Brooklynization, Paris Powwow and Sally Shan’s Birthday

The Brooklynization of Uncle Steve continues as I find a better product, a better meal, a better conversation and all around better attitude there. I hit Union Pool yet again, and caught Dead Stars– a fabulous band. Cousins Jaye Moore on drums and Jeff Moore on guitar are legendary in Japan, so I’m told, from their previous band, Orange Park. Jon Watterberg plays bass. They were absolutely brilliant. You know a rock band is solid when you’re hearing their set for the first time and the songs catch you. Afterward we all hung outside by the wood burning fire pit and talked rock n’ roll hootchie-coo. I am so tired of the jaded haters and wannabes who have taken over the Manhattan club scene that I retreat to Brooklyn constantly to hang out with homogeneous hipsters wearing variations of the same plaid. At least there’s good conversation and an unending supply of said hipsters. Everywhere I go there is a party. I bought a Diet Coke at Union Pool and they charged me a buck. The only thing you get for a buck in a Manhattan joint is a wrapped white mint from the bathroom attendant.

I played a little skee-ball at Full Circle Bar and had a seriously fantastic meal at Vutera, where waitrons Jeff and Sarah made it special. The large table next doo, presided over by my new best friend Jeff Shonert, engaged us in witty conversation and party games. It’s like that every night. I’m going to Brooklyn Bowl tonight and this is either a severe midlife crisis or the real thing. Speaking of the real thing, my second foray to the Belmont Lounge’s Stones night proved to be even more satisfying then the last. This is a beautiful, friendly, fun crowd .

I chatted with my jet-setting pal Paul Sevigny about the weather and the whether or nots. He’s in town after Costa Rica and on his way to Paris with the lucky ones. My pal Malcolm Harris is already there and I asked him to give me a blow by blow of all the ooh la la action. He says:

“’I’ve got to be honest, not much on the way of reporting on Paris nightlife. As much as there are a lot of places open, the only place that really matters and has a heart and soul is Le Baron. They seem to get nightlife and embrace all the creatures of creativity. Le Régine, Le Montana, Le Magnifique and- uggghhh VIP – all seem to lack a true vibe. They all seem like people crammed into a box because it’s just a little better than staying at home… For me all roads lead to Le Baron. No matter where I start the night, for some reason the New Yorker in me leads me to Le Baron. So if you want me to cover the nightlife, just know that all roads lead to Le Baron.”

Sally Shan is a tenacious presence on the night life scene. A year ago when she was starting out, I interviewed her and she says I gave her the push and the credibility she needed. This may or may not be true, but a year later finds her growing and very relevant to owners concerned with the bottom line. The bottom line with Sally is that she consistently generates money for clubs in need of that stuff. I asked a highly successful club owner and marketing guru what the story was with Sally Shan. He said, “Sally has the remarkable ability to deliver a spending crowd. While many promoters only can bring people to a good party, Sally’s crowds are loyal to her and will follow her anywhere. Once there, she takes care of them and ensures them a great time.“ I caught up with Sally and chatted with her on her “Nightlife Anniversary,” celebrating the annual date she got into nightlife, near to her week long birthday celebration.

Its been a year since you started working in nightlife. How did you start your business and where is it today? Like with any business, I started with an idea; how could I make some money in this damn recession? So I started with one party. That one party went from one venue a week to three to now six parties at some of the top venues in NYC. Along with that I’ve expanded to incorporate a team of promoters, artist managers, fashion and charity events, and corporate sponsorships.

What clubs do you work at now? I get requests from a lot of different clubs all the time. The key places I’m working at right now are Greenhouse, Hudson Terrace, Tenjune, Marquee, Kiss & Fly, Pink, La Pomme.

What does your crowd expect of you and how do you make sure they get it? As you know here in NYC we expect everything, and that’s what I deliver. Best venues and locations, hottest DJs and music, beautiful people and atmosphere and, of course, Sally Shan, they get me too.

What’s the difference between Sally Shan the brand and the person? Sally Shan the brand is the experience I create, it’s what I give back to people. Sally Shan the person is what I do to stay balanced. What creates that balance is my integrity, values and purpose. That’s what allows me to go and build a great brand.

After promotions at clubs where does your brand go? My brand goes everywhere I go, and where it’s going is to creating corporate alliances. For example Svedka Vodka is sponsoring my birthday party. I’m establishing relationships with clubs internationally to take the Sally Shan experience worldwide. I’m working with designers and brands to promote charities and private events. It’s really about creating a world of lifestyle that has me looking at all forms of media, print, digital and possibly television. It should be a fun ride.

Who are your influences, mentors, idols in clubs and out. You mean besides you Steve? Well, the world I came from is one that was always immersed in live entertainment. Broadway, theater, TV and film. So now I take a lot of that creative energy to create live experiences for people in club and party settings. I choose my mentors and idols from a wide range of places, mavericks and pioneers in film, music and fashion. All the things that make up part of who I am.

Where do you hang when you’re not working? I take my brand with me everywhere but I also know when I need to recharge. I frequent Miami and LA for a quick break.

What are you going to be when you grow up? My best ideas have come from breaking the rules, being creative, not knowing what an adult would do, so I hope I don’t grow up too quickly.

Your most satisfying club experience? Ask me after my birthday celebration week. It starts tonight at Hudson Terrace with DJ Peter Paul and DJ Alan Liao. Sunday it’s at Tenjune with a special guest performance and Tuesday at Greenhouse there’s a birthday CD tribute for my EDEN party. I have a feeling that those will be one of my best club experiences.

A Gift List for Clubdom

The ghosts of Christmas past drive me to self-analytical frenzy, that gets mixed in with the shopping and the holiday greetings whirlwind. Then there’s the, “I love her, she loves me not, she loves me, I can’t stand her 75 percent of the time” pantomime. That leads into who? what? where? New Year’s Eve desperation. With work and traffic, money runs and non-stop Christmas muzak, I think I’m starting to lose it. Gonna leave you to your thing and I’ll go do mine. Before I go, I’m going to give some clubs some uncle Steve advice: What “should” each club want for Christmas?

Avenue: A deep breath. 1Oak: Another year like this one. Or better– like the year before, as the recession comes to an end. Boom Boom Room/18th floor: A laugh track and a high-speed money counter. Bungalow 8: A real deal redux and a neighborhood revival. The Jane: Another chance! The Beatrice : Clarity. Rose Bar : A Basquiat and a big hug. Provocateur: Patience and humility. Simyone: Diversity to go along with all that quality, good looks and charm. Rdv: A “stay true to your school” t-shirt. Cielo: A moment away from cops and courts to concentrate on the real club side of things. Pacha: The same plus a VIP host who knows everybody in clubdom and gets them to come. Lit: A clone for Mr. Foss and a swiffer sweeper. Apotheke: More of the old (crowd) and more of the same (delicious cocktails). Greenhouse: One clear public message besides the green thing or the green thing and chain of command. Juliet: A new lighting concept and lots of fabric. Hudson Terrace: The Copacabana. The Eldridge: 25 more square feet. M2: A real good old school club night with lots of familiar faces. This place rocks when filled with good peeps. La Pomme: Time to build its own crowd. GoldBar: A gold medal for Jon “the legend” Lennon and a little more light. It’s too dark to appreciate the crowd. Marquee: Glass and maybe a once a month huge DJ and a clearing out of the furniture. Webster Hall: Convictions. Southside: Brotherly love. Ella: A little respect. Gansevoort Roof, Highbar, Empire Hotel: Eternal sunshine, endless summer. The Box: Moist towelettes and more Patrick Duffy.

Who am I to tell all these young studs what they may or may not need. But I do remember something James Brown once said: “I taught them everything they know, but not everything I know.” Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

9 Reasons to Be Cheerful on 9/9/09

With the end of the summer underlined by chill winds and daily highs hovering around room temperature, the business of nightlife is readily anticipating the opening of some new businesses. Between now and the drop of the ball on New Year’s Eve, a club space odyssey will change nightlife as we know it. Although it isn’t raining money, there is enough of a drizzle to support new growth in a constantly evolving and extremely vibrant scene. These new contenders are diverse and seem organized to succeed. In no particular order, here are nine spaces that will soon be on your lips and minds.

1. and 2. Abe & Arthur’s and Simyone – Eugene Remm and Mark Birnbaum hope to answer all questions about their success. The much-anticipated restaurant with the club down below will look good due to the extreme design talent of my friend Lionel Ohayon, and it will taste great because Franklin Becker is the real deal. Eugene and Mark have enjoyed massive success at Tenjune being themselves and not worrying too much about the other guys. This will surely be a case where nice guys finish first. Location, location, location is a mantra often forgotten by people who have opened in strange locations and are most often forgotten. The old Lotus space on 14th street will enter the Standard– and Jane-invigorated Meatpacking District and be a smash

3. The Nell’s/Richie Akiva joint – I can’t tell you much cause I’m sworn to secrecy, but my partner Marc Dizon and I are very pleased with the developing renderings and the commitment to excellence shown by the Butter/1Oak crew. Yes there will be food upstairs and a joint downstairs, and that’s all I will say except that the space is wonderful with no columns upstairs and great high ceilings, and I’ve been wanting to get my hands on it for 15 years.

4. Quattro at the Trump Soho – Nicola Siervo, Karim Masri, and Rony Siekaly will take their Miami game to Mr. Donald Trump’s Soho hotel. I am always skeptical when Miami players try to bring their vibe to New York. Miami is a straight up tourist town, and vacation money always flows more freely than most other kinds. Yet these three know tons of people and can route their A-listers to their New York incarnation just like Noah Tepperberg and Jason Strauss service their Tao clientele in Vegas and then in New York at Tao, Marquee, and now Avenue.

5. Serpentine – Patrick Duffy — that fun, fun downtown flier — will bring the straights to the gays and the fashionistas to the hipster dipsters. There will be more fun on day one than all the months of Mr. West combined. Where Mr. West suffered from attitude as well as longitude, Patrick’s brand of real smile, laugh, and dance will surely purge the doomed bottle boîte of its bad vibes. The in crowd will travel west, east, north, or south for Mr. Duffy and his genuine approach to a good time. This will be a very hot place for the cool cool crowd

6. La Pomme A full Fashion Week calendar of events speaks volumes of this 26th, 5th and 6th redo of Ultra. They are working hard, and that’s a very good beginning. Lots of places think getting open is the hard part. I see this being a reliable entry for a no-nonsense dance-and-drink crowd that isn’t being serviced by the uber-trendy or modely joints. It will host great parties, serve solid drinks, people will be treated nicely, and it will survive and even thrive while other more touted joints can’t pay their bills.

7. Mr. Black – The move into the Room Service space seems a no brainer, but I’m committing right now to a trip to Williamsburg when Stuart gets his new (I can’t tell you the great name yet) place open. Getting me out to Brooklyn is no easy task since I’ve sworn off the dead cows at Luger’s, and no that isn’t a fancy cocktail, but Mr. Black is old school — seriously hot sauce.

8. Red Velvet – The new alcohol-in-things-other-than-cocktails trend continues with this skinny spot with possibly fattening alcohol-enhanced cupcakes. I hear Steve Hanson is going to offer milkshakes that will make you rattle and roll over at the old Hogs and Heifers space — Bill’s Bar & Burger — but that may exceed my daily caloric intake. My firm is doing the Red Velvet design because we have a definite sweet tooth for the players involved. We also think it will be hot. I’ll talk about the design real soon — just need to dot a few eyes. Without sugar-coating it too much, I predict you will think it sweet.

9. OK, there’s more than nine. Hell, the Standard Hotel has four; Todd English and Jon B will offer HRH and its Persian theme; Double 7 will open with Will Regan and David Rabin creating a hangout for adult nightlifers; my pals Anthony Martignetti and James Willis are doing something with that space just south of Southside; and Provocateur will bring cold-weather relevance to the Ganesvoort. I hope Emma Cleary gets to open up a real place, real soon so I can see her more than just Mondays at her “Don’t Feed the Models” party at Katra. I’m hearing nice things about Su Casa, and Ainsworth will keep Matt Shendell’s posse in a place where they belong until Dune reopens next summer.

La Pomme Debuts, Diamond Horseshoe Returns

The signs of the end of the great recession are everywhere. The other day, my mailwoman rang my bell because a magazine swelled with advertising couldn’t get through my slot. A couple of months ago, three of them would have slid in. The cafes are busy, and the accents of tourists with their little maps fill my neighborhood streets. Stores are filled with shoppers gearing up for the inevitable autumn, and the sounds of saws and screw guns tell of new construction and refurbishing everywhere. You can feel it in the streets and hear it on those annoying taxi screens. We’re moving forward again. Last night the lobby in the Waldorf was packed with families and businessmen who spent a little more and passed on the Hilton. I had a nice meal with my bestest friends. The $36 lamb chops didn’t cause a groan or even a blink. We watched the Russian hookers in Prada and Louboutins meet men named John. Money is circulating, and everyone is trying to get some.

For me the surest sign of happy days is the contracts being offered for my company’s design services. We’re getting a few “real” calls a week. In six or eight months there will be a slew of new spots peppering the blogs and nightlife columns. Around the second week of September, Tommy Tardie will offer La Pomme, built on the bones of Ultra, his ultra-successful lounge on West 26th street. Now some snarky hipster types may snarl at that last sentence, but success can be measured in many ways; trendy doesn’t necessarily spell success. Ultra has been there three years. It has survived the economic downturn and is now being redone with a nice budget attached. Words like Fellini-esque and Kubrick-like were thrown around in describing the new decor. La Pomme will cater to a mainstream crowd who come to dance and drink below high ceilings. Flavor-paper wallpaper will add some spark. The space is being expanded to accommodate larger events as the corporate parties are coming back big — another sign of the economic thaw.

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I spoke to owner and ex-Mad Man Tommy Tardie, looking very Don Draper and exuding confidence about the redux. He offered “perception is not reality” in describing the redo of his 3,500-square-foot joint,. Although he wouldn’t discuss what direction promo was going, I did hear that “it girl” Sally Shan was his next meeting. The hardest-working girl in club biz will bring a monied adult crowd. La Pomme is in mid-Chelsea and knows exactly what it is — there’s no perception that it’s anything but a nice club for a post-college crowd and maybe some promoted-to types. Tommy Tardie deals with the realities and the cash flow of that working crowd, looking for another nice three- (or more) year run.

The idea of writing about this new spot was pitched to me by Justine McCarthy and Sabrina Chapman of Simply Chic PR. They’re the principals at this young firm. We sat on a summer afternoon outside of One Little West Twelfth Street. Our corner table was shaded, and a cool breeze and ice teas made it grand. We were one of only a handful of customers in the place. Across from us was the bustle and hustle of Pastis, every table packed with scenesters. The whole industry could be understood by just sitting there. The difference between being packed and empty is really understanding what quality, consistency, and service really are. Keith McNally brings it while others just talk about it.

A whisper came my way about the infamous Billy Rose’s Diamond Horseshoe Ballroom in the Paramount Hotel. I remember back in the day Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager trying to figure out how to get it open. My horse whisperer tells me that indeed it will open with Eugene Remm and Mark Birnbaum winning the bid over other suitors (including Noah Tepperberg and Jason Strauss). Billy Rose was a household name back in the postwar period, and the Diamond Horseshoe was the in spot — even boasting Gene Kelly dancing up a storm before Pal Joey. Can’t wait to see if Times Square returns as a nightlife destination. When we had Club USA back in the day, we did a base crowd of 500 real good-looking tourists and walk-ins every day. This helped pay the high rent.