Itinerary: Halloween Parties Begin Tonight

Technically, Halloween festivities fired up as early as last week, but New Yorkers really get down to business tonight, extending their weekend via The Bunker Club, or The Gutter, and rolling through the weekend with 1Oak, the Boom Boom Room, and the Hudson Hotel, with some lovely Brooklyn markets and parade options thrown in the mix. Enjoy one of the best weekends in NYC, and remember: next year, Halloween will fall on a Monday.

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Tonight Yelloween Location: The Bunker Club Time: 9pm Veuve Clicquot is hosting their “Yelloween” Halloween party this Thursday night at one of our favorites in the MePa.

Launch Party for the Renaissance Hotel’s RLife LIVE Location: Renaissance Hotel Time: 9pm The Renaissance Hotel is launching a new entertainment/cultural program called RLife LIVE and will feature performances from various RLife LIVE artists including Robin Thicke, Sam Ronson and Solange Knowles. It’s a free national program created for hotel guests and patrons in cities across the country, which allows them to experience the music industry on a more intimate level on site at Renaissance properties.

Scott Sartiano’s Birthday Party Location: 1Oak Time: The usual time parties at clubs start. DJs Jus-Ske and Harley&Cassie help Scott celebrate.

Friday HallowMeme Costume Party Location: The Gutter Time: 8:00pm-2:00am Join Know Your Meme & Urlesque for the 2nd Annual HallowMeme Costume Party. Dress like your favorite meme, viral video subject or other Internet phenomenon. There’ll be free drinks, live performances, giveaways, a photobooth, and awesome prizes for the best costumes.

Saints & Sinners Location: De Santos Time: 10:00pm-2:00am Mandatory costumes with $40 open bar.

Saturday House of Horrors at Santos Location: Santos Party House Time: 9pm Guests include DJ Cobra Starship and Taryn Manning and Eddie the Gun.

Kinda Scary Halloween Party Location: Thompson LES, Shang Time: 9pm Rex Sortgatz hosts a costume party in which guests come as terrifying or spooky media and tech personalities. Prizes awarded for best costume.

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The Bowery Hotel Presents Ghosts of New York Location: The 2nd floor of the Bowery Hotel When: 11pm Celebrating Halloween and the world premiere of Nigh Home, a film by Gary Breslin. Join hosts Johnny Christ, Laura Cooper Brown, Brooke Geahan, Gary Breslin, and Brian DeGraw.

Day & Night present Seven Deadly Sins Time: 12pm-4pm Location: The Oak Room at the Plaza Start celebrating early with brunch at The Oak Room at the Plaza Hotel with the Koch twins.

2nd Annual Haunted Candyland Halloween Location: Le Poisson Rouge Time:10:30pm-3am The Sky Group pairs specialty cocktails with specialty candy and a whole lot of crazy.

Heaven or Hell Party Location: RdV Time: 11pm-3am Jamie-Lynn Sigler hosts this good/evil bash.

GrandLife Halloween Party Location: Tribeca Grand Time: 10pm-4am Hosted by Timo Weiland, Carol Han, Steven Rojas and DJ sets by The Misshapes, Harley&Cassie, and matt + maia.

The Hudson Hotel Presents DJs Jus Ske & Jesse Marco Where: Hudson Hotel Time: 10pm Hosted by 4AM in Hudson Hall.

Library Bar Presents the Tequila Avion Lounge Location: Library Bar at Hudson Time: 10pm-2am Our very own Steve Lewis DJs with Paul Sevigny.

La Roux at Hudson Bar Location: Hudson Time: 10pm-12am 2 hour DJ set by La Roux.

Veuve Clicquot’s Nightmare on 13th St. Location: Bagatelle Time: 8pm Veuve Clicquot throws a their Halloween bash to start off the night right.

image Sunday Halloween Market at Kings County General Store Location: Kings County General Store (125 Fifth Ave. in Brooklyn) Time: 12pm-5pm The local market has drink specials and free admission to the afternoon fall festivities.

Angels and Devils party at The Standard Location: Boom Boom Room Andre Balazs, Andre Saraiva, Olivier Zahm host your good and your bad side at the party of the evening.

Not Your Standard Bingo Location: The Standard Grill Costumes, prizes pre-Boom Boom Room.

Village Halloween Parade Location: Spring Street at Sixth Ave running up to 21st on Sixth Time: 6:30pm-8:30pm The classic parade at dusk in the Village.

NYC Try Outs: Kristina Marino’s Downtown Diaries

Steve Lewis has it right: these are the good ol’ days. They’re good because there’s something for everyone, and you can change your something on any given night. Take Kristina Marino. Her blog, The Downtown Diaries, chronicles all things nocturnal in lower Manhattan and Brooklyn—her own weekly imbiberies are chameleon-like, but they’re also true to herself. She likes a nice local bar where everyone knows her name, she takes chances with new parties, and she doesn’t judge a restaurant by its dress code. Here, her weekly spots to be scene and be sceney.

Name: Kristina Marino Professional Resume: I’m a jack of all trades but am best known for my blog, The Downtown Diaries, and the parties I throw. In my spare time, I’m the Digital Engagement Manager at Mirrorball, aka I get paid to Facebook, Twitter, and blog, all day, every day—be jealous. One Word to Describe Nightlife in New York City: Sceney

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City Loves:Favorite lunch spot: Westville, Schillers, Miss Favela (Williamsburg). • Favorite dinner spot: Rye (Williamsburg), Fette Sau (Williamsburg), Gemma. • Favorite nightlife trend: Wearing whatever the F you want. • Drink of choice: Dark and Stormy’s. • Meal of choice: Any kind of seafood. I love the linguine and clams from Fiore—it’s cheap and delicious but more of a guilty pleasure. • Favorite group of people to bump into: Nicole Wasilewicz (Free Williamsburg), Katherine Kelly, Melissa Widhson, Caitlin Monahan (Darling Cait), Tommy Eichmann (Alexa Ray Joel), Mike Del Rio, Brittany Mendenhall (ChiChi212), Antwan Duncan (I Think You’re Swell), Victor Castro (Wet Paint Photography), Hannah Rad (Sheena Beaston, East Village Radio), the Finger on the Pulse twins, DJ MSB, and a bunch of people no one reading this has ever heard of.

City Gripes:Nightlife trend you loathe: Fake glasses, models, celebrity/socialite DJs, and Aalex Julian. Oh and ladies, if you are not wearing tights in the middle of winter, you need to get your act together. • Drink: Vodka Cranberry • Meal: Street Meat. Food Chains. Dos Caminos. Group of people to bump into: About 50% of the people I see out on a daily basis…New York City is one big incestuous small world.

Her Hotspots:  Honestly, as a blogger, it’s hard to have a hotspot—I am running around the city attending different events, shows, etc. The best part about living in NYC is the variety—it’s all about having options. Here are some basics. Monday: Jane Hotel Tuesday: Le Souk Harem is giving a solid effort. The Bowery, Avenue, Lit, Gallery Bar…I guess. Wednesday: FOTP BBQ Blowout at Good Co, RDV. Thursday: Il Bagatto, Goldbar. Friday: Above Allen, Dram. Saturday: Day & Night, Le Bain. Sunday: Thompson LES pool party, Jelly Pool Parties/ All Saints Pub, Goldbar.

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Every night: Le Bain, Kenmare, Godlbar, or anywhere local—I usually hang at The Commodore, Maracuja, or Spuyten Duyvil. Wouldn’t be caught dead here: Greenhouse, Marquee, SL, Kiss & Fly, Tenjune, Veranda, Above 14th St.

For special occasions: MILK Studios is a great event space.

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Brunch is usually: To eat, I like to stay local. There’s nothing better than brunch in Brooklyn. My friends and I wind up at Lodge more often than not. If I am going to “brunch” to dance on tables and get wasted, then Day & Night it is. 

A Gift List for Clubdom

The ghosts of Christmas past drive me to self-analytical frenzy, that gets mixed in with the shopping and the holiday greetings whirlwind. Then there’s the, “I love her, she loves me not, she loves me, I can’t stand her 75 percent of the time” pantomime. That leads into who? what? where? New Year’s Eve desperation. With work and traffic, money runs and non-stop Christmas muzak, I think I’m starting to lose it. Gonna leave you to your thing and I’ll go do mine. Before I go, I’m going to give some clubs some uncle Steve advice: What “should” each club want for Christmas?

Avenue: A deep breath. 1Oak: Another year like this one. Or better– like the year before, as the recession comes to an end. Boom Boom Room/18th floor: A laugh track and a high-speed money counter. Bungalow 8: A real deal redux and a neighborhood revival. The Jane: Another chance! The Beatrice : Clarity. Rose Bar : A Basquiat and a big hug. Provocateur: Patience and humility. Simyone: Diversity to go along with all that quality, good looks and charm. Rdv: A “stay true to your school” t-shirt. Cielo: A moment away from cops and courts to concentrate on the real club side of things. Pacha: The same plus a VIP host who knows everybody in clubdom and gets them to come. Lit: A clone for Mr. Foss and a swiffer sweeper. Apotheke: More of the old (crowd) and more of the same (delicious cocktails). Greenhouse: One clear public message besides the green thing or the green thing and chain of command. Juliet: A new lighting concept and lots of fabric. Hudson Terrace: The Copacabana. The Eldridge: 25 more square feet. M2: A real good old school club night with lots of familiar faces. This place rocks when filled with good peeps. La Pomme: Time to build its own crowd. GoldBar: A gold medal for Jon “the legend” Lennon and a little more light. It’s too dark to appreciate the crowd. Marquee: Glass and maybe a once a month huge DJ and a clearing out of the furniture. Webster Hall: Convictions. Southside: Brotherly love. Ella: A little respect. Gansevoort Roof, Highbar, Empire Hotel: Eternal sunshine, endless summer. The Box: Moist towelettes and more Patrick Duffy.

Who am I to tell all these young studs what they may or may not need. But I do remember something James Brown once said: “I taught them everything they know, but not everything I know.” Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

David Graziano & Corey Lane: The Guys Who Kiss and Bagatelle

David Graziano and Corey Lane are becoming moguls. David is a fantastic hospitality/interior designer with home runs like Pink Elephant and the Kiss & Fly/Bagatelle/RdV complex to his credit. Corey comes from an operations background but is well grounded in promotion, especially when it comes to South American house fests. I don’t know one person that doesn’t like or respect them. In an industry which sometimes creates tensions, that’s a mouthful. I caught up to them (and their new publicist Steve Kasuba) at their new restaurant, Ganesvoort 69, where the old Florent restaurant used to be. Florent was in the Meatpacking District when men were still packing meat while other men dressed as women were also packing meat. Late night, a scene of running mascara and sex workers of every persuasion had a bite after a long night. For club operators and staff, it was one of the few places always open where you could get an intelligent late-night meal. It was an after-hours club affair or someplace to fuel up before taking the party to the late afternoon at one of the great house meccas. They kept a lot of the charm and some of the fixtures as Ganesvoort 69 pays its respect to its vaunted past.

This used to be a very fabulous place called Florent, a late-night restaurant which I visited way too many times. What time is it now, Steve? Steve Kasuba: It’s 3:15.

Yeah, it was possible that I was eating here at 3pm from the night before. Steve: Ending your night.

Very possible. And there would be some S&M hookers over here, and some transsexual hookers and some other hookers. Spike Lee, lots of trendies. Florent was one of the great places in New York. In fact, when it went down, a lot of people were very upset because Florent was an institution, and you guys were taking over. As a publicist, Steve, you had to talk about what it’s like to go from this legendary space to Ganesvoort 69 without breaking eggs. Corey Lane: Interesting story about Florent himself. He was in here on the first night of friends and family. He came in with his boyfriend, and he sat and he had dinner. I went over and introduced myself, and I had a drink with him. I told him what our intentions were — to maintain this fun, neighborhood dinery type of feel. I said, “We promise that we’ll do good things with the space, but we have tough shoes to fill.” His comment back to me was, “Honey, my shoes are most of the time high heels. You wouldn’t feel comfortable in them.”

Well, he is that kind of guy. With Florent now closed, I don’t know if he still does his infamous Bastille Day party. Maybe you should do a Bastille Day party with him. Corey: We actually spoke about that. David Graziano: You should finish what Florent said. He did give the green light. He said he was happy with what the place had changed into. He kind of passed the baton on … Corey: He thought that we were a good, young group. He felt our vibrancy. He felt that the place was left in good hands. He passed the torch to us that night. It was very nice to have that moment with him.

Well, I think with any success, whether it’s a band or an institution like this, it’s being true to your school, being honest, and no fault can be found in that. Corey: Good sportsmanship.

I think that’s right. You guys are good sports. You’re the nice guys in the business, and you’re not finishing last. So this is Gansevoort 69. Tell me about he other properties you have. You have RdV, Bagatelle, Kiss & Fly. David: The new addition is Kiss & Fly Sao Paulo.

Now tell me about that. Are you going to actually go there? David: Yeah, we were just there last week. We signed a deal. It’s in motion. We’re in the process of designing it right now. We’re going to open up in March after Carnival. It’s a licensing/consulting deal. We’re going to help them get it off the ground. We’ll do co-brand and stuff with the DJs, stuff like that.

How are you going to operate? How do you control quality from 5,000 miles away? Corey: The first thing you have to do is you have to believe in the company. You have to investigate who these people are, what they’ve done before, and their track record, as well. Right now, we feel comfortable with the group that we’re dealing with. They’re responsible.

Are you dealing with Rudolf? Corey: Yeah, we are.

Rudolf Pieper is my mentor. He’s one of my best friends in the world. David: We’re actually designing with Rudolf. The group has done previous projects in the past that have been very reputable and very profitable.

I actually recommended you. Rudolf called me up and he was asking me about brands to take down there because that’s what he does. He rolled out Lotus. I suggested you guys. David: I don’t know if you’ve met any of Rudolf’s partners …

No. I know that I learned the business from him and Steve Rubell, Ian Schrager … he used to have a Cosmopolitan notebook. The next time that you see him, see if he still has it. On the cover of his notebook, he wrote, “In this industry, there are no friends that I cannot get rid of and no enemies that I cannot reconcile with.” David: We trust that the group is going to have the operational skills to help follow out our business plan. We’ll help them in the first couple months by implementing some of the procedures that we use in terms of steps and service. Corey, actually, that’s his expertise.

Is the idea that the Brazilian elite will be at one point passing through New York, and once they pass through New York, they will be familiar with you and therefore, it feeds your New York operation? David: Yes. Absolutely.

Once you do Brazil, Miami seems to be a natural pass because they do take that route. It’s easier to roll out in Brazil because you have that team in place, and Rudolf who does this for a living. So, is Miami kind of a natural next step? David: Miami has actually been on the map for us for quite some time. Miami’s a little trickier for us. I’m always a little bit hesitant with Miami because it’s so seasonal. Miami has to be exactly right. It’s got to be the exact right space, with the exact right local alliance. I’m from Miami, so I have a lot of connections down there as well, and I know the area really well. I wouldn’t make the move to Miami unless all the elements were right. Corey: We’ve come very close.

Kiss & Fly was an easy brand to take to Vegas. Then Vegas got hit hard by the economy, when Kiss & Fly was absolutely peaking. Have your other properties affected Kiss & Fly? Is Kiss & Fly still the same property to you? Bagatelle is different. Where is Kiss & Fly in your scheme of things? How do you maintain the brand? When people expand into other properties, how do you maintain interest in house and quality? Like Marquee is certainly a secondary brand to Avenue now. That’s like a dozen questions. Corey: With Kiss & Fly moving into its third year, where it’s found its groove is the weekends. They’re packed with European and South American tourists. We’ve become an international nightclub brand. The kid coming in from Germany or coming up from Argentina, or coming up in from most parts of South America and Europe — this is the brand that’s first on their list. And I think that that’s a good position to be in.

That’s always been your crowd, Corey. You’ve always been involved with South America. Corey: That is true. We’ve always had a South American crowd, and it’s certainly grown stronger with the European market. Some of our higher-end clientele has moved into RdV. The crowd has been replaced by more of the tourists, more of the transient crowd. The regular crowd that was more prevalent at Kiss & Fly, the higher-end Europeans, has moved over to RdV. They’ve made their mark in New York, and what’s replaced them at Kiss & Fly is more of the tourists.

I actually hear nothing but good things about Kiss & Fly. A number of my friends go on a regular basis. It’s a very strange niche club because it’s not shallow, it still has a great crowd, it has musical chops. It’s actually more fun than other clubs like that. Yet it stands alone. Sometimes it’s forgotten. It’s sort of like you’re not in the mix. You’ve positioned yourself to be to be a little bit off the beaten path. It’s very much like Florent. It’s always there. It’s always going to be there. It’s reliable. David: We share some of the same clientele with those places, but we don’t have a direct competition with them. We like that. I think that its helps. it keep its lifespan and keeps it lively. Steve: Black-Eyed Peas performed last night — an impromptu three songs at Kiss & Fly. Corey: They just jumped on the mike. They asked for a mike and performed three songs impromptu. Last week we had P-Diddy’s birthday party. We do have a mix of what’s happening in New York and a mixture of international crowd, as well.

I’m not a house head. I actually get a little nervous every time I hear house music. Corey: House music is a very general term. We play very, very happy European vocal-style house music.

I do go to see Junior Vasquez now almost every time he plays. David: He plays our Sunday nights.

So I’m going to end up there. Corey: He’s going be there next week actually.

I think Junior has absolutely come into his own. Corey: I’m going to come out because I haven’t heard him in a while.

The last time he played, the crowd gave him a standing ovation at the end of his set. David: Nice.

It was just the most amazing, uplifting thing. It’s great that you’re doing Junior Vasquez on a Sunday. I think that’s great. What time are you starting with that? Is it an early thing? Corey: Yeah. It’s an evening party rather than a late-night party. It starts at 8 and goes until 1 or 2.

It can go early or later if you need to? If it’s something that happens? Corey: If its something that’s happening, yeah. The crowd is definitely hitting earlier.

Let’s talk about RdV. I have not been to RDV. Why is that? You have never invited me. David: Have you physically seen it?

No, let’s walk over after this. Corey: RdV was, when we were initially trying to put together a design, supposed to the room that was the mature side of us. We had Kiss & Fly, which was our playground. And then RdV was going to be more mature — but still playful and sexy. We also wanted it to be a place where it wasn’t overly crowded and you can sit down in kind of a lounge environment. We made larger seating, larger set-ups for groups of people to gather in a very living room-type of environment. So when you’re down there, you get the feeling that this could be somebody’s wealthy playroom. The décor is set up around that. It’s elegant. It’s rich. We have lots of casual, soft light. But it also, again, has our trademark thing, which is a great sound system if you want to pump it up.

As an old-school operator, I think bottom line. If the seats are spread out and they’re really comfortable. How do you accommodate your bottom line? Do you need to get a certain amount per table? Do you have a great rent deal? As operators, how do you make money without cramming people in? David: It’s three venues in one building. RdV is really not about the bottom line … of course, you don’t want to lose money. But we don’t have to bang people over the head for table service or bottom service. In the end, it’s not about that.

Kiss & Fly is paying the bills. David: Bagatelle and Kiss & Fly are paying the rent. The success that we experienced from Bagatelle and Kiss & Fly allows us to run a more exclusive downstairs. We don’t have to apply bottle rules. We don’t have to enforce certain things. Corey: We don’t have to open the door up. David: The place is only available to a very specific demographic of people.

There’s been a big move into clubs and lounges in hotels. A hotel is blessed with the privilege or the ability not to have to really pay rent. Publicists are paid by the hotel. Insurance, security … a lot of the fixed costs of operating, the very high costs of operating are absorbed in the natural operation of the hotel. When they bring in a place like the Boom Boom Room at the Standard, it really doesn’t have to pay the bills that an Avenue or a Kiss & Fly or a stand-alone club does. There are people telling me that the days of the stand-alone club may be numbered. All the clubs at one point will move to hotels for a lot of reasons. Another reason is licensing, plus less police presence. You are a stand-alone club: You’re a restaurant, you are a club, and you are a lounge all in one operation. Are these people right? Are the clubs doomed? Is the hotel model the way it’s going to go? David: I think that we operate very similar to a hotel without the rooms in the sense that you take a hotel production, the food and beverage of the hotel. They often have a restaurant, maybe two, a club, a lounge, and then they have rooms above them. Well, we have the restaurant. We have the club. We have the lounge. We just don’t have the rooms above them.

But it’s the rooms that are making the money. Corey: Yeah, but look at Vegas. The numbers that they do off the floor — they’re astronomical. They’re making 50% of their revenue from their food and beverage. I think that you’re right … at some point I do think that incorporating yourself into a hotel gives you some protection and some benefits. David: It also helps drive business because you have people staying in the hotel. The nightclub venue and the hot restaurant also help drive business to the hotel. So there’s a synergy between them.

Are you getting offers from hotels? David:Yes. We’re looking at a couple different things. Corey: That’s a direction we would like to go, as well.

Industry Insiders: Alon Jibli, Marquee Envoy

Nightlife promoter Alon Jibli — partner to Danny A and friend to every clubgoer on the New York scene — talks about Israelis in nightlife, Mark Baker as the godfather, and shady industry people. Where do you go out? First of all would be my own Barbounia. I like Bar Pitti because of Giovanni Giovanni Giovanni, the owner. I like Downtown Cipriani again because of Guiseppe Guiseppe Guiseppe. Because when the owner knows your name and knows what you eat and your favorite table, and when they greet you when you walk in and buy you a drink — that makes you feel at home. I would say the best bar in New York right now is probably Rose Bar. I like the crowd a lot. It’s a place that starts early and ends early. So I think it’s the best place to go for a drink in New York at 11 o’ clock. I like the new place called RDV. It’s under Bagatelle. Lots of Europeans go there. Most of my friends are French and Italian, and they like to hang out there.

How did you get your start in the industry? I started in a club called Tatou in 1992. I was promoting their Tuesday nights, and ever since, Tuesday night is my party night. From Tatou it went to Lotus, and now it’s at Marquee. It’s the hottest Tuesday night in New York, believe it or not. It’s called “Tuesday Baby Tuesday.” If somebody from out of town sits in a cab on a Tuesday night and asks the cab driver to take them to the most happening place, he’ll take them to Marquee.

Why are Israelis so big in nightlife for such a little country? Because we live the day. I think Israelis and Argentineans are very similar because we come from a place that you probably can’t really plan ahead. You live the day. You enjoy to live the day because you never know what tomorrow’s going to be like.

What’s going on in nightlife right now? People are trying harder because there’s not a lot of money. In the past few years, everything was extremely boring. It was all about bottle service and the big-money spenders that are long gone in the past six months. Club owners and people in my business are trying harder and competing harder. And I see it happening. It will be very good for the customer. For example, if you go to clubs now, you’ll see far more themed parties. At 1Oak, they had a show the other night. You can see more decoration, more fun stuff. Like the nineties, when you went to a club, it was fun and happening. It was real.

And what sucks about New York nightlife now? I think clubs in New York became way too commercial. I don’t see a lot of clubs that are really adapting to what nightlife is, for instance, in London. There, it’s a really serious business, where you really want to have a customer come and have an experience from the second he goes in. In these places, even the bathroom is an experience. I don’t see it in New York.

What’s your favorite country to party in? Argentina. The house music is awesome. And the people live in the day, like in Israel.

You were always the behind-the-scenes guy, and Danny A was the visible face of your duo. Did that hurt or help you in the industry? It didn’t hurt at all. I have my crowd, and Danny has his crowd. Danny is a more LA kind of guy — a celebrity-oriented promoter. And I’m a little more masses. I can do huge numbers, and I don’t know any promoter that can bring more celebrities then Danny. Yeah, we still do the Tuesdays together.

What’s he up to nowadays? Danny is shooting a film called Holy Rollers. He’s producing it himself and also acting in one of the lead roles. It’s based on a true story about an Israeli drug smuggler.

Who else do you admire in the industry? The guy for my generation is Mark Baker. I think he’s the godfather. My first steps in New York, he was holding my hand. He’s also probably the nicest person in the industry. I think he taught me how to treat people nicely, no matter who they are. That’s the greatest lesson I learned from him.

You’re a nice dude in an industry full of shady people. How do you deal with it? I think a lot of people would relate being nice to weakness. I think it’s a strength. I think you should treat people the way you’d like to be treated yourself. Regardless, if it’s my business or if it’s my life, I treat people the way I want to be treated.

What’s your favorite book? Gabriel Garcia Marquez is my favorite writer of all time. If I could be him for one day, it’s probably going to be the greatest gift. One Hundred Years of Solitude. It’s my favorite book of all time.

What are you doing tonight? I’m going to a dinner party at Erez Sabag’s, and then I’m going to RDV under Bagatelle, and then 1Oak for the rest of the night.

Industry Insiders: Randy Scott, RDV Frontrunner

Randy Scott tells BlackBook about RDV— his newest nightlife muse, being considered the Kevin Bacon of the Industry and the social importance of the lounge.

What is your current project? I am involved in the whole complex on 13th Street between 9th and Washington which is now, Kiss and Fly the nightclub, Bagatelle the restaurant and the third space, which is the lounge, is the new project called RDV. Abbreviation for Rendez-vous. Bagatelle is one of the most successful restaurants in New York. Remi Laba and Aymeric Clemente are the partners and great to work with. I was brought on to head the lounge. RDV is a plush lounge—it is the gem. We are just doing friends and family now, but we will be opening shortly. We did a party for Josh Lucas and another for Quincy Jones. We hired a mixologist, Thierry Hernandez from Bar du Plaza Athénée in Paris, and we are following his formal steps of service.

Where do you go out? When you are in this business as I am, I enjoy quiet on my nights off. If I do go out, I like relaxed environments like Rose Bar, Beatrice and small restaurants. Cozy places, like the restaurant August. I really love Socialista, I love the Latin theme.

How did you start out in the business? I went from waiter to bartender. I bartended at the Paramount Hotel, Randy Gerber’s first project. I did the bartending circuit, then someone asked me to do the door in the Hamptons, at the Tavern. I think the Von Brocks were still running it. I remember David Sarner was involved. It was Lara Shriftman who dragged me around the scene, she is the one I probably owe my entrance to. We met at Frederick’s, the original on 64th Street. It was a game to me at the time. It became obvious doing the door was a more central position with a lot more opportunities. You become the front person.

What has changed? I think the culture has changed. It is not that as one scene comes in the last one has died. I see things as more cyclical than changed. When people talk about bottle service they make it seem that nightlife has created this evil monster when they are just supplying what there is a market for. Right now it’s obvious there has been a proliferation of lounges. People wanted more intimacy. The lounges have interesting interior design. Each one is different.

What led you here? Previous to this venture [which is RDV], there was Cain, prior to that was Marquee, before that was Pangea, and Float, and the beginning was every Hamptons club. I worked at every place Andrew Sasson did. He was a pioneer. I worked for Seth Greenberg when he opened Conscience Point which was then M80. Andrew asked me to open all the Jet lounges with him.

You have worked with everyone in this business. So you might be the Kevin Bacon of nightlife? Maybe, I even worked for Amy Sacco once when she was part of System.

What do you dislike about the business? When people lose themselves in it. It can be dark. These people feel fulfilled because they are inside an exclusive place. They get caught up in the hype. When they are out 4 or 5 nights a week for years. They dance with the devil. Also, when people complain about getting their friends in, I say, ‘I don’t see you down at McSorley’s, you could all be in there right now. Don’t pretend you don’t know what’s going on here.’

Opening: RDV, New York

RDV opens tonight with a John Legend party. According to co-owner Corey Lane, the new lounge is an “exclusive venue under our highly successful restaurant Bagatelle.” “RDV” is short for “rendezvous.” The style is a hip, chic mix of classic Victorian and modern art. I’m sure partner and designer David Graziano will kill it; Pink Elephant and Kiss & Fly are perfect. The new space will have a separate entrance from both Bagatelle and Kiss & Fly. There’s a team of powerhouse players involved as well: Randy Scott, Aymeric Clemente, and Remi Laba bring more to the table than just tables. This is a sharp, mature crew with a great crowd. It looks like a home run — yet another small lounge with big players.

Industry Insiders: Remi Laba of Bagatelle & Kiss and Fly

Monsieur Meatpacking: Bagatelle and Kiss and Fly‘s Remi Laba on boring models, the grub at Pastis, and bringing down the house (music).

Point of Origin: My dad’s American, my mother’s French. I was born in the US and raised in France. I can’t seem to negate my origin for some reason. Nightlife was an accident, to be honest. I was working for a liquor company, Pernod Ricard, and people were constantly asking me for sponsorship, and at one point I said ‘You know what? I’ll comp your sponsoring if my friends can come to your events.’ It grew from there until club owners starting saying they would pay me to bring people to their club. And that’s how we [partner Aymeric Clemente, formerly of La Goulue and Le Bilboquet] started, ten years ago.

We did it for fun until we realized it could really become a business. Everything we do resembles us. We try to create something that embraces the Jet-Set lifestyle in which we were brought up. When we started at Lotus, 8 years ago, Lotus was known for its hip-hop, models, whatever, and they called us and we brought in something very different. We brought DJs from Paris that were more focused on European house, and that brought the whole European crowd in and it became some of the highest generating sales ever for Lotus. We took that concept and moved it to our next venue, Marquee. We were part of the opening team at Marquee, then we did the Deck with Jeffrey Jah and Mark Baker and all those guys. We took it to Bed Roof. We always take that same concept and each time make it a little more complete. Then we opened Pink Elephant, as promotional partners with those guys.

Occupations: Aymeric and I are the main partners at Bagatelle, we’re the partners here at Kiss & Fly, and I’m in charge of all the marketing and PR aspects of the venue. What Aymeric and I do better than anybody else is bring the French ambiance and atmosphere into the venue. So it not only looks French, but it feels French. We’re taking it to the level: the St. Tropez party lifestyle. It’s for people who like to drink great wine, eat great food, and like great parties. Go to Bagatelle on a Monday night and you’ll have a peaceful environment with great food. Then the vibe builds on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and then by Saturday brunch we move into a full-blown party. But we’ll never compromise the food.

Side Hustle: Aymeric and I are partners in marketing company/DJ agency called In The Buzz, that does promotions at all the top nightclubs across the world and also represents some of the top talent when it comes to DJs. We also do consulting in the hospitality industry. That’s what brought us to owning our own venue. There’s 13th Street Entertainment, which basically owns Kiss & Fly, Bagatelle, and our new lounge opening the first week of September tentatively named Bagatelle Lounge. We represent Mitch LJ, who’s the resident DJ at Nikki Beach. Jacques Dumont, who is an older DJ, probably 47 years old, and was the resident DJ at Nikki Beach St. Barths for years. Now he’s our resident DJ here at Kiss & Fly. We’ve had David Guetta play here. It’s not exclusively house music, but the crowd they’re playing for likes primarily house. I think for all of us our side projects are our personal lives. It’s hard to balance that in this industry.

Favorite Hangs: The Hamptons are a big market with high visibility. A lot of people go there, and there are very few clubs to go to. Pretty much only Pink Elephant, Cabana, and Dune. We have a very good relationship with Noah Tepperberg and Jason Strauss and we host the Saturday night Kiss ‘N’ Fly party at Dune Southampton. But when I go to the Hamptons, I don’t go to socialize. I enjoy the beauty of the nature there. I love the beach at Flying Point, and off Route D in Southampton. In the city, I love going to Bar Pitti. It’s very unpretentious, a great terrace, and always good food. If I’m with a group of friends and want a good, fun dinner, I like Indochine, Bond St., Le Bilboquet; Aymeric used to be the GM there for several years. Bagatelle is a big version of Le Bilboquet. If I’m going to dinner with my girlfriend, I want to go upstairs at Le Colonial. I’ll never have dinner downstairs, it’s too formal. But the lounge is unbelievable.

Industry Icons: Jeffrey Jah and Mark Baker were the first guys to understand the European factor in nightlife. They kind of made us who we are today. I’ve really enjoyed working with those guys. I don’t know if I look up to anyone really. If there are two guys who have had a memorable career so far it’s Noah Tepperberg and Jason Strauss. We worked with them at Marquee, then at Tao in Vegas. They are very, very hard workers, and what they’ve achieved is remarkable. I would never work the way they do. The way they work is very American. The way we work is more passionate, less driven by numbers.

Known Associates: My current associates are Aymeric Clemente, Corey Lane, Lionel Ohayon, David Graziano, and Jonathan Segal. My past associates are Richie Akiva, Scott Sartiano, Mark Baker, and Jeffrey Jah, Jason Strauss and Noah Tepperberg. We’ve promoted for Jamie Mulholland and Jayma Cardosa at Cain. We’ve basically crossed paths with every major person in the industry. It’s a small town.

Projections: We’ve established Bagatelle and Kiss & Fly in New York. Our next project is due the first week of September, fashion week, which will be the Bagatelle Lounge downstairs of Bagatelle and Kiss & Fly, at which point our 13th Street project will be complete–one restaurant, one nightclub, and one lounge. From there, we’ll move on, not necessarily with the same partners, but we’ll open Bagatelle restaurants and Bagatelle cafes in different cities. Ultimately our dream is to open a Bagatelle boutique hotel.We’d love to open something in Tulum (we’re looking at a property down there). We’d love to open Bagatelle, the restaurant as you know it, in London, Vegas, and San Paulo. We have offers in South Beach, but I don’t think Miami Beach is what it used to be. Though we did go to the Winter Music Conference in Miami for the past two years and did ‘Fuck Me I’m Famous’ with David Guetta at Cameo; that’s very successful.

Do you cater to a different crowd in the summer in the city than the rest of the year?

There’s definitely a different club crowd in the summer, not necessarily in quality. Most of your regulars go to the Hamptons in the summer or travel to St. Tropez, Ibiza, Croatia, etc. But there’s also a lot of tourists coming to New York in the summer who have read about venues and will come out. The truth of the matter is, if you have a good product and run your door properly, you can have the right crowd in your club every single night. If you focus on only celebrities and models and there are eight clubs going after the same clientele, there will be one winner and a lot of losers. But if you say, “Ok, I want my venue to be fun, I want the crowd to be pretty, and I want to generate dollars,” the way you look at things are going to shift. Some people say “Oh, my club is so great, we only have models.” Great, models are pretty, but are they the most fun girls you’ve ever seen in nightclubs? Not necessarily. Energy’s also a very, very important factor. If 1Oak says, “Oh, in the summer we have to sell out because all the good crowds are going away,” well, I’d rather sell out my crowd a tiny bit, but still maintain the level of energy.

Considering you’ve worked with Scott Sartiano and Jeffrey Jah, etc. in the past, do you see Butter as an influence or a competitor?

Butter is known for their Monday night parties. What Butter does on Monday nights, no one else does. It’s a concentration of models and celebrities in a very small space. Those guys have done great at it, they own Monday nights, but that’s not what we do. We’re not model-driven. [The Butter guys] aren’t competitors, they’re friends. We actually go to Butter on Monday nights when we can.

A lot of reviews of Bagatelle are calling you the next Pastis. Do you see yourselves replacing Pastis ever?

No. I think Pastis as a French bistro has had a lot of recent competition in the neighborhood, but we are very different. Most of the restaurants in Meatpacking, their concepts are big. We are very different; we’re small, 90 seats. We have a very personalized welcome. Aymeric and I are here every day. You can create an intimate relationship with the owners, which no other restaurant in the meatpacking can offer. At Pastis the food is average. At Bagatelle we pride ourselves on great food. Our chef Nicolas Cantrel, (who we “stole” from bobo), is a gift from God.

What are you doing tonight? I’ll be at Bagatelle caring to my guests and then dinner with my girlfriend later on.