Lots of Big Sexy Noise, Parties, Vodka, & Christmas Lights

With a week to go before the big show, clubs must compete with Christmas parties at unique venues where free booze will flow. In fact, it’s pretty easy to get all liquored up in this town without spending cash money as long as you diligently RSVP to the right events. Many clubs are getting people through the doors, but the spend is not there as these holiday soirees eat into revenues and people are hoarding cash for Christmas gifts.

Tonight you can enjoy Russian Standard Vodka at the Bo Concept holiday party at 105 Madison Avenue. This affair is hosted by bon vivant photographer Patrick McMullan, Village Voice columnist Michael Musto, Michelle Park, and Niki and Shaokao Cheng. The music will be by Lady Bunny, who is riding yet another 15 minutes of fame after being used by Adam Sandler in a sight gag during his 12/12/12 routine. The party will unveil “the new collection of Swedish Underwear Brand, Frank Dandy modeled by New York Swim Team. You must RSVP. “ After Bingo at Hotel Chantelle, where Stoli will try to sway me, I might head over to the Jane Hotel  to listen to DJ Wonder and Bianca Linta as I play ping pong. This is a New York vs Sweden shindig and I may seek out aquavit and such.

Tonight I am desperate  to attend Big Sexy Noise performance at The Bowery Electric, 327 Bowery at 2nd Street. Big Sexy Noise features the New York no wave singer, poet, actress, and performance artist Lydia Lunch and ex-Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds guitarist James Johnston. This is post-punk nirvana and I’m there.

Tomorrow night, an event scheduled for November 2nd but postponed by Sandy will occur at SL, 409 West 14th Street.  Amanda Hearst, Georgina Bloomberg, and the Friends of Finn committee will attend The Humane Society of the US’ “To the Rescue! Benefit After Party.” The list of A-listers involved is ginormous. This is a see-how-the-better-half-live event.

Last night, me and mine headed out to Dyker Heights, a Brooklyn neighborhood right before the Verrazano Bridge, to view the holiday lights. There are homes where hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent to celebrate the season. We were in awe of these Disney-level extravaganzas. I have to go out and buy some gifts, a tree, and wrapping paper, so I will leave you here. 

The New Year’s Eve Hotel Roundup

Planning on getting out of the house for New Year’s Eve? Of course you are. And if you don’t feel like going home that night (falling into your own bed can be a little anticlimactic after popping bottles all night, don’t you think?) it’s the perfect night to indulge in a hot hotel escape. There are a lot of offerings around the country, but these are come of the most exciting.

For their friends in New England, Boston.com rounded up some great last-minute deals. All Kimpton properties, like the modern boutique hotel Nine Zero are half-off on Jan 1st to make the most of your long weekend, while the upscale XV Beacon is offering a bottle of Taittinger to stay in and enjoy in front of your in-room fireplace, after checking out the city’s First Night festivities or else a reception in their wine cellar and fireworks on the rooftop terrace, followed by brunch at Mooo and late checkout at 2pm. They’re also featuring some deals at the Hyatt48 in New York, and The Joule in downtown Dallas.

Another Southwestern property we can always count on to go big for a holiday is the W Scottsdale, who’s making a weekend of it with their $2,012 “New Year’s Eve Fiesta Bowl VIP Experience.” Football fans kick off the four-night weekend stay with top hats and Champagne in their room, a vintage-circus themed party throughout two of the hotel’s venues (be sure to get onto the terrace for the midnight fireworks) entrance to the Fiesta Bowl block party on January 1, and two club level tickets to the game on January 2. It’s just one of the many W-hosted New Year’s soirees; check out your local location for details on theirs.

The club hoppers at Guest of a Guest have put together a great roundup of parties for the night in New York City, including several hot hotels—it’s showgirls and circus performances before an indoor ball drop at the Tribeca Grand, Debbie Harry hosting at the Standard, and a massive open bar at the Empire Hotel rooftop, as well as other festivities at the Jane Hotel and the Soho Grand.

Hipmunk’s Hotel Heat Map

Every one has needs, and the good thing about New York City is that the majority of those needs can be met. Travelers come to town to satisfy their shopping addiction, or to eat at the best restaurants in the world. Some come to see the Statue of Liberty, and some travel to stay up all night. You want to stay close to the things you’re into, whether that’s Broadway or Burlesque, and Himunk’s Hotel Locator is an awesome tool that helps you choose the perfect hotel by showing its proximity to your needs via a heat mapping guide.

Hipmunk, created by MIT-grad Adam Goldstein and Reddit Co-founder Steve Huffman, started off as a super-simplified flight locator with great visual design. Seeking to further simplify the travel industry, they’ve recently launched this helpful Heat Map tool as a component of their hotel search. The tool maps areas of interest in a city based on needs like Vice, Nightlife, Shopping, Tourism and Food, aggregating tourist information from Wikipedia and Yelp. Here are a few of BlackBook’s top hotel picks for each of Hipmunks categories.

Vice: Factors in Bars, Casinos, and Adult Establishments Staybridge Suites Times Square: Sweet suites with real kitchens convenient for extended Javits Center duty and other midtown business obligations. Like Scores. Distrikt Hotel: Near the seedy Port Authority, where XXX video stores line the streets, and XXX entertainment fliers blow in the wind like tumbleweeds, this New York-themed boutique hotel goes name brand, with Frette linens, LG flatscreens, and Ecru soaps. Four Seasons Hotel: It’s the Four Seasons, ’nuff said? Accepts all manner of currency, and in Midtown East, can find all manners of debauchery.

Next: Hotels Near Shopping and Nightlife

Shopping Trump SoHo: Midtown master infiltrates the western fringe of Soho with lux condo-hotel living. Bryant Park Hotel: Straight up, the hottest stay in town. Cellar Bar, Fashion Week runway shows, and plush, plush rooms. Ace Hotel: Garment District hotspot with enough amenities to keep you from ever leaving.

Nightlife The Jane Hotel and Ballroom: Latest smash from Sean MacPherson and Eric Goode gets all Edwardian on the WVill. The Standard: Smack dab in the middle of the Mepa—like a glass and steel tree growing up and around the High Line. The Bowery Hotel: Sayonara to SROs on the new bobo Bowery in this boutique Bowery/Nolita playground with a hot restaurant and lounge scene.

Next: Hotels Near Food and Tourism

Food Abingdon Guest House: As close to the West Village townhouse experience one can get without buying a shih tzu and an Equinox pass. Hotel Mela: Luxe boutique newcomer aiming to be the “apple” of your eye, near The Lambs Club, and classics like Dallas BBQ Chelsea and Jimmy’s Corner. Crosby Street Hotel: La Esquina just around the corner—near Kenmare, too—this spendy Brit import lands on quaint Crosby Street.

Tourism Andaz Wall Street: Hyatt gets haute on the Financial District, otherwise known as the district that has everything on a tourist’s checklist: The Bull, Lady Liberty sightlines, the Stock Exchange (Wall Street is in the hotel’s name). The Plaza: Eloise’s Central Park home, Home Alone, Midwestern tourists, Donald Trump, rich permanent dwellers and you. Hilton Times Square: Location, location, location. If you’re truly looking to stay smack-dab in the center of New York City, the Hilton Times Square is your hotel. Steps from pretty much everything, from Broadway theaters and midtown skyscrapers to museums, restaurants, and nightclubs.

Where Celebs Go

1. Naomi Campbell @ Interview magazine’s 40th anniversary party: I don’t know. I don’t really live here so much anymore. In London? I don’t live in London. I live in Russia. Favorite restaurant in Russia? Pushkin’s. 2. Chloe Sevigny @ Interview‘s 40th anniversary party: Depends on what I’m in the mood for. I like Jack’s Luxury Oyster Bar in the East Village. I like Balthazar for oysters. I love Raoul’s. 3. Peter Brant @ Interview‘s 40th anniversary party: I would probably say the Four Seasons. I like that restaurant, but I have a lot of favorites. That’s, usually, a favorite of mine. There’s a lot of great things to eat there.

4. Linda Nyvltova @ Interview‘s 40th anniversary party: It’s going to be more restaurants. The pizza place, Vezzo, on 31st and Lexington. I love it. We go there all the time.

5. Brian Ermanski @ Interview‘s 40th anniversary party: Rose Bar. And I don’t really go out that much anymore. I love sitting outside Balthazar. And I don’t drink, so I don’t really like going out to drink a lot. I work a lot.

6. Sam Shipley @ Interview‘s 40th anniversary part: I really like Nancy Whiskey. That’s on the corner of 6th Avenue and Walker. We also love Lucky Strike. We also love Frank’s on 2nd Avenue and E. 6th Street.

7. Genevieve Jones @ Interview‘s 40th anniversary party: I like Café Select. I, usually, go anywhere I can walk downtown, so, like, Balthazar and coffee at Saturday Surf. I like N after work. What else? La Esquina.

8. Jessica Stam @ Interview‘s 40th anniversary party: Really, I just hang out at restaurants close to my house. I like to go to the new restaurant at the Jane Hotel [Café Gitane]. That’s really pretty because it overlooks the ocean. I like to go to Tompkins Square Park. The park itself? Yes.

9. Edward Droste @ Interview‘s 40th anniversary party: My apartment! I love Marlow & Sons. It’s a restaurant in Brooklyn. It’s one of my favorite places. I have friends that work there. I eat there all the time. And I love Mary’s Fish Camp restaurant in the West Village for seafood. But I don’t know anything about clubs, so … I’m good at food.

10. Mary-Kate Olsen @ Interview‘s 40th anniversary party: I’m not doing interviews tonight.

11. Pastor Joel Osteen @ Hezekiah Walker Presents: A Night of Hope and Prayer for Haiti: I ate at Rockefeller Center today, [near] the ice skating rink. In Houston, Texas, there’s a little Italian place that I love to eat at, not too far from my house. I don’t even know the official name of it. I like all kinds of different food.

12. Al Sharpton @ A Night of Hope and Prayer for Haiti: I have several favorite restaurants. I love, of course, Sylvia’s, but I also like to come downtown sometimes to Nello’s. I’m a salad eater now. I don’t eat meat anymore, so just salad and maybe good fish.

13. Congressman Eliot Engel @ AIPAC Northeast Regional Dinner: In the Bronx, when I was growing up, there were many, many, old, wonderful kosher delis, and they really all have disappeared, except for one in Riverdale, called Liebman’s, on W. 235th Street and Johnson Avenue. It’s an old-time New York kosher deli, and no matter where I’ve been around the United States – in Cleveland, in Pittsburgh, in Indianapolis, in Detroit – people say to me, ‘ Oh, you gotta go to this deli. It’s a real, authentic, Jewish-style deli.’ And I go there, and I always think, ‘Oh, my God, it’s so inferior to what we have in New York.!’ So that’s where I like to go.

14. Senator Chuck Schumer @ AIPAC Northeast Regional Dinner: My favorite places are in Brooklyn, and you’ll think this is funny, but Nathan’s is still one of my favorite restaurants for hot dogs and french fries. And go to the original Nathan’s in Coney Island — they taste better! But if you go to Fifth Avenue, and you go to Smith Street, you will have great, great restaurants. And we eat at a lot of them. Al Di La, we love very much. How do I pick my favorite? Best slice of pizza in Brooklyn is Roma Pizza on Seventh Avenue; I’ll tell you that. Here’s what I recommend: Po on Smith Street. It is just great!

15. Chris Blackwell @ Strawberry Hill, Jamaica: As I spend most of my time in Jamaica, when I go to New York, I love to check out wherever anybody is saying is a new place or is a great place. So, I’m not really a creature of habit, in going back to one restaurant, all the time. And in Jamaica? If you like the mountains, here is the best place, Strawberry Hill. If you like the sea and the beaches, there are three or four different places that are really good. There’s Port Antonio; and there’s a place called Frenchmen’s Cove, which is just stunningly beautiful. You can’t stay there; you can just visit and swim there. I have a property called Goldeneye, which is in Oracabessa. And then there’s a really nice hotel in Ocho Rios called Jamaica Inn. And Montego Bay is the other main area, and they have a couple of great hotels. One is Half Moon, and the other is Round Hill. And then there’s the South Coast, which has got a whole different feel. It’s, like as if you’ve gone to a different country. There’s a great place there called Jake’s. And Jake’s is, actually, a very casual type hotel, in a whole village area.

16. Daljit Dhaliwal @ History Makers conference: Right now I haven’t been doing an awful lot of entertaining, going out and being sociable. I just bought a new apartment and I’m learning how to use tools. I know how to use a screwdriver and I’m contemplating the electric drill. [There’s] some spackling, sanding and painting. I like to hang out in my neighborhood. Cafe Julienne, a bistro, serves wonderful French fare, nice hamburgers, great pate, nice cheeses, and good wine. In London, I love Notting Hill, Portabella Market — a fabulous place to hang out Saturday or any day of the week. Westborne Park, Grove and Road: West End. London is great for shopping.

Art Mosh & the Hotel Club Renaissance

Amy Gunther of the Williamsburg North skateboard mecca KCDC asked me to do the door at the Art Mosh opening in West Chelsea last night. The event, promoted by PAPER magazine and uber-trendy watch company Nixon, attracted a Jane-worthy hipster crowd. It was pretty much a no-brainer until the space hit its legal capacity and a large crowd of equally important folks got stuck outside. Then it was 3 out, let 3 in, and I had to actually work … it’s been a long time since I had to work a door. Four PAPER interns were on hand to help, as was PAPER’s director of events Nicky Balestrieri. A hundred people were in the street and very few were leaving, as free booze and great music from cinematographer, filmmaker, and actor Shawn Regruto kept everybody happy. Oh yes, there was a great photography show as well. I controlled the crowd, whisked the super VIPs in as fast as allowed, and I thought of the problems over at the Jane and other hotspots where only a chosen few will ever get in.

Yesterday’s article dealt with the rise of hotel bars, restaurants, and clubs leading nightlife into its new golden era. I wrote about this era back when I started this blog with Joonbug about a year and a half ago. At that time, I thought Mansion, under Mark Baker’s direction, could lead the way. That of course didn’t turn out to be correct, as the infighting, egos, and complete miscalculation of his Miami Opium Group partners spelled disaster. The new era, however, did arrive. Nightlife rose from the boredom of the corporate bottle service dark ages into a new light led by the hotel joints. In yesterday’s comments, it was correctly pointed out that the relationship between hotels and their food and beverage wings has inherent problems. With the hotspots driving the hotels, it becomes unclear who is in the driver’s seat. Over at the Gramercy Park Hotel, the Rose Bar has been the hard-to-get-into “in spot” for three years. Nur Khan rules this roost but is in a constant give-and-take with hotel management over the rights of hotel guests to partake in the adventure. The hotel operator is of course Ian Schrager, who gained fame as the co -owner of impossible-to-get-into Studio 54. Hotel guests get some before-9pm privileges, and some are lucky enough to smell the roses later.

The wave of openings in the new hotels is attracting hordes of hipsters to the lobbies and of course rooms of these very in inns. The Standard leads the way, but even the Jane — a hotel where guests are told their bathrooms are “down the hall and to the right” — enjoys the crowds of the new downtown. Jane’s door, according to all accounts, is being overwhelmed. The neighbors are organizing, and this situation must right itself or everything there will just go wrong. Ian Schrager knows his clubs, and Eric Goode, who operated Area (probably the second-best joint of all time after Studio) also knows what’s up — as does his partner, the very sharp and experienced Sean MacPherson. André Balazs of the Standard and many other ultra-hip properties was a partner in Eric Goode’s MK on 5th Avenue, which certainly had a good run. His Mercer Hotel was to some extent driven by its food and beverage. SubMercer was for quite awhile the hotspot in town. I’m actually going there tonight to enjoy DJ Jennifly, one of the few DJs I actually follow.

As other hotel groups who have far less club experience enter the fray, A-list promoter types and owners will be hired to drive their hotels. The Donald is bringing Nicola Siervo and his Miami crew to drive his long-coming Trump Soho property, with hopes that they will fare better than the Opium Group. A regular old corner nightclub is saddled with far more core expenses than the hotels. The mom-and-pop operations like Marquee and 1Oak have to worry about insurance and rent and publicist costs, which the hotels can spread around. The hotel needs the restaurants if only for room service. And the hotels of course now salivate over the celebs, hipsters, and hotties whose milkshakes bring all the boys to the yard. The hotels have already started plucking the cream of the clubs crop to consult on their joints. The owners and promoters see the opportunity to expand their own brand and even export themselves to places like Vegas. Andrew Sassoon and Noah Tepperberg and Jason Strauss did it the hard way, but now it seems every Tom, Dick, and (well, you fill in that blank) will become the international superstar he sees in his bathroom mirror every morning. The hotels offer too many carrots to resist, and the drain of talent from the street-level boîtes will become torrential. The new era needs more talent, and it will be creative types that will fill the void. We are smack dab in the middle of an amazing new era of nightlife, and those who say otherwise must be the ones left waiting outside. I’ll be at the Jane after Jennifly.

Nur Says Not I

The Boom Boom Room, the hipster aerie on top of the newish Standard Hotel is the talk of the town as Fashion Week comes to a close. What happens to the space after this week when the Fashion Flock flutter away is subject to much rumor and speculation. The story that I kept hearing was a collaboration between man about town (but currently in Rome) Paul Sevigny and Rose Bar pharaoh Nur Khan. I repeated the rumor in a throw-out-the-line-see-what-fish-I-would-catch gambit in a post a couple days ago. Nur and I finally talked and he told me “Paul and I are flattered, and this is news to us. We’ve been discussing a project together, yet I’m focused on Rose Bar.” Paul, of course, is killing it over at Avenue with his Tuesday night there a smash success. He’s even blowing up the Thursday there as well. Yet, the story still makes sense. I absolutely believe Nur, but if not him, who? The question is whether an operator is needed at all, or will a good doorperson, well trained staff, and a beautiful room with views for miles and miles and miles be enough to drive the place and therefore the hotel.

A long time ago Michael Alig and I were looking at spaces in 1 Times Square, which at the time was owned by Steve Israel, a very nice and open-minded man. Steve had foregone tenants in the worlds greatest location, the intersection between Broadway, 7th avenue and 42nd street. You know: that’s where our world and a billion other people watch the ball drop and that ticker tape zipper thing tells you what’s up. The building—built as the second tallest buiding in the world back in 1904—has been the home of the New York Times and Allied Chemical. For many years, it has become merely a post to hang billboards, neon signs, and gianormous tv screens. Advertising revenues from these signs have, except for a few ground level retailers, made tenants obsolete. All the windows are covered with sales pitches. Michael had an idea of making the whole place a club with different floors opening on different nights and drag queen elevator operators taking special guests to the VIP floor of the night. There was a club there—Nirvana—at one time, with great views up the Great White Way. Alig wasn’t going to decorate, just leave the abandoned office furniture as it was found. The idea didn’t fly, but the concept seems to apply to the hotel business boom in NYC now. With potential revenues so high from food and beverage do the hotels now service the joints, instead of the other way around. Do you just build more club, restaurant, bar spaces and far less rooms? My sources tell me that the Gansevoort roof parties this summer have grossed over 200k per weekend. With revenues like that, why book rooms at all?

Restaurants and lounges driving hotels is an old story. In Vegas and Atlantic City, it’s the whole game. Few talk about the rooms at The Venetian or Caesars but everyone raves about Tao and Pure. Hotels have traditionally enjoyed an as-of-right privilege in regards to licensing. It’s always been necessary to have a bar/restaurant like the Oak Room at The Plaza. Hotel ballrooms where galas and weddings and bar mitzvahs are sure to be held require drinking and dancing, so the hotels get the paperwork faster than you can say “Jane Hotel.” Community boards may still balk, but the hotel industry is always backed by big money, which of course comes with big lawyers and connections.

Anyway, it’s a lot easier to get your liquor and dancing permits if you rent rooms by the night than opening up a pub in Tribeca. I asked a someone from a trendy hotel the other day about noise complaints from guests who might want to sleep while nearby party promoters are throwing Grey Goose around and cocktail napkins in the air. “They complain all the time, who cares?” was the response. I pushed: “But isn’t there a plan or a policy towards this?” He responded: “Sure, the front desk is supposed to put people in those rooms that wont mind.’

What’s that infamous story about G. Gordon Liddy, the Watergate Scandal Operative? When at a cocktail party he held his hand in the open flame from a candle. When asked what the trick was, he replied: “The trick? The trick is not to mind.” How can you not mind unless the new generation of hotel guests are booking their rooms specifically to be near the action? In this case, what happens in Vegas didn’t stay in Vegas . It’s happening here in a much bigger way than ever before.

With food and beverage (F & B to the inside sect) becoming a make-or-break part of a hotel’s profile, will hotel elevators need to multiply and super soundproofing anticipate the realities of the new/old club-hotel dynamic? Will guests, no longer asked “Smoking or non smoking?” be asked “By the club, or away from the club?” at the reservation desk? I was designing a roof of a hotel into a club and there were guest rooms on the floor adjacent to it. It became apparent that these were not ideal rooms for most guests. Will giant hotel suites rented by the night in proximity to a hot hotel roof party become the new VIP or afterhours? They already have.

First Look: Jane Hotel & Ballroom

I entered the historic Jane Hotel (see gallery) and was hit by a wave of nostalgia. It was here that I tried my first attempt to make money at clubbing. It was at that time a decrepit hotel with a balcony all around. Hotelier/proprietor Sean MacPherson showed me where this upper level was. “It was kind of silly, as it blocked the windows.” I told him that my deal was revenue-sensitive and that I actually jumped behind the bar to replace a rather slow (in many ways) bartender. Even then, I wouldn’t tolerate incompetence. It was a rough punk crowd with mohawks, torn jeans, and stomping boots. I think the Undead, a band I managed, were on stage, or was it “Khmer Rouge”? Time and impatience burn brain cells. The party was tattooed in my cerebrum when a leather-clad hardcore menace leaped from the balcony onto the bar as I served up a couple of brews. It was bedlam, and lots of fun.

I caught up with Matt Kliegman, who, along with Carlos Quirarte, will run this spot for Sean and Eric Goode. Matt and Carlos are coming off the mega-successful The Smile on Bond Street. They are to the north-of-Houston creative set what Gitane is to the south . That’s good food and a meaningful hang among neighbors and friends who think that art, beauty, and style are important, especially at a meal. The Smile is doing breakfast and lunch right now, but they’re waiting on a beer and wine license before they delve into dinner. A private dinner party last week had all the eating blogs buzzing. Matt said he liked the way it felt but will patiently wait for the license to get it right. Meanwhile, the Jane Ballroom is opening next Tuesday, and it’s the real deal.

Coincidentally, Matt had a year-and-a-half stint as a party promoter in his youth, and it was here that he ruled the roost. My dear friend Pavan suggested the remote SRO-type hotel as a venue option. Now, Matt and Carlos cater to what I describe as a post-hipster crowd — that’s peeps who lived the tragically hip lifestyle, but their careers and social and even economic circles now ask for a different type of nighttime boite. It’s a creative crowd, or those who are drawn to that crowd.

The Jane is stunning. It is brilliantly functional. It is fun. I love every inch of it. It is comfort taken to a new level. It is to me a cross between the old Spy Bar and Rose Bar. Wass Stevens said to me the other day, when describing the magnificent Avenue, where he hosts the door: “If you don t remember Spy Bar, maybe you don’t belong.” I think the Jane Ballroom will appeal to a broader crowd, and that analogy really won’t apply here — but I just wanted to quote Wass. There are lots of hiding places at Jane. I was surprised there wasn’t an outdoor space, but then Sean showed me one under development. Jane Ballroom is a lounge with the feel of a grand hotel lobby. It’s the kind of place where I would order a sidecar even though I’ve never tried one. There will be a Monday movie night from “up the river,” and maybe something live on Tuesday. The place will open at 6pm ’cause it’s got those chops — and it will go late because the public will not want to go home, ever.
The Tragically Hip Tickets

Sound Ideas: Daniel Agne of Funktion One

What clubs offer that bars and lounges generally don’t is sound and DJs. There are a few guys at the top of the heap in the sound world, and Daniel Agne is one of those guys. If the sound is crisp and clear, chances are that the club owner spent a great deal of cash to make that happen. As a designer, sound considerations are a day-one thing. The open entrance to the mezzanine level at Marquee with no apparent break to stop the bleed from the main floor was a major design move. The padded ceiling and columns and front of the bar at Home overcame the tremendous bounce from the hardwood floors, brick walls, and concrete ceilings. Joe Lodi hid bass speakers behind banquettes and added a scoop that pushed the sound where it needed to be. The club world is never as easy as people think, and I hope this interview with Daniel gives you insight on the process of sound installation

You do the sound at premier nightclubs, putting in DJ booths, speaker placements, etc., making the room sound great. What’s the name of your company? The company is called Sound Investment and Divine Lab, and we’re often regarded as Funktion One in the US. We do sound, video, lighting, and entertainment technology

People say places like 1Oak have a great sound system because it has a Funktion One system. What is the history of Funktion One? We have access to essentially every type of loudspeaker, amplifier, and processor in the market. We’ve done many AB tests over the years and continually do them when new products are released. We base our company on the confidence that we are designing using the highest-performing equipment possible within the design budget allowed. Funktion One loudspeakers are the core of our systems because we feel that they are the best possible speaker available. Period. They are the result of a holistic design process that prioritizes overall system integrity as apposed to monetarily based design directives. In Funktion One, we found a philosophical approach that runs congruent with that of our own. Tony Andrews and John Newsham at Funktion One have achieved audio excellence by combining decades of technical experience in cabinet and speaker design with a passion for fidelity. By fabricating the speaker drivers in-house, Funktion One is able to precisely tailor the response of each loudspeaker model, using mechanical adjustments to cure mechanical problems instead of leaving it to electronic equalization after the fact, which does not address the root cause of the problem.

In the last ten years, we’ve seen a breakout of DJs and talent, so instead of getting $5,000 to $10,000 a night, DJs are now getting about $40,000 to $50,000. How is sound technology keeping up with the DJs, and how do inventions like Serato and the fade away from vinyl affect what you do? It makes it much more difficult to produce a quality result because technology was once difficult for the common man to obtain. You used to go to a recording studio as a privilege because it was an expensive and exclusive process. You would be there with trained professionals with standards and experience, so you had great quality equipment in experienced hands, and only the best of the best got there. Now, every busboy and their brother is a DJ because the cost of producing music at home is cheap, since they’ve found ways to make the products inexpensive. With all of these mass-produced, lower quality products, on the professional end we have more availability with producing higher quality and better sound systems. But we’ve also been crippled because with this highly accurate, super-loud system that can reproduce whatever comes into it accurately, we have loud distortion and poor-sounding tracks.

What’s the solution? The solution is education, as with any sort of technology. New technology can come in and dilute the waters, but there will also be a backlash — a purist approach that promotes the philosophy of “Well, okay, that’s great that you all started downloading and transferring diseased tracks everywhere.” It’s an education process, but it is starting to be socialized and realized, so there is common knowledge now that when you’re downloading the tracks at low bit rate and you’re paying less for it, that’s not a good thing. That’s like being a race car driver and buying a cheap engine.

What places have you done sound for in New York? Cielo, 1Oak, we just finished the Griffin with you and Marc Dizon, and we did the Crobar system when it became Mansion (M2). We work with Sean McPherson and Eric Goode. We do a lot of their hotel work; we just did the Jane Hotel with them, The Bowery Hotel, The Maritime Hotel; we worked on Mr. West, and we did the basement for APT.

You did Cielo, which is one of the premium dance clubs, and you did 1Oak, which is a different type of club — it’s a lot of mash-up, hip hop, and not as house-heavy as Cielo. Are there any adjustments you make for a club like 1Oak as opposed to Cielo? For Cielo, I have the luxury of tuning for complete accuracy and that’s what my approach was with it. With a venue where you are going to have a more eclectic DJ pool and format, you have to tune your systems to take out some of the things that would be adverse depending on what they are going to play. So if I knew on a system that everyone was going to play good music, I would tune it a little bit differently.

What do you mean by “good music”? I’m talking about the quality. When you get into mash-up and stuff like that, it’s absolutely highly diseased tracks that are being transferred. It’s like the plague — this person now has it and 37 people have transferred it — it just doesn’t sound great. It’s compressed, and it’s cheap downloads in the first place. To a certain point, there’s nothing you can do; we are working on a certain proxy to reintroduce and grab elements that are salvageable, but it’s difficult. 1Oak is more consistent than other places with having good DJs, and obviously Cielo is also because Nicholas Matar had a rhyme and a reason when he set out to do that and he did it. My design firm Lewis & Dizon just did Griffin with you, and when they brought you in, there was a conversation about how the sound was going to work within the design of the room. I’m sure that Nicolas Matar of Cielo was designing the shape of the room and seating with sound in mind from day one. Was it the same with 1Oak? Ronnie Madra, Jeffrey Jah, Scott Sartiano and Richie Akiva were both very very adamant that it had to have a great sound system. I think that our company takes a tremendous amount of pride in working with designers. We appreciate the aesthetics of a room, and we’ll go to great lengths to try not to violate that. Sometimes it’s a wrestling match, but we try to come up with custom and unique solutions that would not violate what the design and functionality of a room needs to be. With 1Oak it was actually quite a process with the design to get to where we were, but they did the things they should have done; there were a couple things we were fortunate about, and they did allow me to put things where I needed.

1Oak has a vibrant social scene, and the seating area generally has less sound so that people can speak, while a place like Cielo has great sound in every spot of the room. How do you do that — is it a challenge for you? What you do is have your main focus area, and then off of that you’re doing fills and trying to timeline it to be coming off of the main system. It’s a delay, when you timeline something — you have a system that is going to be your main system, it’s going to be the loudest area, and you’re just trying to accent that.

So what you’re saying is that even in a small room, if the sound is not properly balanced, you’ll hear echoes? Yeah, shorter distances show up as confusion because your brain doesn’t process it accurately, and it’s a disruption instead. At greater distances it’s actually referred to as the Haas effect, but you start to then discern that there are different starting points, or it’ll be like an echo, or it has its own beat to it because it literally starts to get disruptive.

You hear this in a lot of big spaces like Capitale, where you have high ceilings and hard surfaces. Yeah, that’s a room slap echo, where it bounces of the walls.

Clubs are being built everywhere in the city, residents are moving into club districts, and the co-existence of clubs with communities is becoming a big issue. How much consideration is given to the leaking of the sound to the street? It’s important for every single job, and the earlier on in the process that we can get involved with the design and the layout, it really benefits the project. It is obviously a really heavily weighted factor, and every club owner does know that because it is an Achilles’ heel. It can put a club out of business sometimes — does so even if they are running it properly. There’s an issue of how you can achieve that unless you’ve really painstakingly designed the space, or if you have the luxury of sound space within the venue.

You fortunately work for good people; do you turn down a lot of jobs? I do, more often today than I used to, because I’ve learned that despite your best intentions, your efforts are going to end up being inhibited by the personality of the owner. You have quite a reputation; there are two or three people in the city who are talked about in the same breath as you, but sometimes people buy you only because they want your brand, for the vanity of having it. There will be pitfalls. I’ve learned that through Spirit. I was promised a lot when we started that I never got. He [Spirit owner Robbie Wooton] didn’t accept our input, and I should’ve turned that job down. He made a promise that he didn’t keep as well. When I said, “This isn’t enough sound,” he said, okay, “I’ll tell you what, when we turn it on, we’ll have some time and if it’s not right, we’ll get the rest of the parts.” And then when it got to that point, he didn’t do what he said he was going to do, and none of those factors come up when people talk about it or. People don’t consider that part; it’s just your reputation.

When people come in and they hear you did the sound, they’re expecting value, and if you can’t give it to them, you shouldn’t be doing the job. Yes, he turned around and spent three times as much for a different sound engineer and also used the equipment that I already had in there. So he had mine, plus three times as much, so I thought, okay … that’s fair. So, in that I learned a valuable lesson, which is to understand what the result is going to be for the risk you are incurring and figure out if it’s really worth it. Because it took me a lot of time to repair what the impression was of that work.

NYC Fashion Week Hotels: Who’s Showing Where?

imageSo you want to run into a model. Or ten. Here’s your guide to which hotels to stalk for the next week:

1. The Bowery Hotel (East Village) – Corpus is showing here, and there should be a bunch of parties here as well. 2. Plaza Hotel (Midtown West) – With Luca Luca, Monique Lhuiller, and Douglas Hannant, this is a safe bet to catch some fashion royalty. 3. Jane Hotel (West Village) – Cynthia Rowley is showing in the Ballroom. Hopefully the residents won’t protest the show.

4. The Carlyle (Upper East Side) – Catalin Botazatu Couture and Barbara Tfank are showing here. 5. The Waldorf-Astoria (Midtown East) – Vocce Couture, Almond Tree, and Christina Nitopi Menswear are all walking the runway here. Male models abound. 6. Soho House (Meatpacking District) – Mulberry in the library. Hotties in the lobby. 7. Tribeca Grand Hotel (Tribeca) – Form and Frank Tell are both here. 8. Morgans Hotel (Murray Hill) – Koi Suwannagate’s show is here 9. Bryant Park Hotel (Midtown West) – Natorious by Natori and Amanda Pearl are showing here, and there’s all the hubbub right outside the door. 10. Hotel on Rivington (Lower East Side) – Don the Verb inside, hot hipsters outside.