A smart, sharp, beautiful, successful friend asked me where she could entertain her out-of-towners. Not knowing anything about these tourists I sent her a list of the A-List places. This list included joints as diverse as The Darby, Avenue, Provocateur, Electric Room, Le Bain, Le Baron, and W.i.P. There are of course many other choices and places closer to the edge but as I said they are strangers in a strange land and these felt safe to recommend. After describing each place in a couple of sentences they opted for W.i.P. W.i.P. is satisfying the needs of a downtown art/fashion/mixed crowd that had been forsaken for so long. Their Tuesday night soiree’ Dropout continues to service the Post Jackie 60 scene. Tomorrow night in honor of Fashion Week they are offering up the amazing Debbie Harry. I caught up with Dropout honcho and man-about-town Lyle Derek and asked him all about it.
What does it mean to you/Dropout to have Debbie host this Fashion Week party?
Debbie is in a class all on her own by her doing this show for us. It confirms yet again how cool she is. Debbie is giving back to New York nightlife culture. With some of these pop stars that pretend to care about the NY scene and the underdogs, Debbie put her money where her mouth is and she doesn’t have to keep proving anything to anyone. We all know some of these girls can sell out the Garden, but what is really cool and a real feat in my book is doing small club gigs and keeping NY alive and exciting. Since we announced Debbie’s show we have gotten hundreds of emails from people saying how much this means to them to get a chance to see one of their heroes in an intimate setting like this. She is the real deal – not only one of the best pop song writers, but one of the sweetest people in show business.
Debbie is a rock icon/star. How do you interact with her? How hard is it to be a friend without the cloud of celebrity?
Debbie and I met when I was in film school, while I was producing the documentary about the legendary ’90s nightclub SqueezeBox, and we have remained friends. She makes me feel totally comfortable because she is so human and so real. Her beauty is the only thing [that’s] a little spooky. I mean that face! She is even more stunning in the flesh!
How did the Dropout concept begin?
Dropout was an idea that my pal from Texas – filmmaker Jonathan Caouette – and famed Dutch actor Noah Valentyn had. We wanted a new party that celebrated live performance and what New York City was when we started it almost a couple years ago. We did it at Don Hill’s, and there was nothing like that going on. Noah Valentyn came up with the name and we all created a night from the heart. Jonathan’s new movie took him to France and then sadly Don passed away and Don’s closed. We were shocked when we discovered our little art party had captured the imagination of the city and of the club worlds as we got calls from six club owners to move it to a new venue.
How did end up at W.i.P.?
We held off for a bit as most club owners do not support parties like these and don’t see the big picture of what this could grow into. The only owners in town in my book that get that are Barry M. and Noah Tepperberg, but none of Noah’s clubs have stages and we couldn’t do the party without a stage. Barry wanted the party and said he would put a stage for our nights and we started back up at W.i.P a few months ago and it was the best move we made. It was our first time working with Barry, and he cares about NY nightlife the way we do, and after our first meeting we were sold. His new venue W.i.P. was one of the best; Noah Valentyn and I discovered and it being new and fresh and letting us have a stage was the right fit. Stu [Braunstein] was also someone we worked with in the past and he gives W.i.P. a sick gallery of artwork and that helped make Dropout the perfect venue, ’cause Don Hill’s was a hard place to replace with its stage and feel. Barry also gives us the resources to bring on our hosts from Don Hill’s: the cool Darian Darling, Kiss, and Tommy Hottpants, and some new ones like recent PS1 curator Tim Goossens, upcoming designer John Renaud, and cutting edge art producer Michelle Tillou. And one of the best club DJs in New York ever: Miss Guy! Guy is one of our close friends and gave us the idea for a mannequin DJ back at Don Hills when we started because we couldn’t afford a real DJ! It was our way of downsizing. So having Guy on board to DJ was key and all that helped the night in blowing up. New York is very excited about this party cause we are giving artists an outlet they didn’t have otherwise ,and there is a real scene and community happening like many folks haven’t seen in a decade. We get calls from bands everyday – well known and new young artists that want the chance to play in front of an audience that celebrates new music and risk-takers. Artists feel safe coming to play Dropout and that why it works so well.
Dropout is really growing and has already garnished a great reputation. There is a lot going on these days – mostly good in nightlife. Have we turned a corner? Is nightlife back?
I think we have for sure turned a corner for the better and this show with Debbie Harry on Tuesday, which will also feature guest DJ Nick Zinner and a debut music video for the Miss Guy album, out next month. It will go down in the books as a night that helped spark a true happening – the kind you only have in New York City!