 I started a small event management / production company called Kevin Crawford Inc. I wanted an outlet to produce bigger, more creative events like fashion shows, premieres etc., which had been dream of mine since I started in the business.  I was fascinated by the supermodels and always had ideas of what I would do if I could produce a fashion show. I was able to achieve that goal which was invigorating and exhausting at the same time.
 
What is an average day like for you, if there is such a thing as an average day?
Who wants to have an average day? In the morning I read all the blogs and papers to see what’s happening in the world. Most days are spent in the office fielding calls, negotiating with clients, and running around to the venues conducting site visits.  I have at the very least between two and five events per week, so some afternoons are spent prepping for them, and every day is different. I also like to look for new and exciting opportunities for the lounges so we can create an atmosphere that people want revisit over and over again.
 
How is it different managing events at rooftop bars and lounges compared with indoor spaces? 
The major challenge with an outdoor space is Mother Nature. Thankfully we have a backup at Ava Lounge so if it rains, we can certainly accommodate the client in the indoor portion of the venue. Convincing people it will work out is sometimes a challenge, but in the end after a beautiful night and a great event, it’s a good feeling seeing your client ecstatic with the outcome and asking if they can hold the space for another event.
 
What’s the secret to your success? How do you make it work in such a competitive space?
The secret to my success has always really just being myself.  I love making people laugh and I really feed off of people so if I have a new client I try and make them comfortable in the first few minutes of meeting them. We usually hit it off right from the start. It’s then that I know the event is going to be great and I’ll go the extra mile to make them happy.  I have clients that I have been working with for over 10 years and I know what they like and expect, so as long as the lines of communication are open, the rest just happens.
 
What do you enjoy the most about your job, and what are some of the challenges? 
I really enjoy closing a big deal and making the client see that it was worth it.  I have such a great team at the lounges and they really make my job that much easier. I am a people pleaser for sure so if you’re happy, I’m happy.  The challenges I face sometimes are working with difficult clients who, no matter what you do, you cannot please. I don’t like those days but I try my best and that is all one can do.
 
What are some of the trends you see for summer 2012? Any cocktail trends you’re staying on top of?  
Right now we’re working with a new company called Liquid Lab NYC. They are an up and coming mixology company that has created a few new cocktails for our summer menu.  I think people want a variety of options so we’ve created a pretty diverse menu with something for everyone. One of my favorite drinks right now is a Tomato Basil martini – it’s delicious and perfect for a rooftop in the summer. Another trend they’ve turned me
on to is spherification, which is the culinary process of shaping liquid into spheres or balls like caviar.  We’re going serve mojito balls using this process at our summer launch party and think the trend will carry on at major events and other venues.
 
Many people would like to do what you do. What advice would you give a young person who is interested in working in nightlife at a high level? 
I never wanted to own my own club. Working in nightlife is a tough business and it’s extremely fickle. I basically found the element of it that I enjoyed and could also make money, but that wasn’t without a struggle.  I learned from some amazing people so my advice would be to stay in school, find out what you love about nightlife and what you see yourself doing, and then work really hard to achieve that goal. Oh … and don’t drink too much.
 
Finally, what do you do to relax when you have some time off?
Lately when I have free time I’ve been venturing out into different areas of entertainment. I’m currently assisting a friend who is shooting a music video and getting to learn about lighting and set design. I’ve also always been drawn to editing and think that is something I would do well.  I also love to travel and recently went to Tulum, Mexico with 10 friends for my birthday.  I’m most happy when I’m surrounded by friends and family, cooking, laughing, and just having a good time.
 
[Photo: Marko Kalfa]