Mr. West Not the Best, Soon to Be BES

About a year and a half ago, Jon B took me to see a space called Opus 22 and asked me for my thoughts. I told him to pass on the property because of its location. He didn’t exactly pass but didn’t run with it either, farming it out to PR honcho Danny Divine and DJ Jus Ske. They hired Antonio Di Oronzo who did Greenhouse to do the design. That’s an award winning design, but I always felt what Opus 22 became — that is, Mr. West — was hideous and not very functional. When you create a joint off the beaten track, you have to be real good all the time. Consistency becomes a very important goal. Located in the pot belly of Manhattan, on 22nd Street just east of the Chelsea Piers, Mr. West proved to be a club too far.

Although only a five- or six-minute walk from Marquee and the 27th Street mall, and a five-minute cab ride from the Meatpacking District, it just seemed like the area was a suburban no man’s land. With nothing around, people showed up on off nights and were forced to cab it out. They never returned. The advantage of being in a club mall is that it’s easier — and without a cab fare, cheaper — to give a joint a second try. If it wasn’t popping the first time around, you might sneak back in while nearby the next night.

For new operator Patrick Duffy, the location is perfect. His last venture was the super chic and super secretive Serpentine, an invite-only adventure which attracted the mix of people that kept me in fine clothes and nice apartments for years. Uptown, downtown, gay, straight, all ages, lots of fun with forward-thinking DJs. Serpentine will now slither into the Mr. West mess along with a restaurant called BES (“Boutique Eating Shop”). Patrick Duffy is a clever fellow with a large and supremely loyal following. He’ll make a go of it.

My man Bugsy is hosting a comedy night called Chuckle for a Cause to help raise money for underprivileged kids who have little to laugh about. It’s at 8pm at Citrine, which I have been calling Latrine after they fired door guru Ross Hutkoff two days before his kid was born. They gave him back a night and are holding this important event, so it’s Citrine again.

My pal Mimi Margalit celebrated her birthday at Jane last night. The club is faced with a dilemma . The Jane doesn’t have a doorman until club hours or around 9pm. More and more people are arriving real early and sitting it out inside to avoid the tough door; the early business is grand, but when the summer ends, they’ll be wanting the administrators instead of the administrative assistants — the gallery owner rather than the gallery receptionist. It’s my favorite joint, and I hope it lasts. Mimi was a bit tipsy and was nicknamed Marinated Mimi for the evening. She wants to hook me up with a nice Jewish girl. I told her I would consider this idea providing the girl has no living relatives. It’s an awful joke but I’m sticking to it. Oh, and my spy tells me that Abe & Arthur’s looks delicious. Chef Franklin Becker will make sure it tastes delicious too.

TGIF: Harlots, Hoodoo, and Hotel Griffou

Did some Nostradamus-type advertising guru from T.G.I. Friday’s invent textese, therefore predicting the SMS revolution me and my Blackberry are now celebrating? I went to the T.G.I. Friday’s website to check and was bombarded with heavy metal music and images of violently searing meat, bottle-tossing bartenders and sexy Midwestern waitresses. Too much before my morning lemonade. I’m in love with my Blackberry. It doesn’t mean I want to marry it, but I do plan on taking it on vacation. Some say I’ll have a better time if I leave her at home and go with some random gal, but I told them to gft.

My brain is indeed withering from the heat of my mid-summer night’s dreams. Last night, I attended the “Harlot Nights” party thrown by Collective Hardware’s very own Puck, Stuart Bronz. It was a stooopid hot event, with only two floor fans for a massive crowd of hipsters, dipsters, and scenesters. In midsummer you can tell how good a party is going to be by counting all the cute summer interns dressed up and doing important things. This party was no joke. There were gaggles of beautiful, sweaty women everywhere. As I sat in the big couch and chatted up all that I could, I was constantly reminded by an annoying intern of the “Win a Date With Steve Lewis” contest Blackbook was going to host for me way back when. I told the nosey intern that I was seeing someone on-line. I explained that I wake up most mornings and go to sleep most nights chatting up a sexy Facebook friend far, far away, and sometimes we text or SMS or tweet during the day. I told the squeaky intern that indeed I had “never met her in the flesh.” After this horrible intern stopped laughing in my very sweaty face, she asked me if that wasn’t “a bit two-dimensional.” I said it was sort of like dating a model. People were changing into bathing suits, hand-painted right there in front of me, and I guessed that and the sweltering heat and the obnoxious intern were the “harlot” part of this monster gala. Patrick McMullan took a thousand photos of me with the irritating intern and introduced me to his son, that hot boy about town Liam, for the thousandth time. I left, because I know when to leave.

Tonight, Noel Ashman is hosting a party for Candace Bushnell, who of course had that bestseller book-to-series-to-movie Sex and the City. This uber-hot event will be at Mr. West, which seems even farther west than when it opened. I saw on the Facebook page Noel posted that 23 people had agreed to attend. This was less than the 25 people who are members of the “Noel Ashman Screwed Me Out of Money (and I’m Suing)” group. If you add in the 1 member of the “Noel Ashman Slept With My Girlfriend and I’m Angry” group and the 3 members of the “Noel Ashman Is Not the King of New York” group, you can see that he is clearly outnumbered. However, if he rolls in with Chris Noth, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jessie Bradford, Damon Dash, and other members of his loving and loyal investment group (ready to change nightlife as we know it any minute now), then it’s a push. Unless Ivy brings Scratt — but that’s a different story altogether. I contacted Noel for comment but got none. Could he have been shacked up with that guy’s girlfriend? I assure you that although most of you have no idea what just happened, there are others who are really enjoying this. It’s all on Google — or is it ggl? I love Noel Ashman. He is a frnd and not just of the FB variety. I may just go West to see him tonight.

I went to Hotel Griffou the other night. I was told the place was working out the kinks, and I should not judge it harshly. I guess when they fix the crowd, decor, lighting, and noise I will give it another look. When I mentioned this to the friend who brought me there, she made all these excuses and told me that “the food would be great when they work out the kinks … it’s new!” I used to pop into the place from time to time when it was the great secret hang Marylou’s. Jack Nicholson would enjoy a cigar there and was such a regular that when the smoking ban kicked in, Jack said he would pay the six figures to put in an air filtration system to keep things right. Alas, the city retreated from its approval of these systems because the ban is about employees as well as patrons, and cleaning up and such wouldn’t be fair to these people. I was told not to say bad things about the place, so I decided that every time someone says “Hotel Griffou,” I will just say, “god bless you.” See you l8r.

Sound Ideas: Daniel Agne of Funktion One

What clubs offer that bars and lounges generally don’t is sound and DJs. There are a few guys at the top of the heap in the sound world, and Daniel Agne is one of those guys. If the sound is crisp and clear, chances are that the club owner spent a great deal of cash to make that happen. As a designer, sound considerations are a day-one thing. The open entrance to the mezzanine level at Marquee with no apparent break to stop the bleed from the main floor was a major design move. The padded ceiling and columns and front of the bar at Home overcame the tremendous bounce from the hardwood floors, brick walls, and concrete ceilings. Joe Lodi hid bass speakers behind banquettes and added a scoop that pushed the sound where it needed to be. The club world is never as easy as people think, and I hope this interview with Daniel gives you insight on the process of sound installation

You do the sound at premier nightclubs, putting in DJ booths, speaker placements, etc., making the room sound great. What’s the name of your company? The company is called Sound Investment and Divine Lab, and we’re often regarded as Funktion One in the US. We do sound, video, lighting, and entertainment technology

People say places like 1Oak have a great sound system because it has a Funktion One system. What is the history of Funktion One? We have access to essentially every type of loudspeaker, amplifier, and processor in the market. We’ve done many AB tests over the years and continually do them when new products are released. We base our company on the confidence that we are designing using the highest-performing equipment possible within the design budget allowed. Funktion One loudspeakers are the core of our systems because we feel that they are the best possible speaker available. Period. They are the result of a holistic design process that prioritizes overall system integrity as apposed to monetarily based design directives. In Funktion One, we found a philosophical approach that runs congruent with that of our own. Tony Andrews and John Newsham at Funktion One have achieved audio excellence by combining decades of technical experience in cabinet and speaker design with a passion for fidelity. By fabricating the speaker drivers in-house, Funktion One is able to precisely tailor the response of each loudspeaker model, using mechanical adjustments to cure mechanical problems instead of leaving it to electronic equalization after the fact, which does not address the root cause of the problem.

In the last ten years, we’ve seen a breakout of DJs and talent, so instead of getting $5,000 to $10,000 a night, DJs are now getting about $40,000 to $50,000. How is sound technology keeping up with the DJs, and how do inventions like Serato and the fade away from vinyl affect what you do? It makes it much more difficult to produce a quality result because technology was once difficult for the common man to obtain. You used to go to a recording studio as a privilege because it was an expensive and exclusive process. You would be there with trained professionals with standards and experience, so you had great quality equipment in experienced hands, and only the best of the best got there. Now, every busboy and their brother is a DJ because the cost of producing music at home is cheap, since they’ve found ways to make the products inexpensive. With all of these mass-produced, lower quality products, on the professional end we have more availability with producing higher quality and better sound systems. But we’ve also been crippled because with this highly accurate, super-loud system that can reproduce whatever comes into it accurately, we have loud distortion and poor-sounding tracks.

What’s the solution? The solution is education, as with any sort of technology. New technology can come in and dilute the waters, but there will also be a backlash — a purist approach that promotes the philosophy of “Well, okay, that’s great that you all started downloading and transferring diseased tracks everywhere.” It’s an education process, but it is starting to be socialized and realized, so there is common knowledge now that when you’re downloading the tracks at low bit rate and you’re paying less for it, that’s not a good thing. That’s like being a race car driver and buying a cheap engine.

What places have you done sound for in New York? Cielo, 1Oak, we just finished the Griffin with you and Marc Dizon, and we did the Crobar system when it became Mansion (M2). We work with Sean McPherson and Eric Goode. We do a lot of their hotel work; we just did the Jane Hotel with them, The Bowery Hotel, The Maritime Hotel; we worked on Mr. West, and we did the basement for APT.

You did Cielo, which is one of the premium dance clubs, and you did 1Oak, which is a different type of club — it’s a lot of mash-up, hip hop, and not as house-heavy as Cielo. Are there any adjustments you make for a club like 1Oak as opposed to Cielo? For Cielo, I have the luxury of tuning for complete accuracy and that’s what my approach was with it. With a venue where you are going to have a more eclectic DJ pool and format, you have to tune your systems to take out some of the things that would be adverse depending on what they are going to play. So if I knew on a system that everyone was going to play good music, I would tune it a little bit differently.

What do you mean by “good music”? I’m talking about the quality. When you get into mash-up and stuff like that, it’s absolutely highly diseased tracks that are being transferred. It’s like the plague — this person now has it and 37 people have transferred it — it just doesn’t sound great. It’s compressed, and it’s cheap downloads in the first place. To a certain point, there’s nothing you can do; we are working on a certain proxy to reintroduce and grab elements that are salvageable, but it’s difficult. 1Oak is more consistent than other places with having good DJs, and obviously Cielo is also because Nicholas Matar had a rhyme and a reason when he set out to do that and he did it. My design firm Lewis & Dizon just did Griffin with you, and when they brought you in, there was a conversation about how the sound was going to work within the design of the room. I’m sure that Nicolas Matar of Cielo was designing the shape of the room and seating with sound in mind from day one. Was it the same with 1Oak? Ronnie Madra, Jeffrey Jah, Scott Sartiano and Richie Akiva were both very very adamant that it had to have a great sound system. I think that our company takes a tremendous amount of pride in working with designers. We appreciate the aesthetics of a room, and we’ll go to great lengths to try not to violate that. Sometimes it’s a wrestling match, but we try to come up with custom and unique solutions that would not violate what the design and functionality of a room needs to be. With 1Oak it was actually quite a process with the design to get to where we were, but they did the things they should have done; there were a couple things we were fortunate about, and they did allow me to put things where I needed.

1Oak has a vibrant social scene, and the seating area generally has less sound so that people can speak, while a place like Cielo has great sound in every spot of the room. How do you do that — is it a challenge for you? What you do is have your main focus area, and then off of that you’re doing fills and trying to timeline it to be coming off of the main system. It’s a delay, when you timeline something — you have a system that is going to be your main system, it’s going to be the loudest area, and you’re just trying to accent that.

So what you’re saying is that even in a small room, if the sound is not properly balanced, you’ll hear echoes? Yeah, shorter distances show up as confusion because your brain doesn’t process it accurately, and it’s a disruption instead. At greater distances it’s actually referred to as the Haas effect, but you start to then discern that there are different starting points, or it’ll be like an echo, or it has its own beat to it because it literally starts to get disruptive.

You hear this in a lot of big spaces like Capitale, where you have high ceilings and hard surfaces. Yeah, that’s a room slap echo, where it bounces of the walls.

Clubs are being built everywhere in the city, residents are moving into club districts, and the co-existence of clubs with communities is becoming a big issue. How much consideration is given to the leaking of the sound to the street? It’s important for every single job, and the earlier on in the process that we can get involved with the design and the layout, it really benefits the project. It is obviously a really heavily weighted factor, and every club owner does know that because it is an Achilles’ heel. It can put a club out of business sometimes — does so even if they are running it properly. There’s an issue of how you can achieve that unless you’ve really painstakingly designed the space, or if you have the luxury of sound space within the venue.

You fortunately work for good people; do you turn down a lot of jobs? I do, more often today than I used to, because I’ve learned that despite your best intentions, your efforts are going to end up being inhibited by the personality of the owner. You have quite a reputation; there are two or three people in the city who are talked about in the same breath as you, but sometimes people buy you only because they want your brand, for the vanity of having it. There will be pitfalls. I’ve learned that through Spirit. I was promised a lot when we started that I never got. He [Spirit owner Robbie Wooton] didn’t accept our input, and I should’ve turned that job down. He made a promise that he didn’t keep as well. When I said, “This isn’t enough sound,” he said, okay, “I’ll tell you what, when we turn it on, we’ll have some time and if it’s not right, we’ll get the rest of the parts.” And then when it got to that point, he didn’t do what he said he was going to do, and none of those factors come up when people talk about it or. People don’t consider that part; it’s just your reputation.

When people come in and they hear you did the sound, they’re expecting value, and if you can’t give it to them, you shouldn’t be doing the job. Yes, he turned around and spent three times as much for a different sound engineer and also used the equipment that I already had in there. So he had mine, plus three times as much, so I thought, okay … that’s fair. So, in that I learned a valuable lesson, which is to understand what the result is going to be for the risk you are incurring and figure out if it’s really worth it. Because it took me a lot of time to repair what the impression was of that work.

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.
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Industry Insiders: Laura Poretzky, Abaete’s Empress

Abaete’s founder and designer Laura Poretzky on the never-ending pressures of Fashion Week and using the recession as a recipe for creativity.

What has been your most memorable Fashion Week so far? I would say my first, because I won the UPS designer award and I got to show at the tents. That was really special. It was definitely the most memorable. After that, I think it was my Spring 2008 show, where we had a Miami Art Deco theme, and we had a tile company tile the entire runway and backdrop for us. It was one of my favorite collections because it was really what Abaete is about — color blocking and femininity. I felt like it was a really good collection for us.

Has there ever been a potentially disastrous moment at a show? Oh, yeah, there have definitely been moments where we haven’t sent girls out because they weren’t dressed, and so they miss their looks. That’s very upsetting when you put together a whole show and two or three girls don’t end up going out because they didn’t get dressed in time. Sometimes we just send them out of order, but there are other times where they will miss their look, and it’s just too late if it’s towards the end of the show. But now, we make sure to put models in less than 12 looks, so that doesn’t happen.

How far in advance do you beginning preparing for Fashion Week? We start making the collection three months ahead, and about six weeks before we really start getting the space ready, we figure out where we’re going to have the show, what the theme is going to be, and if we’re going to do anything to the space. And then two weeks before the show, we start looking at models, figuring out the casting dates; and then one week before, we do the casting, then fittings. . During the entire process, are you more nervous or excited? It’s a combination of both, but I would say its more nerves than excitement. I think the excitement comes when you’re done, everything is over, and you’ve seen the reviews, and you’ve seen the reactions. I think before that, there is a little bit of excitement, but the majority of it is very very tense.

How do you feel in the moment right before the show starts? You kind of feel like there’s no point in being there because there’s nothing you can do. Basically at that point, you’re done being nervous — you just hope that nothing is going to go wrong, that none of the models are going to trip, and that everything goes smoothly backstage.

How do you feel in the moment right after the show ends? You feel so relieved, and then you have to go out on the runway, and you just hope that you don’t trip.

Does it get less stressful every year as you get more comfortable with putting on shows? I think it depends really on the collection. There are certain collections you feel really confident about because they are really cohesive and those shows tend to be — even though it’s hectic — less stressful as opposed to shows when you’re really doing everything at the last minute, and you’re getting looks together and making garments the night before. Has the economy really affected the way you produced your show this year? Yes, we’re showing off-site. We’re really excited about this for two reasons: Not only is the space more interesting than the tents, which allows us to really mold it to our company and to the theme of the collection, but we’re also excited about being in a venue where we’re going to have live music. We’re having a band called Priestbird play. They play the cello and the classical violin in a modern way. It’s so beautiful. I think during this time, you just have to do something that catches people’s eyes, that gives them an emotion. You have to give them something really interesting, and I think it’s good because it makes people more creative. I am sure people are going to make great collections this season.

Has that affected your Fall 2009 line also? For sure. We made the line smaller and more interesting. We tried to make every piece very very special, so the collection is just more compact and more interesting. The clothes have to be interesting enough that people want to buy them, that they need to buy them. People are going to be spending their money very carefully, so you have to give them versatile peaces that they can wear a lot and are really interesting.

What are your plans for the afterparty this year? We’re doing an after-party at Mr. West. We don’t really have that much time to plan, so we’re doing it with a company called Quintessentially that always does a really good job. It’s just our time to relax, have fun, drink, and be together after a period where we’ve all worked so hard. It’s just nice to have everyone who worked on the show be together and be able to enjoy themselves.

What other show are you really looking forward to this season? I’m always really interested to see what the boys from Proenza Schouler do, and what other people in my market do, like Diane von Furstenburg. I also think the girls from Vena Cava always have something really cool and interesting. So I’m interested to see what my friends are doing and also to see what my contemporaries do as well.

Industry Insiders: Fabrizio Brienza, Signor West

Mr. West’s exuberant Italian door person Fabrizio Brienza on looking marvelous, not being a crackhead, and how he selects New York sexpots to cross his velvet ropes.

Where do you hang out? When I don’t work, I never go out. For me, it’s like going to the office on a Saturday. I don’t want to do that. I live in Tribeca, and I go this little Italian place called Capri Café. It’s very low key, but they are my friends who run the place, and they cook just like my mom. So I go there all the time. I like the Tribeca Grand sometimes. For places to go out, I like the Box and Rose Bar. I like places that are a little bit underground and not commercial at all. I like to hide sometimes. I don’t like to be in the club with all the club people all the time. I like to be the opposite. Low key. For outdoor bars, I like the rooftop at the Gramercy Hotel.

Who are two people that you admire in the nightclub industry? I admire Suzanne Bartsch. I really admire her. She used to do my parties when I worked at Pivali (a club in New York). And I admire her because she’s the real deal. Nobody can do a party like Suzanne. Her parties are guaranteed to be incredible. I also admire of course, the people I’m working with now — Danny Devine and Jus Ske. They’ve been in the business so long, and they know what’s up. I admire Danny A, because he is a great promoter. He really knows everybody in town — in the entertainment business, in every business.

How would you describe yourself? I think I’m pretty unique. I don’t really like to describe myself. I’d rather other people describe me. What am I going to say? That I’m the best? No.

How are you different when you’re working? When I’m working, I always put up a show. I try to be the idea. It’s like being on stage. I like to dress up. I like to look different. I like to look like I’m in a movie. I wear a big fur coat and suits. I think the look of nightlife is everything. It’s a superficial world. If you look good, you are good. If you don’t look good, you’re not good. The sound and the visual are everything in nightlife. Visually you like to see beautiful people and with sounds, you always love to hear good music. I try to give people these two things the most.

What is one thing that people may not know about you? That I’m not a crackhead.

What is one positive trend that you see in the nightlife industry now? I think that in the moment of recession, it’s a good time to be creating and doing something different. Because I think that’s what the nightlife is all about. I hate the corporate parts — they all look the same. I like the edgy stuff. I like when people take risks, and people are leaders and not ships. I like when people open up their clubs, and they want to do something different that’s not all about the trends. They know that a trend isn’t going to work, and they’re never going to be original. I think that now is the time to create art. Nightlife is an art. So to me, the more original you are — the better it is. Respect yourself, don’t be afraid, and have fun with it. It’s not like you’re murdering anybody. I like when people express themselves, and I wish they expressed themselves more. Especially in New York — it’s supposed to be the best city in the world. I would like to see more crazy people out. Crazy good, crazy fun. It’s not like the nightlife is corporate work. It shouldn’t be like Meryl Lynch. I would like to see more free minds and free-spirited people doing whatever they feel like they need to do.

What’s the crowd like at Mr. West? Mr. West has a very nice crowd. Upscale, cool people. Lots of models, some industry people, lots of hipsters, some celebrities. A very cool crowd.

If someone came to the door at Mr. West who wasn’t on the list, what would make you want to let them in? First off, I’m just gonna look at the fashion. If her fashion looks good and she’s stylish, that’s enough for me. Cool, stylish, dressed like she knows what’s up. If she’s beautiful — done. That’s all I need to know. Then if she’s like a serial killer once she gets in, that’s her problem. To me, if someone looks good, that’s enough.

What are you doing tonight? I’m working. Unfortunately.

Photo: Chelsea Stemple

Good Night Mr. Lewis: Shouting on Sunday

A few weeks back I spoke of the Haves and the Have-Nots. I tried to explain what the club market would be looking like as the now “official” recession sets in. The rich (or well-run clubs) are maintaining; they have tightened their belts and shed bottle promoters whose clients haven’t survived the crunch. With payrolls cut and a steady flow of people, they scoop from the Have-Not clubs which are dying — things aren’t so bad for them. On the other end, however, its bad news across the board. The C- and D-list clubs are swimming upstream, and they’re in a losing battle with the bad economic current.

It’s easy to figure out how much a club is making: you just ask a waitress at some joint what she made — say, Saturday and then do some math. A waitress gets 20 percent of her client’s bottle sales, and from that loot she pays out according to the joint, ranging anywhere from 43 percent to 47 percent. So after a little math and a little question — “How many waitresses were working?” — you know what sales were generated at the tables. Ask her if the place was crowded and you can guesstimate bar revenues, etc. It’s not entirely accurate, but you can get a good idea. My spies tell me that 1Oak, Tenjune, Greenhouse, Kiss & Fly, Mr. West, and Marquee are still selling bottles and feeding their staff. But after that it gets a bit thin.

Yesterday, I spoke of the return of the dance floor, and today I add the return of the cashier booth. For a long time, nobody had me building them — the bottle-service theory had eliminated the need to charge at the door. That’s going to change. Groups of guys who used to be hit with the obligatory two-bottle minimum will now be humbled with the $20 door admission — look for this everywhere, and real soon. The crowd that our hero-of-the-day, John Davis, attracts will become increasingly more important in the scheme of things because they are used to paying to hear good music. That club renaissance I’ve been chatting about for almost a year will rise out of this decaying scene. Phase two is here.

Without the boring bottle-monkeys, clubs are being forced — in an incredibly hostile and competitive market — to adjust. It becomes uber important for them to provide good music, dance floors, cater less to the yuppie scum, and finally welcome a more diverse crowd because it’s simply too hard to turn away those pays. Now, if we can get a few drag queens on the bar, I may whip out my last Halston suit and go out … and I might even smile.

Back to John Davis. I think the bottle service side is sliding as the stock market slides, and clubs that are music-based and giving a good bang-for-your-buck are where it’s at. Will the DJs now adjust to the worldwide recession? I’m doing bookings with Studio B over in Brooklyn, and a lot of the DJs are still trying to get their same fees. I don’t think they’ve felt the pinch of the economy yet.

But it’s inevitable that some of these prices have to come down. A lot of the clubs are moving away from strictly bottle service — Cain is an example … they’ve already approached me about doing Thursday nights there because they want a music-oriented crowd on Thursday. They know they’re not going to make as much money, but they want the credibility of having a music crowd and having a good sound. I think those clubs are starting to change, realizing that they need to have bottle service because it pays the bills, but also understanding that it’s good to have that music crowd too.

The club music scene used to be a very drug-oriented culture. When I talk to owners today a lot of them say they don’t want to bring that in. You operate and run your own party within the framework of a club. How do you deal with this problem? By the very nature of it, the crowd from the music events I do isn’t a hardcore drug crowd anymore. Because of what’s been going on in the Meatpacking District, a lot of that crowd now is very sensitive to that. And I always used to say this to people coming into the club — look, do what you need to do, just don’t do it at the risk of our business. If you want to do it, go outside, walk around the block, do what you have to do and come back. We were always very cool about it. Usually if you’re polite and very upfront with people, they’re respectful of that. Plus the crowd we had was a very cool crowd.

People don’t understand the subtleties of house music, but the Body&Soul crowd is highly intelligent. The thing about the Body&Soul crowd — which I think is our winning formula — is that it wasn’t ever any particular crowd; it was a mixture of everything, a real melting pot. It was a gay, straight, black, white. It’s so mixed that you have your floor-filling crowd, which is predominantly the non-drinkers, and then you have the people who want to stand at the bar, drink, and listen to the music. It’s that mixture of people that work.

Body&Soul is also not a night crowd. You start in the afternoon, which is an unusual approach. When I first started the concept of the Sunday day party, I had come from London where this big Sunday scene had just started. Clubs were opening up at 10 a.m. and going on till 6 or 7 p.m. on a Sunday. They were getting this crowd coming in that weren’t even going out on Saturdays; they were an older crowd, people who had jobs and kids and mortgages … it was perfect for them. They could get babysitters on a Sunday, come to the club, party, dance, then go home, go to bed, and get up for work on a Monday morning. And it’s a casino concept — you go into a club, with no windows, no clocks, so for all intents and purposes, it feels like nighttime.

But you also got a lot of the people who were up from the night before? That was the problem. When we started the party, we started at ten in the morning, and we were getting everyone coming out of the Palladium and the Tunnel. They were coming straight out of those clubs and coming to Body&Soul. I’d have people come to Body&Soul, they’d be there for an hour, full of energy, then all of a sudden everything started wearing off. And next thing you know, I had a room full of people fast asleep. So I changed the time to noon. At noon, we were getting the crowd coming out of Palladium from Junior Vasquez’s party, drag queens, etc. So we eventually moved the start time to 4 p.m., so when people came out of the clubs at 10 a.m. or noon, they had nowhere to go, so they had to go home.

So it was a public service thing too — you saved lives? Probably. I wanted people to come the same way you go to church every Sunday; I wanted them to come to Body&Soul fresh.

The music is like a religion with your crowd, isn’t it? Well, the music’s very diverse now; we play everything from electro to techno, reggae, and house. It’s so mixed up because we’ve got three guys who’ve collectively got over 100 years worth of musical experience between them. Francois plays predominantly electro and techno, Danny plays the old-school disco, classics, and house, and then Joe plays all the tribal and Latin music.

How do you mix them up? Are there rules? They just do their thing together, all three of them. And if you see it on, December 28, at Webster Hall, you see the crowd just loves it. The crowd is screaming. I’ve been doing this for 15 years now in New York, and everyone says to me that there’s no club that has the kind of energy that you see on a Body&Soul night.

You never made the step of being an owner … how many times did you think about that? I’ve been presented with offers many times, but for various reasons I never did it. My whole concept was — I saw this from being involved with a lot of owners and dealing with owners — that being tied to the real estate in a club that all of a sudden isn’t popular anymore can be like an albatross around your neck. For me, it was much better to come, do my party, make my money, and leave. I know now how fickle this industry is … your club is as hot as it is until the next hot place opens up, and then everyone moves there. Very few clubs have been able to keep it up. But honestly, I’m at the stage in my life where now I would be interested in becoming an owner.

Becoming an owner in New York? I’m involved with Studio B in Brooklyn now. We’re making a lot of changes there and it’s doing really well. We’ve only been open three weeks and already we’re doing over a 1,000 people every Friday night. It’s in that sort of semi-industrial neighborhood, but it’s still in an area where the cops drive by every night, and they never bother us. It has that old warehouse feel that I remember when I went to clubs. I didn’t go to velvet-rope, red carpet type places; I went to old dingy warehouses, where you had to make three phone calls just to find out where it was. I have a new party starting there on December 14 called Sunday Shoutin!

Since you now have experience doing both, how does DJing compare to being a promoter? The biggest difference being a DJ as opposed to being a promoter is the connection you have with your audience; to be able to take them on a musical journey and to see deep into their expressions. Their minds are taken to any place, and to be a part of creating that is nothing short of magic. Soulful house music, in my opinion, touches you in a way no other music does. It reaches deep into your soul and takes you to spiritual place that you have to experience to know what I mean. The DJ is the facilitator of that amazing ride. It is truly a blessing to be able to be in that position.

Industry Insiders: DJ Jus Ske, Master of Western Decks

Mr. West co-owner and DJ Jus Ske talks about blowing up, speeding up, and building up.

Favorite Hangs: When I’m in Tokyo, I love Feria. It’s a very high-energy, New York-style club abroad. David Guetta’s “F*** Me, I’m Famous” parties are always insane, and I love those. When I’m in NYC, you can usually find me at Mr. West, 1Oak, Beatrice Inn, or Rose Bar.

Point of Origin: I was born in Manhattan and have lived here my entire life. I think a lot of my musical influence comes from my dad. Everywhere we went, he was constantly playing music in the car — funk, 80s, jazz, classic rock, Latin — you name it, I heard it as a kid. When I was 21, I started at Life, promoting Friday nights with Mark Ronson. Mark was really the one that got me into DJing. He taught me the basics, and I took a big interest in it from the start. A few years later, I was promoting and starting to DJ at Lot 61 with Richie Akiva, and from there, everything started to snowball. Before I knew it, I started getting recognized by a lot of big-name people and was being asked to spin at clubs all around with world.

Occupations: I just opened a new club with Danny Divine in West Chelsea called Mr. West. I’m also continuing to DJ all over the place — I just DJed at Diesel’s XXX party in Brooklyn and was also in LA for DJ AM’s welcome home party. I really want to own more properties. I’m loving what Danny Divine and I are doing with Mr. West. and I’m excited to see what we can do next … maybe a hotel. I’m also thinking about possibly getting into acting and maybe releasing a DJ album soon.

Side Hustle: I have a clothing line called Danucht. Its very street couture, and I have a good handle in the design process, which is a pretty cool new world for me. I’m also a part owner of Oso energy drink, which can be found all over the city at places like Mr. West, Rose Bar, Marquee, etc.

Industry Icons: I really respect Richie Akiva as a veteran of the industry and his ability to pull together all the right elements of a party in order to make it perfect. I also admire Danny A for the way he can bring together the best crowd. Noah Tepperberg has proven time and time again that his business savvy is unmatched in the industry today. No one can run a business like Noah. All of these guys have the ability to maintain the sexy and classy integrity of a party by recognizing that it’s not always about making money.

Deck Trends: Music in NYC is definitely changing. It’s becoming a lot faster, which is great because it really increases the energy in a club. I’m starting to hear less hip-hop and more electro and dance, but I can never get enough of my hip-hop and rock and roll.

Known Associates: Shout out Pharrell, Zac Posen, Kanye, Noemie Lenoir, Mark Ronson, Mario Sorrenti, Jessica Stam and Kaws — all of these people have been huge supporters of Mr. West, and I can’t thank them enough.

What are you doing tonight? I’ll be at Mr. West.

New York: The Hottest Weekend Party Nights

imageAbout damn time.

Friday 1. 1Oak (Chelsea) – Cool rules the door at this lavish new hot spot. 2. Ella (East Village) – Deco blacks and whites glamming up lower Avenue A. 3. GoldBar (Nolita) – Gold is the new black.

4. Mr. West (Chelsea) – Snug, stylish hotness in the middle of gallery-ville from Danny Divine and DJ Jus Ske. 5. Little Branch (West Village) – We’ll go out on a limb and say it’s cocktail heaven.

Saturday 1. Merkato 55 (Meatpacking District) – Crazy-dancing-on-the-tables-brunch at this Addis Ababa market inspiring latest MePa grazing. 2. Santos Party House (Chinatown) – Big, sweaty, hot bi-level boite with sick sound and killer acts for dancing downtown darlings. 3. subMercer (Soho) – Submerce yourself in max exclusivity deep in the bowels of the Mercer Hotel. 4. White Star (Lower East Side) – Chase that flighty Green Fairy thanks to a clever loophole in the trade laws. 5. Cain Luxe (Chelsea) – Revamped hotspot amps up the system, add some design touches, focuses more on electronic music.

Sunday 1. Freeman’s (Lower East Side) – Hunting lodge chic pioneer, newly expanded to better display animal head and stuffed bird collection. Booze-fueled brunches are the best here. 2. Sway (Soho) – Moroccan-themed rocker. Share in the angst with La Lohan on Sunday night Morrissey fests. 3. Le Souk (East Village) – Fezzes, hookahs, belly dancers, hotties, and oglers. Indulge your ADD. 4. APT (Meatpacking District) – Not-so-secret cooly-skooly dancing spot. Likely scene of future iPod playlist war. 5. Socialista (West Village) – Cipriani team brings Cuban hotness behind the handsome face of Bungalow 8 doorman Armin Amiri.