Actors Playhouse Nightclub Opens & Disappoints

I was invited to the Saturday night opening of Actors Playhouse, a club in what used to be the Actors Playhouse Theatre, 100 7th Ave. South right off of Christopher St. I had first seen the space  a couple of years ago when James Huddleston was considering it. James was hot off being the doorman of hotspot The Jane Hotel when the hip crowd couldn’t get enough of that space. For all the usual reasons, things didn’t pan out, and James found his gold over at Pravda. The Actors space he showed me was ancient wood, and had antique mirrors and a dressing room maze where people could easily get lost and then deliciously  found. At the time I thought it might be a winner. But a new crew has taken over the joint and they’ve paid no mind to the natural beauty of the room, opting to gut it and slick it out. It doesn’t work on any level.

I was told by attendee Joe "Viagra" Vicari that it was designed by Bluarch, which did Greenhouse and Juliet Supper Club. I didn’t much like either of those, but Greenhouse was affective. Juliet looked worn out way too soon. Anyway, design-wise Actors Playhouse looks like a cheap version of those. The biggest design crime was not embracing the assets the space offered; now it’s cold and lit up like a Coney Island attraction, and the flow is just awful. I could go on and on but my mother told me at dinner last night while we were discussing an entirely different matter that if you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything. So I’m not going to say anything.

I will say that Joe Vicari and I have buried the hatchet after many years of wanting to hit each other with one.

Word comes that Matt Levine has grabbed the old Florent space in the Meatpacking. Florent was the in-place for the in-crowd, when they were still butchering cows where high-end clubs, restaurants, and boutiques now flourish.  Back before all that, it was the scenes last stop or – gasp – if you were real in and desperate you might get a bit of vodka in your coffee at 6am. Every ho, bro, and club employee would head there after all the chores were done for a good meal. Tables  werethisclose, and spying on the celeb and his date –  who were almost in your lap – became an art form. It was grand.

Nothing has worked in the space since Florent closed. Matt will come up with something. I have been told by a guy who should know that Matt snatched up the failed Merkato 55 space as well. Everyone in town is pushing and shoving to get an inch in the Meatpacking, and Matt lands two. He either is the wiliest of operators or paid too much. A combination of both is probably close to the truth, but then again what is too much for the area which has more foot traffic than anywhere, save Times, Herald, or Union Square. The Meatpacking District might soon be named the Cheesepacking District, but there still are outposts of elegance to entertain even a jaded old codger like me.

Controversy at Chichi212 and Merkato 55

To most women I am a Good Night Mr. Lewis, don’t call me, I’ll call you. Others know me as a knight in shining armor. Chivalry still lives on Prince street, where I reside. Brittany Mendenhall, who writes the blog Chichi212 doesn’t need me to defend her honor, as she is extremely capable of handling herself. The 6”1’ law student with a big smile, which fits nicely with her infamous big mouth, is not adverse to a good fight. It seems she has found one. Yesterday Britt wrote about all sorts of goings on over at Merkato 55 (which underwent a rebranding as Le 55 some time ago).

Kyky, an owner/promoter type has moved his shtick from Merkato 55 over to Provocateur. Brittany wondered out loud if problems at his previous gig might be contagious. Her accusations, which are mind boggling, included the fact that Merkato 55 might have been purchasing large quantities of alcohol from retail establishments like liquor stores, instead of buying from distributors, which is a very big no-no. According to her, the legal distributors had cut off the place for not paying their bills. This link will take you to her article, which details tax problems, bad checks and more annoying stuff.

Yesterday, lawyers representing Merkato 55 demanded she take down her blog post. She has not. Instead, she has contacted a lawyer of her own and forwarded to me tons of backup documentation to back up her story. I am getting phone calls now from ex-employees with other tales to tell. Stay tuned. I am always one to disclose conflicts of interest, so I must proudly note that I dated Brittany for a wee bit until sensibilities drove us to be fast friends. I adore the girl and would gladly lay down my cloak for her to pass over a puddle if she asked. She hasn’t asked me to defend her honor. I’m just an old school guy doing my thing.

The Hamptons: Top Hotspots for Memorial Day Weekend

Lily Pond (East Hampton) – The 1Oak family will be hosting this Saturday and will have special events here all summer. The Grand Opening on Saturday has DJ Lee Kalt on the decks, and Sunday kicks off “1OAK at Lily Pond Blue & Cream” with DJ Jus Ske. ● Dune (Southampton) – AXE Lounge features DJ Phresh Friday night, DJ Mel DeBarge on Saturday, and Kiss & Fly hosts on Sunday night with DJ Berrie.

The Maidstone (East Hampton) – Sunday evening Lisa Anastos, Amanda Hearst, Arden Wohl and other Hampton mainstays play host to the kickoff for the Watermill Concert 2009 (at the former Maidstone Arms). Invite lost in the mail? Crash at your own risk. ● Georgica Restaurant & Lounge (East Hampton) – The Eldridge’s Matt Levine launches summer with Naeem Delbridge at the door, giving you that familiar “I’m not going to get in here” feeling upon arriving Friday night when DJ Nick Cohen mans the deck. Try your luck on Saturday when DJ Ruckus spins, and if your tactics fail again, at least you have Sunday night with DJ Mel Debarge. ● Day & Night Restaurant and Beach Club (Southampton) – Those brunches of insanity made popular by the Mercato 55 crew, including Industry Insider brothers Derek and Daniel Koch, ship out to Southampton with a Saturday afternoon brunch with DJ Serebe Kironde spinning. ● Montauk Yacht Club (Montauk) – Saturday night, GoldBar shines in Montauk as their resident DJ Kiss takes up spinning. Sunday you can find The Box’s Jeffrey Tonneson taking over for their 80th anniversary celebration that will last all summer. ● Hampton Coffee Company (Watermill) – Never heard of Hampton Daze Magazine? well, I’m sure you’ve heard of wine, which will be complimentary for the celebration of this magazine’s launch this Saturday. ● Turtle Crossing (Amagansett) – Live music, two-for-one drafts, and more importantly, barbecue — this smoking BBQ joint with a backyard feel has the weekend covered. ● Dockers Waterside (East Quogue) – One word: lobsterbake. Or maybe it’s two words, but that detail wont matter when you are scarfing down lobster for $27.50 and enjoying two-for-one margaritas and mojitos this Sunday. I’d say by then it’s officially summer.

New York: Top 10 Places to Maintain an Eating Disorder

imageAs a self-respecting woman — or, for that matter, a New Yorker (one who, naturally, is trying to stand her fiscal ground in these tough economic times) — I’m the first to say that eating disorders are unattractive on a physical, medical, and emotional level. However: this is The Big City, sweetie, and sometimes a girl’s got to stop, look around at all the gorgeous people surrounding her, and put down the pomme-frites, possibly followed by a pull-the-trigger trip to the commode. That being said, everyone loves going out to dinner here, and does it often. It’s an unavoidable part of our culture, and a way for us to leave behind the nightmares of work and stress in place of good conversation, good friends, and a stomach/liver satisfied with food/tasty libations (the ones we keep down). So here’s a time-tested list of ten places where I’ve had a thrill without eating anything, where Shaq-sized Amazon beauties are found sipping glasses of champagne or drowning their hunger with empty vodka calories.

10. Indochine (NoHo) – Patrons match the aesthetically pleasing decor — Asian, dark, slimming — at this downtown haven for uptown clientele. Rexos flock to find future sugar daddies to provide their size-0 Chanel skirt suits and whisk them away from the degradation of downtown to the lock-jawed, botoxed Upper East Side.

9. Pastis (Meatpacking District) – While I’ve personally succumbed to the temptation of Keith McNally’s croque monsieur, this place is always filled — if not synonymous — with fellow non-eaters sipping French reds over conversations about what faaaabulous Carrie Bradshaw-as-criterion lives they lead (it’s that over, but people still flock there). When it’s nice outside, the place goes al fresco, with outdoor seating right on the sidewalk for you to bring your teacup kickdog with you (he’s rexo too). This is great for sitting and surveying the countless models strutting up and down lower Ninth Avenue, like watching the giraffes at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. But with booze.

8. Tao (Midtown) – I still get mass text messages inviting me once a week for “model dinner” here. Seriously. The only time I went, the table was covered with a delectable feast for the entirety of the night. Who dared touch the fruit from the tree of life/Asian fusion from the kitchen cooked by unfairly underpaid immigrant Latinos? No one, except for Marcus Schenkenberg, who would take a bite after each of us ignored his blatant attempts to get us into bed. Sorry Marcus, but at least you had a full stomach. We didn’t have to try to puke at that.

7. Bagatelle (Meatpacking District) – The Kiss & Fly crew love beautiful girls — I mean, who doesn’t — but the ‘Bag’s a solid sure shot for finding exceptionally hot thinnifers at the pomade-slick bistro. Opt for looking at the cocktail menu. No need to suffer through reading what they make in the kitchen — too many calories (and words, for you newly imported Eastern European IMG signees).

6. Merkato 55 (Meatpacking District) – This MePa hotspot is known for its beautiful crowds and African dining. This is perfect for the aspiring model-actress, because Africa’s a starving nation, and you’re an aspiring member of a starving nation, albeit, a different, more blinged-out one. Merkato’s awesome for getting together with friends — if you can get a table — talking shit on the New York’s Eurocentric socialite set (and their shipping magnate heir boyfriends, who you’re sleeping with), and watching the Beautiful People pass you by. Quick! Run downstairs to Bijoux! Hide and cry your Oliver Twist-like hunger out in a dark, low-ceilinged corner! Emerge upstairs for Saturday Brunch Parties, where you can find the dumbest fat wallets in the city (anyone who buys a magnum at 2 p.m. just so they can watch sparklers shoot out of it? Easy mark.).

5. Upstairs at Cipriani (SoHo) – The infamous Bellinis flow freely here, yielding drunken, juiced-up models ready and eager for a good time. Upstairs is a lounge area fully equipped with all necessities — bar, bathroom, quality paper towels. It’s dangerous to go here on a totally empty stomach, though: those stairs can be daunting, so make sure to eat some wet saltines before climbing them.

4. The Waverly Inn (West Village) – The TMZ-flanked spot known for its mysterious celebrity draw and exclusivity is a home away from home to many far-from-home models and their faux followers: agents, producers, casting directors, and whoever else couldn’t get in on the merits of their “normal” status. That’s what you get for not having a translucent body. But the Waverly has actual celebrities, and thus, is high-class. You have to at least appear like you’re eating something. Get the salad. It’s probably the only thing you can afford anyways.

3. Butter (NoHo) – Conveniently located across the street from Indochine, Butter’s been around for a while and has perfected its magnetic draw for young, beautiful, and fake-ID carrying NYU coeds. Being thin is a necessity for gratis entrance gratis; the irony that the place is named “Butter” often escapes its Olsen Twin-aping crowds. However, I’m sure if you have enough cash (or bravado), the chef will be ecstatic to have you taste their less-prepared dishes that many members of Butter’s clientele resist ordering. Mainly dessert.

2. The Stanton Social (Lower East Side) – I celebrated my birthday here two years ago, and it still is one of the best times I’ve had. The plates are small and made to share, and because my roommate Sean was sitting next to me, I hardly even saw the food — it went directly into his stomach. Boys like to eat! Seriously, though, the space is great for a wild night out. Upstairs is an upbeat and fun lounge area, chock-full of good memories. It was here that my friend and I — we look nothing alike — made a very drunk Adrien Grenier feel like a jackass for calling us twins and demanding a threesome. We will not “hug it out,” bitch.

1. Norwood (West Village) – Little brother to Soho House serves powerful men about town, their leading ladies of the week, and the neurosis that fall between his deep-seated self-consciousness and her existential pain (which is besides that of her digestive system, often conveniently soaked in saline water and diahrretics). Last time I went here, I met an agent ready and willing to supply the “needs” to “quench my thirst.” I’m not sure if he was talking about a signing, a drink, or some other sleazy agent euphemism I don’t really want to know about. He did not however, offer me any food. Maybe he was hinting that I didn’t really need any. It might hurt, but at least it’s honest.

Gatien Out? Bottles In?

Word comes from one of those talkative birdie types that Peter Gatien has been ousted from his throne at his Circa nightclub in Toronto. My source was vague on details except for a “he’s definitely out,” and that the “two lawyer/investor partners” had acted because Peter was “up to his same old shit.” At this time I’m not sure what “shit” he is specifically accused of being up to, but there was just so much of it in the old days. I’m promised details sometime today, but although it’s no secret that Peter and I have had a “confused” past, I honestly don’t enjoy hearing this news. As I’ve said before, though it seems that he deviated far from any reasonable set of management practices in his reign as club king in New York, there is little doubt of his brilliance, daring, and vision. Things didn’t exactly work out as he planned here, and again I’m sad that this may be true for him in his native land. I never went to Circa, but I heard wonderful things about it and was impressed by the Kid Robot decor images that I’ve seen online.

Onto another fairly controversial topic: A recent article in the New York Times has pointed out the consumption of thousands of dollars worth of bottles at the Merkato 55 and Bagatelle weekend brunches, which has raised a few questions. Is the Obama bailout going to bring back bottle service? The flailing economy had just about forced clubs to rethink their reliance on the Grey Goose crowd, but it seems like the bailout may be providing these patrons with some extra spending money again.

I spoke to a few owner types to get their feel, and most said that they were still struggling, but that business was also up recently. Greenhouse owner Jon B. pointed out that January and February have always been slow months. “Hopefully with the bailout and the change of weather people will feel more confident about spending,” he said. Eddie Dean over at Pacha said that his club was “still making deals, and early-bird specials with no sign of improvement yet.” Owners at all the places I spoke to said that revenues are down between 15 and 25 percent from last year.

Last year, as I remember it, was a monster year, but to expect that kind of action in an unusually long and cold winter — and in a down economy — would be a bit short-sighted. Management got used to bottle service padding their bottom lines, and those who have not adjusted by cutting staff or finding other revenue streams (like door fees or specialty drinks) are suffering. But while most owners have mourned the loss of bottle-service, many have seen it as a blessing since creative types have returned to the business with new energies and great parties. It is my observation that there are many great nights/parties, but there is no truly great club. The country has been in an uproar about the bonuses paid to A.I.G. executives. with an angry president ordering his minions to make it stop. I can’t imagine the reaction when it’s taken to the next level — when people realize that the loot is trickling down to the frat boys once again and is being used to buy tables at the city’s trendiest nightclubs. Can the goose be put back in the bottle? Merkato 55’s doorman, Matt Oliver, had this to say: “I generally ask bottle service customers for their credit card and ID. I’ve never asked them how they got the money in the first place. But maybe I should start.”

From Brunch to Buenos Aires, ‘NYT’ Brings You Yesterday’s News

imageReferring to the hot-luxe brunch scenes at New York’s Bagatelle and Merkato 55, the New York Times noted this past weekend, “The two scenes have recently garnered attention in the news media.” Indeed, if by recently means back in December, when BlackBook first posted about both brunch parties. A bit quicker on the draw is the NYT’s piece on Buenos Aires’ photo-obsessed “flogger” scene, which followed our own such post by merely a week. Congrats on tightening up that news cycle.

Lelaine Lau’s Cultural Salon

My favorite memories of Lelaine Lau are her Sunday-night bingo parties at Bungalow 8, where my ex provided her with many of the prizes. She had a warehouse full of neat stuff like Prada bags and Cartier bracelets that were given out to blasted bingoers. Nowadays, they’d give out a plastic bag with a Swatch in it — maybe. She had “club royalty” types obsessing over things like B-6 or N-17. She never does the expected thing and is sometimes rewarded for it; I’ve always seen her as a wayward artist or an intellectual who feeds at the teat of nightlife and can’t figure out why she’s here. Lelaine is a bright woman — well-read, cultured, and a breath of fresh air from the usual promoter dweebs and their crackberries. I actually go places when she asks me to, as opposed to trying to figure out how to block some fool from emailing me an invite to listen to the same songs I heard the night before at a party celebrating the birthday of some skinny chickadee who thinks Dickens is the punch line of a bad joke and Hemingway is a street in the garment district.

Lelaine’s salon parties are just one of a slew of alternative-type events attended by peeps who see most nightlife as the same ol’ same ol’. And I’m not talking about too-cool-for-school penniless hipsters — I’m talking mainstream clubbers looking for anything but the next mash-up mix. In its way, Merkato 55 is this sort of event, and those loft parties springing up downtown are over the top. I guess I should give a birthday shout out to Aaron, and I would also thank Foss for the masterpiece, which is way too hot to mention here!

You’ve worked in many capacities at clubs, including hosting Sunday nights at Bungalow 8. What does your nightlife resume look like? I think most of my background has actually been more restaurants than nightclubs. I was a manager and maître d’ at Balthazar as well as a maître d’ at Mercer Kitchen — and this was before I really started working in nightlife. Later you recommended me for a position at the door at Home and I was also a host at Lotus for a little bit when they first opened, when Sunday nights were Bingo Night.

What are you working on now? What is a cultural salon? 403 is a cultural salon which I founded in the summer of 2005, and the mission statement is this: “403 is a cultural salon which seeks to encourage the discussion and exchange of ideas through presentations on arts, culture and humanitarian concerns.” It’s a monthly four-hour event which includes dinner (light fare) and then I’ll have a speaker come in, maybe an artist, a documentarian, a photographer, or somebody who’s doing interesting work and have them talk about their work and their experiences for about 45 minutes.

So you’re essentially a curator, a party promoter and an event planner? You’re curating events for artsy people. I like to think that it’s for artsy and intellectual people. My life before I moved to New York was 180 degrees from where it’s been. I was an activist for nine years, and I mean hardcore; I’ve been arrested for civil disobedience, I was a full on tree-hugger, the whole nine yards. So my life was very different before I came here and I’ve always had these disparate sides of myself. I’ve got the activist side that fights with the side that wants to be glamorous, wants to go out and do all of this and that has access to a lot of influential and interesting people. And so 403 was a way for me to reconcile these two sides.

How many people come? Average about 50.

How much does it cost? $40-$60 depending on where I’m holding it.

And where are you holding it? Well, I did it in conjunction with Soho House in 2006, but lately I’ve just been doing it in private lofts. It is nightlife, but it’s a different kind of nightlife, and I think it appeals to those of us who are maturing and want something more than just going out to a bar. I’ve created a community, which has been the most rewarding part, there is an engaged community of people who like what I’m doing.

It sounds like somewhere I could meet people I would be able to have great conversation, because it is hard to meet people the right people in this town. Is that what you do full-time? The salon is something I do as a side thing. I ran a fashion start-up for three and a half years, which I just left last year.

So why aren’t you doing this once or twice a week — is it too much work? Well, I haven’t had one since the economy has tanked, and it’s going to be really interesting when I do. I actually have a number of prospects on the back burner that I’m trying to pull together, so it’ll be really interesting to see what the response is.

So what’s an example of a person you would have speak? I’ve had people like Toure, who’s a writer for Rolling Stone … he has a book called Never Drank the Kool-Aid that is a compilation of all of his Rolling Stone essays and is very entertaining. I’ve had a gentlemen named John Badalament who spoke on the social constructs of gender and how it affects our relational lives. I met him through some friends, and he was so fascinating. When I met him, we sat down at a party and we didn’t stop talking for four hours, so I told him he had to present at 403. I’ve also had one with Rex Weyler who is one of the founders of Greenpeace International, and Palden Gyatso, my most recent one, was a Tibetan monk who was imprisoned by the Chinese for 33 years.

So who are the people going to these events? It’s a little bit of everyone. I would say it’s mostly in the 30s age group, but of course it can range from 21 to 50. So the core of it is people in their 30s, the people who are sort of getting tired of just the club scene. It’s generally on Monday nights because I’m not going to try and compete with anything else, and on Sundays I think people still want to stay at home. It’s been interesting, but the reaction’s been great. When I first looked into salons, most of the ones that I found at the time that I started this were very specific. They were either all artists, or all literary, they all had a very specific focus.

Do you have the history of the word salon in this context is it like 1600s French? Yeah, it’s a 17th-century idea of a salon. I think at the time, women were not part of the educational system, and so wealthy women would sort of sit in their beds and call people to them to educate them.

And how did you come up with the idea of doing the salon? Were you the first salon on the scene? Yeah, I think there are people who have gotten some more notice than I have, they’re better funded or they have websites and I don’t have any of that, but still, their events were not exactly like mine. Especially since no one was doing anything like this for an open demographic of our peers. I’ve fought with myself a little over whether I want any press, whether I want to go out there and get sponsorship because my salon has been very under-the-radar and I kind of like the informality of it. But I don’t know anyone else who was doing something exactly like mine when I started.

Do you throw it in lounges, restaurants, etc? I never really wanted to do it in a restaurant. For me, the idea of a salon is very much about being in a private home. It’s a different sort of way of going out and I’ve always wanted to maintain an informal and intimate feel, as if you’re in someone’s living room.

So you’re a hospitality person who has created a spin-off on the traditional way of going out. Yeah, it’s a different option for people who still want to go out and want to be social, but not within a club environment.

Do you cook for it? No! I usually hire a caterer. 403 references the apartment number where I first held 403, at 199 Lafayette, the building where La Esquina is. The summer they were building La Esquina, was the summer I started doing it with my partner Yves-Claude. He had a very old-school type loft, a little gritty, and he changed the art once in awhile but he didn’t care what I put on the walls and he actually did all the cooking.

It’s good to see someone thinking outside of the box. You took your hospitality skills and now you’re doing this salon idea and there’s one coming up soon. Yeah, it’s really a good way for me to sort of indulge in my intellectual curiosity and to pull together a good social group.

You also have a blog; tell me a bit about it. Basically it’s an extension of my salon. There are some people that I can’t physically get at the salon, and I love writing, so it’s a way for me to feature people or ideas I cannot have at the salon — whether it’s because of schedules or distance. The blog is not focused on any one theme or idea, it’s really just my random musings. The title of it, Bluestocking, is another word like a saloniere — an educated, intelligent woman — although bluestocking originally had a sort of derogatory connotation.

Matt Oliver, the Silent Doorman

Matt Oliver is that quiet guy manning the ropes outside M2 and the uber-hot brunch at Merkato 55. Unlike the other dudes running doors in this town, it’s rare to hear Matt utter more than a “hi” when he’s at work. But the Euro crowd at Merkato for brunch is one of the best around; the money being generated is astronomical, especially in this downturn. And the thing I like about it is that it really occupies a time slot rarely associated with nightclubbing (except for those 24-hour house marathons that I never admit to attending). There needs to be another term for it, since nightlife doesn’t really seem to cover it.

How did you get involved in nightlife? My real career used to be in radio, and unlike this, it’s only about the recording, so we couldn’t take someone’s audio recording and turn it into nice words — it was what it was. But after that I sort of transitioned into this career accidentally. I’ve been friends with Scott Harrison (who now runs Charity Water) since childhood, and when I reconnected with him after 9/11, he was promoting in nightclubs in New York — which is not at all like anything I had been doing in my life – but I came back and helped him get his promotion company going at the time. So, like you said, I sort of silently hung in the background and helped, and through that I met a lot of nightclub people, and eventually Dirk Van Stockum hired me to do the door at B.E.D.

After B.E.D., where did you end up? I did B.E.D. for two years, then I did some traveling with Charity Water in Africa, then came back to New York to do Mansion.

Tell me about Charity Water. It started when Scott wanted a break from nightlife. He volunteered in Africa as a photographer, taking photos of people before they had these life-changing operations on their faces. He was the before and after photographer for an organization that did these surgeries, and by the time he came back to New York, he’d collected a bunch of photos and approached his return like a promoter would — he invited everybody to a big party and showed these gruesome photos of people in Africa. When he realized that the real problem was that people didn’t have clean water, he went on to start his own charity, which tackled that problem and raised money to fund freshwater well projects in Africa. So after Charity Water, you started doing the door at Mansion, (now called M2) and now the brunches at Merkato 55? Yeah, which is on Saturday, and that’s what I’m excited about. Every so often in this town, people walk around for years saying, “I’m so bored, I’m so bored, I’m so bored with nightlife,” and now nightlife is segueing into day-life with a brunch at Merkato 55. It’s interesting — if you look at the 24-hour clock and the space available for nightlife, traditionally it’s from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. … those few restaurants that get the earlier part of the evening, and then the afterhours that get the early mornings. But all of that seems to have already been done, or feels so dirty, and there’s something very clean about going out during the day. You’ve actually slept the night before, you took a shower, the girls dress sexy, and they go out to brunch and have a great time on Saturday afternoon. It really doesn’t feel so corrupt as nightlife sometimes can.

And people actually eat at this brunch? Yeah, they sit down, everyone eats food, and then around 3:30 p.m. or so you see the transition and people start switching from rosé to bottles of champagne, and they get a little crazier. And then by 4 p.m., sparklers are going off, the lights are flashing like a nightclub, the DJ’s playing club music, and people are dancing on the tables.

How would you define the crowd? It’s the wealthy, old-money, Euro crowd, is that right? This concept in general is a European thing, going out during the day. But I don’t think that it really costs a whole lot more for them to spend money during the day than the people who go out at night. Maybe this does attract a little bit of a higher-end crowd, or old-money like you said, but it’s still 20- and 30-somethings — successful guys and really cute, lovely girls who have regular day jobs during the week. And it’s not a lot of the industry people, which is strange because a lot of the times, nightlife is more about the people who work in it.

That might actually make it more charming, that you’re not seeing the promoters etc. Yeah, it sounds like a negative thing, but I don’t mind not seeing a bunch of promoters for one day of the week and seeing a bunch of people who just have legitimate regular jobs, not at all related to the industry, who just come out to this party. You’re filling the room with a lot of like-minded people.

So where do you go from here? A lot of people stumbled into nightlife like you did, but most people don’t have an exit strategy. Do you have one? Are you going to be an owner? This is going to sound weird, but I think that that would be my only option. Because what I do in nightlife, which is letting people in, or not letting people into a club, doesn’t really involve any of the traditional nightlife skills. I can’t pour a drink, I can’t bartend, I’ve never done any of that stuff, I have no idea how to function inside a room, I don’t like loud music, I cant stand inside a nightclub, so I have very few skills that would link to nightlife.

Describe your club — what would it look like, what would the vibe be? It would be small. When I go out, it’s to dive bars or something very low-key. I don’t really get the whole large club phenomenon, I’m just an employee who works at them. I think I would like something like a La Esquina type of place. It’s the best design I’ve seen … I think everything is right about it.

At the door, you’re very quiet. You’re not gregarious like Fabrizio or Kenny Kenny or Wass. These guys have a lot of personality, and you have personality, but you don’t express it like these guys. It’s always just a nod, a hello, and that’s your attitude. Yeah, which is odd, because again, the career that I came from — being in radio — was all about talking, all about being funny. And when I actually get around the blogging, I write a lot, but for some reason I just don’t ever really bother at the door. It seems like it fits a different role in my life. One of the reasons is because nightlife takes up such a small amount of my time, by design. If a club holds 500 people, almost anybody with savvy can pick out the first 300, but the trick to the game is that borderline crowd. How do you draw the line? Is it different on a daily basis? I think it’s always fluctuating, always based on what the event is that night, but then you also have to base it on some sort of economic decision. I don’t think that a room should look totally different on a quiet night rather than a busy night. I think it should just look quieter. It shouldn’t be a whole different group of people that you’ll let in.

So you have a preconceived idea of what the party should be so it doesn’t that fluctuate that much? Yeah, but I also understand that the bartenders and the cocktail waitresses need to make money that night so they can live the next day. So there are some sort of exceptions you have to make, and that’s why you have a doorman rather than just a security man dealing with only the absolute, and I am always weighing those factors. Is it a VIP event, or a celebrity event? In which case you don’t send in more people and make exceptions, or is it just a regular night? So let’s make it that happy medium where the club is full enough to make money, but then you also haven’t done anything to jeopardize your regulars.

How would you describe your tactics at the door? I try and use logic where I think other people don’t, and that’s with everything. When I interact with people, I don’t use the old doorman technique of just telling security to clear these people out. I actually go over and talk to the people and say — look, here’s why I can’t send you in. A lot of times people don’t want to hear the long-winded answer, but I try to explain, even if it’s only to keep from getting my ass kicked! A new problem that I’m experiencing right now is that sometimes, being a doorman, people look at you almost as a Starbucks sign, where if they see that anywhere in the world, it’s an expectation of service. They think, “hey, this doorman lets me in at other places he works, so now I know that this is another place I can get into.” But I work at the biggest club in the city, M2, and also at Merkato 55, which is fairly exclusive and all the space is always spoken for by reservations, so I have to approach it differently. My job is to figure out who my bosses are expecting to see inside, and I run into the situation where I let you in all the time at this one place, but I can’t let you in at this place. So, again, I try to use logic and explain to people, so that they don’t leave feeling insulted.

Did you think it was going to be this much of a thought process when you took the job? No, I didn’t, but this job is only as important as the egos of the people that you deal with. That’s what it really is.

Snow Tropez: Two Rival Day Parties Heat Up the Meatpacking District

imageSome of you might have been planning to break from New York this weekend for somewhere warm, wild, and full of fun-loving foreign people with exotic accents … until the snowstorm put your holiday plans on ice. Well, here’s a couple of spots that will make you believe you’re somewhere fairly similar. Reports filtering back to the BlackBook cave suggest there’s a new daytime drug called Merkato 55 making party-crazed foreign-ish types go berserk, and it’s available at the Meatpacking District resto every Saturday afternoon courtesy of two-day-party pushing brothers with a Bilboquet pedigree. Well placed/sauced sources have sighted “people with sparklers dancing on tables at 2 p.m.” Other insiders report “a full-on discotheque at 4 in the afternoon.”

Then there’s the inevitable comparisons to St. Tropez, Ibiza, Punta del Este, and yayo-filled mangos. We’ve even received multiple, drunken texts telling us to “gt our asdss oerv her!!ee” In short, all the telltale signs that there might actually be a raging party going on, and on a Saturday afternoon, no less. Some even claim it’s contagious: “As [Americans] at the party get more drunk, they start affecting European accents, Madonna style.” So, even if the airports close, your flight to Punta del Este gets nixed, and you’re stuck in New York this weekend, you can still pretend you’re somewhere warm, debauched, and swarming with randy Euros. Merkato owner Unik Ernest tells me they’re simply “picking up where Felix left off.” And while it is most certainly true that Soho restaurant Felix also parties pretty hard on weekend afternoons, that’s more of a summer sidewalk place. Plus we’ve yet to see sparklers there. The party moves downstairs to Merkato’s subterranean lounge Bijoux after 5 p.m. and keeps going till 10 p.m.

But wouldn’t you know, there’s yet another prominent day party option right around the corner – do we detect a trend? – and it too has its origins in Le Bilboquet. Bagatelle’s weekend afternoon soirees, which also have a distinct Euros-gone-bananas vibe, are helmed by former Bilboquet boss Aymeric Clemente and Remy Laba. In a bit of Meatpacking district intrigue, an impeccable source tells us spies from Bagatelle have been spotted stealthily checking out the Merkato afternoon jam, although the same source claims both parties are “equally fun and pretty similar. People dancing on tables, that sort of thing.” In the end it is you, the table-dancing, sparkler-lighting, champagne-swilling consumer who wins. Two crazy options for daytime revelry within blocks of each other, and all without leaving the snowy confines of New York.