With the Academy Awards looming just a few weeks away and the Golden Globes behind us, we’re smack dab in the middle of awards season. Of course, nightlife has its own awards. Nightclub & Bar has announced 21 winners for the 2011 Nightclub & Bar Awards. Almost 300 nominees that include bars, clubs, restaurants, DJs, and industry professionals were voted on by a panel of judges. These judges are consultants, developers, writers, editors, and trainers in the industry, who are required to rank their first, second, and third choices in each of the categories they’re qualified to judge. I was selected as one of the judges, but I’m unaware of the names of others. Names are kept secret so that bribes can’t be offered up, but I’m considered way too dumb to take a bribe, and so I reveal myself.
“This year’s winners are a diverse group, reflecting the range of concepts and innovation on today’s nightlife scene,” says Donna Hood Crecca, Publisher and Editorial Director of Nightclub & Bar. “Each of these winners combines innovation with great execution, which is the secret to success, especially in the recent challenging economy. These bars and clubs won the respect of our judges and of the entire industry, and we look forward to celebrating their accomplishments in Las Vegas.” Finalists and winners will be highlighted in Nightclub & Bar media properties, and winners will be celebrated at the “Welcome Kick-off Party” at Caesars Palace on Monday, March 7 during the Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show in Las Vegas. The whole affair is sponsored by Modern Fine Line Furniture.
Presented by category, the 2011 Nightclub & Bar award winners are:
Mega-club of the Year: The Pool After Dark at Harrah’s Resort, Atlantic City, NJ. New Club of the Year: FLUXX, San Diego, CA. Nightclub of the Year: Webster Hall, New York, NY. Ongoing Promotion/Party/Event of the Year: Fashion Industry Nights at Baja Sharkeez, Hermosa Beach, CA. Resident DJ of the Year: Chris Garcia at Playhouse, Los Angeles, CA. Single Promotion/Party/Event of the Year: Moulin Rouge Anniversary Party at Kiss & Fly, Austin, TX. Ultralounge of the Year: SL, New York, NY.
Las Vegas Nightclub Award Winners
Las Vegas Dayclub of the Year: Liquid Pool Lounge, Aria Resort & Casino. Las Vegas Mega-club of the Year: Pure, Caesars Palace. Las Vegas New Club of the Year: Haze Nightclub, Aria Resort & Casino. Las Vegas Nightclub of the Year: Tryst, Wynn Las Vegas. Las Vegas Ongoing Promotion/Party/Event of the Year: Vice Sundays, Lavo Las Vegas. Las Vegas Resident DJ of the Year: Kaskade at Encore Beach Club. Las Vegas Single Promotion/Party/Event of the Year: Erick Morillo Labor Day Weekend at Tao. Bar Category Award Winners
Bartender of the Year: Jackson Cannon, Eastern Standard, Boston, MA. Beer Bar of the Year: Churchkey, Washington, D.C. Cocktail Lounge of the Year: Smuggler’s Cove, San Francisco, CA. Hotel Bar of the Year: Eastern Standard, Hotel Commonwealth, Boston, MA. Small Wonder Bar of the Year: Embury, Pittsburgh, PA. Sports Bar of the Year: The Tavern Downtown, Denver, CO. Wine Bar of the Year: Mercy Wine Bar, Dallas, TX.
It should be noted that SL picked up the award for Ultralounge of the Year. A couple of weeks ago, I offered up my top eleven relevant joints around town but I did not list SL, despite numerous protests from readers. My reasoning was this: For what SL offers, venues like Avenue, Provocateur, and 1Oak are better. I have not been to SL more than a few times, as I have found the crowd to be very white, very 20-something, and very straight. None of those three things are acceptable to me when I go out. I want a mixed crowd. I guess that for the 20-something, Caucasian, hetero set it is heaven, and so be it, as a panel of my peers has pronounced it victorious.
I adore Mark Birnbaum and Eugene Remm and although this may seem to be a criticism, it is only a mild one. Places in this burg have become increasingly specialized and diversity is not celebrated. People tend to gravitate toward their own kind and to celebrate with like-minded individuals. SL knows its niche and hits it hard, but it just isn’t my niche. I find Avenue to be a bit older and more diverse, especially on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I find Provocateur to be somewhat older and more mixed. I think 1Oak’s crowd comes from all walks of life and they generally play better music. Some say the DJs are the same, but I will counter that DJs play to the crowd and when a crowd is diverse they will step it up. Some might say the same crowd goes to all three and to some extent that is true. The club regulars do mostly travel through them all, but that’s like saying a chicken is a chicken is a chicken. I argue that it’s the little things that make that chicken special. The spices at the other joints are what set them apart. I may be wrong. I might have just attended on nights that were lily white and ultra-straight. In any case, I’m sure I will be asked to revisit SL to see it in a better light, and I will.
Also of note is Webster Hall winning Nightclub of the Year. Webster has flexed considerable muscle by using its size and the diversity of its many rooms to step up. Many nightlife purists, enamored by the club du jour, won’t go there for the social scene but all will attend from time to time because of its undeniable music programming. Whether it’s a Tiesto or Kings of Leon show, at one time or another, Webster Hall will be the answer to your prayers. It’s been around for over a hundred years, so it knows how to do it, and the national recognition is well-deserved. It certainly is a more diverse place than any of the mega-clubs in town. It is mixed racially, in age groups, and in musical programming. There are gay people, straight people, and some who are still unsure of their status, enjoying themselves. I commend and congratulate them for not going down the specialization highway and for offering different strokes to different folks.