Nublu Celebrates 10 Years in Clubland

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

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

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

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

I asked Ilhan all about it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lucky Cheng’s Owner On the Big Move to Times Square

When the city closed the gay bathhouses, others came in and reinvented them. Hayne Suthon led the charge for her family, converting the old Club Baths into a series of restaurants and fun lounges. Cave Canem was a Roman- themed joint that had me on day one. Its conversion in 1983 to the drag queen-heavy Lucky Cheng’s was an inspiration. Owner Hayne was the belle of the ball. Throw together Amy Sacco (before she was Amy Sacco) with a little Susanne Bartsch, and a Barnum and Bailey ringmaster with serious legal schooling and bizness-savvy, and you have Hayne.

All was good until the neighborhood changed. The East Village/LES’s conversion from hipster heaven to dormitories for slaves and students left them without their base. Bachelorette and birthday shindigs filled the Lucky Cheng’s room,and Hayne eyed the new Times Square. A year or two ago, I told everyone in town that her space was available and the best game in town. Now, operators are clamoring for it and deals are done… almost. Someone will make it nice for those who are now around. Money will be spent to pay for the rent, the renovation, and other things. The neighborhood can now support that. Whatever fabulous that comes in will set a bar… a tone for the area. Sutra Lounge, available and nearby, should also be scooped up by entrepreneurs going with the flow.

Hayne will bring Lucky Cheng’s to Times Square – and, therefore, the world – this Monday, the 15th. It’s a dream come true for her and her loyal companions. NYC…just like I pictured it.

How will the new space differ?
The difference is the space. It’s a beautiful and theatrical setting, and it’ll feature a different show-formatting. We’ll seat a little over 300 people with a massive staff of waitresses, bartenders, hostesses, and yes, managers – all of whom will perform. There will be an MC also doing a few numbers, but that part of the show will feature less audience participation and more stand-up comedy. With the high ceilings, the two Asian performers have created costumes with height. They’ll have sequins and massive wingspans. Black lights will be a part of the Asian dance numbers. And Richard Krause’s food is going to be simply ridiculously delicious.

How will your marketing change?
The demographic will change: we’ll have tourists, theatergoers… but most importantly, cast and crew of several shows have discovered us and plan to host very organized events and become regulars for after-work drinks. Although not a destination per se, we need to focus on bringing business through concierge outreach, street teams of queens, and partnerships with Broadway shows. Totally new sales and marketing strategies are being developed.

What is your history with the old Lucky Cheng’s space on lower First Avenue?
My history with that building dates back to 1986, when my family purchased the Club Baths, and demoed the building with up-and-coming graffiti artists who filled and tagged 40-yard dumpsters daily. I transformed it into Cave Canem, Lucky Cheng’s opened in 1993 while I was pregnant with my daughter Josephine , who is now attending Sarah Lawrence. Both Lucky Cheng’s and Josephine have grown up together and are simultaneously graduating to the next level.

Diplo, Scorpions, Owls, & Belly Dancers At Last Night’s Party

What I thought might be an OK  event turned out to be a blast. The hush-hush Dos Equis event last night at the Masonic Lodge on 24th St. and 6th Ave. had more pleasant surprises than my third wife’s diary. Things that I thought irrelevant or even tacky when I first heard of them at early event meetings turned out to be wonderful. People wore the provided masks and ate the weird bug munchies (scorpions, toasted ants, worms – see above). The belly dancers were actually amazing. One of my event golden rules is to leave whenever a belly dancer goes on. But somehow it worked. The belly dancers were hot. The Masonic Lodge has ballroom after ballroom, all marble and wood and gilded moldings. It is grand and mysterious. Photos of admirals and dead politicians lined the corridors, and the crowd rose to the occasion and behaved while they played. 

In rehearsal, surprise guest Andrew W. K. was like a kid left in a candy store during after hours. He played on a ginormous pipe organ while Diplo provided the beats and texture. Diplo would go on to win the hearts, minds, and bodies of the big crowd. I’m not an EDM kind of guy but after the night, before listening to some of the best over at Pacha, and then Diplo, I have been almost…a little converted. Now let’s not get hysterical; rock is still my genre, but I did enjoy Diplo in that grand ballroom .

 I was asked to recommend some cool promoter types to fill the room on short notice due to the Sandy wipe-out. Seva Granik was asked to fill the place, and he brought a hip Williamsburg crowd to the gala. Seva and I talked about how Manhattan is now a novelty destination for his flock. The Bespoke Group, headed up by Cody Pruitt and partners Doug and Brookes Rand, mixed in their bottle service. Alas, the only bottles were Dos Equis, and no one was complaining about that.

Everyone left with smiles on their faces. David Katz and Sam Valentine and Justine D. offered rock and roll while belly dancers rolled their hips and bellies. It was surreal.

The highlight of my night was the birds of prey room. I had an owl and a kestrel on my arm. I bonded with the beautiful kestrel. I talked softly to him and stroked his feathers, and then he leaned in and kissed me right on the lips. I am in love.

My day started at 7am and ended at the next 7am. I guess I’ll get all the sleep I need in 20 or so years. There were too many great DJs to list here and too many people to thank for bringing their friends. The thing about this event that made it hot and interesting was the mix of people. Give a crowd reasons to be cheerful and they will be…cheerful. Dos Equis and Mirrorball and all the other supportive entities deserve credit for producing one of the best events I have recently attended. 

Tonight I expect you to come to Webster Hall’s Hanky Panky Sandy "Rock- N-Rebuild” benefit. I’m doing a late set. Hanky Panky is very much happening thanks to the tireless efforts of Gary Spencer and the Webster staff. I always have fun there.

As reported earlier, the Lucky Cheng’s space is finally changing hands. I’s have been dotted and T’s crossed and I’ll tell you all about it when they tell me I can. The opening of Foxglove at 242 Flatbush Ave. near the Barclays Center intrigues me. DJ mOma is the draw for me, as is the continuing relevance of Brooklyn nightlife. They describe the space as "reminiscent of the Sub-Mercer" which for years was my favorite haunt.

There’s a whole lot of other stuff to report but I’m way too tired. I’m opting out with some warm milk and a long nap. Will someone please say good night, Mr. Lewis.

Justin Bieber & Lady Gaga Lookalikes Appear In Celebrity Gossip Musical

Clubs with themes have migrated to Times Square to cash in on their financial base: tourists. Hayne Southern moved her Lucky Cheng’s to The Drag Queen Capital of the Universe, from her longrunning First Ave. location to 240 W. 52nd Street where the old Touch nightclub once showed everybody how not to be cool. The old Lucky Cheng’s space has new operators gearing it up to be wonderful. After many years catering to the hip, Lucky Cheng’s became completely dependent on tourists, bachelorette parties, and gatherings like this, so a move to the center of that universe, Times Square, was in the cards.

Culture Club, an ’80s-themed nightclub, thrived on Varick Street for eight years. It also enjoyed a large and loyal following, with tourists being a big part of that. Culture Club moved to 20 W. 39th Street, the former home of Club Speed which, according to neighbors and anyone else with social responsibility, could not close fast enough. Culture Club is fun and attracts a crowd looking to play along. Owner Robert Watman is a theme machine, having offered up the 70s-themed Polly Esthers club and ‘90s-themed joint Nerveana.

Culture Club is now offering a new off-Broadway musical-meets-nightlife interactive show.” Totally Tubular Time Machine (TTTM)  blasts onto our scene last Saturday and from all accounts was a blast. From what I can gather, it’s a time machine that has imitation pop icons performing as themselves and in unusual pairings: "Britney Spears, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga, Beiber, Vanilla Ice, and more…right there with you, and in front of you, and all around you!"

The pitch goes on to tell us that:

"Totally Tubular Time Machine is an immersive, radical pop music experience filled with live performances, party favors, and celebrity gossip, including a fun battle of the pop stars, i.e. Lady Gaga vs. Madonna. Guests witness 2013 Madonna warn 1989 Madonna of a pop star named Lady Gaga who will steal the beat to “Express Yourself,” while Justin Bieber went back in time and fulfilled his dream of dancing with Michael Jackson. Guests also re-lived the time when JLO and Puff Daddy were a couple and watched them perform her recent hit “On the Floor” together. It’s Back to the Future meets the MTV Music Awards, and you’re the star in this totally immersive, radical mash-up of pop music from the ‘80s, ‘90s and today!"

It’s Saturday nights. I’m there. They got me at Bieber. 

Justin Bieber & Lady Gaga Appear In Celebrity Gossip Musical

Clubs with themes have migrated to Times Square to cash in on their financial base: tourists. Hayne Southern moved her Lucky Cheng’s to The Drag Queen Capital of the Universe, from her longrunning First Ave. location to 240 W. 52nd Street where the old Touch nightclub once showed everybody how not to be cool. The old Lucky Cheng’s space has new operators gearing it up to be wonderful. After many years catering to the hip, Lucky Cheng’s became completely dependent on tourists, bachelorette parties, and gatherings like this, so a move to the center of that universe, Times Square, was in the cards.

Culture Club, an ’80s-themed nightclub, thrived on Varick Street for eight years. It also enjoyed a large and loyal following, with tourists being a big part of that. Culture Club moved to 20 W. 39th Street, the former home of Club Speed which, according to neighbors and anyone else with social responsibility, could not close fast enough. Culture Club is fun and attracts a crowd looking to play along. Owner Robert Watman is a theme machine, having offered up the 70s-themed Polly Esthers club and ‘90s-themed joint Nerveana.

Culture Club is now offering a new off-Broadway musical-meets-nightlife interactive show.” Totally Tubular Time Machine (TTTM)  blasts onto our scene last Saturday and from all accounts was a blast. From what I can gather, it’s a time machine that has imitation pop icons performing as themselves and in unusual pairings: "Britney Spears, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga, Beiber, Vanilla Ice, and more…right there with you, and in front of you, and all around you!"

The pitch goes on to tell us that:

"Totally Tubular Time Machine is an immersive, radical pop music experience filled with live performances, party favors, and celebrity gossip, including a fun battle of the pop stars, i.e. Lady Gaga vs. Madonna. Guests witness 2013 Madonna warn 1989 Madonna of a pop star named Lady Gaga who will steal the beat to “Express Yourself,” while Justin Bieber went back in time and fulfilled his dream of dancing with Michael Jackson. Guests also re-lived the time when JLO and Puff Daddy were a couple and watched them perform her recent hit “On the Floor” together. It’s Back to the Future meets the MTV Music Awards, and you’re the star in this totally immersive, radical mash-up of pop music from the ‘80s, ‘90s and today!"

It’s Saturday nights. I’m there. They got me at Bieber. 

Why You Shouldn’t Feel Bad For Leonardo DiCaprio. Ever.

It is not just that Leonardo DiCaprio has had sex scenes with Kate Winslet in two different movies. You are officially off the hook from feeling bad for Leonardo DiCaprio ever because while filming Martin Scorcese’s latest he spent four hours with strippers rubbing their boobs in his face.

While filming The Wolf Of Wall Street about sex, drugs, and the ’90s stock market, Page Six reports that Leo and Matthew McConaughey filmed a scene at Lucky Cheng’s drag bar. Lucky Cheng’s had been done up to look like a strip club, complete with a gaggle of brunette strippers—some naked—tasked with jiggling their tits in Leo’s face. A source revealed "They did five or six takes, more or less the same scene over and over, with girls dancing and rubbing on him." Thankfully Leo is a gentleman and was "very professional" throughout filming. (Also, he has yet another blonde girlfriend.)

Hard day at the office indeed.

Spank Rock Emerges from His Personal Dark Age with an Album That’s Even Darker

It’s nearing 100 degrees one afternoon in July when Spank Rock orders his first frozen margarita from the patio at Life Café, a casual restaurant in New York’s East Village. But even before the tequila hits his bloodstream, Spank Rock (real name: Naeem Juwan) proves to be loquacious and forthcoming, more than willing to discuss the setbacks that tempered the recording of his second album, Everything is Boring and Everyone is a Fucking Liar. (The Baltimore native and Philadelphia transplant is more private about his age, insistent that he’s as “old as the wind,” despite being only in his midtwenties.) Writer’s block, a failed record deal, and depression were just a few of the hiccups.

“I pushed myself so hard and I got some really special moments out of it,” he says of the new album. “But I will forever hear the darkness in it.” It’s difficult to reconcile the meek, soft-spoken man sitting across from me with the spastic performer and wonderfully filthy lyricist behind 2006’s YoYoYoYoYo, Spank Rock’s debut. Clothed in super-skinny black jeans and a loose-fitting tank, his wiry frame and bespectacled face—which appears in this fall’s T by Alexander Wang ad campaign—even give him a slightly nerdy appearance, which dissipates when he chronicles the sequence of events that led him to record his sophomore album. “I was really pissed off that I’d gotten pigeonholed as this sexy, dirty-mouthed rapper,” he says. “I’m not saying that’s not true—but I also put a lot of heavy, interesting content into YoYoYoYoYo and I challenged myself to rap over music that people weren’t trying before.”

Everything is Boring and Everyone is a Fucking Liar debuted last month via Bad Blood Records following a tumultuous three years that nearly ended with a scrapped album. After releasing his Bangers & Cash EP with producer Benny Blanco in 2007, Spank Rock hit a wall, unable to tap into the energy that fueled his debut, an album born out of his frustration with a music scene mired in nostalgia. “Our lives are so different now,” he says. “So why are we still talking about the same issues? I wanted to make music that feels the way I feel now, but people only got excited about the sexy party shit. The songs sound like one thing, but talk about another. I write in circles and maybe that’s why people miss the point in my music.”

This isn’t to say that Spank Rock intends to completely shed his wild-child image—“I could tell you about a party I just went to in London that was really crazy”—but it’s easy to pick up on the bitterness that colors his thoughts. “When you’re an artist, you’re packaged and manufactured and people want you to be only one thing,” he says.

In 2008, weighed down by pressures from his label, Downtown Records, he took up residence in a West Village apartment, but struggled to create music. “I was bummed out,” he admits. “I would leave producers in the studio waiting for me all day and go out all night, running around New York, trying to figure out where I wanted to start.” From there, his deal with Downtown unraveled quickly, leaving him with neither resources nor money. “They dropped me halfway through the writing process, but it would be unjust to be gossipy and point fingers, because the industry is suffering and major labels don’t have time for you to be who you want to be.”

Until now, Spank Rock has been relatively calm, speaking in even tones while doing steady damage to his margarita, but a mention of Atlanta rapper B.o.B.’s debut album gets him riled up, seemingly out of sheer conviction rather than anger. “When I first heard B.o.B, I thought, This kid’s kinda dope. Now I think he’s such a pussy,” he says. (Some critics panned last spring’s B.o.B. Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray as an ultra-pop version of his original textured aesthetic.) At the risk of sounding too jaded, he offers a short summary of the options available to musicians trying to dip their toes into mainstream culture: “Do you want to be a pop star, or do you want to be a musician? I made a decision not to participate in the pop music industry, so it took me longer to put out music. I’m always fighting to get to a point where I think I’m doing something cool enough to share with people. And then, I still have to figure out how to put it out.” image

With his record deal a thing of the past, Spank Rock continued to tour overseas with Mark Ronson in support of the Brit’s third album, Record Collection. His luck changed during a fateful encounter in Australia with Berlin-based producer Alexander Ridha, known professionally as Boys Noize. With Ridha’s encouragement, Spank Rock left Philadelphia and flew to Berlin in fall 2010 to complete his album. “It was wonderful to have someone in my corner, not trying to manipulate me, but I was scared to even share anything with him, because everyone said the music I made was shitty,” he says. “I had close friends who told me they were going to help out and then they started working on big, corny pop star music. I started to think something was wrong with me.”

His insecurities, coupled with his unfortunate habit of making producers wait, made the recording process a challenge for Ridha, who until then had never worked with Spank Rock. “He’d come up with the hook for a song in a minute, but then it would take him five weeks to write one word,” Ridha says. “If he wanted to go out to a bar and write, I let him do that, but sometimes I had to say, Let’s stay focused, or you’ll never finish the album.”

In Ridha’s joint studio and apartment space, he and Spank Rock created four original songs and revamped another four tracks on the album (including “#1 hit,” which Ronson helped produce), but the thrill of Berlin nightlife took a definite toll on the pace of his work. “It was his paradise,” Ridha says. “A lot of producers would have kicked him to the curb and taken a holiday, but I was patient and I had hope.”

Two weeks later, I meet Spank Rock again at a low-key listening session for Everything is Boring and Everyone is a Fucking Liar at Painkiller, a tiki bar on the Lower East Side. He abandons his seat at a table surrounded by a group of friends and walks over to find out what I really think of the album. I tell him that the sonic “darkness” he mentioned during our initial meeting is at least partly obscured by his manic flow, delivered over a series of rock-infused, club-friendly electronic beats—and, yes, I liked some of the filthy lyrics.

Spank Rock recently joined Ke$ha (“She’s a fun girl and not a total idiot, which you would expect her to be, given her music”) on a cross-country tour, which also gave him the opportunity to hit the central states. With the album finally out, he feels as if a weight has been lifted off his shoulders, but still, his discontent with pop culture is at an all-time high. “I don’t want to come across as this bitter diva in a cave, but this industry is fucking wack right now,” he says. “We’re oversaturated with musicians reenacting things from the past. The kids in America are fucking fucked because none of their favorite artists are pushing things forward.”

Needless to say, Spank Rock is realistic about what the future might hold for him, and it doesn’t include pop stardom on the level of B.o.B. fame. Instead, he’d rather compare himself to Sonic Youth, the iconic alt-rock outfit who endured living in the shadow of Nirvana for years, only to emerge as a classic band in their own right. “It’s my life, I’m a fucking musician, and no one matters except for me and the people I collaborate with. I’ll keep making music—I just won’t take so long next time,” he says, before ordering another round of drinks.

image

SPANK ROCK LIKES Lucky Cheng’s.

Photography by Christophe Kutner. Styling by Rich Aybar.

An Update on Nublu & Wine at the Borgata

Sometimes, part twos are better. Think Godfather 2, or The Empire Strikes Back. Friday’s story of the sad demise of Nublu seems to have a happy ending, a joyful part two. Hayne Suthon, the Grande Dame of Lucky Cheng’s, and before that a host of other fabulous places all located at 24 First Avenue, has provided shelter from the storm to the good people over at Nublu. On Friday, I reported liquor license troubles due to the not-so-sudden location of the venue near a church, and the resulting reign of terror from illogical and evil forces in the SLA and Community Board. Well, until things settle, the show will go on. They’re calling it Nublu in Outer Place. Hayne enlightened me.

“Million years no see. Just saw your article about Nublu. I have given them a temporary home in the space under Cheng’s and they are very happy. Great music, great people to work with. I told them to create it as close to Nublu as possible. This way, they can keep it going while they find a new space or get their liquor license They are working with the church to create a scenario that it is not exclusively a house of worship, such as renting, or using some of the offices as rehearsal space. Even the church’s attorney is trying to help them. The owner of Nublu also owns the building so they are really going to try to get their space back. They brought their manager, security, bartenders, sound equipment and it’s going quite well. They started a week ago Wednesday.”

I left in a hurry Friday and filed a short piece apologizing to you, my readers, who deserve in-depth coverage. I was headed to Atlantic City, a place also going through constant change. I was there to catch Russell Brand’s act, which I will write about tomorrow. As I have told you guys before, I only drink two or three times a year, but this weekend I made an exception. I was at the very exceptional Borgata, and was treated to a tour of their new wine shop, called Vintage. My new favorite person in the world, Anjoleena Griffin-Holst, is the first woman since my second wife to try and get me drunk.

She succeeded, and my Hangover Part 3 will delay me from telling you about my Atlantic City excursion until tomorrow. Anjoleena and I discussed the need for a wine program in AC. The Borgata has raised the bar in this ancient resort town. The crowd coming now to the Casino/Hotel/Spa complex is a far cry better than even three years ago. They expect the best, and a solid wine program is needed. I asked Anjoleena, who’s name is driving my spell check to drink, about what she’s up to:

So, what are you up to? At Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa we promote an upscale, not uptight food and beverage program. With over 40,000 bottles on property at any given time, we offer a dynamic wine program that permeates through 6 fine-dining restaurants, 7 casual-dining restaurants, 4 bars, 2 nightclubs and 2 hotel towers. Our fine-dining restaurants have garnered Wine Spectator Awards and continue to elevate the customer’s dining experience with a diverse selection that covers most of the world’s wine growing regions.

What’s unique about Vintage? Knowing that wine consumption continues to grow across the United States, Borgata has recently added Vintage, a wine boutique, to our line up. At Vintage, we encourage our customers to sip before they shop, using the Enomatic machine. We offer 32 wines that can be enjoyed in 1, 3 and 5 ounce portions that will help the customer determine their preferences. We offer just over 200 labels and our associates guide each customer on a personal tour of the store. In the event that a customer wants to explore the store on their own we offer a custom wine kiosk that allows the user to narrow the scope of their search to find the desired wine that we have in stock at Vintage.

I have been coming to AC since Bally’s opened, and celebrated the opening of Borgata like 8 years ago. Even in the last few years, the crowd has become far more upscale, creating the need for a fine wine program. People thirst for knowledge about wine, and with web access and social media, they come to the table better informed. I think it’s great that people come in knowing what they like and are able to communicate their preference to our wine team. I groom our team to be easy to talk to, yet skilled enough to geek out with the people who want to get specific about producers, vineyards and vintages. There’s nothing better than having a customer stop me to tell me what an amazing experience they’ve had with us at Borgata.

New York City: Top 10 Places For a Girl’s Night Out

We girls sometimes have this strange, perennial urge to get dressed to the nines, smell like cupcakes and flowers, strap on our sky-high Manolo’s and use them to transport us to buzzing, overstimulated bars, where we can teeter around, sipping colorful cocktails, ignoring the opposite sex, and secretly fantasizing we’re characters in our own girly HBO series. Sometimes we want Disney-sized mansions of excess; other times we’ll take chic cosmopolitan standbys, perhaps with some college watering holes thrown in for good measure. We’re women, we’re allowed to change our minds. As if to further stereotype ourselves, these things are for certain, we want a backdrop that looks as good as we do, in a place that makes us feel forever 21, with enough stamina to handle our girl’s night out.

Lucky Chengs (East Village) – A place to truly let it all hang out while the girl-boy trannies try to keep it all in, and tied up, and hidden. The queens, who happen to be the wait staff, act bitchy while belting out “It’s Raining Men.” ● Elizabeth (Tribeca) – A place to really get off on yourself, vibe is dark and sexy- reminiscent of a Kiki De Montparnasse, with more blood sucking. Gather the girls to set the tone of the evening; Sleep all day. Party all night. Never grow old. Never die. It’s fun to be a vampire. ● STK (Meatpacking District) – To be totally vile and cliche, this steak place is very girl friendly. So girl friendly, the slickness is attributed to Sex and the City’s special brand of trendy- with a dash of Buck Rogers. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire; many ‘Ladies Night’ celebrations take place- many gentlemen read smoke signals. ● Greenhouse (Soho) – Glitters like a Radiant cut diamond, sparkles like a Manhattan nightclub should. Sometimes, a girl has to dance, and dance you will, in environmentally conscious surrounds. Pretty pastel LED lights, vines, moss, and a Louboutin conscious bamboo dance floor. ● Sweetiepie (West Village) – More diner than dinner; but this place is far too novel to leave out. Marie Antoinette styling, pink and gold trimmings, completely trivial options like caviar-topped omelets. Grossly luxe, pint sized plush shop was made for an indulgent evening. ● Bubble Lounge (Tribeca) – Good times are poppin’ along with the Veuve. Nothing beats a fizzy champagne buzz, except treating yourself to the VIP wine cellar. Inner diva is brought out, along with the Visa- poppin’ is pricey. ● Butter (Noho) – When you are with a pack, it’s practical to practice pack-mentality. Go with your natural instinct and opt for a venue that has withstood the test of time. Dancing, music, mini skirts, feel good vibes from the confused foreign models and promoters, Richie Akiva knows a woman’s habitat. ● Casa la Femme (West Village) – Grab a tent for you and your harem, er entourage, and sip signature sweet cocktails while entertaining the belly dancers. Guys go to strip clubs. Why can’t we have the same fun? ● The Standard Beer Garden (Meatpacking District) – Attractive crowds have been magnetized to the Standard since it opened, therefore, people watching is never at a lull. Ideal for the pre-dinner meeting spot to take in the view, enjoy a tasty micro brew and instill camaraderie in your girlfriends during a game of ping pong. ● Automatic Slim’s (West Village) – The ratio always sways towards attractive guys, and the type of guys who will buy you a drink but then leave you alone to dance with your girlfriends. Dancing on the bar always encouraged and after a few feel good tunes, you’ll be into the idea.