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.