How to Throw a Hot Summer Kick-Off Party

Heat up your summer kick-off party with a refreshingly spicy SVEDKA Grapefruit Jalapeño Vodka cocktail and the perfect playlist.

We’ve been ready to come out of hibernation for a while, and finally the weather is cooperating with our plans for a summer kick-off party. To get things started with rooftop celebrating, BlackBook writers Felicity Sargent and Mark Molle are sharing what it takes to throw the ultimate party, down to the details in playlist and cocktails (like the kick of jalapeño in grapefruit flavored vodka, courtesy of SVEDKA).

There’s nothing like a dresser drink to get things started — you know, the cocktail you make to get in the mood while you’re getting the party ready. Enter the SVEDKA Dog Bite.

Ingredients:
2 parts SVEDKA Grapefruit Jalapeño
4 parts grapefruit juice
1 slice jalapeño
salt

Instructions:
Pour SVEDKA Grapefruit Jalapeño into a salt-rimmed rocks glass filled with ice. Top with grapefruit juice and stir. Garnish with a slice of jalapeño.

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Next up: Tunes.

“A properly structured party playlist should naturally correspond with the three acts of a properly structured party. Let’s go ahead and pretend that we are spinning somewhere subterranean circa the late aughts,” our hosts say.

  1. The Introduction: “This is when revelers enter and prepare to cross the threshold into the party world.” (Talking Heads through The Drums)
  2. Total party immersion: “When revelers immerse themselves more and more in the party world and the party stakes rise and rise and rise until the party becomes their only world.” (The Pixies through MGMT)
  3. The beginning of the end. (Peter Bjorn and John through M83)

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This next cocktail, Paloma Picante, takes center stage once the playlist is settled and guests start to filter in.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 parts SVEDKA Grapefruit Jalapeño
3/4 part grapefruit juice
1/2 part fresh lime juice
1/2 part simple syrup
1 slice de-seeded jalapeño
lemon-lime soda

Instructions:

Combine ingredients, except lemon-lime soda, in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake and strain into a Collins glass filled with jalapeño infused ice and top with soda. Check out how here:

Hit play, serve cocktails, and make a toast. Here’s to summer!

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Jaguars 3’s Opening Bash Tonight, What Makes DJ Jennifly Green So Fly

I’m very late today because I went to Long Island to pick up slate for the fireplace at The Elsinore, which is quickly approaching completion. I think it will be done the end of next week. On the way back, with literally a ton of stone in the truck, the truck konked out. Luckily, we were on a steep hill and spotted a gas station at the bottom. We just rolled into the place and they went to work right away to fix what was broke. Next door to the gas station was a Dunkin’ Donuts so it wasn’t a complete disaster.

One of the prime directives of nightlife and maybe life itself is, "if it ain’t broke don’t fix it." The converse of this is, "if it is broke, fix it… and fast." My DJ gig at Hotel Chantelle got a little broke as mainstay Scott Hockins and his merry band of rockers left, anticipating the imminent opening of The Elsinore, where he has a piece. Tim Spuches of Chantelle added Michael Tee as a DJ, added fabulous new promoters, and gave Sam Valentine the tools he needs to reinvigorate his Thursday night. Yes, Sam got a couple of stripper poles to excite his crowd. Oh, and he hired a couple of girls to do what they do with those. Sam had his last bash at White Noise this past Friday. This new party is called Generation Wild and it blasts off tonight.
 
I will DJ off and on with only one regret: missing the opening of Jaguars 3, a new nightclub in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, (225 47th Street). They’re doing a dinner and serving complimentary cocktails tonight and all of Brooklyn’s finest will be on hand – maybe Staten Island as well. They offered to send me a car, but alas I’m otherwise engaged. I’d cross-commute for this one because old-school Brooklyn clubs are amazingly amazing when they are. As part of the festivities, Chuck Zito will be celebrating his birthday there tonight, surely setting a tone. Chuck will be the regular VIP host of Jaguars 3. Manhattan joints are what they ar,e and maybe Brooklyn clubs are what they aren’t, but sometimes that’s just more fun.
 
Tomorrow night is the monthly party Hot Music and my pal DJ Jennifly Green is expecting me. I will surely come, as her parties are that rare mix of cultures and music populated by exciting, dancing adults. I asked her all about it:
 
Tell me about the party…the wheres, the whens, the whos but more importantly the whys, as in why should people go.
Hot Music is simply Hot Music! Basically, Hot Music is a monthly party where the vibe, music, and having fun are king, and image and attitude are irrelevant. Musically, there’s no particular mission statement, but expect to hear a lot of funk, 80s & 90s, R & B, house, & perhaps a little classic hip-hop… Where in the city can nightlife dwellers go to hear real dance music from all genres that’s not exactly radio-friendly, top 40 music? Your choices are very limited. Hot Music happens every first Friday of the month at subMercer.  Resident DJs include: South London’s Jennifly, DJ MOma, and ROK ONE, all bringing elements of their varied styles into the mix. If you are looking for a great, sophisticated party, you should go to Hot Music at the subMercer, where all you need are your dancing shoes. Our one goal is to stay connected to the people on the dance floor and keep them there.
 
Why a monthly? What are the advantages of doing a monthly as opposed to a weekly?
The idea is to give something for people to look forward to once a month. They know if they miss it, they will have to wait a whole month, and that is long! So we do it once a month to make it a special event to look forward to. And people get upset if they do miss it; we have gained a loyal following –  it’s the the usual Friday night affair for many. We started the party a year ago, and it’s still hot! Hot Music brings the feel of what basement-style parties were like in New York 10 years ago, before bottle service ruined the easy-going vibe. Why should you go to Hot Music? The dance floor is always packed, with a transatlantic hip crowd that’s a microcosm of New York City. Black, white, gay, straight, and the fabulous!
 
We play danceable music from all genres: 80s, nu- disco, deep house, 90s dance, new wave and electronica; whatever mood we are in we go with it. Sometimes we have themes, like a tribute to a recently-passed artist.
 
Where else can you hear Holy Ghost alongside Prince, Talking Heads, D-Train, and Cut Copy? People come to our party because they know what they are going to get and hear. It’s very rare that you hear all these types of music under one roof in one night; that’s what makes our party unique. Then there’s the talent of the three DJs that make Hot Music its namesake.
 
We DJ’d together at that getting-to-know-you-party for staffers when Blackbook merged with Vibe. Tell us about yourself.
I’m originally from London. I have DJ’d at some of the most exclusive lounges in New York, such as subMercer, The Mulberry Project, Peninsula Hotel Roof Deck, and Apothèke. I like to DJ at the cool spots with a sophisticated clientele who enjoy good music – not the annoying type that doen’t know who David Bowie is. My DJ sets are an eclectic mix of dance music of all genres, from music that were popular on the radio in the UK when I was growing up, like Britpop and new wave, to 80s, pop/R & B, disco, electronica, lounge, post punk, nu-disco, indie, and house.

St. Patrick’s Day Soirèe Saturday at Yotel, Steven Greenberg’s Memorial Service Next Tuesday

Look, I hope you won’t be insulted if I keep this short today. I am way too busy to chat or be profound or funny or whatever it is I am doing these days. I got to get to the 17 Stanton space, formerly called The Elsinore, to finish up with the construction so you guys can go oooh and ahh or say …"What in God’s name was he thinking?" According to Scott Solish at Eater yesterday, nobody cares, but sometimes he is a little left of right. I read his take on my column yesterday and noticed just a little error…a right when he should have gone left. He said that Noel Ashman had changed the name. In reality, the name was changed over Noel’s strenuous objections. This will play out, as revelers attend the space and play with tables and bottles and other toys. Seventeen Stanton has a new name, which will be seen and heard sometime in the next few days. The place is almost ready. It feels good-to-go. After this writing and the day-job designing, I’m off to Hotel Chantelle to DJ with Sam Valentine and Michael Tee and a slew of others.. I’ll get home at 6am-ish. I was up at 7am, so it’s a 23-hour day for me. I figure I’ll get all the sleep I need in 20 or 30 years.

Saturday I will don the green tie and attend the Saint Patricks Day soirèe my two favorite Patricks are throwing at Yotel. Mr. Patrick Duffy and Mr. Patrick McMullan and son Liam will be hosting. Liam will DJ, along with the Justin (O)Strauss. I’m not a big fan of the day and even less of the night, which is often ruined by people who have been drinking all day, well …er …since 1995. The "no gays" in the parade thing is a disgrace and…well, I’m in a hurry. I asked Patrick Duffy a few Steve Lewis questions. He gave me Patrick Duffy answers.
 
Tell me about this year’s St. Patrick Day festivities.
We are doing it at the Yotel! We have taken over the space for the night. Liam is going to DJ along with Justin Strauss. We are having a private dinner for Patrick, Liam and I, and our best friends..then a massive party for everyone!
 
Which of you is the most Irish? McMullan or you?
Hard to say! I know we all have the luck of the Irish! Patrick and Liam are sweet, charming, and so much fun! I hope I am too! We are calling ourselves the Holy Trinity for the evening Father (Patrick McM) Son (Liam) and Holy Ghost (guess who).
 
For those that are clueless or who live under rocks, tell them who you are and what you do.
 I am Patrick Duffy, I do Patrick Duffy things.
 
For years, gay people have been denied the opportunity to parade with the rest of the flock. Who wins on this, who loses, and how does that affect you inside?
The world loses. (Most) gays make the world a better place – the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, so to speak. At least the ones I know!
 
Growing up, when did you feel that you might skew different from the rest? When, if ever, did you stray from the pack and the traditional values?
I was born with heels on and a martini in hand. Didn’t have many friends at Catholic school, accept for some other members of the congregation.  
 
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In sadder news, a memorial service will be held Tuesday, March 20th for my dearly departed friend and mentor Steven Greenberg. I can’t believe he is gone. I will gather with the other disbelievers and believers at Park East Synagogue 163 East 67th Street to remember him. A close friend of Steven consoled me with this thought, "He lived to help put people together." He’s doing it again.

Fast Cars, Booze, & Good Music This Weekend at Re:Mix Lab’s Four-Day Party

I wasn’t going to write this week. I’m moving, and with the packing and a couple of DJ gigs I’m doing, it was too much, but here I am with my fifth article in so many days. When I don’t write I miss talking to you, and some of you say you miss me too.

I’m moving just a couple blocks from where I am now, into a better space for the same rent. I dwell in Williamsburg which is, to me, a little slice of heaven on earth. The Williamsburg/Greenpoint renaissance at first captured my imagination, and then my body, just like my second wife. New places to eat, drink, or play pop up faster than you can say "Bushwick.” A Manhattan snob friend was shocked that I wasn’t returning to Little Italy faster than you can no longer say Ray’s Pizza said to me, " Yo, I’ve been to that Williamsburg main drag two times, whatta ya call it, Bedford …didn’t see what all the fuss was about, yo Stevie, ya gots to come back to your peeps.” I told him that would be like judging Manhattan by the strip
of Broadway between Houston and Canal.  Bburg is built for me and mine. The delis, the restaurants, the boutiques, the furniture stores are geared to people with tastes like me. Most of the places in Manhattan these days cater to the old bridge-and-tunnel crowd which came in to occupy all those tall dormitories built in the last decade or so. So be it. Bburg certainly is becoming yuppified, and the baby carriages are becoming more common, but for now it’s my happy home.

Last night I missed the opening reception for the Re:Mix Lab. It was the kick-off of four days of fun, fun, fun till her daddy takes the Hyundai away. Hyundai has their cars on display and invites people to check them out while providing talent and a great party. Fast cars and booze are combined without danger since the cars can’t be driven . Yesterday I was DJing at Hotel Chantelle but am told there were live performances by Blonds, Skaters, and Opossum, as well as "Action Bronson, RL Grime, Sound Remedy, Hyperbits, Huge Euge, Nick Thayer, Sazon Booya, along with product demos from emerging technology companies such as Songza, Mixify,Beamz, Scratch Academy.” The events continue at Chelsea Market, 410 W.16th Street.

Here’s the programming for today through Sunday.

Friday, September 28
12:00PM – 6:00PM: The Future of Music Is Now (open house format)
                  – Vehicle displays, exhibits in collaboration, interactive art display, social media photo sharing, technology start-up village
8:00 PM: Music & Technology Keynote and panel discussion
   10:00 PM: Live performances
                  – RL Grime & Action Bronson: Solo performances, plus live on-stage collaboration to create a song for Hyundai Remix Lab. Recorded and remixed moments later by Sound Remedy to demonstrate how songs evolve into remixes.

Saturday, September 29
12:00PM – 6:00PM: Scratch Academy hosted by DJ Dasmatic (open house format)
                  – Vehicle displays, exhibits in collaboration, interactive art display, social media photo sharing, DJ mixing sessions, Learn to DJ demos
7:00PM: Closed to reset venue
9:00PM – 2:00AM: Live Performances (presented by ELEKTRO Magazine)
                   – Hyperbits: Electronic dance music duo based out of NYC, known for energetically fusing together big room progressive house, electro and trance
                   – Huge Euge: Resident mashup DJ at Pacha NYC
                   – Sazon Booya
                   – Nick Thayer

Sunday, September 30
12:00PM – 5:00PM: Scratch Academy, vehicle displays

I caught up with Zev Norotsky, president of H360 Group who told me all about it.

I caught the last five minutes of this last year and didn’t understand much of what was going on. The idea is to mix music with fast cars to build a consumer base.
At its core, the Re:Mix Lab represents the fusion of music and technology. The cars themselves are the focal point and give a reference for the entire event. The exhibit is the perfect backdrop to showcase these amazing one-of-a-kind vehicles and celebrate the spirit of collaboration, which is ubiquitous in today’s pop cultural lexicon. The car and gallery experience creates an amazing environment to bring together all these influences and create an amazing dialogue with consumers.

This is happening in a number of locations with different musical pairings. Tell me about the event.
Re:Mix Lab is a four-month, seven-city tour with events in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami (during Art Basel), Vegas, Austin, and Seattle. Each event features different musical programming curated for that specific market, with the goal to include all genres. Using New York as a guide, tonight is indie, tomorrow has more of a hip-hop/DJ mixing flavor, and Saturday is electronica.  In some markets we pair artists from different genres together who, in addition to doing their own sets, create original music live on stage, staying true to the notion of a remix.

Is there a bucket list-type mentality pitch with some of the patrons who are young and possibly unable to afford but are (excuse the pun) upwardly mobile?
If anything, the reason Hyundai has been so successful is that they are affordable and represent the best value proposition for young adults. A Veloster Base starts at $17,000 est.

Is this a think-outside-of-the-car show/tv commercial box marketing?
The marketing is steeped in our understanding that our core consumer lives at the intersection of all these cultural influences. By creating the Re:Mix Lab, Hyundai has embraced their ideologies and given them an amazing experience with high-badge value (read: bragging rights) that fuses live events with social media and beyond.

Richard Alvarez On Tonight’s Art Soirèe at Stash

Despite my big hoopla Tuesday night at Avenue, today/tonight is my real birthday. It is very common in clubland to celebrate your special day on another day. I remember, back in the day, every time a Quentin Crisp or another not-so-rich celebrity needed $500, we would throw them a birthday party and give them the loot and a phony club dinner. Sometimes six months separated the event and the reality. A rival club honcho asked me why I did my bash at Avenue and I referred to yesterday’s article and told them that "they asked." It was wonderful.

Tonight I will work on my birthday; I guess I’m working right now…writing this, but I never think of what I do as work. My DJ agent Adam Alpert of 4AM is constantly reminding me of that. Tonight I will be a working DJ at Richard Alvarez’s art event at Stash. That will be from 9 to 11pm. I will then rush off to Hotel Chantelle to DJ from 11:15pm till around 4am. Miss Guy, Michael Cavadias will also spin. It’s been fun. Please come and say "Happy Birthday" if you wanna.
 
Richard Alvarez and I have been friends for generations. He is often seen at the chicest joints, doing the door…"WORKING IT". He is unbelievably fabulous and dear to my heart. He is also very talented. I asked Richard to do the paintings that adorn the entrance sequence of Stash. Tonight’s soirèe celebrates that work and the ridiculously wonderful Richard. I asked him about tonight.
 
What is this party about?
I’ve always sought alternative spaces in which to showcase mine and friends’ work, a residual of the whole DIY ethic, so having a space which is open and wants alternative sort of events is always on the radar. I was fortunate in being asked and delivering the sort of work that doesn’t require a masters in fine art to understand. I always get off when all sorts of people have an opportunity to view art. I believe we should be surrounded by and allowed to bask in ART, so any chance I get in pushing that agenda, I grab – an open bar, in a well developed space where everything is designed for the feeling of transporting you, and great music!!!!!! That just sounds like somewhere I would wanna be at so that’s what the party is all about.
 
Like many people in nightlife, you are an artist supporting yourself; tell me about your night work.
 
Steve, I am so LUCKY!!! I really have been given such great venues to work at. I always say I want my place (which I really do see as my house) to be an interesting mix; all of anything is boring. People go out to meet and be inspired. I mean, if you work in a law firm you would rather go to a venue that wasn’t filled with the sort of people that inhabit your office!!! You know I always try to create a space that I would wanna go to. Music is also such an important element, with a good sound system and music that isn’t being blasted on the radio, mainstream tunes are just as exciting when sandwiched between obscure dance tracks. The whole experience has got to be about having a night, being fun, easy on the ears, eyes, and wallet!!!
 
Where have you worked, and are you currently working?
 
Presently, I work at subMercer and a party called Nouveau York on Sundays. Wow, let’s see: I started working in one of the installation booths at Area, the door at The World Bar, Crobar, Cielo, Vinyl, Club Shelter, everywhere!!!!!
 
Nightlife seems to be making a comeback after a few years of doldrums. Why is it happening again, and where do you go when you’re not working? Where do you send hip friends?
 
I think everything has cycles, everything. I would also imagine the current financial scene has a lot of people staying put, not travelling as much but still wanting to have some fun. Brooklyn has the hot parties (illegal). Brooklyn is really the cool-school. I think more and more venues will be opening on that side of the city. I’m gonna get sh*t for this, but the subMercer is KEWL, Le Bain is also, Top of The Standard is so grown-up I LOVE!!!!!! Santos Party House is fab, Cielo has the best sound system, Pacha stays open late and has some fierce after-hour vibes. I mean, the city is still hot, but I really do follow the DJs, so wherever they play I’ll go. Competition is the best cause we gotta stay on top of our game. The more, the better… I think.
 
Tell me about your art: where it came from, where it is today, and where you are taking us.
 
As a kid, my mum used to read all the newspapers. I would always wanna take the type and create new verse with them (I did not grow up in a enviorment where art was even a proposition). Years later I learned of Andy Warhol and the whole idea of art for the masses. In the Bronx, most of the men in the building I grew up in were locked up, so they would always send these foil and glass crafty art pieces. They would also send there mums, wives, sis etc. those velvet paintings so I was exposed to the cheesy, crafty art projects that had an impact on me. Of course, I didnt realize it until much later. I also worked at Patricia Field as a teenager. Keith Haring use to sell his shirts in the store; we were the only store to carry them for awhile. In fact, every Sunday, after a long Saturday night out at The Garage, I’d be in the back folding his t-shirts all day!!!! Anyway, Keith created a free South Africa t-shirt and for a display he painted this huge mural on the 8th Street store window facing the street. I think that had a major impact. See, I paint on glass. I paint on the back, so I paint in reverse. I use a concoction that I’ve developed, my "Bitches Brew," if you will, adhesion. It’s all about the glue!!!! Glass is tricky to get paint to stick to, so I use polymers glitter paints that react to light and movement. If you dance looking at my work, you see things that you’d miss from just one angle. I LOVE that because then the viewer and the art really create this relationship that really is a personal thing, which is what good art should do; it should speak to you, create a feeling in you. I try to get that out of the work. It really is difficult since creating feelings it is hard, you know, making somthing that will still dance after I’m gone!!!!! That’s what I hope to achieve. As you can imagine, I’ve got my work cut out for me!!!!!!

Why DJ Michael T. Takes No Requests

After a couple of decades in the club biz, labels make way for legendary status. I am often described as “a legend” when someone is introducing me to someone. I always find it to be embarrassing and I always check my pulse to see if I’m still kicking. For some reason I find it a bit insulting. It discounts my "now" and concentrates or wallows in my past. Michael T. is still kicking it, so much so that this Sunday, he’s launching his second New Romantic Ball at Le Poisson Rouge. He is one of my favorite DJs. Just don’t ask him to play your favorite track.

For those who just stepped off the boat, tell us who you are… and do get into “Motherfucker” and that old shit.
I’m Michael T., performer/DJ and producer of "rock n roll" events/parties for over 20 years. My parties attract both gay and straight. The ones that are truly mixed are always the best parties. I’ve been going to clubs regularly since 1985. I started working in them on and off from ‘86 on. I’ve worked in clubs consistently since 1989.

The first party I ever "produced" was called "New York Nights." It was held at The Pyramid Club on Avenue A…when it was still dangerous.
It was on a Monday and it ran for two years. [‘91-‘93] It was an "alternative" party, both musically and people-wise.

After that, I had a band called Killer Lipstick [‘93-‘95]. Before/during and after this period I did what a lot of people do in clubs to secure a gig and survive, be it door/guest list, go-go dancer, performer etc. Eventually, this lead to DJing, which seemed to be one of the more "stable" of jobs as far as clubland goes.

Anyway, my first "real" DJ gig was at the now-shuttered The Tunnel at a party called "Kurfew" in the Kenny Scharf room aka “the fuzzy room.”
This was 1998-99. At this time, I also had a monthly party “Heroes” at a club called Mother called "Heroes.” I was also the emcee and DJ at the now-closed S&M restaurant "La Maison De Sade.”

Halloween Night, 1998: While DJing at “Kurfew,”-I took ecstasy for the first time. It was a mind-blowing experience.
The second time I took it: Jan 18th on my birthday [again, I was DJing] I had an "epiphany" of sorts. I thought how amazing it would be if I somehow managed to get the right group of creative people together in order to create the ultimate, outrageous "Rock N Roll Fantasy" party. Thus, the seed to "Motherfucker" was planted that evening.

Fast forward a year and a half later and Motherfucker was born at Mother. Chi Chi Valenti gave us the name, who in turn was given the name
by Clark Render. Apparently, Clark would often ask her why they [Johnny and Chi Chi] never did a party called "Motherfucker" at Mother.
Needless to say, we all thought it was a great name.

At any rate, Motherfucker grew and grew and grew and it became the biggest roving rock n roll party in NYC. We sold out the Roxy, Limelight, Spirit, Eugene, Rebel [with three to four rooms] for the next seven years.

Two moments that I will cherish forever was when I booked Willie Ninja & The House of Ninja and The Cramps [not on the same bill].
The other "infamous" party I did was "Rated X/The Panty Party" with Theo Kogan, singer of The Lunachicks.” It ran for six years, and every week we had naked people on stage competing in our 3am "Hot Body Contest" to win a whopping $100.

This is your second New Romantic Ball. In fact, it is called Romantic Ball II. What’s the difference between a ball and a party? What can people expect at the Ball and what is expected from them besides just showing up with a $20 bill?
Well, they’ll walk into a real club with proper lights, sound, a great dance floor, and CLEAN bathrooms!!
They’ll also see four bands, two burlesque shows, and hear three DJs, and hangout with a bunch of colorful hosts.

What’s the difference between a ball and a party? A ball usually pertains to an event that is held once or twice a year; they’re special events and, therefore, you make that distinction. Besides, everyone these days throws a “party.”

That stated, the main attractions of the night are the tribute shows we put on.They’re done with a full, six to seven-piece band. That’s just my band.
My partner, Ben Ickies, has a 20-piece orchestra. Where can one go today and see a rock show with a 20-piece orchestra?!?

All of our shows are rehearsed. Plus, we always have guest singers. However, let me state that we have REAL performers on stage. This is NOT a glorified "scaryoke" night. The artist[s] or genre we pay homage to is done with the utmost respect. We really love that artist or time period in music that’s being reinterpreted for the evening. We don’t do these shows to be "ironic.”

If you’re wondering what bands fall under "new romantic,” they’re all bands from the U.K. that flourished in the late ‘70s/early ‘80s, roughly ‘79-‘82. Just about all these bands were heavily inspired by Bowie or Roxy Music.
ie;Duran Duran, ABC, Visage, Gary Numan, Adam Ant, etc.

In short, you get to see a great show for your $20.

Le Poisson Rouge is a very artsy, creative friendly environment. Talk about the joint.
Well, it’s one of the last "legit" clubs in NYC. It has an incredible stage, excellent sound/lights a greenroom, a big DANCE FLOOR! Plus, it has a very professional and courteous staff.

It’s such a delight throwing parties or balls there. It’s a venue that really helps you achieve your artistic vision and isn’t just concerned with the bottom-line – what a rarity in this day and age. In all my years working in various clubs, I don’t think I’ve ever met a more pro-active staff…from busboy all the way to the GM.

You and I have DJd over the centuries. You are adamant about not taking requests. Explain that and your take on your job as a DJ.
I don’t take requests for the most part because either A) people have shitty taste in music; B) They’re rude; and also C) I’m not a juke-box.

The main reason, however, is very simple: I know what I’m doing. I’ve been DJing since 1998. Whatever venue I’m working at has hired me for that reason. I just find it outrageous that people feel it’s their "right" to make requests and get "offended" if you don’t comply.

Here are just a few lovely examples of the crap you hear from people: "I like what you’re playing…but.” Or, if I was DJing, I’d play this next" etc.
Can you imagine, if I walked into an office and told someone I’ve never met that they should do their job "like so"!?!! I’m sorry, I simply don’t stand for any of that nonsense. If you don’t like what I play, fine, go somewhere else. You won’t be missed. Believe me.

What is your overview of nightlife in the terrible 2010s?
It’s tragic. I don’t really need to say much…you pretty much answered your own question. The state of nightlife is at an all-time low.

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I disagree with Michael and find fun everywhere…but then again, I take requests. Something on my hmmmm list is Yiddish Cabaret going on at The Box tonight at 10pm. It’s somehow a gig anticipating the opening of Soho’s new kosher restaurant Jezebel. You can buy tickets here. I have been told to look out for a Ms. Jonas’ rendition of "If I Were a Rich Man." Oy vey, I’m leaving Brooklyn…for this?

Lit Lounge’s Co-Owner Erik Foss on Tomorrow’s 10th Anniversary Bash and Maintaining Success

The 10th anniversary bash tomorrow (Wednesday) at Lit Lounge is a sold out, invitation-only affair that will gather the strange brew that have faithfully worshipped at the house Erik Foss and David Schwartz have built and maintained. When it was built, our scene was in Manhattan. There were a couple of joints in Williamsburg where creative types were developing an art scene that soon developed into a lifestyle. High Manhattan rent escapees constituted most of the crowd. Then, folks like me got on the bandwagon because it’s simply better out there for people like me. Suddenly, it became almost lame to live in Manhattan.

Ten years ago, Manhattan ruled the world and the downtown scene was expanding into the L.E.S. as the East Village was being quickly gentrified out of relevance. In a short time, the so-called bridge and tunnel crowd swept into these areas as developers pushed the hipsters out. The hipsters took to the "L" train and Williamsburg became hipster heaven. Now, it too is being occupied by the "cooler" crews of the working dead. Soon, more and more suits and baby carriages will push things further into Greenpoint and Bushwick and beyond. I live off the second stop, knowing too well that soon I too will migrate to the 3rd or 4th. High-rises and condos and such require steady jobs, loans, and such and the artistic, creative set often live hand-to-mouth and lack the credit rating or references to buy.
 
Through all the cross migrations, Lit has survived. It has been threatened with extinction, it has had its ups and downs, but it has remained a place of sanctuary, a place of dependable cool, throughout. I still list it among my favorite places to be. I never know what’s going on there when I’m going there; it doesn’t matter. I know I will get a smile from a busy David and I know I will find Foss in that nook where the bar melts into the DJ booth, or holding court in the back behind the glass door of the Fuse Gallery. Foss is always a reason to be cheerful. He is so many things, too many things to describe here. Foremost for me, he is a true and dear friend. I will DJ amid a hoard of great DJs at the anniversary. There will be a feeling not unlike going home for the holidays. I asked Foss a few questions… the spelling has been corrected to protect the cognizant.
 
A 10-year anniversary is unheard of in the club biz. That’s like 20 in dog years or like 150 in human. How did you manage? What will the next decade bring to Lit? Are you going for 20?
Yeah, for sure. We just signed the new lease so we kinda have no choice.
 
How did you fuse Lit and the Fuse Gallery into a working brand? How do you draw the line so that they maintain their own identities?
Well, it’s all about a slow, consistent build. We are painfully consistent. We have always kept the art out of the bar and the bar out of the gallery. We treat both as separate entities; the gallery is open to the public four days out of the week, wed-sat, 3pm-8pm. It’s been like this since day one. We have a new and different show every month in Fuse Gallery. We have shown over 100,000 artists in the gallery since we have opened. The bar is open seven days a week and has never been closed once since the day we opened. The bar is open from 5pm-4am, seven days a week,  365 days a year. This is how we have successfully stayed open and maintained our mojo. People from every walk of life can always come here and experience what New York is supposed to be: fun, gritty, and artistic. The bar was created to fund our vision as the one gallery in New York where artists young in their career could come and have a platform to start at. It’s truly an art project, all in all. This is unique and sincere.
 
Tell me about your partner David Schwartz’s role.
David is the dude who one day came to me and said, "let’s open a gallery together, we’ll be partners and you curate and I’ll help run the business," So that’s what happened with the addition of a bar attached. It’s been me and David working together since he owned his gallery Subculture in downtown NYC in the ’90s. I was an artist who showed there and he saw my hustle and promotional skills, so he approached me to help open Fuse/Lit. If David didn’t ask me to help him, I would have never opened a business, or at least I hadn’t planned to. David is the big boss at Lit and Fuse. We’re pretty much equal partners but with different roles. We’re both artists and had to create a legitimate alternative space in Manhattan that we could give the work we believe in serious attention. So, we did and now we do.
 
It took a long time though. Without David Schwartz and Max Brennan, there’s no Lit/Fuse. Every artist, musician, DJ, and staff member that has ever come through Lit/Fuse has David and Max to thank just as much as me. Also, let’s not forget the other partners that have given their energy to make this project all possible. Mikel McGrane who ran the gallery when we first opened, along with Rich Rethorn. Rich Rethorn taught me how to oil paint and Michael Winch, who was my old boss at Bowery Ballroom and Mercury Lounge.
 
I learned how to run a bar from working for Mike Winch. I have a lot of people to thank and by no means could have come this far without any of these people. We all may not see eye to eye but I have to give recognition were it’s due. I will be partners with David Schwartz the rest of my life I’m sure. He’s one of the most honest humans I’ve ever worked with.
 
Tell me about the entertainment line-up for the anniversary.
Haha, it’s obnoxious! It’s a very small example of the people that made us who we are. Twenty-five DJs is like 1 percent of the people that have DJed at Lit – creative people playing and spinning jams. Supertouch is the headlining band for the evening. The reason I asked Mark Ryan (singer of Supertouch) to play is because of a couple reasons: I wanted to keep the anniversary all family and very personal. When I was still living at my mom’s trailer in Chandler, Arizona I was a record collector and was heavily into NYC punk/hard core/ metal from the ’70s to the ’90s.  I bought the first Supertouch record "The Earth Is Flat" and fell in love with it when it came out in 1991. I moved to NYC in 1996 and soon befriended Mark Ryan.
 
In 2002, Lit opened and Mark hosted a Sunday night of jams that was as prolific as Supertouch was when they came around in the ’80s. He had been one of my closest friends since then and had always been one of my favorite bands/people. It’s again sincere and back to my roots. As far as the DJs go, well, there’s like 25 and they’ve all put their time in one way or another. The booking was very off the top of my head and is kinda how I have always done things…from my heart and honestly. Some of my favorite artists are DJs.
 
Lizzy Yoder (Artist/vocalist of Fisher Spooner), Josh Wildman (Photographer/skater), Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs founder), Leo Fitzpatrick (painter/photographer/skater), Brian Degraw (Gang Gang Dance Founder/ artist/skater ), Gordon Hull (Surface to Air founder/artist), Markus Boroughs (Rockers NYC founder/artist) Nate Turbow (Artist/Nick of Tim creator), Nate Lowman (probably the most accomplished artist I know/ and a bro).
 
Everyone involved is a homie and wonderfully creative and talented. Last but not least is my dear friend Justine Delaney .Justine is the first DJ to play a record on our system and DJed the first night we opened. Justine is also the same woman that got Peaches, LCD Sound System, Interpole, Felix the House Cat, and many many more talents to DJ on her five-year Friday night residency. Justine really was a driving force that put Lit on the map.
 
Thank you everyone who has been involved, we couldn’t have done this without you.
 
Lets talk about Foss, the artist, as opposed to the club operator… how are you doing?
Well, I got sober 4 1/2 years ago to take advantage of New York City and start my art career. I have had four solo shows: two in San fransisco, one in Europe, and one in New York City. I have been in two museum shows and about to be in my third in March (The American Academy of Arts and Letters) and possibly in a museum show in the beginning of next year at The Smithsonian in D.C. I co-curated my first museum show in 2010 at the National Museum of Mexico (Draw). Because of this show, I  published our first book through D.A.P. on the show. The book was distributed to around 75 museum bookstores world wide.
 
To tell you the truth, if I died tomorrow I’d have no regrets and have surpassed all my goals by lightyears. I feel blessed when I step back and really trip out on all the shit that’s happened. I always remind myself that we are all just specks in this great universe and without all the people involved in my life I’d be/have nothing. My family, partners, friends, co-workers, lovers, haters/enemy’s, etc. People like you, Steve; I’m being interviewed by someone who, if you hadn’t done what you did, my business may not exist. You are a true NYC icon. I’m honored to be in your presence always. All in all, I’m lucky to be alive. I’m thankful every day I open my eyes. It could all end at any time. I will continue on and I wouldn’t change a thing. I am honored to continue serving NYC. Bless, foSs.

Talking About Drag, Blunderland, and Banzai with Eric Schmalenberger

Last month, I gushed to everyone I met about the Blunderland party, held in an underground space in the netherlands of Brooklyn. It was, for lack of a better word, FIERCE. The crowd was amazing. One of the DJs was moi. I asked event producer Eric Schmalenberger what I should play and was told, "It’s Brooklyn; play what you want". I did and had so much fun. The talent on stage was brilliant. Anytime I hear the laments over the loss of the "good ol’ days" I want to shake them and stir them. Clubland is vibrant and creative and all that but it is rarely found in the high-rent districts of Manhattan where creativity is rarely rewarded. That was the thing about The Box: although at times it seems forced – shock and awe for the sake of it – at least they don’t offer up the same ol’, same ol’. They make loot by charging the swells, and to this day are crowded with a great crowd… if you pick your time slot. Age takes its toll on creative people and creative clubs, but they still can give it a go, as can I. Last Saturday, when many clubs were slow for Mother’s Day, they were packed.

Eric Schmalenberger is my hero. He produces and MCs the Blunderland soirée and I can’t wait for his next shindig. I caught up with the maniac maestro and asked him a few questions.

WTF are you?
I ask myself that every day. The simple answer would be that I am primarily a performer, and I am a curator and producer when I feel that I have a really good idea. I sometimes feel like a professional collaborator. I’m really into sitting down with folks whose ideas turn me on and figuring out how we can make something new and exciting happen. I have been doing large-scale art and performance events for the past four years, and that has become a big part of what I do and who I collaborate with.

These parties are thematic. Tell me about party theory. How do you throw a good event?
I think something that is important to me when trying to throw a good event is giving the crowd something they haven’t seen before. There is so much of the same out there and I like a challenge. I really like the idea that nightlife can get an emotional response from its audience, on many levels. Anyone with a sound system and access to booze can throw an event. To go the extra step and keep the audience always wanting more – now that is a good trick. Giving a crowd a full evening is always important to what I do. I like having several sets of performance involving burlesque, circus arts, performance art, comedy, and live music with damn good DJs to keep the energy up between the sets over the course of the evening. I also have recently started serving food at some of my events, which is an extra bonus. The way that all these different parts of the evening come together is what really makes the night. Also, never resting on your laurels: keep surprising people and they will keep coming back, wondering what you will show them next.

I DJd at your last event and had a blast. Tell me about that one and the next one.
The event that you DJd at was Blunderland, which is a very performance-heavy celebration with a certain amount of elegant chaos. Some of the first parties that I went to as a very small Eric were Jackie 60 and Squeezebox. They were these incredible nights that blew my brain in just the right way. For this Blunderland, I was incredibly blessed and honored to have Chi Chi Valenti open the performances with a reading of her poem, “Take Back The Night,” which truly celebrates the New York that I want to be a part of.  Over the course of the evening, the crowd got to enjoy dadaist burlesque, comedic drag, two incredible dance companies, a couple with a thing for bullwhips, a live set from an incredible funk band, and a singing wolfman who never fails to break the audiences hearts.

Curatorially, I am sort of all over the map, but I really like putting together the sort of show that I personally would most like to see and, more importantly, most like to share with others. Next up on the docket is Banzai!!!! which is a project with my collaborator, Muffinhead, that has been going on for just over three years. Banzai is a chance for Muffin and I to present the work of over 50 artists of all different media. This time up we will have a live show with Joey Arias, The Pixie Harlots, Soigne Deluxe, Stormy Leather, Vangaline, The Rachel Klein Ensemble, and Trixie Little and the Evil Hate Monkey. We will also be presenting the work of over 30 visual and multimedia artists. That show is gonna be on May 26th at 9PM at the Red Lotus Room (893 Bergen Street). It is a fun one.

The Red Lotus space is insane and often used for a bunch of different events and purposes. Tell me about it.
The Red Lotus Room is one of my favorite spaces to work in New York. For Blunderland, I keep it very much in its natural state; dark, candlelit, filled with mirrors and antiques. t is the kind of space that New Yorkers dream about – unexpected, incredibly special, and one of a kind. For Banzai though, Muffinhead and I transform portions of the space into a beautiful gallery filled with art, while having other areas of the space be very different and like they usually are. It is nice to be able to work in a space that is so versatile.

What will you be when you grow up? … okay,  if they make you.
HA! Planning too far ahead usually ends up being a disappointment. For right now, I just would like to keep on being busy working on projects that inspire me. Who knows what will inspire me next? I like a lot of different things.

What else are you working on?
Oh boy… I am in the middle of shooting a pilot for a new sitcom called Black Box – that has been a pretty incredible adventure. I’m also in a show called Symphony of Shadows with Rachel Klein Productions that will be opening at Dixon Place on June 7th.

Can you talk about your bad drag?… Talk about Miriam.
Miriam is my awful female alter ego that myself and my friend Michael Newman created back when we were in college. She MCs, does spoken word, and sometimes insults people at the door at The House Of Yes (but in a very charming way of course). She wears the most garish clothes possible, and doesn’t shave her face, and is incredibly crude. She is a parody of drag but in a very fun-loving drunk older chick you would like to hang out with but very well might shiv you with a blunt object- kind of way. I adore her.

The Day After Birthday Bash: Feeling Like a Million Yen

My birthday bash at Avenue last night proved to be more fun than a barrel of monkeys. I am limp and drained and wonderful. I feel like a million yen.  Avenue asked me to throw my party there and I couldn’t say no. The good people at Avenue/ Tao Strategic Group have been work associates, friends, and family from the good old days when I was that maniacal Steve Lewis guy. They put up with me then and celebrated me yesterday… in style.

Wass Stevens in a leg and foot cast, making it look sharp, greeted my mixed bag of guests and let most of them in. We chatted at the front door, where he counted his blessings, which included surviving his terrible motorcycle accident, good doctors, and the love of a great woman, Lydia Rivera. Lydia slept on the hard hospital benches, waiting to be there when he woke up. They have been dating for a while now and I am so happy. I have known Lydia for years and she is simply wonderful. Guys like Wass need women who will be there when it counts. Lydia is a keeper.
 
Inside, I was greeted by a giant silver mylar "STEVE" balloon which made me laugh and smile and swell. The Avenue staff all were expecting me and all took the time to say hey, tell me they were there for me and mine. A flashing Mr. Lewis sign designated my tables. Their tech person had everything I needed for my DJ set. In short: it was perfect.
 
Every operator talks service and organization, but few come close. Sometimes they are organized but miss the most basic necessity for success. For me, that is the family or team spirit that is instilled in the entire organization. Noah Tepperberg sat next to me, introduced me to his fabulous friends, and told me that the staff was excited that I was having my party there; it showed. Andrew Goldberg was the point man. I asked him to sum up his approach to throwing a good party. He said, "We focus on passion, enthusiasm, and we strive to have the team concept which we hope will translate into a great guest experience."
 
The cake was amazing. They sent over some Artichoke Pizza (Noah is a partner). They delivered bottles with a fun, not forced demeanor. The honchos in the organization took the time to send me an email or text congratulating me and thanking me for doing my party there. My DJ set was 30 minutes of raw, hard rock. The equipment, booth, tech support and sound in general were perfect. Club God Danny A introduced me to Stella Keitel and told me about his new movie project. Promoters seeded tables near mine, to mingle some beautifuls in with my crew. They all paid respects. I felt…respected. This is the art and science of nightlife at its best. I chatted up Lulu Johnson about her new line and her famous mom who I have always loved. Dean Winters, now known to the world as "that Mayhem guy" came by and hugged and chatted and promised to meet up for dinner soon. Blasts from my distant past chatted up new friends. I went home all warm and fuzzy.
 
For one week in a row, Le Baron is the greatest club in New York, the world, the galaxy. I know they  will thrive and lead us to a better place and mindset. These guys are pros. The New York nightlife bubble keeps expanding with fabulous places opening up in every corner, catering to all sorts and situations. Players from everywhere and lifestyle are plotting for a bigger piece of this Big Apple pie. I go out almost every night and I observe a great deal of mediocrity making great deals of money. I think everybody in the game right now is doing well. This may change. As real players open up more and more new spots, the phonies will be left more alone. I walk into places and the staff is miserable, being treated like slaves by owners or operators who think thats how things work. It may work for a minute or two longer, but those that run a place like it’s an army will soon lose to those that run things like its a family.