The Ultimate CMJ Neighborhood Guide: Our Top Recommendations

Mapping out a schedule for the CMJ Music Marathon and Film Festival is an overwhelming logistical nightmare. Over five days, bands and DJs all over Manhattan and Brooklyn perform for 20 to 60 minutes a pop, and the marathon keeps going. Un, deux, trois, bang, bang, bang. So if you are at a loss for where to begin, here’s a proverbial play-list that includes recommendations on what to see, and where to unwind, wind-up, and grab a bite between sets. We had to restrain ourselves a little, so check under Williamsburg, the East Village, and the Lower East Side for the best this weekend has to offer (starting tonight).

Lower East Side

Acts to Catch: Thursday: Sun Airway, 10:45 PM at Piano’s Light Pollution, 9:00 PM at Cake Shop The Feens, 10:00 PM at Crash Mansion Friday: K Flay, 9:00PM at Fat Baby Saturday: Neon Indian, 8:00 PM at Bowery Ballroom Miracles of Modern Science, 11:00 PM at Fat Baby BRAHMS, 12:00 AM at Piano’s

Where to Hide Between Sets: The Back Room Gallery Bar Painkiller

Where to Find Nourishment: Antibes Bistro Freeman’s Frankie’s Sputino Les Enfants Terribles Schiller’s Georgia’s East Side BBQ

If You Need to Trash a Hotel Room: The Hotel On Rivington Thompson LES

THE EAST VILLAGE/ALPHABET CITY

Tune-Age: Thursday: Two Door Cinema Club, 9:00 PM at Webster Hall Caveman, 10:15 PM at Lit Lounge Lawrence Arabia, 10:50 PM at Bowery Electric Friday: Hall of Justus, Kosha Dillz, Rebelmatics + special guests, 12:00 AM–3:00 AM at Bowery Poetry Club Designer Drugs, 1:30 AM at Webster Hall Saturday: Care Bears on Fire, 7PM at Bowery Poetry Club

Where to Sip: Heathers The Cabin Down Below Holiday Cocktail Lounge Where to Fill-Up: Artichoke Basille Pizza & Brewery The Bourgeois Pig Crif Dogs Hummus Place Whitmans Veselka

Where to Crash: Cooper Square Hotel

WILLIAMSBURG

The Music: Thursday: Soft Black, 10:00 PM at Union Pool The Blow, 10:30 PM at Music Hall of Williamsburg Friday: Priestess, 10:30 PM at Union Pool Kids of 88, 11:00 PM at Trash Bar Everything Everything, 11:30PM at the Music Hall of Williamsburg Saturday: The Class Machine, 11:45 at Trash Bar

Grub: El Diablo Taco Truck Zenkichi Walter Foods Kenny’s Trattoria

A (Maybe) Low Key Drink: Hotel Delmano Royal Oak Fresh Kills Clem’s

Sleep it Off: Hotel Le Jolie

Passion Faction: Underground Dance Party Is Above Ground Tonight

Last night at the “i” Lounge, I was chatting with a young English woman who was enamored with New York City. Though she was just in town on business from London, she was certain she was going to move here. Ten drinks and one rude bartender later, she was ready to go back home, her infatuation over quicker than you can say “Buckingham Palace.” That’s how the city works for some people. A college friend of mine came to New York on a tide of Sex and the City-like enthusiasm. She left after four months of teetering in her 5-inch heels. A lot of things in the city, especially at night, don’t come easy. You have to ditch the whole idea of having a turnkey Manhattan and adjust to being proactive. But I think the fact that you have to seek out different ways to spend your free time is also what makes the city wonderful. You can’t just assume that the place you’re going tonight will have wine on tap—you have to look for it. And in that same spirit I’ve stumbled onto an awesome “underground” dance party called, appropriately, Panic.

Panic: A Dance Party, featuring Dirty Finger, DJ Dimitry, Spanky!, spankyremix.com, Gamora (billed as L.E.S Dubstep), and Dan2600. It’s at a “secret” location, a spot at 120 Orchard street (okay, it’s actually Gallery Bar, a place that has somehow held on to that old LES coolness) with Elle Rex, a beloved Ruff Club kid, taking snaps.

Behind the dance party are a host of cool kids, including crowd curator/partier Matt Kaye and the folks at Passion Faction, an events/creative firm that provides new perspectives on space use in New York, “turning sketchy roof tops, factories, offices, basements, or anywhere we can get our hands on into a celebration.” Get dirty tonight with the rest of them and RSVP at Passionfaction@gmail.com

Here’s the fine print:

21+ Sorry! 3$ Entry Before 12 or with RSVP 2 for 1 drinks 10-11pm Open Bar: 2-2:30 am RSVP to assure proper and cheap entry all night.

Howling Into the Night

Summer ran howling into the breezy cool air as me and mine took our nightly stroll with fabulous friends to 16 Handles ice cream. After tasting each other’s original tart with coconut covered lychees and coffee with crushed Heath Bar, we settled onto a St. Marks Church park bench and decided whether we’re hanging in BK or Manhattan. During our heated debate, we ran into my favorite misnomers, DJ Miss Guy Furrow and DJ Michael Lily of the Valley Cavadias. They told me about their gigs. Guy is still killing it Thursdays at the Hudson Hotel, and has ongoing gigs at the Ace. Michael (Lily) is also DJing at the Ace on the 2nd and 3rd Saturday of each month, and is at Anchor Bar every Thursday, as well as the Metropolitan in Brooklyn on the 2nd and 4th Friday of each month. Lily, a performer/DJ/movie star, will also be spinning for the opening of the Cyber/Fetish/Gender-Hacking Party at Santos Party House. He’s also booked for Click and Drag co-founder Rob Roth’s exhibition Back To The Future at the Wild Project on October 13th. That’s located at 195 east 3rd street. He will be DJing at the upcoming Bowie Ball on the 10th of October with Lady Rizo.

This week, Lily will sing at the Howl Festival as part of the production of the Tweed Music Series: Carnaby Street the Sensational Swinging Sixties. I asked Lily why the Howl Festival was so Important, and he replied, “It’s an attempt to bring the East Village back to it’s hey-day, to bring back the creativity which was the reason we all moved here in the first place.” The Howl Festival is upon us, and is a viable solution to nightlife doldrums. The festival will give a much-needed September revenue stream to participating venues, which includes the Bowery Poetry Club, Ella Lounge, Bowery Electric, Gallery Bar, The Poetry Project at St Mark’s Church, and many others.

The Howl Festival was inspired by Allen Ginsberg’s epic poem, “Howl.” Since 2003, it has celebrated the vibrancy of East Village artistic culture. From their website:

“For more than a century, the East Village has been home to poets, jazz musicians, Vaudeville and Yiddish theatre, artists represented by blue chip galleries, and those painting in the subways, rock stars, and performance artists. Building on this tradition and inspired by long time East Village resident Allen Ginsberg’s epic poem, HOWL! Festival was founded in 2003. The mission of HOWL! Festival is to honor, develop, create, and produce. With an estimated 100,000 visitors last year, the many performances celebrate local cultural icons, and lionize, preserve, and advance the art, history, culture, and counterculture unique to the East Village and Lower East Side.”

I will also be attending Thursday night’s Howl event for Facebook friend and fellow Stuyvesant High School graduate Richard Lloyd. Yes, that Richard Lloyd, who’s band Television shape-shifted the whole CBGB scene. The bill, which includes Richard Lloyd, Band of Outsiders, and the Deans of Discipline, is a can’t-miss fun for all. There are also Howl Charities attached to the events, which run through next Wednesday. Check out their website for a complete listing.

Nightlife To-Do List: This Week’s Events

Fashion Week is over, and with it, loads and loads of free booze. There are, however, a multitude of events on the agenda this week, some offering the promise of free and/or cheap drinks, some offering a fairly expensive brand of cool, and some offering reasons enough to try sneaking past the door without an invite: just like fashion week. While you’ll probably still be clamoring to get into Don Hill’s and the other venues that seemed destined for greatness this past week, these special events are worth crashing, dropping cash on, dropping by, or otherwise taking advantage of. And while you may not be able to see Courtney Love perform anytime soon, there are some insane shows scheduled for the music-lovers amongst us.

Monday Parties to Crash ● Barenjager Bartender Competition at Macao Trading Co. Skilled tenders compete from 7:00 to 10:00pm in the First Annual National “Fight for Your Honey” Barenjager Bartender Competition. The grand prize for these liquor slingers: a trip to the 2010 Oktoberfest in Germany. ● Swarovski Elements presents 22 Ways to Say Black at Phillips de Pury & Company from 7:00 to 10pm. Aside from the auction of 22 designer dresses for charity, peeping Carla Bruni would be reason enough to crash. ● It’s game night at Soho House! Play Candy Land, Yachtzee, and Jenga with other civilized folk at the members-only den. Ticketed Events ● Ne-Yo performs at Amnesia with DJ Bobby Trends. Admission is $30 ● NY Ministry of Rum Festival is happening from 5:30 to 9:00pm at Papilion Bistro. Drink and talk shop with other rum aficionados for $50. ● Alta Cucina hosts The Summer Kitchen, Panini and Gelato class. Date night alert—learn how to make authentic gelato, panini, and pizza at the Alta Cucina Epicurean Center. Parties for the People ● Sleigh Bells play Webster Hall at 8pm for a mere $8. You’d be crazy to miss this band for this price. ● Catch the Klaxons at Bowery Ballroom at 8pm for $20. ● The East Village’s White Noise is one of those awesome bars that closes its doors at 2am, but if you’re already safely inside, you can party all night (well, until 4am), which carries the connotation that anything goes. Pierre Stone and Ben Brunnemer DJ the Monday night “Fever” party: “that ol rock and roll and good people, no disco shit.” ● One of our all time favorites, Franco V, DJs along with Eli Dias at the Mondays @ Kenmare party.

Tuesday Parties to Crash ● Super-excited for the first US Scotch & Soda store opening in Soho at 274 Lafayette Street (and Prince). There will be complimentary beer, wine, and specialty cocktails by h.wood.tea, and music by Chairlift. Again, invite only, but at least take a stroll by. ● The Train & The Box New York celebrate their Spring/Summer 2011 collection with an after party with Paper Magazine at Avenue from 9:30 to 11:30pm with faves Matt&Maia DJing. ● Gansevoort Park Avenue hosts their official Opening Celebration party with The One Group, Michael Achenbaum of the Gansevoort Hotel Group, Jason Binn of Gotham magazine, and Steve Birkhold. ● Fulfill your dream of crashing a Martha Stewart party tonight in the jungle of the New York Botanical Garden at the reasonable hour of 5:30pm. Join Martha Stewart for an evening of mixology, and enjoy a champagne cocktail and herbal appetizers. At 7pm Martha will also share her secrets for growing and using herbs in delicious end-of-summer cocktails. Divine! Ticketed Events ● Showtime has their own rooftop, and for $25 you can enjoy unlimited cocktails from 6 to 8pm at Cassa Hotel and Residences. This will be the last hosted rooftop event by Showtime Original Series, so expect to rub shoulders with Showtime’s nearest and dearest. Parties for the People ● Disco Down is still happening at Happy Ending, and it’s still free booze from 11 to 12pm, and still no one is going? No, people are going. Michael T emailed My Open Bar to personally say that Disco Down is not dead: it’s been well and fine, and on the main floor of Happy Ending. ● Glasslands Gallery‘s weekly Black Majik Tuesday is pretty hip with the kids, thanks to badass local DJs and great bookers. Free vodka from 8 to 9pm on Tuesday nights helps with the hipness. ● Ra Ra Riot play Bowery Ballroom at 8pm for $20 admission. You should catch them now before their ticket price inevitably goes up, i.e.: the kids are talented. ● Pavement, yes that Pavement, hits Central Park’s Rumsey Playfield at 7pm for $38.50. As part of their reunion tour, they’ll be playing this spot all week.

Wednesday Parties to CrashBlue Ribbon hosts a bash in honor of their new partnership with Renaissance Hotels at the Renaissance Hotel Times Square. Taste the new “Classics Menu” from 6:30 to 8pm. Invite only, so crash with caution. ● IMPROVD opens their shop-in-shop installation with a cocktail party at Atrium from 7 to 9pm. Parties for the People ● Your new favorite band, AKA the Crocodiles, play Mercury Lounge at 7:30pm for $15. ● Bobo throws themselves a birthday bash complete with half-price cocktails and finger-foods from 7:30 to 12:00am.

Thursday Parties to Crash I dont know of any. Do you? Then comment below. Ticketed Events I dont know of any. Do you? Then comment below. Parties for the People ● Rock out to Simian Mobile Disco at Santos’ Party House. $10 is a steal for a sweaty good time of this caliber. Doors at 10pm. ● Gallery Bar rocks at their Mating Season Extreme party (whatever that means) with two floors of insanely awesome music: Dances With White Girls, DJ Messkid, and Jane Bang. Big draw: from 10 to 11pm, you can slam $1 tequila shots and $2 drafts. Then there’s a 2am open vodka bar. $3 cover, and snaps by The Culture of Me. ● If you missed Sleigh Bells earlier this week (for shame), you can see them open for LCD Soundsystem at the Wellmont Theater. It’s 35 clams and doors are at 7pm.

Nocturnal Confessions: Naked Party!

On Wednesday, I stopped by Gallery Bar for some body-painting, dancing and an all around messy event thrown by Sally Golan of Social Exposure. Inspired by the moon parties in Thailand, the deep house scene in her native Toronto and Golan’s own boredom, she decided NYC needed a change. “I felt that people were always doing the same things: get a drink, pull out a card…get a drink…text your friend…leave. There is nothing wrong with that…but I feel with times like these, we need much more then an ‘event.’ We need a release and a night to remember.”

Nominally geared to raise awareness for an eco art charity called Eco Art Space, for $20 you got all the paint and nudity you could handle. But Golan wanted to make it about than just nudity and shock. “I was inspired by the idea of unity and collaboration rather then voyeurism,” she says, “which is what you usually get when going to an art gallery opening.”

While not game-changing, it was breath of fresh air for midwinter, especially in the LES, an area that has seen more bankers than bacchanal as of late. “The whole ‘Oh my god what did I do last night’ question really hits home when you wake up with a streak of bright pink on your pillow,” says Golan. “Last night was sexy as hell.”

Golan plans on making the Naked Painting Party an annual event, along the lines of the Wall St. pillow fight, or the water fight in central park.

Big props to everyone who shucked and fucked.

I want to let the pics do the rest of the talking. Even without a liquor sponsor, you’ll notice, as Golan did, “No one is pouting.”

image

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image The event’s organizers.

image The costumed girl’s boyfriend/rooster explained to me that they were, in fact, promoting a different party.

image Everyone just sploshing paint on each other, and she goes with neatly-trimmed whiskers and a gently-decorated neck. The Audrey f-ing Hepburn of this party.

image And then she had to go ad do that.

image I love the expression on the face of the guy in the background, like he came to the Naked Painting Party expecting decorous behavior and a reading from Gore Vidal.

image This party shot is basically a “fuck you” to Van Gogh and anyone else who has not had fun while painting, or at a party.

image This girl had a goddamn neck brace on and did not stop dancing the whole night!

image Make fun all you want, at least my dad has hobbies.

image “There’s nothing wrong with Hermione, per say, I just prefer black chicks.”

image This guy just made me miss Arrested Development.

image Self-portrait, round 2am.

After Dark Makeup: Lower East Side & Just Cavalli

After the sun goes down, the makeup brushes come out in full force. Beauty junkies can get away with a lot when roaming New York’s Lower East Side: the bars are dark, the drinking is heavy, and people look good in that uncombed, rolled-out-of-bed way. Just Cavalli sent this LES bar-hopper down the S/S 2010 runway the other day in Milan. She looks exactly the girls we know who shop at Blue&Cream and Opening Ceremony, hang out at White Slab, Darkroom, and Gallery Bar, eat at Les Enfants Terribles, and wear a ton of MAC. Appropriate, since MAC was in charge of creating the look. Maxine Leonard, the artist in charge, describes the look as “rock n’ roll to reflect the collection. The girls look a bit like they did their makeup themselves and had a great night out.” Here’s how the pros captured the LES girl.

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Base ● Foundation: Studio Moisture Tint SPF 15. ● Cheeks: Blushcreme in Joie de Vivre.

Eyes ● Base: Pro Black Black Paintstick. ● Liner: Kohl Power Pencil in Feline. ● Shadow: Pro Pigment in Black Black. ● Liquid Liner: Boot Black. ● Lipstick: Black Knight (applied on lid). ● Blush: Powder Blush Azalea (applied on brow bone). ● Mascara: Pro Lash Mascara in Coal Black.

Lips ● Gloss: Lipglass in Frankly Fresh.

Industry Insiders: Darin Rubell, Gallery Cat

Darin Rubell is transforming the Lower East Side, one arts and culture venue at a time. The owner of Gallery Bar and Ella (opened last fall with partners Josh and Jordan Boyd) is no stranger to the ins and outs of nightlife. Let’s just say it runs in the family — his cousin is legendary Studio 54 owner Steve Rubell.

How’s business? Business is great. Obviously, it’s tougher during a recession. Over the past six months, bars I initially thought were recession-proof have turned out not to be. Everyone has to work a little harder to maintain.

How have you adjusted to become recession-proof? We started a half-price happy hour at Ella. Our cocktails were normally $12, and we started a $6 Happy Hour, which has been tremendously successful. It’s every night from 6-10pm. The response has been great. We have live jazz as well.

How has the clientele at Ella changed since you opened last year? When you first open a place, you have everyone who’s keeping up with the Joneses coming in, and then as the months go on, it starts to become more neighborhood people and more people who actually like the bar. Having regulars is always nicer.

What’s the story with the piano lounge downstairs? It’s a very intimate room, holds around 60 people. We’ve had incredible musicians. Just last week, Ben Taylor — who is James Taylor and Carly Simon’s son — had a video release party, and did a live performance. We love big name bands, but we also like to find acts that are on the cusp. For instance, Diane Birch, who’s been all over the place, was doing a weekly showcase downstairs over the past four months. We have another band from Miami called Big Bounce. It’s a two-man group, with Brandon O’Hara, a guy who plays the piano, and a beat boxer. They come up to play here once a month.

What’s going on at Gallery Bar? Gallery Bar is two and a half years old now, and it’s equally as successful the date it opened until today. It’s a really diverse space, and it lends itself to a lot of different things, whether they’re corporate events, fundraisers, or charities. Every month we change the artist, so all of the art switches.

Did Gallery Bar influence the opening of Collective Hardware? The Lower East Side has always been a place where artists would go because it was very inexpensive, and then everyone started to get priced out of the neighborhood. The art side started to fade for a minute. When we came into the neighborhood, there weren’t a lot of galleries down here. After we opened the space there was a huge influx of artists. It became an artists’ hangout. Galleries in the Lower East Side started opening, slower, slower, slower. Now, I do a map also of all galleries on the LES, and I had 99 galleries for the last one. I had to limit them down to 55 for the purpose of the map. The New Museum is also a tremendous push for art down here. I think that Collective Hardware probably saw this and recognized that this is also, once again, a booming area for art.

What’s the story with your maps? I originally tried to make money off this map and I thought it’d be a great marketing tool. And I realized that it’s very difficult to get money from all the galleries, because these people are moving from other areas because they can’t afford things as is. Then I decided that I was still going to do it because I think it’s necessary, and I was sick of having people come into Gallery Bar and asking about other galleries in the neighborhood. After a month or two, I started to see people walking around the neighborhood with them. I swear to God, every day, I see somebody with that map. It’s important to try to create some unity down here. In Chelsea, all the galleries are in a three-block radius. In the Lower East Side, they’re not. I’m from New York, and I still get confused in the Lower East Side.

True that you’re thinking about expanding Gallery Bar into other cities? I think that a lot of people have tried to combine art and nightlife and have done it unsuccessfully. What they’ll do is they’ll have a dark bar, and then ask artists to put work on the walls, and it gets lost in the environment because there’s a lot going on in a bar already. The concept with Gallery Bar was to make it a gallery first. We make it look like a gallery; make it feel like a gallery; change the artists every day; have art openings; have art closings. I think that this concept has still never been done, and I’d love to bring it to other cities. We’re talking about New Orleans, L.A., Miami.

How did you meet your partners in Ella, Josh and Jordan? I was managing a restaurant called Chango, and I’d hired Josh as a bartender. When Chango started to slow down, we’d always start bouncing ideas off each other. We started writing business plans, and I, at that time, had really wanted to open up a restaurant. Josh really wanted to open up a bar. I actually opened up Mercadito, and he had opened Plan B, and about two years later, we started to think of new projects. I found this place on Orchard Street, and we thought, “Okay, now’s the time.” Josh and Jordan are brothers, and I’m like the third brother.

What’s one piece of advice that you’d give to aspiring restaurateurs or bar owners? I think that a lot of the people who want to get into the business of restaurants and bars have this fantasy about what it’s going to be like. You can’t just walk into it and think that because you want a place and have the money to open up a place that it’s going to succeed. I think like anything, it takes a lot of hard work and a lot of knowledge of the business in order to have success.

Besides hard work and knowledge of the business, what has made you and your partners successful? I think we genuinely love what we do, and any time you love what you do, you’re going to do well. I really believe that.

Who else does it right in nightlife? I really admire Sean MacPherson and Eric Goode. Their design is always so incredibly spot-on, and their properties always seem larger than life.

What are your favorite spots? I’m simple in the fact that I love Lil’ Frankie’s. I like Supper. If you can accomplish something, and make it very simple and inexpensive and for-the-people, then you’ll always be successful. I don’t really like going to the fanciest restaurants and feeling uncomfortable. I feel I’m my happiest in a place that keeps it simple.

Gamal Hennessy Seizes the Night

Gamal Hennessy is writing a book about all the good things nightlife brings to New York City’s bottom line. Very few people work very hard to ensure that the city that never sleeps is not turned into a bedroom community by real estate interests and their special friends. The New York Nightlife Association meets regularly to help keep the world I write about open and vibrant. There are very few others fighting the good fight. Without such efforts, this town could easily become a Boston, with bars shuttered by 2 a.m. Gamal is a regular contributor to comment sections of blogs; he always makes insightful comments and asks great questions, and I’m happy to ask him a few as he starts to promote his book, Seize The Night.

What exactly is the book about? Seize the Night is about the cultural and economic benefits nightlife brings to New York City. The book looks at all the great things that bars and clubs bring to the city as well as the social issues that come out of the industry and suggests what people can do to help protect this important element of our society.

Why are you writing it? I’ve run a site about nightlife trends since 2005, and I often get the feeling that we don’t focus on the big picture when it comes to clubs. Operators and patrons focus on running a business and enjoying themselves from night to night. People outside the industry often see clubs as a crime or a noise issue — a problem to be solved. They don’t stop and think about all the musical genres, celebrities, design trends, and social movements that come out of New York clubs. They don’t know how many people have jobs because of clubs, how much money clubs generate for the city, and how pivotal clubs are to the economic success of the region as a whole. I want this book to help change that perception.

Who are you? What is your connection to nightlife? I see myself as an outspoken advocate of nightlife, but I have probably had every non-glamourous club job you can think of. When I got out of law school, I worked coat check and as a bar back at Webster Hall. I even ran small-scale promotions and party organization for a little while. Now I currently DJ on and off at lounges around the Lower East Side. Professionally, I come from an entertainment and publishing background, and I decided to start New York Nights because I felt like there was a need for a publication that covered nightlife the way Vogue covers fashion or Wired covers technology.

When it the book coming out? I’m hoping to have the book on shelves and on Amazon by November of this year, but I post samples of different chapters in my personal nightlife blog called Prince of the City.

How do you enjoy nightlife? Where do you hang out? When I don’t need to go somewhere for New York Nights, I prefer the lounges — places like Apt, bOb Bar, Gallery, Cielo, Lolita, Glass, and Happy Ending. Going out on a weekday is often the best time for me. The crowds are smaller, the bartenders are less stressed, and there is more variety in the music.

Good Night Mr. Lewis: Ella & Mr. Varney

imageThere’s been much ado about something going on down on Avenue A near Houston. Ella pops onto our scene, and my pal Brittany Mendenhall of Chichi212.com won’t shut up about it. It was my impression that Ella was going to be another boutique bar cum bottle boite, but then I heard that Carlton Varney had designed the place. I’m not going to tell you too much about him right now, as I’m scheduling a sit-down with this legendary designer for next week. But Mr. Varney, now in his 70s, has turned it out. Ella is wonderful — it’s Hollywood heyday chic without discounting its East Village location. Varney did the Waldorf Towers and Joan Crawford’s home. I sat with Josh Boyd, Jordan Boyd, and Darin Rubell, and left convinced that there are still people out there trying to make wonderful things.

The name “Ella” is not a direct reference to anyone in particular. I asked if it was for Ella Fitzgerald as they showed me the piano lounge downstairs, and Josh told me it was simply a great name — a sexy old-school name that refers to the great ladies of long ago. A time of glamour and class … a name that refers to legends. Darin and I talked about Steve Rubell, his erratic relative that blessed him with wisdom during his Wonderbread years. I told them about the Palladium and how it came to pass that I would be responsible for filling it with 5,000 peeps a night. I told him that fresh off the success of Studio 54, his cousin Steve had tried to duplicate that winning formula on 14th Street. It didn’t work well. The 108,000-square-foot-club couldn’t survive on the peeps who loved Studio. It had to embrace the neighborhood. I did a monster art/fashion show with just about everyone in the East Village and LES involved. We did like 9,000 people, and it was a hit.

I asked about Ella’s door policy, and if they had thought they would go the same route as the Eldridge. They felt being more inclusive was a better route. The Eldridge is such a destination, and the door policy so confusing to many, that it’s not nearly as successful as I thought it might be. I don’t think it embraces the neighborhood at all. Ella has New York native Adam, who worked inside at the Box manning the door; Josh says after four days, they are still working it out — trying to figure out where to draw the line. They own local spots Plan B and Gallery Bar and have a solid base of friends and fans to start with. Drink prices of $8, $9, and $10 are far below the $16 or $18 cocktails at the Eldridge. They’re not trying to be the same thing, but it’s interesting to see two small joints three blocks away from each other doing things so differently.

See, the basic dilemma in this industry is that it’s the same Jack Daniels, whether it’s served in an Irish pub or at Rose Bar. It’s all about the presentation. Darin says his customers knows who they are and where they are, and they don’t want to feel raped when they leave. I stared at Carlton Varney’s wallpapers like I used to stare at go-go dancers. Josh told me how Carlton came in for a look-see, put in his two cents worth (which turned into a buck and a half), and then the juices started to flow and Carlton dove in … and you got a million-dollar movie’s worth of decor. There are couches from the green room of the Oscars! I sat down putting my derriere where Tom Cruise’s might have once rested. I don’t give out straight lines like this very often, so I’ll just conclude that Ella is beautiful. Josh, Darin, and Jordan are cool. The location is easy and the drinks are cheap. It’s a hit.