Nublu Celebrates 10 Years in Clubland

Ten years in clubland is 15 in dog years and around 105 in human years. It is a magnificent achievement, and the folks at Nublu – which include one of my favorite people on this planet, Daisy Payero – are celebrating in spades, in hearts, in diamonds, and their club, which is back where it belongs. That was a run-on sentence because Nublu was forced to run on over to Hayne Southern’s Lucky Cheng’s basement space for six months while licensing issues were resolved. After nine years, somebody discovered that there was a nearby church, and that’s a no-no because we all know that churches and alcohol don’t mix. Anyway, they are back in their original abode but, alas, with only a beer, wine, and sake license. But according to everyone I speak to, they haven’t lost a beat. That beat is grounded in the unique and eclectic music they offer and, as Daisy has told me, "it’s all about the music.”

Owner Ilhan Ersahin has decided the celebration should be a month-long shebang:

"Nublu has become a cultural haven for musicians from around the world known to blend different styles from electronic, jazz, dub, to indie, Brazilian, and global beats. From small clubhouse to music powerhouse, Nublu has undoubtedly stayed humble to its roots, and there is no better way to put it than in Ilhan’s own words: "We are just playing music."

Nublu’s 10th anniversary features an incredible lineup from June 1-30, including Sun Ra Arkestra, Brazilian Girls, Wax Poetic, Jojo Mayer’s Nerve, Taylor McFerrin, and Jetlag feat. Andy Rourke from The Smiths. World0renowned DJs will also join the festivities, featuring Moby, In Flagranti, DJ Logic, Tim Sweeney, and many more."

I asked Ilhan all about it.

Nublu is back to its roots and celebrating 10 years, albeit with some slight changes including a wine/beer/sake-only bar and some menu offerings. Is it truly all about the music and can you remain profitable without a full bar?
Yes, I hope we keep the same vibe going. Great music is still always here and it’s getting better and better everyday! Many of the resident bands who have played here for years continue to rise and draw more fans, so yes, I guess you CAN say it is all about the music or rather all about art. Alcohol-wise, our bartenders have concocted a nice drink menu with sake so there is still a “cocktail” vibe at the bar, and we do have good wine and food to offer now as well.

How do you feel Nublu has impacted the New York music scene over the past 10 years?
I think Nublu has grown into something unique. It has developed into a space where the criteria is about good musicianship and personal expression, meaning that we never have cover bands or jazz acts that play standards etc. It’s all about making your own music on a high level. Over the past 10 years lots of great bands have been born here and many bands and DJs have played here and developed. Nublu has never been about being yet another place where you just do a "gig.” It’s more about developing a sound and developing a band or an idea or compositions.

I do think Nublu has had a very important role in NYC, but the interesting side of Nublu is that it has become global. You will find people from Tokyo, Paris, Istanbul, Sao Paulo, etc. that know and follow Nublu now. That following has developed a bit because of Nublu records, a bit because of the club, from our jazz festivals that we now host in some of those cities yearly, and from traveling the world playing with various Nublu bands.

You have started taking Nublu global with a club in Istanbul and jazz festivals in Sao Paulo and Paris. Tell us what the response to Nublu and its sound has been overseas. Is this the next phase for Nublu?
It has been very good and always a growing movement which is the most inspiring thing. This past February we sold 5,200 tickets for a 5-day Nublu Jazzfest in Sao Paulo where we booked some US acts and some Brazilian acts. Pretty amazing for a second-year festival in Brazil, so the interest is there for sure. More and more radio stations around the globe are also adding our tracks.

Can you share your favorite Nublu moments from the past 10 years?
There are too many! I never know where to start, and my philosophy is always that the latest is the best…. so this past Friday night was an amazing night. The vibe was so great, people looked really happy, and the bands and DJ sounded fantastic. Of course we have had our star moments, like when Gilberto Gil came in and jammed, or when Kevin Spacey or Keanu Reeves most recently came in. Flea have stopped by and hung out at the bar, and soccer star Ronaldino shows up to our Wednesday night Brazil parties.  But in general we have many, many amazing nights at Nublu and I think the main reason is that Nublu is a "destination" type of place. We don’t get too many passersby who happen to stop by; we get an audience who plan on coming to Nublu for the night to have a good time and enjoy good music.

You had to relocate Nublu to a temporary space back in fall 2011… Did the six months in a strange place result in losing an audience or have you gained new faces?
Nublu has always been upside down and turned around. I think being on Avenue C and basically being in Manhattan and having live music and DJs every single night, and basically not advertising anywhere, has always made nights very random. There are always new faces mixed with old faces around here so that hasn’t changed a bit.

On the things to list for all you party people, I can’t recommend a soiree more strongly than New York Night Train’s bash at Home Sweet Home  tonight called “Shakin’ All Over Under Sideways Down.” Jonathan Toubin spins 45s and bringing you tracks you can’t hear anyplace else. It is the rarest of rare music. We’re not talking B-sides; we’re talking e,d,g- sides. A cool, cool crowd gets down and dirty and totally sexy in this basement that I absolutely love.

Also on the check-it-out front is Bantam, 17 Stanton, which has opened its backyard in time to catch the outdoor craze, which has revelers on roofs, by pools, and on curbs. I DJd there last night with Kelle Calco and these great guys Sonic Relief. It was splendid.

Will Back in the Day Come Back?

The other night at the Latex Ball, I had a eureka moment. It occurred to me that I was witnessing what nightlife was like back in the day; when large, mixed crowds of creative people were all getting along and enjoying each other’s company in a huge room. Out of necessity and circumstance, bottle service drove the creative types from the game. The rising costs – which include rent, insurance, DJ fees, litigation, and too many etceteras – drove the clubs that didn’t embrace the table service crowd to Brooklyn or oblivion…which isn’t another name for Jersey, Queens, or Staten Island, but could be.

Yesterday I wrote:

"Creativity on a grand scale will return to nightlife as a business decision. Creativity is hard to extinguish. It has thrived on the street and in the subways, cave walls, in prison, and in societies that have repressed it. It has reared itself at advanced ages. It has given those seemingly impaired a way to the light. It has channeled the beasts and the fears within us and brought them to survivable places. Creativity will be embraced by the bean counters because it will be useful to separate their bean machine from the others."

Many clubs seed their rooms with dressy or flamboyant people to add to the adventure. "Image" promoters are asked to bring in and babysit young model types, because that is the image that has traditionally sold bottles. Many joints have "hipster nights," where the music isn’t the same ol’, same ol’ stuff heard around the scene. These nights are usually reserved for off-nights and generate enough money to be worth opening. The theory is that it breaks up the week and, every so often, a traveling wale (big spender) wanders in and it’s a score. These nights are the more creative (as I define it) and, in a sense, acknowledge that when the crowds are smaller on early weeknights, the clubs become more creative in order to set them apart from their competition. They change their own game to emphasize that their bean machine is cooler than the next one. New music and even fashion aren’t breaking out of clubs.Susanne Bartsch and Kenny Kenny are throwing a couple of weeklys that don’t attract the fashion-forward set, and the music is also a step ahead. Places like Home Sweet Home are pushing the envelope with great DJs and fun programming. The Box format of shock and awe still brings in a great crowd, long after the novelty has worn off. The very fact that it offers “different” delivers crowds who are bored with the top 40 sounds and condo-clone set. That club does attract the debutantes and the frat boys and black card babies who, like moths, are attracted to its flame – but its smart door monitoring understands how much of that can be let in without scaring away the core crowd. On a small scale it proves that those not starving in Bushwick can embrace a creative format, and the different mindsets can exist in the same club at the same time. The era of a large club where all types gather has passed, but is the time right again for a real monster of music and fun and new ideas?

Nearly every club for a decade or more has hitched to the "great service" wagon. The art of bottle service has been refined into a science, but the concept is wearing thin. The clueless are still all in it but the sharp set are less interested in it as an idea of fun. It just comes with the table. I can’t help but believe those spending the bucks want anything more than the same, and there is little doubt that they will demand more. They are just following their traditional leaders: the good ol’ boy owners who service them as they flit around from Vegas to AC to The Hamptons and back.

One of these smart owners will turn to creative types to set them apart. Will it be drag queens dancing on the bar?…I think not. At least not in the beginning. But nights need to be curated to keep people in their seats and spending. After all, a bottle of Goose is the same bottle of Goose at the A-list club as it is in the dive bar. Getting dollars out of the customer will, as the industry continues to expand, become harder. Every nook, every restaurant or cranny, every roof, every bar salivates over the revenue stream bottle business brings. Entertainment to attract the crowds may not be as out there as what The Box has served, but it may separate the men from the boys. Vegas slams you with the big DJ, the beautiful go-go girls, and the staged entertainment. New York rarely offers anything more than a forced smile from a waitron and a sparkler. It will happen. Managing partners will mix things up or be left behind. Eventually, a large club will be necessary. It will start with a revamping of mid-sized venues and talent bookings. Electronic dance music venues will route acts from Vegas into their NYC locations and maintain a strict door policy. Think Lavo, but on a grander scale. As soon as spectacle is embraced, the need for a larger venue will become apparent. It may not be easy or even possible for a new large venue to open in Manhattan. The existing joints that live on the "size matters" concept are set in their ways and successful at what they do. Webster Hall may not be all things to all people, but they continue to offer brilliant music programming and serve thousands of people who enjoy their version of a big club experience. Their detractors must realize that they are music-based, they do make tons of money (one of the primary reasons to be in the business), and they have been around since before your parent’s were born.

Pacha serves those who want their brand of music and crowd. District 36 isn’t often on my radar, but it does offer a simple, classic, house-head purity. All of these joints are not part of the club social set scene. They don’t care much about that. Off-parties are wonderful fantastic experiences, but the jet-setters, the bon vivants, don’t consider them since they are putting on their shoes to go out. The cops and their puppeteers probably wouldn’t allow a new mega club in Manhattan, but Manhattan is not everything anymore. The high-rises of the Brooklyn waterfront, the $28 entrees at new nearby restaurants, the baby strollers on Bedford Ave., tell me that a ginormous joint could thrive in an old warehouse in Greenpoint or near there.

I have been hearing rumors and have sat in on a few meetings – I believe that this will happen. The next big thing most likely will be born outside of Manhattan and could redefine the scene to what it once was.

Hell is a Place in Queens

We have talked to Seva Granik before when he threw a party at Sugar Hill Disco in Bed-Stuyvesant. For me, that event was a eureka moment. It convinced me that my future was absolutely in Brooklyn, and that the much touted past or "back in the day" that everyone complained was gone was alive and well and maybe even better. Next Saturday, October 27, Seva is involved with 319 Scholes gallery’s Club Hell. In what figures to be one of the most ambitious nightlife events ever, these guys have taken over and will curate an aging 600,000-square- foot glass factory for a party so way out off Metropolitan Avenue that it’s in Queens. I caught up with Seva and asked him to tell us all about it.

A glass factory? 600,000-square-foot space? Is this Woodstock, 2012-style? Tell me about the party.
Yes, the venue. It’s called the Knock Down Center. It’s actually an early 20th Century glass factory that was owned by a Jewish family whose scion had recently bought the space out from his grandparents. 

The factory and the lot it stands on are so large that there are even train tracks – for ease of transporting materials and final product, I’m guessing. 

It’s a bit out of the way, all the way down Metropolitan Avenue, a 10-minute walk from the Jefferson L train stop, squarely in Queens, NY. But we’ll be providing free shuttle buses to the space from two places: the Lorimer L train stop and 319 Scholes, the gallery that’s behind this event. 

The party itself is a bit conceptual. THUNDERHORSE, these guys that I work with a lot, are visual effects and event installation gurus, and we’re doing a nightmarish version of a club, basically with lots of red lasers, sets and stages, smoke –  crazy creepy crap on an industrial scale. The venue itself is so creepy that not much has to be done, really. But we’ll do stuff anyway.

How many people are you expecting?
Capacity is staggering. I’m sure we could pack 3,000 people in ther,e but I don’t think that many people will show.

What is the state of underground Brookln nightlife? What kind of parties are you into?
Yikes. Well, it’s not doing so good. Things are certainly not nearly as crazy and carefree as they used to be in the early oughts. Kids, too, are pretty tame, simply because they’re just more mainstream than older Brooklyn audiences. Fifteen or 10 years ago, it was a bunch of artists and musicians and poor kids out here, but now it’s just normal young people who have jobs or go to NYU or something. And they don’t go nuts much. They’ve got too much to lose. 

There have been waves after waves of shutdowns, something that never used to happen in the past; a score of DIY venues have been pressured by the cops to stop putting on events. It’s largely due to three reasons, in my opinion: the rising real estate costs and white people moving in and calling cops for noise complaints, the NYC film tax credit (which has attracted scores of film and TV productions here who have taken a lot of spaces away from the underground promoters since they have more money), and the rising popularity of Brooklyn as a capital of music. That last one really did us in because once there is money in putting on music shows, it all goes to regular venues because that’s where the money is, and that’s where agents are .That’s the easiest way to play and be seen and make money as an artist, with an agent. So, again, the DIY show/event loses. 

With all these mounting pressures, it’s a wonder that there is actually still a scene. But there is. A lot of it has morphed and transported itself into the gay and queer culture that has little regard for money and loves to just get down. So, there is a small clique of queer promoters and performers who do well and have lots of fun. 

For my readers who just moved here from Kansas, who are you and what do you do?
I’m an independent event producer. I put on stuff. Usually one-offs at off-the-grid, special places, and usually conceptual things, things that I know no one else can/will want to really do. 

What was the last party event you went to in Manhattan, and what do you find relevant there?
Ladyfag’s parties are always fun, Westgay at Westway is pretty fun, and so are Earl Dax’s performance series, but, again—that’s all queer stuff! I guess I just find that sort of thing really fun, even though I’m straight. 

There is a cute semi-straight party at Santos Party House called Chez Deep, and that’s nice, actually. 

Weird Wednesdays at Home Sweet Home is a great weekly that’s been going for, like, 6 years. It’s almost always fun, and the crowd there is freaky and dark and cute sometimes, too.That’s as much as anyone can ask of a weekly. 

The Top NYC Bars To Hook Up With Hipsters

How does it feel to tear off someone’s skin-tight lycra shorts and mismatched striped socks? Are coffee-guzzling, liberal arts majors better at talking dirty? What’s a hipster’s morning-after go-to spot ? If you cannot answer any of the above questions, it’s time you consult our list of the Top NYC Bars To Hook Up With Hipsters. This is a species that travels in packs, and where there’s one, there’s many. We are confident you will find lots of single, attractive, and nimble hipsters here.

Follow Bonnie on Twitter here.

New York Openings: The Guthrie Inn, The Flat, Donna

The Guthrie Inn (Upper East Side) – Smart cocktail menu shaking up upper Park Ave.

The Flat (Williamsburg) – Punk rockers drop secret gentlemen’s club off the Hewes Street station.

Donna (Williamsburg) – Central America meets Billyburg in “an elegant space for dirty kids.”

The Benefit for Gravely Injured Night Train DJ Jonathan Toubin Is Tonight

We’ve some sad news to report. Jonathan Toubin, the DJ responsible for the ever-popular New York Night Train parties (which, if you haven’t attended, is a soul-filled night of booty shaking and feet shuffling) is currently in critical condition in a Portland hospital. Toubin, known as the Night Train Conductor, was in Portland for a soul party when a cab crashed through his hotel room wall and plowed into the DJ while he was asleep.

He was scheduled to fly back home and play tonight at Home Sweet Home and Cake Shop, respectively. A purveyor of good jams and great vibes around Brooklyn and Manhattan, we’re saddened to hear such news about a great DJ and all-around well-liked guy. Fortunately, his night at Home Sweet Home has been quickly converted into a relief fund for Toubin, so swing on by tonight, drink some Belvedere, and donate some cash to help to a New York staple in need. Suggested donation is $5. 

Terry Casey Talks New York Nightlife

My old friend Terry Casey is getting a little older and will celebrate his birthday at Home Sweet Home this Thursday. He isn’t getting any wiser, apparently, as he has asked me to DJ for an hour. I will be sandwiched in early around 8pm between Rocco Ancarola and veteran spinner Walter V. That’s like 80 years of club experience throwing music that isn’t muzak at you. Terry is one of those bright, go-to guys that I go to for advice or insight on what’s going on. He can be seen everywhere as his taste in nightlife is as diverse and eclectic as his grasp on music. I am honored to play for him.

Tell me about your upcoming birthday event. My birthday event is a fun, non-serious affair combining music, art, and fashion. There will be DJs, an art show with great artists (courtesy of Javier Leonard of Leonard Tourne Galleries), and a small fashion show. The venue really helps with this, as it has a real gallery with a cool cocktail bar attached. Artists want the best setting for their art and Home Sweet Home’s new gallery space offers that. They don’t want just a few walls in a nightclub/bar/lounge setting with bad lighting. I picked a wide selection of DJs and friends to do two rooms of music. It’ll be everyone from the bottle/social scene to the DJs playing the Brooklyn warehouse parties—I like to connect the groups (dots). I asked you, Rocco Ancarola (Pink Elephant, Lavo) and Walter V (Studio 54, Danceteria) to play music in a gallery setting and what more experienced nightlife crew could I have found for a 3 hour opening session? The crowd will get to hear these people play songs they want to play and not just the radio or karaoke/wedding DJ songs like most spots in NYC. Later in the evening we’ll open two rooms, with one for indie dance music and the other with electronic DJs like Varick, Carlos Mejia and more from the techno/minimal/warehouse party scene. That includes parties like Sheik N’ Beik (Julio Santo Domingo’s), Blkmarket Membership (Taimur and Fahad), Low Pitch Orchestra (Carlos), Flawless (Jen and John), Made Events and many more. These parties introduce new acts before they become mainstream and bring culture to the New York scene.

Since you closed Le Royale, what have you been up to? Is there a venue in your future? Le Royale closed when it was still very very busy, with four months worth of bookings and global acts coming to play a 150-person DJ room. That’s not a good or normal reason to close a club but it’s also not normal for your business partners to not show any accounting for the business. To this day I have not received any accounting from my former partners, David Baxley and Elaine Romagnoli. The issue will hit the courts in the next few weeks and they can explain their actions to a judge. Their actions were damaging to staff, promoters, vendors, and to me who all lost a lot of money and two years of my life building a strong brand. Their actions were dishonest and I expect to be able to show their actions were not in good faith in a court. At first, I took a year off doing no events and just listened to lots of music and worked on a few small projects away from nightlife; I was not sure if I wanted anything more to do with clubland. The ugly side of this business left a bad taste in my mouth, it was a sad experience. But it’s made me a lot wiser and I have already pulled out of deals with similar characters trying the same type of stuff. I understand that clubs and bars are a business and expect them to be run with honesty and care. My love comes from the inspirations of music and creative people, and combining those is so much fun; nightlife can be such a creative avenue for people and it caught my heart many years ago. Will there be more clubs from me? Yes. I expect there to be more ventures but it needs to be the right deal and a place that can make people feel at home. I’m working on a few things now but talk is cheap, as we all know.

Tell me about technology and the changes DJs are adapting to. What I have been doing since Le Royale is listening to lots of new music to make myself happy. My favorite is a new music style called electro swing which combines old swing music with electronic beats like house and hip-hop. I recently DJ’d a night of 90 percent electro swing music to see what people thought and was pleasantly surprised. There are pockets of people in many cities around the world making this music and sending it to each other and spreading the word globally—how fun is that? I’ve also been checking out new DJ technologies, which in recent times has moved to a new level. I came into the music business from being a DJ and I started out in London at 16-years-old, buying import dance releases from NYC, Chicago and Detroit. It was mostly house music at that time, but over the years my taste expanded as I grew musically and learnt more about music. Now I’m open to everything from dubstep, to classic rock, to world music and everything in between. At the moment I’ve been excited by DJ Controllers and Midi Controllers—I hate to say it, but CD players and turntables are going to be history in clubs soon enough, because the future is here. I currently use an S4 Controller by Tractor and it just blows my mind. I don’t need anything but the controller and it does more than a CD or turntable ever could with music. I have to thank DJ Kris Graham (Diva) for turning me onto this. Kris is a nerd surrounded by beautiful women, but he’s a nerd, I’m calling him out on it right now.And of course, the Technics SL-1200 is still an amazing piece of engineering.

What are the positives and negatives about the current New York nightlife scene? I think the positives are that social clubs are booking and promoting new music, not just booking people to play the radio. I believe that’s partly because of YouTube and other outlets promoting new music, which now gets to the masses and not just DJs. At this time there’s no need to wait on radio stations and the losers at MTV to play new music. MTV wanted us to believe that reality TV was bigger than music and more profitable to shareholders but I think it’s safe to say that YouTube has a brighter future then Viacom. You only have to look at Lady Gaga’s career and how the web took her to new highs. Then, if you look at Lavo, Provocateur, SL and other socially/bottle-driven clubs, they have taken a serious approach to booking the established and rising stars in electronic music.

In Brooklyn we have world-wide sensations and New Yorkers need to be proud that we have such a creative force in our hometown. We also have a new rising star in festivals with Electric Zoo and you have to give it to Mike Bindra for taking that chance and seeing the vision in doing a purely electronic music festival. We are also lucky to have Bowery Presents in NYC and great live music shows at Bowery, Webster Hall, and Music Hall of Williamsburg. Le Bain has a great music policy now, with Jerome and Neil Aline and Cielo is a stable for house heads. On Fridays, Webster Hall Friday is dubstep heaven and draws the biggest acts from dubstep and electro. The brunch/restaurant parties in NYC are off the hook, day and night, including Lavo and Bagatelle. Rocco Ancarola’s Sunday night is my favorite party at the moment and the DJ plays almost no house and no hip-hop, so that’s rare. There are lots of performers and it’s held in a restaurant so you see people like U2, Paul Oakenfold and movie stars dancing on tables to world music.

Negatives, well that’s easy: Some aspects have not changed much, including bottle service, door policies, a lack of diverse crowds, too much focus on money and no culture, to list a few. Also, rent is too damn high, as our friend who ran for mayor said.

Where is Brooklyn headed? Brooklyn can only get bigger and better, it’s where the youth of NYC look to live, not Manhattan. It’s very international especially Williamsburg and Dumbo. People used to move to places like Williamsburg to save money on rent and now they live there because they want to be with friends. To me, Williamsburg offers what Manhattan is not able to offer—a real community. Manhattan is becoming very generic, which is not cool to watch because there are still areas that feel like community, for example the West Village. But most people can’t afford to live in those areas so it’s a luxury for them. More people will move to Brooklyn from all over the country and the world before even touching down in Manhattan. There’s already more people living in Brooklyn over Manhattan so it can seen as its’ own city or even funnier, Manhattan as a suburb of Brooklyn (that’s a joke). Brooklyn can expect some of the issues from Manhattan over time, like more chain stores (Starbucks, etc) and rising rent costs. Rent prices have gone up a lot over the last 10 years, and more than doubled and tripled in some areas, but there’s been great progress for the communities in Brooklyn and Queens at Manhattan’s cultural expense.

Are you British, or is that a speech impediment? And why are you in New York? I’m a big city guy, born in London and was very lucky to be born in what I’m told is the music capital of the world, although NYC and Brooklyn are fighting back strong.

Nightlife News: Hotel Chantelle, Murder, Music

I was recently asked to give Hotel Chantelle a little kiss. You know, tweak the lighting, paint some walls, and pick out some fabrics for the soon-to-open rooftop bar. It’s been a nice little gig, as everyone involved is mad cool. After a couple of weeks, I decided to go there on a weekend night to see what’s going on. Frankly, I had heard mixed reviews: sometimes stellar, and sometimes less than great. I saw for myself. What I observed was actually fabulous.

It’s not hipster, but there are plenty of hipsters. It isn’t glam, but there was some of that rolling through. It wasn’t gay, but there were plenty of queens enjoying themselves. It was a mixed bag of mixed nuts of all races. In short, this little—but actually big— 3 floor joint “on the wrong side of Delancey street” was doing what so many proclaimed couldn’t be done: recreating the joints of yore, attracting and servicing people who love people. People who love people are, of course, the luckiest people in the world. It seems to be happening naturally, but things like this are rarely uncontrived. Tim Spuches, a club veteran, lurks in the shadows. Chantelle had great music on the 2 floors currently open and serious drinks. Familiar face Alex Sumner manned the door. The roof— which is fabulous—is being developed for brunch and early evening cocktails. It seems to be that unpretentious place where people who don’t want to hang out with clones of themselves are gathering.

Nightlife is vibrant, and the spring brings new hope to new endeavors. Most places somehow survived a winter like no one remembers (not even I), and an economy that has made unemployment a badge of honor. The rich clubs are printing money with gross receipts hitting numbers not conceivable in years past. The science of extracting loot from what is now called “table service” as opposed to “bottle service” has small venues ringing cash in on one night what the great spots of yore did in a week. Manhattan, counted KO for hipsters so many times, is resilient as new life brings it all back. My Home Sweet Home night, and my Chantelle night proves not everyone plays in Brooklyn, as that L train goes both ways. Maybe everything is moving a little south in Manhattan, or even a little west sometimes. Nightlife is probing the creases, occupying any and every nook and cranny. Downtown, as they used to call it, finds itself comfortable in a variety of locations. Williamsburg and Bushwick and poverty all has taught a generation that getting around via subway is way OK. Trains at 3AM-ish are filled with the dressed and ready as opposed to the traditional working class crowd.

A business lunch at Miss Lily’s had me glad-handing someone at most tables as the scene continues to flourish around the clock. Just a great place, as Sege Becker and family always get it right. As a designer I am always awed by his work. Miss Lily is perfect.

Shocking word comes that familiar man-about-town, Raul Barrera, who has has turned himself in after allegedly almost decapitating his gal Sarah Coit. A familiar face, not to mention a Facebook friend, Raul was supposedly enraged over a split in the relationship. I never suspected that he would be capable of such an act, and I generally look for the worst in everyone. Reports say he owned up to this horror and now faces an end to life as we know it.

My dear friend Kayci Ryan Rothweiler will perform this Wednesday at my favorite haunt for the last decade, Lit. Show starts at 8:30. Kayci is rock and roll as I know it. I caught her once before and I’m going once again.

Steve Lewis Hangover: Tearists, Korea, Jon Waters

I’m really feeling it this morning. Mixing Jameson and wine last night has given me a very special morning glow. I should know better, but with Amanda in San Juan I have been left without adult supervision, and I’m running amok. It all started innocently with a trip to Korea Town to catch up with an old friend who’s moving west. In my youth I tended bar on 32nd Street at a Korean bar/restaurant. It was a great gig for a young guy. I made great money, and was surrounded by beautiful young Korean gals who wanted to learn the ropes. There was always something strange going on:

Innocuous doors leading to shady places. It was a whole different world. You can almost hear Jack Nicholson repeating, “It’s Korea Town.” Last night I started at a hard-to-find joint called Baden Baden. The lobby is plastered with signs in English and Korean. It looks like the wrong place, but then I saw a little hidden sign that said “Baden Baden Second Floor.”

I took a shoebox of an elevator, outfitted with signs screaming about a 6 person max. The doors open directly into a full-blown joint. My special friend got me an Irish Whisky and commented on how gorgeous the bartenders and waiters were. It was true—hot staff, well appointed and professional bar. We exited and went next door to eat BBQ and Bibimbop. Then it was off to a nearby office building where a security guard read a newspaper at a desk with huge signs stating that all visitors must be announced. He didn’t look up from the sports section as we hustled ourselves to another elevator. This time she pressed “3” and we arrived at an even bigger full-blown restauarant/club/lounge/bar, cleverly named the Third Floor Café. We had more drinks and watched table service unfold everywhere. It was here, at the Korea Town bars, Club A, and the euro bars, that bottle service first began. They do it with huge fruit plates and other options.

At the Third Floor there are beautiful well-dressed waitresses. At Baden Baden and the huge Korean nightclub Circle it is snappily dressed, handsome young men delivering the goods. Circle is a large nightclub, with international DJs and a 95% Korean crowd. They offer the usual sounds heard at all the mainstream clubs, but every so often the DJ will throw in a 10 minute set of Korean pop, and the crowd goes wild and sings along. Last time I was there they had the requisite Karaoke rooms downstairs.

Then it was a yellow limo ride to Madame Wong’s where a huge crowd was clamoring to get inside. It was an RSVP-only affair and the poor door people explained to the desperate that everyone outside had to be listed Patience was asked for. The party, hosted by Interview Magazine, was for a documentary called Blank City, which I told you about yesterday. I was whisked inside without having to tell people “I used to be Steve Lewis.” There inside, a great party was peaking. I chatted up old friends, the stylish and beautiful Maripol and Victoria Bartlett. I still call Victoria by her English nickname, which I will never reveal. She is Victoria now, and has her VPL line and new Soho boutique, which I promised to visit. Victoria and I go back to the Kensington Market days when I traveled to England for a haircut and a night at the Wag with my new Facebook friend, Chris Sullivan. I chatted with my old partner-in-crime, celebrity rock photographer Mick Rock, and then to Steve Buscemi. I had a new date, as the Korean gal was all sake’d out. The newbie couldn’t believe I was chatting up John Waters. It was Buscemi, I corrected her. I guess at a certain age, we skinny weird guys all look alike. Madame Wong’s was amazing—a testament to a determined nightlife making the most of cracks in the walls and abandoned dreams. We stopped at the Mondrian SoHo and popped into Mr. H to say hello to door dude Disco and DJ MSB, but then hurried to Home Sweet Home, where I was to be educated.

My favorite band in like 5 years hit the stage. Tearist is a “Witch House” or “Haus” act . If I were to open a joint this week, they would be my choice. We met Jonathan Coward, who performs as Shams, the group who coined the term “Witch House.” We spotted the host of this Filth party, Lauren Dillard, who is one half of the band Creep, another band of this genre. My super-intelligent friend said that “it’s a goth meets hip hop sound, like Cocteau Twins meets 3 6 Mafia.” I found a great deal of 80’s in the songs. I am told that Salem is the big band of this genre. I missed the last Witch House affair, called Pendu Disco, near my home in Brooklyn. Todd Pendu and Harrison Owen DJ this event. The next event is this Friday, and is called Planned Work. Jonathan Coward (of the Shams) will be performing at Santo’s on April 22nd. Tearist is an amazing act. The super beautiful and hip crowd rushed the stage. It was all very familiar to me—déjà vu all over again—like a Liquid Sky party from the very early 80’s. The room was packed with great haircuts, and very few that wouldn’t understand. DJ Joseph Quartana was blowing up the crowd. I’ve known Joe since he was a baby.