Video: A BlackBook Intern Takes on the Night

If this film doesn’t make you want to go out and paint the town red, you are officially BORING. BlackBook intern Caroline Seghers pulls back the curtain and reveals what exactly the kids are up to these days. Exposing the debauchery in these salacious boîtes de nuits is no easy task, but this is guerrilla filmmaking at it’s most fabulous. Mostly filmed over the past two months, Seghers features nightlife partygoers and party-throwers (such as Terry Casey, Michael de Guzman, DJ Vikas, and host Lindsay Lowe) and hops around to hopping venues like Hotel Chantelle, Le Souk, Webster Hall, Top of the Standard, and even a secret afterhours spot.

“Boom Boom Room was not pleased with me filming inside. John Mayer was at the table next to me and apparently he’s a VIP guest, or whatever. Don’t worry John Mayer, you didn’t make the cut,” says Seghers, sassy-like. “The important thing is that it’s undeniably New York City — the people, the music, the atmosphere, the performances; and for a lot of people, this is just a typical night!” Warning: kinda NSFW.

I Love the Nightlife from C.Seghers on Vimeo.

Howl at the Moon: Le Souk’s Tuesday Night Party

We day-walkers believe Tuesday night is not meant for raging. Where premature partying is concerned, it’s widely accepted that Thursday night is the official unofficial start the weekend in the city. So what to make of The Wolf Party at Le Souk Harem held on, of all days, a Tuesday night? It’s there you’ll find those nocturnal creatures that believe every night out is the weekend.

Le Souk Harem. The name has already been established as a den of sin from its previous location in the East Village. Moroccan-French cuisine and hookahs hardly seem like a fit for a party meant for wolves, but somehow it works. Every Tuesday the venue is packed to the gills with studded, spiked, and inked partygoers all dying to do the whole “see and be seen” thing. And they really make an effort, trading worn leather jackets for face paint, wigs, and other ornamentation.

Markko Donto leads this bevy of brooding boys, dancing the night away in outfits that would make Lady Gaga lust. The slew of hosts include nightlife veteran Michael de Guzman, newcomers Jgarc Beair, Tanner Caldwell, Samuel Valentine, and Rachel Landry, and a slew of other party enthusiasts. Weekly go-go dancers mix with other guests, who take to dancing on the tables themselves. Think electrorock mash-ups and a little dubstep. Special performances by fire-dancers and alternative burlesque performers help give the party an “anything goes” feel. Though nightlife has been missing that certain something since the mega-clubs closed down and bottle service started up, some of it can be found in the crazy costumes and genuine crowd enthusiasm at the Wolf Party.

image image image image image

NYC Try Outs: Kristina Marino’s Downtown Diaries

Steve Lewis has it right: these are the good ol’ days. They’re good because there’s something for everyone, and you can change your something on any given night. Take Kristina Marino. Her blog, The Downtown Diaries, chronicles all things nocturnal in lower Manhattan and Brooklyn—her own weekly imbiberies are chameleon-like, but they’re also true to herself. She likes a nice local bar where everyone knows her name, she takes chances with new parties, and she doesn’t judge a restaurant by its dress code. Here, her weekly spots to be scene and be sceney.

Name: Kristina Marino Professional Resume: I’m a jack of all trades but am best known for my blog, The Downtown Diaries, and the parties I throw. In my spare time, I’m the Digital Engagement Manager at Mirrorball, aka I get paid to Facebook, Twitter, and blog, all day, every day—be jealous. One Word to Describe Nightlife in New York City: Sceney

image

City Loves:Favorite lunch spot: Westville, Schillers, Miss Favela (Williamsburg). • Favorite dinner spot: Rye (Williamsburg), Fette Sau (Williamsburg), Gemma. • Favorite nightlife trend: Wearing whatever the F you want. • Drink of choice: Dark and Stormy’s. • Meal of choice: Any kind of seafood. I love the linguine and clams from Fiore—it’s cheap and delicious but more of a guilty pleasure. • Favorite group of people to bump into: Nicole Wasilewicz (Free Williamsburg), Katherine Kelly, Melissa Widhson, Caitlin Monahan (Darling Cait), Tommy Eichmann (Alexa Ray Joel), Mike Del Rio, Brittany Mendenhall (ChiChi212), Antwan Duncan (I Think You’re Swell), Victor Castro (Wet Paint Photography), Hannah Rad (Sheena Beaston, East Village Radio), the Finger on the Pulse twins, DJ MSB, and a bunch of people no one reading this has ever heard of.

City Gripes:Nightlife trend you loathe: Fake glasses, models, celebrity/socialite DJs, and Aalex Julian. Oh and ladies, if you are not wearing tights in the middle of winter, you need to get your act together. • Drink: Vodka Cranberry • Meal: Street Meat. Food Chains. Dos Caminos. Group of people to bump into: About 50% of the people I see out on a daily basis…New York City is one big incestuous small world.

Her Hotspots:  Honestly, as a blogger, it’s hard to have a hotspot—I am running around the city attending different events, shows, etc. The best part about living in NYC is the variety—it’s all about having options. Here are some basics. Monday: Jane Hotel Tuesday: Le Souk Harem is giving a solid effort. The Bowery, Avenue, Lit, Gallery Bar…I guess. Wednesday: FOTP BBQ Blowout at Good Co, RDV. Thursday: Il Bagatto, Goldbar. Friday: Above Allen, Dram. Saturday: Day & Night, Le Bain. Sunday: Thompson LES pool party, Jelly Pool Parties/ All Saints Pub, Goldbar.

image

Every night: Le Bain, Kenmare, Godlbar, or anywhere local—I usually hang at The Commodore, Maracuja, or Spuyten Duyvil. Wouldn’t be caught dead here: Greenhouse, Marquee, SL, Kiss & Fly, Tenjune, Veranda, Above 14th St.

For special occasions: MILK Studios is a great event space.

image

Brunch is usually: To eat, I like to stay local. There’s nothing better than brunch in Brooklyn. My friends and I wind up at Lodge more often than not. If I am going to “brunch” to dance on tables and get wasted, then Day & Night it is. 

Industry Insiders: Roberto Vuotto, Hookah Master

After a five year stint owning the Chelsea restaurant Naima , Roberto Vuotto is reintroducing himself as General Manager of the brand spanking new triple threat, Veranda. The bi-level West Village space is a restaurant, discothèque and hookah lounge all rolled into one, and Vuotto, a Capri native who came to New York as a busboy over 10 years ago, has the substantial task of making it all run smoothly. With his latest endeavor, Vuotto hopes to keep the hookahs lit and the music thumping for the next five years, and the five after that too.

Describe your job as General Manager of Veranda. I coordinate a lot of things — from the opening of the kitchen to the lounge. We have a hookah lounge, so this is my first experience dealing with that. We have two rooms, which right now are opened as part of the lounge. Very soon one of the rooms will be opening as the restaurant.

What kind of food will Veranda serve? It’s going to be Contemporary/Mediterranean cuisine with accent on Middle Eastern. We hope to secure the chef to the Saudi Arabian royal family. Because this neighborhood is really demanding we want to make sure that the kitchen is perfect and ready. When you start doing fusion, it’s difficult to makes sure everything is executed properly. We want to feature simple dishes that are done well. There are going to be a lot of seats and in the summer there are an additional 126 seats outside. So, it’s best to keep it simple due to the high volumes.

After owning Naima, why the switch to management level? In these economic times, owning a place is a huge amount of responsibility in terms of making everything square at the end of the month. It was a good run and we had a lot of fun. We didn’t do as much business as we hoped and it wasn’t worth it for me for the amount of work that I was doing. Thankfully, I was able to sell Naima, and at the same time I had this offer from Mino Habib who I worked with for ten years at Le Souk and Max in the East Village.We started working on the same block on West 27th street when he was managing Suzie Wong and I owned Naima. He mentioned to me that he was about to open a big place and I was ready to sell, so it was perfect timing. I really wanted that challenge of something new and bigger.

Who in the business inspires you? Keith McNally. I had a chance to go to his first place before I was even living in New York. He started with a nightclub, which was what I did in Capri, Italy. Then he went on to open Balthazar and Pastis, etc. so, I admire how he set up his operations and marketing.

How did you end up in New York? I worked in the club business in Capri for many years and I had clients from New York. I had a lot of friends living here and I would come once a year. Eventually I was offered a job in a restaurant so I decided to stay.

What positive trends did you see occurring in the NYC lounge/restaurant business over the past year? With the economy the way it is, rents have gone down so there is more of a chance for people to open without having a huge amount of expenses and people are able to find a space they can afford. I’ve been seeing many new lounges and clubs opening recently. When I opened Naima, it was impossible to find a storefront in Chelsea. Now if you walk around, you see much more available.

Negative trends? Lounges and restaurants make a lot of revenue from corporate clients, but that’s not happening anymore because the first thing companies cut is the entertainment and dining. That’s what happened at Naima.

What do you hope that Veranda will bring to NYC nightlife and the neighborhood? I hope to bring something new, which is a culmination of a restaurant with a hookah lounge but very upscale, offering bottle service. In this neighborhood there isn’t a place where you can have dinner and then walk down a hallway and dance to electronic Middle Eastern music. We’ll bring an exotic element to the neighborhood, not only in dining but also in late night as well. Where you go in New York there is always the same music so this will be something new and more particular.

Go-to spots? When it comes to Italian food I’m very picky. My favorite restaurant is La Masseria. It’s a very classic Italian place in Midtown. I go out to 1Oak on Sundays, and I also go to Griffin and The Gates. Another place that I love is Onda down at the Seaport.

New York: Top 10 Bars to Kick Off a Serious Bender

Le Souk Harem (Greenwich Village) – East Village pariah/magnet Le Souk adds “Harem” to the name, signals that it’s not going all PC yet. Belly dancers, hookahs, general debauchery spread out over massive tri-level space. Start this thing off classy. You’ll eventually make it down to the Mars Bar level. ● Little Branch (West Village) – Apparently, “little branch” is Native American slang for “get loaded, righteously, with elegant grace and speed.” Subterranean lounge known for stiff pours. Will definitely kick-start a couple of weeks to not remember. ● Superdive (East Village) – Bottle service is so 2008 — hook us up with a keg, brah! Adult supervision not an emphasis here, therefore good launching pad for the myriad enticements of the EV.

Welcome to the Johnsons (Lower East Side) – Funkiest spot in town — at least in the smell department. Our fraternity basement was Bliss Soho compared to this joint. Décor looks like the rec room of a pedophile uncle, convenient when verticality or even bar stools are more than you can handle. Do not touch any surfaces. ● Automatic Slim’s (West Village) Once dazzling, now dingy black ‘n’ white floor says it all. Bender- starting kind of begs for bar-top dancing, does it not? ● Tortilla Flats (West Village) – Girls gone wild turning muy moronic. Ahh, the real Cancun right here in Manhattan, sans the tans and natives, though commensurate number of social diseases. Perfect when you’re about to indulge in an extended spate of anti-culture. ● Jeremy’s Alehouse (Financial District) – What’s more refreshing than a mega-sized Styrofoam cup of brew under a low acoustic-tile ceiling? Real New York scene of firemen and brokers, plus MTA crews enjoying after-work beers at 8am so you won’t have to drink through the morning alone. ● 123 Burger Shot Beer (Midtown West) – Spring break hits Hells Kitchen. Gimmicky, sure, but satisfyingly cheap. Two burgers, two beers, one shot, one tenner. Easy math for newly unemployed financial analysts. ● Holland Bar (Garment District) – Hard times? Good times. Holland Bar gets squeezed out by rent hike, only to have Port Authority-ass-end retail not look so hot after all. Original memorabilia is gone, so come bleed on a new era’s worth. ● Mars Bar (East Village) – Regulars are a bunch of grizzly drunks, and not the cute variety, who definitely don’t want you fucking with their jukebox, no matter how “authentic” you think their joint is. “Authentic” as in bloody condoms on the windowsill. Can only go up from here.

NYC Openings: Le Souk Harem, Crosby Street Hotel, Ajna Bar

Le Souk Harem (Greenwich Village) – Le Souk supersizes, brings similar atmospheric scene. ● Crosby Street Hotel (Soho) – Spendy Brit import lands on quaint Crosby Street. ● Ajna Bar (Meatpacking District) – Jumbo Buddha is gone, as is the Buddha Bar name, thanks to catfight with the Parisian original.