Prime & Le Royale Reincarnating

Word comes of the sale of the outer Chelsea midsize club Prime. Often called Quo (referring to a tackier incarnation of the space), the club will be relaunched for the fall with what would have to be a better management team. The room is amazing, with high ceilings and scarce columns, and it could be a home run under a more sophisticated team’s control. I liked most of the old players but always felt there were too many chefs in that kitchen. They didn’t seem to able to adjust to the changing realities of the area. Carlo Seneca was always trying to do the right thing, but his partner Gary Malhotra was a disgrace. I actually learned over time not to despise Gary as most in the business tend to; I felt really sorry for him. A lawyer who definitely knows the difference between right and wrong, Gary consistently crossed the line and behaved despicably. It is amazing that the joint lasted so long. In spite of severe economic times, a general demise of the neighborhood, and Gary’s charming ways, the space survived, until now.

The Le Royale transition is supposedly complete, with a quick redux in the cards. Despite efforts to keep this story supper hush-hush, I have been inundated with information mostly coming from disgruntled former employees. Just because they’re disgruntled doesn’t mean they’re lying. A source tells me:

Terry Casey along with Peter James and an investor, a young guy whose name I cannot remember, started negotiations with Elaine (the liquor license, and original owner of Luke & Leroy’s) and David to become the new owners. Michka Bengio (who is on student visa) and his partner, an Israeli (has some charge against him) had the funding to purchase the club as well. Now Michka and the Israeli would have had the club a long time ago, but they were focused on getting Movida (across the street), but the neighborhood wouldn’t allow an extended license to stay open until 4am because of noise. Also they had the problem of not having a proper signature for the club, which is where their designer friend from Toronto, Raj, comes in. He is the way they could get the club. Clean record. The club was supposed to be signed over on Friday, but there were complications so the club stayed open. Then it was supposed to be signed by 12pm on Monday, but Raj could not get to the city. Finally Tuesday the papers were signed at noon, and the locks were changed. It is officially closed. Michka and the Israeli will gut the club and reopen it, along with two other clubs within the next year and a half. Debts have not been paid. Most employees have other jobs, so they will be fine. But the promoters are all screwed on the deal.

Le Royale was one of my favorite hangs. I absolutely adore Terry Casey, and I hope he lands on his feet here. If not, his Brooklyn banger will be the biggest lure to Brooklyn for me since I gave up Peter Luger for seitan and salad.

I am looking forward to the “you don’t know me” benefit from Gigantic, Opium, and Bomb magazines at Bowery Electric Wednesday night (8pm). There will be short plays, long-haired bands, micro-readings, video installations, performances, and DJ Catherine Pierce of the Pierces. According to a release, it will attract a crowd of “writers, magazine editors, agents, book publishers, bloggers and new media types.” Of particular interest to me is the opera singer spoken-word performance artist Joseph Keckler. I caught his act the other night at Envoy gallery on Christie between Delancey and Broome. He is the real deal, and I cannot recommend anyone more. By the way, I caught several acts that night over at Envoy. The evening was a strong reminder that I am the “nightlife correspondent” for BlackBook, not the “club correspondent” — there’s more happening on a Saturday night than the usual cast and crews that are often so tedious. Envoy offers a mixed bag of brilliant performances and art. I enjoyed the change.

Le Royale Pain In the Ass

Last week, Down By The Hipster reported that Le Royale, the fun, music-driven joint on Leroy Street, was closing. DBTH later retracted the statement. I think Scott got it right the first time. A swarm of weekend phone calls from employees and people in the know annoyed my friends as we sipped pineapple juice at Fannie Chan’s poolside Thompson LES weekly. This story is confusing with partners not speaking and a sale seemingly needing only a dot of an ‘I’ or cross of a ‘t’ to be real. Terry Casey, an owner and the face of the place, is himself unclear as to what will happen and when.

I asked him for a statement and he offered, “Le Royale is my attempt at a good music-meets-social-club for New Yorkers. My responsibilities are to deal with the music and social aspects, and my partner David Baxley’s responsibilities are to deal with the financial side of the business. He is looking to exit Le Royale, and I do not wish to exit Le Royale. However, at this time, I have been spending most of my time with the opening of my new club in Williamsburg with Magna and Felix Da Housecat doing the opening nights.” Whatever happens, it seems this will be resolved by week’s end. One prominent employee was planning a going away soiree and looking for a gig.

News comes that Pink Elephant might be on the move. One source told me that sliding into the Le Royale fray was a possibility, but I haven’t gotten around to make that call. My source tells me that M2 operating owner, Joey Morrissey, has been coveting the space since he made his move on Mansion. To my readers that don’t know, Pink Elephant was the VIP room at the Crobar space, and it was parceled out to Pink as the rest became the club Mansion. Now Joey has a pink eye and wants it bad. I cant tell if Pink is moving, as 27th street no longer is inhabitable by its clientele, or if Joey is being aggressive and forcing them out. My source tells me “that M2 needs a place to service its better customer.” Joey sees only a small door between him and that space and has been wanting it forever, and although I don’t have a great deal of backup on this story, it seems to make sense for all involved.

My Saturday night was just grand. There is something wonderful that happens at the end of summer each year. Almost everyone I don’t want to be around politely leaves and parties in places like the Hamptons and, what’s the name of that place?… oh, New Jersey. I walked down to Apotheke to listen to my pal Jennifly DJ. It was a nice night, and I strolled through an empty Little Italy and Chinatown. The smell of old fish, dead rats, and moldy vegetables made me think I should have gone yellow cab. I switched to The Bowery, and my lazy journey paused in front of the Golden Bridge Restaurant, where one door said open every day at 9 a.m., and the door next to it said open every day 9:30 a.m. Apotheke is on Doyers Street, which is hard to find, even for Chinatown residents. A wind-whipped plastic bag attacked me as I tried to enter the little street. I was reminded of American Beauty and tried to find the love in it, until it went for my head. As I entered Apotheke, I heard Jennifly’s soulful offerings. It was the perfect set for the perfect room. As I walked towards the DJ booth, she was playing “Big Fun” by Inner City, and the lyrics hit my mood exactly; “we don’t need a crowd to have a party, just a funky beat and you get started…” The crowd was heavy with administrative assistants, a gal Friday or three, some right-hand men and even a couple of lefts, leftovers of the Hamptons migration, enjoying muddles and concoctions from some of the best mixologists in town. Jennifly’s (Jennifer Green) soulful set will keep me coming back for more. I was a bit muddled by the strawberry fennel thing I had at the bequest of Jennifer’s sis. I don’t drink normally, but I needed to taste nirvana; it really was good.

Next stop—Civetta—to visit the beautiful Kelly Hubert in her lounge party downstairs. I connected with Brittney Mendenhall, of ChiChi212 and chatted about the new look of her blog, which re-launches today. We left in a flash and went to join the extravaganzas with Patricia Fields and her house “AT THE HOUSE OF LATEX BALL” at Roseland. This event, benefiting the GMHC, was over the top. I agreed to let Brittney do all the coverage on this and then took her up to Pacha for Junior Vasquez’s birthday bash. He was, as I saw him a few months ago at Cielo, happy as a clam, playing a big room to a devoted following. Pacha seems to have survived the city’s attempt to close it down forever. The club was filled with Junior’s positive vibe and the need for a true and pure house mega club was apparent to all. Fannie Chan’s pool party washed away the pain from the marathon the night before. Returning home at 7 a.m. is not the norm for me anymore. As I sat by the pool, I heard someone repeatedly refer to the hotel owner as Jason ‘Pomegranate’ instead of ‘Pomerantz’. That and a steady infusion of pineapple juice and bikini clad beauties cleared my Apotheke muddled brain. It was the shortest summer ever with all the rain and cold spells, and I enjoyed DJ Jason Angola’s mellow set while chatting with old friends. I was having big fun.

Joao Daniel Gets Up, Gets Down @ Hotel Gansevoort

imageJoao Daniel has moved on from Le Royale and is focusing his efforts on the coolest party for the hot summer, “Get Up, Get Down” at Hotel Gansevoort on Saturdays (12pm-8pm) and Sundays (12pm-4am). Here’s the lowdown.

Tell me about the pool party at the Gansevoort. We started two weeks ago. I’m the VIP host of the party. It actually consists of people in the nightlife business in New York City. We decided to do weekend outdoor parties because so many people are staying in the city this summer and bypassing the Hamptons. I loved the pool party scene and day parties by the pool. They’re just great. The first day of the party, we had over 1,200 people come through. We host brunch too, and the food is really really good. People usually come between 12pm and 4pm, have lunch, a little champagne. The brunch thing has taken over NYC. After four we start the pool, so everyone gets together, people start buying tables, and it’s just a great vibe. The weather has been great for the last two weeks as well. We also had a bunch of celebrities come in the first weekend.

People end up buying tables by the pool? We do have a few tables by the pool, but that’s super VIP. We have to reserve space for guests of the hotel. We can’t kick them out. The super good-looking people always go to the pool. We have a lot of girls in bikinis, so we always make sure we take care of them. The guys who want to be by the pool usually have to buy a table; it’s more exclusive. And we have tables in different areas all over the place. If you come earlier, we have the back of the space where everyone is tanning. Later, in front of the bar, it goes insane and the area becomes like a big club in the daytime.

How’d you get this gig? Matt Assante and Dustin Terry got the deal — they worked for Marquee for four years. The main person behind this idea was Tommy Fieldar. He put the team together.

What is the vibe — what are the people like? We have a doorman there, so we’re very careful who we let in. The doorman is very classy and very respectful to everybody. We make sure that we only let the elegant people go inside. We want to make sure that the girls inside have flaming hot bodies and that they dress in bikinis. Because New York City never has pool parties, we actually have to teach people how to dress. We like telling people, “Avoid the black, come in white, be summery, we like the shorts, we like white sneakers …”

It’s all about the look? Yeah, it’s all about the look. One of the first weeks, this guy came with a scuba diving outfit, and we were like, “Who is this guy?” He was giving off “the summer is here; we want to be by the ocean” vibe. When people look fun, we definitely take care of them and make sure they get inside.

Do you think this will start a trend for pool parties all around the city? Next year, I think there will be a new wave of parties for the summer in NYC. The only place that has a pool is the Soho House, but they’re private. This is a vibe that New York was missing. We have a great team with great DJs that play all house music. We try to track the Euro crowd and the Euro look, but of course, we have people from all different places that belong at the party. It’s a really good mixed crowd, and I think that next year a lot of people are going to be trying this. Instead of going to the Hamptons this weekend, people are just going to stay in the city and chill by the pool.

Industry Insiders: Joao Daniel, Brazilian Export

UPDATE: Joao has actually moved on from Le Royale — see here for details on his new gig.

Upon his arrival in New York, Joao Daniel started working in restaurant kitchens hoping to become fluent in English, but he ended up picking up more Spanish than he anticipated. Like most newcomers, he eventually started hitting the club scene, and surprisingly, this was where he honed his language skills. His nightly activities quickly snowballed into a profession. Now the charming Brazilian has his weekly schedule consistently booked with hosting gigs on Monday nights at Le Royale,Wednesdays at 60 Thompson, Thursday through Saturday at Pink Elephant, and Sunday nights at The Eldridge. He’s also in on the Saturday and Sunday pool parties at Hotel Gansevoort. Joao gives us the scoop on where we should be going out.

How’d you end up in the big city? I’m Brazilian; I came here three and a half years ago and started working at Pink Elephant as a busboy. I didn’t speak English at all, and I had to work my way up.

And that led to … I did the door at The Box for awhile. I hosted at Mansion. I hosted at Cain. I host Pink Elephant at the moment, and I work there three nights a week. I’m really good at organizing these parties. I also used to do Monday nights at Stanton Social. I moved to Vegas and passed off the Monday night gig. When I came back, I wasn’t interested in getting involved with that again because it was a very different crowd. A mutual friend of mine and Terry’s told me about the Monday night at Le Royale. Not too many people in the city knew about the party, like they do now. I know a lot of people in the industry so, it’s really become well-known. I left Le Royale recently, and now my focus is the weekend pool party at The Gansevoort.

Why’d you move to Vegas? I went out there to work, but ended up back at Pink Elephant in the summer of last year. I worked at Tao in Vegas, because Rich Wolfe of Stanton Social is also an owner there. I got offered a job to work at Tryst at the Wynn, and Rich said, “No, you have to work for us.” But I finally got the offer to work as a host for Pink Elephant, and because I started there as a busboy, it was important to me to work as a host there. I especially missed New York.

What did you miss about New York specifically? New Yorkers don’t say things that they don’t mean. If they say that they like you, it’s because they like you. If they don’t like you, then they’ll show that they don’t like you. It’s very black and white, and I love the style. People like to dress up, and people like to be in fashion. It makes the city more alive.

Best thing about Le Royale? The place is completely music driven, and that’s why I love it so much. The music at Le Royale on Monday is a little of everything, but not the cheesy stuff we hear at other places in New York right now. Stuff you’ll hear at other clubs, you’ll hear at Le Royale six months before. They have the real hipsters there. I try to avoid promoting too much, because it’s industry night. We end up having promoters from other places that just come because they like the party.

Is there live music? Terry is so well connected with the music industry, so some Monday nights we have special events. We had Shiny Toy Guns play, and usually, when they play in New York, they play for 300,000 people. There is a cover, so we can have bands to open the night. We can have big DJ’s, and I think we’re one step ahead of every place in New York City in terms of music and a good crowd. Now, bottle service is in a big crisis because of the economy, and Le Royale wont die because it doesn’t depend on that. It depends on the music and people go because the music is amazing.

What’s the best night, for parties/nightlife in New York, in your opinion? I work on the weekends, and I’m having a lot of fun at Pink Elephant because I really love house music. My favorites are definitely Sundays and Mondays. On Sundays, I never miss going to brunch. Brunch parties are taking over the city. Via dei Mille and Sol are the best. People get drunk and dance their asses off until 9 o’clock at night. After brunch, I go to Felix, and then I hit up GoldBar.

What are your spots in the city? I love going places with amazing cocktails. I like the bar at 60 Thompson. It’s out of control. I like Employees Only. For restaurants, I go to Jewel Bako sushi in the East Village. I love Stanton Social, which is great if you have a big group and want to share food.

What are you doing tonight? Getting ready to go to Le Royale.

Monday Morning Hangover Ramblings

I attended the Hamptons 2009 launch party thrown by Guest of a Guest and pal o’ mine Rachelle Hruska this Sunday. It was held on her cool (and on that afternoon chilly) rooftop overlooking the Bowery. The promise of BBQ and an audience that I could pitch my Nightlife Preservation Community rap to and the wrath of Rachelle if I didn’t show up, motivated me out of my nearby home. Guest of a Guest is the premiere blog doing this nightlife thing. My blog generally deals with an insiders’ perspective of the life. It’s a niche that I carved out a little over a year ago with the enthusiastic support of Rachelle. GOAG deals with a nightlife that is not defined by clubs and their limitations. Her cultural reporting brings us the skinny and scoop on art openings, benefits, launches and such. Clubs are only a small part of her gig and in my opinion she has, in the last few months, risen above the pack and is the must-read blog on our diverse nightlife culture. I need another word it seems because nightlife is morphing into something else.

Matt Assante, a nocturnal promoter type, is pitching me about his weekend brunch rooftop soirees at the Gansevoort. I’m getting invites for those pier parties, the breakthrough brunches at Merkato 55 and now a host of other places indicating that the club culture is no longer limited to night or indeed clubs. This creative push, a pleasant byproduct of these recessionary times, is redefining how we party and mingle.

I attended that Friday night Izzy Gold affair down on Morton Street, my Blackberry was blowing up telling me that “everybody was there.” It was apparently a gala for Neil Young’s son [actually Chris Young, no relation to Neil. — ed.] or a launch of the new studio thing and I wandered around saying hey to people I hadn’t seen in ages — or should I say, hadn’t seen since they aged? In reality very few that I care about were in attendance, with the exception of course of Patrick and Liam McMullan. Liam indeed has aged well. These alternative loft space type parties are becoming increasingly important to a scene looking for new ideas. We are desperate to find a place that feeds our club habit but isn’t really a club. I did meet up with my dear friend Stephanie Podasca and her super hot crew of next generation clubbers at the Izzy Gold affair. They were bailing and on their way to James Coppola’s Friday at Le Royale, which is one of the best joints in town. Le Royale is a hit because it brings back the old-school fundamentals of clubbing, good music, sound, decor and a diverse crowd as well as a competent and cool staff. In the end, clubs do have the lights, sound, comfy seating and DJs that will attract us — except of course, the newly opened The Gates, which had none of those things right last time I went. My dear friend Michael James was quite upset over my remarks on his new joint and a little birdy said his partners Redd Styles and Danny Kane got in his face, because I am after all his friend and he needs to control what I say. Well, that won’t happen. Here’s a better solution: fix the sound, lights, seating and hire a DJ people can listen to and I’ll rave about the joint. I want The Gates to succeed, but if a friend of mine is walking around with toilet paper on their shoe I tell them. Last time I was there you guys had toilet paper on your shoes.

Rachelle’s rooftop extravaganza had no toilet paper on the shoe. I meant to stay a minute but was there for hours. They were serving this Tanteo Tequilla stuff that was stooopid hot — hot because it was cool tasting and because it had a jalapeño infusion. The idea is that the hot pepper hides the kick from the tequila. They have a mango-y and chocolatey one as well and needless to say I had approximately one more than I should have. I chatted up my dear friend Jen Gatien and we talked of doing stuff. I listened to a great set from DJ Suhel who also had his 1947 beer on hand for the ultra fun crowd. I congratulated blog goddess Brittany Mendenhall as she is weeks away from law school and a future that seemed impossible for her just a short time ago. Photog Chance Yeh who told me he takes about 4,000 photographs a week to make his living and I talked about Avenue, where he had almost attended a small private event there on Saturday night but was steered clear by the door who told him it wasn’t for him quite yet. I had tequila-brushed corn with a publicist from a major Hamptons nightspot who told me they were worried about Fridays. I get the feeling that Fridays out east may be the sacrificial lamb for a party crowd trying to save a few bucks.

I think Saturdays will be the usual mayhem but Fridays, always a tough nut anyway, will suffer. I spent my time chatting up people about the Nightlife Preservation Community Gala on June 22nd and gathering support from the club types to help us fight anti-legislation through mobilization of our vast resources. The millions of names on our email blast lists will now be a potent political tool. I was tired. I had stayed up late on Saturday night having stumbled into Collective Hardware to see what the artistic hipsters had up their sleeves. There was this photo booth thingy going on upstairs but what I saw downstairs in the gallery space made my draw drop. No, it wasn’t the lovely Kathleen Dragoon or even Aerosyn-Lex the graffiti artist/artist/artist that I am so pleased to be using for Ajaxx, the Times Square roof we are developing for June. I was blown away by the act Joey Rubin had put on the stage.

KeysNKrates played a set of familiar club anthems live; they’ll take a hip hop track, remix it and play it with instruments and such. It’s the sickest DJ set ever, although I don’t think it’s a DJ set. The energy in the room was beyond description even though the crowd was less than a hundred. Collective Hardware continues to show me the new and the now and it always makes my head tilt. It’s not a club but an anti-club. This art gallery, studio collection of thinkers and triers and failures and successes and non-club club types are pushing limits, taking no prisoners and continually collecting bright and bold movers and shakers. In its’ undefinability it speaks of the possibilities of a new culture. The world I speak about here could have been described as “nightlife” a year ago. I need a new word now.

Jobs & Dollars Return with the Sun

imageI’ve been talking lately about how my career as a hospitality designer can be used as a sort of canary in a coal mine to judge the state of our economy. As a firm, we picked up very little new work from mid-December until just recently. At one point, we had 16 jobs on hold while our clients secured loans. Ten of those jobs have in the last few weeks given us a call and indicated positive movement forward or in fact funding coming through. This means jobs. The restaurants and clubs I am building will need to hire staff two to six months down the line. People who have been futilely looking for gigs might be back on track.

We are entering a period where jobs will become more readily available naturally. This winter, I told scores of qualified workers — some of whom are dear, trusted, and extremely employable friends — that I couldn’t help them find work. With the warm weather comes lots of jobs. With Earth, Griffin, The Gates, the old Vento space, the old Lotus space, and a bunch of others opening in the next month comes hope. In addition to these redone joints comes the opening of more roofdecks than ever before. Hudson Sky Terrace will be joined by a newly invigorated Highbar (my firm will handle design) and a bunch of others. Before you can say Memorial Day, the Hamptons season will begin, and some staff will leave their Manhattan gigs for a life of timeshares and sex on the beach. Staff will be hired to fill their NYC spots. The warm-weather concert season will create new work in venues that do that sort of thing.

There are indications that the weak dollar will make some New Yorkers rethink their European vacations and opt instead to stay closer to home. Tourists from other parts of America might think a trip to New York is a better choice than a trip abroad, and foreign tourists might like to stretch their currencies with a dash to the Big Apple. These folk will fill some joints and create more shifts. The summer also creates more shifts during the weeknights as people use the weekends for other activities

Investors looking for a place besides real estate or the market are coming off the sidelines and searching for a solid return on their loot. In the last few months, out-of-work family members have been taking jobs away from the actors and musicians who usually work the joints. A turnaround in the economy will make these family charity jobs go back to the thespians and such. There is a sense from my clients that a bottom has been reached, and that financing is easing up. The club business has — with the decline of the bottle buyer — learned how to find other means of making money, including but not limited to door admissions and specialty cocktails. The clubs are leaner and more healthy as a result of this hard-learned economic lesson. One manager at a joint that still enjoys a generous amount of bottle service revenues told me yesterday that he sees a bottle of Goose dropping from 450-ish to around 300 as his customer has become less tolerant of getting beaten up. The long-predicted return to a smiling, caring waitress that services a table with a wide range of tastes — and the retreat from the bored model who drops the bottle and runs — will be the rule. Plus a stronger economy will create work for some of these actor/model types, and they’ll audition for a living and stop slinging booze, creating a job vacancies. A liquor manager at a major joint, just weeks from opening, told me they were hiring bottle gals and cocktail waitresses. There are lots of jobs out there, and the futility and hopelessness of this past winter will hopefully soon be forgotten.

One last thing before I dash for the weekend. In an article about the best Monday-night parties, it seems that there was a bit of confusion. The party at Le Royale was listed as 10th-best party out of 10. This was far from the truth. It was decided by the editors, after it was written, not to actually rank the parties. However, when the article was written, Cayte Grieve had Terry Casey’s soiree at number one. She loves it and votes by going there regularly.

New York: Top 10 Monday Parties

Butter (Greenwich Village) – Butter Mondays, but what else is new? This party has defied New York City’s attention-deficit disorder pandemic since 2002. ● Johnny Utah’s (Midtown West) – Nobody said Monday-night dancing had to be classy; instead, this midtown saloon hypes their bull-riding challenge for all the pretty service industry folks.

Antik (Greenwich Village) – Maybe your fifth martini at the Bowery Hotel put you in the mood to get a little sloppy on a Monday night. Luckily, Antik still draws a mixed crowd as sloppy as you, just across the street. ● Star Lounge (Chelsea) – East End favorite of Hampton jitney-ites takes over Serena in downstairs lair of Chelsea Hotel. Ignore the crowd who suddenly thinks they’re something special and enjoy the floor while Mondays are still decently hyped. ● Greenhouse (Soho) – Word on the street is that Greenhouse is packing it in on Monday nights. Watch Zach Braff smoke some green while you enjoy the LEED-certified bamboo-wood dance floor with fellow eco-nuts. ● Le Souk (East Village) – Garden in the back competes with a tent, hookahs, lanterns, and 9pm belly dancing for your limited attention. Blaring dance soundtrack might have you forgetting about your food, too. ● Lit Lounge (East Village) – The HUGS party with DJs Josh Wildman and Andrew Kwo keep the ain’t-we-shit set on their patent leather toes. And yes, you will need a shower immediately following. ● Cielo (Meatpacking District) -Deep Space house heads maintain rarefied air in a dimming sky. Outdoor haven for your sneakarette habit. Party has been haute for six years, a rare ‘cheers-esque’ meeting place for dance fans. ● Darkroom (Lower East Side) – For the really terrible weekend withdrawals, “M” at Darkroom offers free PBR from 11 to 12 p.m. and special guest DJs fit for dancing and sweaty basement-bar enthusiasts. ● Above Allen (Lower East Side) – Survivors from Le Royale’s Monday night jams take over the Thompson LES’ room with a view, except with more models and promoters. Great music yes, but this is more of a taking-in-the-view kind of place than a loosing-your-shit-on-the-dancefloor kind of party.

The Eldridge was replaced by Cielo for this Monday night list. The Eldridge is closed for private events on Mondays, and Cielo was unfairly overlooked. For updated party information, check out this weekly curated list on where to go and what to do all week long.
Professional Bull Riders Tickets Dallas Cowboys Stadium Tickets Arlington Tickets

Terry Casey’s Le Royale: No Cheese

imageTerry Casey’s Le Royale is a serious attempt to have a club that’s both musically and socially relevant. If you start with the premise that a 1Oak or a Kiss & Fly or Tenjune cater to a mostly musically ignorant crowd, while the Santos’ Party House, Pacha, and Cielo seek musical nirvana, then Le Royale leans towards the latter. The DJs at the former clubs and their ilk offer up sets of music cloned from basically the same Serato. I just don’t think a really cool crowd wants to hear Kanye West, Beyonce, or crooker crap anymore.

There are some noticeable exceptions — i.e. Cassidy, Steve Aoki, and a few dozen others who have the political juice to play some of that while mixing enough of this to be really hip. Le Royale draws from its DJs, but its off-the-beaten path location draws a crowd seeking more of an edge socially as well. Where nearby Movida was cramped by a rough space and some bad breaks , Le Royale is thriving just enough under the radar. Terry Casey — one of those rare owners coming from a DJ background — is now expanding to Brooklyn and a venue big enough for his ambitions.

You own Le Royale, which is one of my favorite names for a place ever. Tell me where the name came from. It basically came from a trial of 500 different names when we just couldn’t make our minds up, and we finally had to leave it to our friends when we got to the desperate stage of “what name could we put up with?” It came down to three names, and one of them was Le Royale, which I told my friend was too short, and then weeks later after we named it, people are like “Ah, that’s so clever that you put Leroy and Ale together,” (because we’re on Leroy street). But I wish we were actually that clever because I didn’t realize it until people had said it a few times.

What are you trying to accomplish at Le Royale? I co-own it with David Baxley, who I’ve known for many years because I used to DJ and play pretty much all over the world. I met David at the club Centro Fly, and I would go in there, put events together, bring different artists, DJ, and bring different crowds than what they would have their normally. Through that we built a very good friendship because I would move my party around the city, and even if it was competing with him, he was still such a gentleman. After that I moved to London for two years and stopped DJing, and when I moved back to New York, the nightlife scene had changed. It had become pretty much all the people I would see in the music clubs doing bottles or growing up into that bottle life, and the music clubs became pretty much second rate.

So the music scene moved away from the clubs, and there really wasn’t anything happening where you had a social scene and a music scene together? Yeah, I felt like Centro Fly had a little of both, but even the clubs that were bottle-service oriented like Pangea would have decent DJs. I found that when I came back, there wasn’t really a good music scene with any kind of social aspect, and I was just waiting for it to change. I found myself spending all my time in social clubs because the music clubs were slightly boring, and they didn’t want to play the new music. After awhile, it just annoyed me enough to open a club pretty much.

So Le Royale is very music based? That’s very important to your formula? Very music based, but at the same time we invite lots of people from the social scenes also, and we think it’s a great combination. It’s just people with culture. There’s a lot of people who go to social clubs that want to listen to better music than what they hear on the radio, and they find that there’s not many options. So we took that little niche and built something.

A lot of the better clubs are moving away from hip-hop, and they’re mixing in a lot of electronic — is that what you did? Basically what happened is that I’ve always liked what people used to call underground music, which is really tracks, and I’ve also always liked song-written music. What happened — in my opinion — is that the music scene of tracks became a little bit irrelevant after 9/11. I didn’t realize right away, but I would just continue to DJ and see people acting very differently immediately, because I think people needed more, they needed something else. I think that the song-written music seemed to have more of a message, and it seemed to be more popular, and generally that is what was on the radio, and hip-hop was really popular. But now, there’s really good song-written electro-pop that’s actually edgy production but still song-written. So with the new club music in the last seven years, even with bands like LCD — they have real songs in their music, but it’s still for the clubs.

Can you explain the concept of song-written music? Lost of tracks will be instrumental, and they don’t have a start, middle, or end. They’re very repetitive. But a song-written track is something that can be played on the radio. Probably in the 60s, 70s, or 80s, Madonna’s tracks were played in the clubs, and they were song-written so they were on the radio, whereas a lot of house DJs tracks could never be played on American radio.

You’re opening a new space out in Brooklyn; tell me about it. David and I were booking huge acts at Le Royale and everyone was doing us a favor, doing it for really cheap to free. We wanted to book more acts, but we found that we had to compete with people with lots of money. The acts clearly wanted to play great crowds, but they also needed to get paid to make a living. We really liked Williamsburg because it has a lot of young people, and there’s no real club out there in my opinion. I think Studio B plays more tracks than song-written, so we found an amazing space that we’ve been building. We don’t have a name for it, and it should be ready in May — although we have been doing parties secretly for six months already.

Brooklyn is sort of raw; what’s the deign element to the space? I think Brooklyn has changed over the last ten years, and there are many different types of people now. When I first came to New York, Williamsburg and Greenpoint were very different places; now they have many different kinds of crowds, lots of international people coming from abroad and lots of people from the Midwest. I think even people who were living in the East Village or the LES think it’s kind of more refreshing at times. I think there are lots of band venues, but there aren’t too many clubs that have a full-on sound and lighting system. It takes a lot of more work and energy and production, and that’s what we’re pretty much doing. It has a courtyard, and we’re going to be building a rooftop. It’s a pretty ambitious project.

Do you have any neighbors? Amazingly there are actually no neighbors, which is unique in New York. And we are half a block from the Bedford Avenue train as well, so it’s eight minutes from Union Square.

Where did you come from — how did you end up in the New York music scene? I was basically a 16-year-old kid in London DJing, practicing 12 hours a day, and my family kept telling me to get a real job. When I first came to New York to DJ, I was 21 years old and worked for Masterworks, which was a dance label. I was playing trip-hop and Detroit techno because people didn’t really know what jungle music and the stuff I wanted to play was.

What are some of the places where you’ve DJed? My favorite places in New York were the World Trade Center, which was pretty well known — we did about ten film crews, and that was just to prove that you could do a massive event in a small venue. I also did Grand Central Station, but my favorite clubs were Shine, Centro Fly, and I even played at Life one night when Keith Richards played. It was a good club because it had many formats and different crowds on different nights. I don’t think there was anything else like it at the time. I’ve also played in New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, Europe … but in New York I think Pangea was a lot of fun.

Do you still DJ now? No … I did one party recently, and I just played a 60s psychedelic rock set, but I don’t want to DJ anymore. I love it, but for me its a perfectionism. I need to go back to practicing 12 hours a day, and I don’t have the energy.

But it’s a lot of easier to DJ now because of the software and the internet. That’s true, but there’s a problem — you can definitely become a DJ with a computer, but it’s really hard to become a good DJ, and it’s really hard to have a good DJ without actually sourcing your music and having some kind of history. The online music stores all have the same music, so you’ve lost the ability to buy interesting music. That means that whoever is good is really, really good, and there are very few great DJs because of that.

Who are the great ones right now? My favorite DJ at the moment is Diplo because he plays every style and he produces. But of the New York local DJs, I love Busy P, B-Roc, I think David Katz is great, Jesse Marco is really good, and DJ Mess Kid, who I’ve only recently heard, is fantastic because they all have unique styles. I also love SweatShop Labor because they play almost like a soul set with hip-hop, which is incredible — definitely unique and not selfish at DJing. They’re real DJs, and there’s just not enough of them. I wish I could find ten more who could make my life easier. A great DJ is someone who plays to crowds — they inspire and give the people what they want, but at the same time they bring them into a new world.

Photo: Brady Donnelly

Lissy Trullie Takes Our Pop Quiz

Earlier this year, Elle magazine featured Lissy Trullie in a black-and-white (save for a shock of red hair) spread on punk couture. It’s no surprise they would use her. With doe eyes, downtown rocker-chic style and legs that won’t quit, the DJ/indie musician is admittedly easy on the eyes. But then, she opens her mouth and husky soul pours out – as well as swaggering personality. A regular DJ at the Beatrice Inn, the D.C. native began performing with her band a little over a year and a half ago, and with her music—retro, dancey, and definitively New York–she’s been in high demand. Last week she played four CMJ gigs, including a packed Le Royale, but she took some time out to opine in our internet questionnaire.

Have you ever seen a dead body? Actually yes, I have. What a fucking question…

What should we do with stupid people? It depends where/what they are doing. If they’re running our country – get them out. If they are in your class at school, hope for the best. But if you’re smart, you know you don’t need to waste your time worrying about the stupids.

How long do you think you will live? That answer changes day by day. Today I feel like I have a good shot at 70.

What was the first thing you did this morning? Ran late for an appointment.

The color of carpet in your bedroom? Wood.

Last person you went out to dinner with? To my astonishment I went to meet my friend Chrissie and we ate dinner with Eve.

Are you spoiled? I hope not.

Do you drink lots of water? No.

What toothpaste do you use? Colgate. I tried Rembrandt to make my teeth whiter but it didn’t work.

How do you vent your anger? Trust me, it’s dark.

The last compliment you received? A guy at the venue we are playing tonight (the Studio at Webster Hall) said he really liked my music. Then he said he also liked my legs so…. I dunno if I trust the first part of the compliment.

What are you doing this weekend? Recovering.

When was the last time you threw up? A VERY long time ago. I have a phobia of throw up, much like a fear of flying. I think in all I’ve thrown up less than 10 times in my teenageadult life. Is your best friend a virgin? Nope. But I know some really good guys that are Virgins.

What theme does your room have? I hate clutter. I have a single bed, a far too large old painting from my mom of a bishop playing chess, a print from photographer Sarah Ball, instruments lying around, and books. My dream is a giant empty room with a little bed.

When was the last time you were at a party? Yesterday.

Are you a mama’s child or a daddy’s child? My Dad wasn’t around, I’m not saying that in a bitter way. So by default I’m a mama’s girl. She’s the most balls out woman I know.

Would you ever join the military? No.

The last website you visited?

Who was the last person you took a picture with? David Sims.

Last person you went to the movies with? Erin Krause and Hilary Roseman. BUT this is a crazy story. There was a seat open next to me, and an old man sat down and started to masturbate! It was awful, he looked like he was 90 years old.

What did you do/will you do for your birthday this year? I’m going to have a joint birthday with a group of Pisces.

Number of layers on your bed? 1.

Is anything alive in your room? My cat.

Today, would you rather go back a week or go forward a week? Forward. Desperately.

What are you looking forward to right now? Getting over a broken heart.