My Saturday Night with Madonna

I arrived at the Roseland Ballroom for the Smirnoff Nightlife Exchange Project/Madonna fest, way too late for entry. I had a hard time getting "Madonnavated" and missed the press call, and so there were no guest list gals or PR flacks to whisk me inside. Only a gaggle of indifferent security guards who had heard it all. They kept repeating their mantra that they were over capacity and no one was getting in. A fellow shut out was being told by a friend in the smoking section that the line had been around the block and that it was absolute chaos inside. He proclaimed Madonna was "only going to be here for 23 minutes!"

I wondered how that number was arrived at or how nuts this fellow must be. Catherine Fulmer, an extraordinary designer and old friend who I chat with on Facebook since she moved to Nashville, suddenly appeared and told me about the madness inside. Someone had stolen her phone which she had placed on a table in the V.I.P. section, and no one would help her. I asked her what she was doing here. She told me she was dining across the street at Victors when she saw the line and inquired. "No," I said, "I mean in New York." She was in town buying fabrics when she was swept up by the Madonna wave. Here I was on the outside looking in, and I grasped the irony of that position. How many hundreds of thousands had stared at me when I was on the other side of the rope. Suddenly, a celebrity appeared and she and her entourage were granted entry. I talked to the man who made that call, explained to him briefly the profound reasons for letting me pass, and I was in.

The queens I worked with on my job sites during the day were over Madonna. I was shocked, for she was their deity not so long ago. Their indifference weighed me down as I walked into the familiar hall. Roseland is still one of the best rooms in the city. Ancient crown moldings and architectural remnants whisper of a glorious past. Most of the pizzazz has been gone for years, or obscured now by giant video displays and sound equipment. The crowd was mixed: Flocks of little twenty-something girls traveling in packs with suburban smiles on their way-too-made-up faces; queens feeling it; odd couples of somehow connected straights and planted dancers working up their sweats. Camera crews blinded patrons while catching dancers in their moment. The images were being whisked around the world and images of dancers from around the world were being whisked to us. It was chaos by the V.I.P. section, but I didn’t see anything that looked like a winner being let in. The crowd downstairs was having fun and their enthusiasm  swept me up.

This could easily have been a cheese-fest, a glorified Dancing with the Blahs competition, but their was a certain vibe being felt that it was going to be cool. An MC appeared. I had arrived just in time. Dancers of the TV variety did an uninspiring Argentina bit. A Thai troupe followed and was so boring I won’t eat pad thai for months. Then came the real-deal dancers, and then Madonna rose from below center stage.

She wore a white blouse, some sort of black skirt or shorts, and boots. She clung to a very expensive-looking long coat. Videos introduced the dozen finalists, with names like Skorpian and Princess Lockeroo and Lil Buck. Lil Buck would eventually win, but all were amazing. I found myself yelling "Wow" and "Geez" and "Holy Shit" a lot. Lil Buck had me screaming. I can’t describe his schtick, but luckily I won’t have to. YouTube the man, he’s been around. Now he’ll tour with Madonna. She asked the 4 finalists if they had ever been arrested before. Strange that this wasn’t dealt with on the application level, rather than in front of a couple of thousand live attendees and a worldwide audience of millions. Madonna repeated the "change your life" thing, and then gave the prize to Lil Buck. He proved to be a better dancer than public speaker as he accepted his sneakers in a box trophy. He declared, "I’m straight from the streets and things like this don’t happen to us."

This was a great party and a great overall concept. I need to highly commend Smirnoff for sponsoring this event, which must have cost mega millions. I must commend Madonna for always delivering a product that inspires. She looked great and worked hard to greet as many people as she could. She was there for way more than 23 minutes. I wanted to call Catherine Fulmer and talk about the event but alas, her phone was history. I headed down to Snap, knowing I had missed the big fight. I went down to Stash to see how the preview week was going. My week is going to be rough, too much to do. The Roseland event has me up. It has me believing that good things can come from hard work. I need to grasp that concept right now.

Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage for Smirnoff

The Poor & Rich: the NYC Homeless, Champagne at Winston’s, Mark Baker’s Birthday

The night started at Winston’s, where champagne flowed and bon vivants were on their best behavior. I was then caught in that time trap that we Williamsburgers sometimes find ourselves in. It was too early for anything else, but going back to Brooklyn might end up being it for the night. That wouldn’t do: I had places to be. So I decided to take in the glorious night and walk down 14th Street to The Darby and Snap to await Amanda. I would meet my better half there before heading to Meatpacking. The swells and damsels in fine dresses of Winston’s were replaced by desperate men and damsels in distress pleading for anything I had and they didn’t. The $1,000 bottle of champagne set, $1000 shoe sets’ banter echoed in my ear as I ran out of change fast and decided I couldn’t feed the world. Who can.

Maybe a billionare like Mayor Bloomberg could make a dent on this tragedy under our feet. Maybe the city could do more. It got less insane as I moved off Union Square – but still, the hands were stretched for hand-outs.There was a party of some sorts by the Salvation Army Headquarters: dogs and sleeping bags and lots of young homeless drinking inexpensive bottles of swill. I read on my expensive phone earlier that our Mayor had banned food donations to homeless shelters because "the city can’t assess their salt, fat, and fiber content." The people I passed didn’t have calorie counters on their phones. Billionaire Mayor is worried about the nutritional needs of people who are rummaging through garbage and afraid of the places the city provides for them. I needed a drink and some thicker skin. I hated that my eyes avoided them, that I had moves with my hand and arms and head that could tell them I wasn’t going to be helping them.

The long legs of the gorgeous were supporting expensive smiles outside The Darby. The gays going into Stash’s gay night soiree were ear-to-ear as well. A couple of dozen Snap sports bar patrons were watching millionaires run around with balls. The spring is just born and the warm weather will soon bring the desperate hordes from everywhere. It’s beginning to feel like a Steinbeck tome out there. The tourists who support our economy will soon be here in herds, taking serpentine routes around the indigent to get to a place to spend $500 on a bottle of booze. I was swept up by my Amanda, and we politely passed on the cheap flowers from the more tycoon-ish poor. I remembered another article I had read earlier in the day which said that the Bloomberg administration was going to implement a policy where single adults would have to prove that they had no place else to stay but in a shelter. The people I passed could barely prove they were alive. How could they prove anything. Are their clothes smelly or torn enough, their demeanor below the civilized line the Mayor and his set have carved in the concrete? Can they sell their desperation enough to get in. Who are the doormen at these shelters? Will it be "Sorry, you’re dressed too nicely to get in?" I guess the flower peddlers wouldn’t qualify and the old lady with the old coffee cup with change in it wouldn’t either; they’re way too prosperous. That cup and it’s contents prove she can pay for a cot in a flophouse where she will surely meet some great people who will entertain her with threats and possibly worse. Maybe this isn’t the forum. Maybe my nightlife column should ignore what my eyes couldn’t ignore as I traveled from one heaven to the next.

The Double Seven opened up its doors for me and mine. Their door policies being the polar opposite of the Mayor’s. You had to have loot or be someone who can drive their brand to get in here. Single adults are encouraged. Money gets you in, not out. I was there for my dear friend Mark Baker’s 50th birthday bash. Mark will forgive me for using his article to air out my sudden conscious. He has a heart of gold and I’m sure feels the same sadness at the madness all around us.

Six bottles of Beau Joie Champagne were delivered to his tables; beautiful girls and sparklers and all the fluff that goes with a good time. The crowd was known to me, veterans of nightlife and the upwardly mobile, partying like it’s no longer 1999. All around the Goose and the champagne was helping the gathering affirm their good life. DJ Elle was playing a superb set – music that most of clubland has given up for pop mediocrity, offerings spewed by bad boys with laptops. Elle can go. She has the taste, the style, the guts, and more importantly the backing of the club to play the good stuff. I’m sure some of the crowd was soon rushing off to somewhere after for their Rihanna fixes, but while they were at The Double Seven, their ears were to be enlightened.

Mark Baker turning 50 is unbelievable. The energizer bunny of nightlife, Mr. Baker had an earlier go of it at the Liberty Theater for the launch of Malibu Red, with Ne-Yo performing. He’s off to Miami now to continue his celebration. There he will hold court at the Raleigh Hotel for this Music Loves Fashion thing. I have known Mark a long time. Our old dogs played with each other on Hamptons beaches a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away when they were alive and young, when we were also younger. He is a young man compared to me. I told him I have shoes that are 50 and, sadly or wonderfully, it’s almost true. He is a gentleman who deserves all that the world has to offer. Seeing him smile as all the love, affection, and attention came to him last night put a smile on my face. Cameras jumped up to catch THAT event.

I asked Mark about hitting the half-century mark.

"First I never even thought I’d live past 40 so making a half century is just a bonus to me lol, I feel better than ever (and cutting some bad things out of my life have made things WAY better) … more sweating the small stuff as everything WILL be ok, we’ve made it this far so stressing over bs just isn’t necessary, I cherish and value the LONGTERM friends I’ve made over the years and even laugh harder with a couple that I’ve scrapped with, life is good, business is great and gf relationships .. Well you know how they go in this business lol.its always a work in progress (isn’t there a club called that ? Lol….I’m blessed to have the life I have and I work hard at keeping things as simple and drama free as possible and  happy day to day…Just have to rememember …"LIFE…IS GOOD"…:-).
Ps ! I’m celebrating with a four day marathon party starting on wednesday at the liberty theater and the double seven and ending in miami on saturday with a pool party at the RALEIGH..your welcome to join….if you can keep up….lol"

NYC’s Best Bars For Watching March Madness

For sports fans, March is arguably the best month on the calendar. Besides baseball’s spring training and NBA and NHL teams’ push for the playoffs, the college basketball season culminates with a massive 68-team tournament beginning March 19th. It’s pretty much all the excitement of a full season compressed into three weeks, providing a sobering reminder that all those games you sat through the previous four months were virtually meaningless.

Seasoned fans know that getting the full March Madness experience involves two key elements: betting on the games and drinking. The two are closely related. The NCAA tournament comprises dozens of games, the outcomes of which can turn in a few tenths of a second. If you have money on the line, watching your team’s fortunes change that quickly will require something stiff to calm you down. And as the tournament progresses, inevitably you will find yourself knocked out of the running in your office pool when Norfolk State improbably upsets Kansas. That makes it even more crucial to find the right bar in which to lament your lost entry fee, cheer on your alma mater, and endure the rest of the marathon-like event with fellow fans.

There’s no shortage of venues showing the games, but many involve navigating through crowds of drunken alums and lists of watered-down beers that smell like an old pair of Chuck Taylors. Fortunately some hoops-friendly bars have plenty to offer even for those who don’t care to stay glued to the flat screens – like inventive pub fare, unusual cocktails, and a soundtrack that goes beyond Jock Jams Volume IV. Here are enough to sustain you to the Final Four. 

For Overall Atmosphere

Snap adds some sporting flair to an otherwise forgettable stretch of West 14th Street. With wallpaper depicting bare-knuckle boxers and mustachioed baseball players, the vibe harks back to a time long before the NCAA tournament’s birth. For those who prefer modern touches (or who are just too lazy to look up at the TV screens), Snap’s bar has a 20-foot-long score ticker built into it.

A welcome oasis in the Upper East Side’s bar scene, Bounce Sporting Club offers a lounge atmosphere, while managing to remain all about the basketball. Among other creative concoctions on the extensive cocktail list is the Hot Streak, a riff on a margarita featuring tequila infused with jalapeno.

Billing itself as an “upscale sports restaurant and lounge,” The Royal is a recent addition to Union Square. The idea is to dial up the sophistication beyond what you’d expect in other sports bars or even other kinds of bars in the neighborhood: Along with its 45 TVs, it brings a DJ, bottle service and even a surprisingly wide selection of gluten-free menu items.

For Food and Drinks

Mulholland’s has four other kinds of wings, but there’s no sense in trekking over to the Williamburg spot if you’re not going to try the Scorching Death variety. If you have even greater disdain for your arteries than your mouth and throat, the menu also has chili cheese nachos served on waffle fries and fried pickles. Then cool off with one of 22 tap beers on the patio, which thankfully has a TV.

In the shadow of City Hall stands Manhattan Proper, where you can dine on white truffle lobster ravioli while doing your best to suffer University of Florida fans. Fans of the classics can stick to the Proper Wings and Proper Burger. Just make sure to wash them down with a seasonal cocktail like the Revolver, which somehow seamlessly matches Bulleit rye and Kahlua.

With 40 flat screens, The Ainsworth is the best bet to catch the games in Chelsea. The sports theme makes the bar something of an anomaly in the neighborhood, but with six different kinds of sliders (including lobster and barbecue pulled pork), the menu will stand up well when the Elite 8 rolls around and you can’t take one more buffalo wing.

For Activities Other Than Watching Basketball

Unfortunately there are short periods during the tournament when no games are going on or—gasp—the ones that are being played just aren’t that exciting. If you’re worried about down time, put your name on the list for The Whiskey Brooklyn’s shuffleboard table, which promises stiffer competition than most 1-vs-16 seed matchups. Skee-Ball and video cornhole are also available while you wait for your turn.

Angry Wade’s stays just on the right side of being a traditional ballcap-and-greek letter-filled sports bar. While the Cobble Hill staple features four TVs behind the bar—which runs nearly the entire length of the room—many patrons come to play pool or darts, munch on free popcorn, or hold forth on the provocative, ever-changing artwork on the walls.

If you’re able to round up a critical mass of fellow alumni, Firefly has a party room with a private bar to keep you away from fans of those hateful other 67 teams. The bar also has a DJ spinning three nights a week.

[Check out the BlackBook New York Guide; Discover the latest parties & openings with the weekly BlackBook Happenings email.]

A Spirited Selection of Upscale New York Sports Bars to Watch (the Giants Win) the Super Bowl

On Sunday, the most important sporting event in the world will be held, assuming by "world" you mean "United States." This year’s Super Bowl is particularly significant, as it pits the Giants of East Rutherford, New Jersey New York against the Patriots of Foxborough, Massachusetts New England, two of the biggest television advertising markets most historically rich cities in the country. A list of Boston sports bars can be found here. As for my fair city, New York is filled with sports bars, but there are a handful of particularly upscale joints that break the lager-and-wings mold with fancy cocktails and haute cuisine – particularly important if you’re trying to make a date of it. Here are a few of our favorites. 

Bounce Sporting Club – Downtown

This upscale sports lounge attracts fans from far and wide with artisinal cocktails, delicious food, and more TVs than you can shake a thunderstick at.  In honor of the home team, order a Blueberi Bounce cocktail, which is made with Stoli Blueberi vodka, fresh lemon, smashed blueberries, and ginger ale.

Bounce Sporting Club – Uptown

The original location of Bounce strikes the perfect balance between clubhouse and fancy restaurant. If you wanted to watch the game and your better half was counting on date night, this is your spot. 


The sports bar reimagined as a nightclub. Clubby feel, football-leather banquettes, and sophisticated sips abound. 

The Ainsworth

This posh Chelsea sports bar has 40 flat screen TVs, along with miso duck spring rolls and 100-ounce beer tubes.

Warren 77

Sean Avery and Beatrice bloodlines make this about as trendy as sports bars get. Plenty of fun even if the Giants lose, not that there’s any chance of that happening. 

The Windsor

British-accented sports pub has Guinness-battered fish and chips and porn star martinis. Also, sports. 

The Fulton

Sophisticated sports bar way downtown goes the gastropub route with a killer menu and craft beers from here to eternity. 


Proving that fancy sports bar is not an oxymoron. Big screens and quality burgers will make you cheer. 


Party like a rap star while watching sports stars at Jay-Z’s super club. 

Village Pourhouse

This East Village sports mecca gets rowdy, but that’s to be expected when you’ve got 50 bottles and 24 draft beers going at any given time. A nice, comfy hang. 


BlackBook Holiday Fête Presented by Patrón @ Stash

Not only did our immortal nightlife columnist Steve Lewis design the interior of Stash, the new cozy crypt tucked beneath Snap and The Darby, but on Wednesday night he filled the joint with his patented raucous rock. The occasion was a holiday party of sorts, sponsored by the generous folks at Patrón.

Mr. Lewis was joined by his fellow 4AM DJ, DJ Sinatra, who played to a crowd that indulged in specially-crafted cocktails. They included the BlackBook Holiday Fête-arita, Patrón Cosmopoliday, and Ultimat BlackBook Buzz. Drinks were soaked up with Patron infused Baked By Melissa cupcakes. Yep, it was that kind of night. The lovely photos you see below were snapped by Julian Cavin, and special thanks go out to STASH and Bloc Group, 4AM, and The Adventure Project, where you can make a donation to help in Haiti. Thank you very much! 

Saturday Night in the City, Plus a Chat About Hotel Chantelle

Health is wealth, says my mother. My recent bouts with flu have left me “anorexic,” says she. Well, I took my much thinner self on a romp this Saturday night and got the feel of things. I stopped by APL, which is changing its name, game, and menu to get back to a good place. These are nice people and it’s the last place I designed with Mr. Dizon. I wish them well. Then I scooted by Highlands Restaurant and Mary Queen of Scots, which celebrated their one year anniversary on Sunday.

I walked for a while with Matt Levine, who told me his new place previewed and will soon be ready for prime-time players. He was heading home, so I popped into Hotel Chantelle to see how the roof was holding up with the weather advancing toward winter. The enclosed roof deck’s foliage was as vibrant as ever and the crowds were still there enjoying the illusion of being outdoors. I’m DJing there Thursday, so I checked out the booth to see what I was getting into.

Then I passed by Noel Ashman’s new joint, where fresh paint was debated. Also the name of the place. I can’t much talk about it except to say the joint is going to be sweet. Noel and his uber secret partners are excited. I walked over to subMercer for my second visit in two days. Gabby Meija’s birthday bash the night before was a costume affair with a Roman flair. It was a great party. I didn’t go downstairs Saturday, opting to hang out at the door with Richard Alvsarez and the chain smokers, which could be the name of his band if the door/art thing doesn’t pan out.

I zoomed over to Snap to see how the basement spot I’m designing has progressed. Although the name is secret here as well, I’ve been hearing it in the street. If one more person mentions it, I’ll consider it public knowledge and tell you. Geez, when I had joints I wanted people to have the name on their lips. This secret sauce confuses me. I peeked into The Darby and was amazed by the vibrancy of the place. The upstairs was winding down its dinner/show with a solid adult crowd and bon vivants were sliding into the downstairs lounge. Everybody was beautiful and well dressed. Matt Issacs and I walked over to this 42 Below Underground Rebel Bingo event on 16th street. It was just ending and the crowd was shuffling off to Buffalo and other such places.

There were nice new cars parked everywhere, and I was told the Cold War Kids had performed. It was time to get real, so I headed to the Dream Downtown. I went to the roof where everyone was having a good time in the low lit room. How dim was it… girls were picking me up. It was that dim or they were. I called ahead to Provocateur to announce myself, as is their practice, and was whisked inside. Lately, the snarkiest amongst my readers and friends have suggested that two years in the place has lost a step. It had been a couple of months, so I wanted to see for myself. Those naysayers are crazy or just mean spirited. The place was off the hook with every table a story with a fairy tale ending. Every time I go to Provocateur I see the most wonderous crowd. I zipped over to Electric Room, where Nur Khan was hosting Crystal Castles after their show. I asked the door heroes about the black carpet that guided you through the steep Hacula garage entrance. “So, if a person is rejected they have to skulk all the way uphill to the street? How embarrassing that must be!” They replied with something eloquent, like “Yep.” Inside it was wonderful. Every thing was clicking. The staff is brilliant, the music fun, and the crowd was having a great time instead of just pretending or looking like they were having one. I love it there. In my spare time I asked Victor Medina-San Andrés about his Thursday night soiree’ over at Hotel Chantelle.

SL) Thursday you are hosting the 5th Annual Masquerade Ball. Tell me how you got into this and the charity it benefits.

VMSA) The first Masquerade Ball was in Paris in 2007, I brought out about 700+ people on a Tuesday night and it was a huge success. Healing the Children Northeast is a small organization which is based in Connecticut and they’re great, their sole purpose is to heal children with burn injuries, cleft palates and other deformities whose families don’t have access to or cannot afford treatment in developing countries. I have decided to help them to raise money with their missions. I know the money goes to the right people since I traveled with them to Thailand right after the Tsunami.

SL) You’re having it at Hotel Chantelle and the invite says black tie. Talk to this why Chantelle and why black tie?

VMSA) Terry Casey was the person who suggested Hotel Chantelle and he told Tim Spuches and Kyle O’Brien about the event and they said “Definitely!”. I love Hotel Chantelle, it has a great vibe, 3 floors an amazing roof deck and it’s just perfect for the event. I call it black tie because I want to give people a second chance to look like a rockstar at their prom. If you think about it, we were all a bit awkward in High School so this way you get to basically be whoever you want behind the mask and have fun at the same time. In addition, this party is dedicated to all women. Yes, women who have amazing beauty and within and can show it with their attire that evening.

SL) Tell me about what you do.

VMSA) I’m a photographer and filmmaker. I have worked in about 24 films and I’m developing a few ideas about directing 2 short films I want to shoot. One of them is about suicide and how painful it is to families and I want to present it to suicide organizations to try and prevent it. I’m still developing the idea but we will see what happens with it. The film industry is very “up in the air” sort of business. At times, you can shoot for months and then is quiet. Also, I became partner and curator of the After-Set Independent Film Screenings and we do screenings with Tribeca Grand Hotel & GrandLife. Tony Fant & Tommy Saleh are amazing when it comes to support with the arts and we allow indy filmmakers to screen and showcase their work for free, we screen weekly and we give a percentage of the money collected at the door to Healing the Children Northeast on a weekly basis and it works. is a social media site for filmmakers only and we do the screenings not only in NYC but Paris and Rome. As a photographer, first it was a hobby which turned into a business, I have been shooting for a long time and I recently joined The Cooper Union to take lessons and it’s funny how the professor asked me: “what are you doing here?” since he found out what I have done as a shooter. Lastly, at the party I’m also showcasing The Masquerade Show – Part Deux, 20 nude images I photographed, I’m selling the prints and giving half the money to the charity as well. This way everyone at the party can feel good about helping children.

SL) Terry Casey is involved with this event… tell me more.

VMSA) Terry loves masquerades as much as I do, he’s not only a good friend but very talented when it comes to music and DJ’s. He has been in the nightlife scene for a long time and he approached me last year about doing the Masquerade Ball and he actually introduced me to GrandLife and Tribeca Grand where I did the Masquerade Ball last year, I know this business can be cut-throat but you do actually build good relationships at the end. We are in the business of entertaining people and make their nights memorable and The Masquerade Ball is going to do just that.

SL)How do people get in?

VMSA) Get there early and $20 gives you access to get in. Masks can be purchased at door for $30. Starts at 7pm until 4am on October 27th at Hotel Chantelle. I didn’t want to sell the tickets online because I want to see a line of people dressed in black tie outside the venue. if you come with no mask, jeans, caps or any wrong attire or shoes, no problem, then your entrance fee is $1,000.

Bounce Sporting Club’s Cole Bernard on Gaming Season

With football season in full swing and the World Series starting tonight, nightlife people are pondering where to watch the game. Three venues standout as places where women will be comfortable and therefore plentiful: The Ainsworth, Snap, and Bounce are not your dad’s sports bars. More amenities, fewer beer bellies. My marching orders when designing Snap were to make a joint where guys could feel right about taking or making a date.

These places charge more for a drink than the traditional joints and have menus which have strayed far from classic bar menus. Burgers and fries can be had but expect things like truffle oil and words like sliders. If you are of the “real men don’t use truffle oil” variety, then these joints aren’t for you, and you probably aren’t reading this anyway. I caught up with Cole Bernard who, along with Yosi Benvenisti and Benny Silman, owns Bounce Restaurant & Sports Lounge.

SL) This place is a hit. Everybody’s talking about it. How the hell did you get into the sports bar business from what you were doing?

CB: Prior to Bounce I was doing a couple venues. The last couple years, I had this place where Bounce Sporting Club is currently. it was called Porky’s, and I transformed it into The Lot. Seven years ago, this Block — 21st Street between fifth and sixth — was completely different. It was commercial; it was nightlife driven. There wasn’t a lot going on around here before 9 or 10pm. Over the last couple years, as the city changed, a lot of residential came into the neighborhood, a lot of big businesses, so I had to kind of change with the times. Over the last couple years, the city has taken a big step in terms of sport’s bars. They’re becoming extremely popular. This neighborhood was lacking a great sports bar with a good menu for lunch and dinner, so that was one of my main goals, to put one here. After The Lot, I opened a space called The Eldridge, on the Lower East Side, with Matt Levine, and after that, in 2008, as you know, Steve you did a project for me on Rivington between Attorney and Clinton called Red Velvet, which was a small little cocktail lounge on the Lower East Side, and now I’m focusing on this big boy on 21St.

SL: I like the space. As you know I designed the Snap sports bar on 14th St. That was the first sports bar I designed. It has its own set of rules the spacing’s very different in a sports bar than it is in a regular bar or club. You need more distance and more… well you’re dealing with much bigger groups. Sightlines and of course TV locations also dictate the layout. The thing that I did there, and what I see around me here at Bounce, is that this is an extremely woman-friendly sports bar, without being too feminine… I mean, it’s a sports bar, but it’s very woman-friendly. What are the specific things done to make girls like it? To make them feel comfortable here?

CB: The lay out of the room… well, sports bars are known for being packed on Saturdays and Sundays for football, and the layout of the room, it makes it very friendly and comfortable. You know, when you’re eating, it was something that we were going for. The design and the layout, making it very comfortable for when you’re coming in for lunch, dinner, sitting here all day long, for Saturday and Sunday football, the room is not overwhelming, it’s a very soft and comfortable space.

SL: You have a DJ booth.

CB: DJ booth, as well.

SL: Talk to me about that horrible P-word, a word that you will never own up to: promoter. You were actually a promoter.

CB: In my day…

SL: But you did your time, and they let you out. CB: Yep.

SL: But tell me about promoters, is this going to be promoter driven on nights?

CB: Definitely not. It’s going to be geared towards post 10pm, 11 pm. I mean, for the month of September, I went with all 4AM DJs.

SL: I’m a 4AM DJ.

CB: There ya go! Well, big shout-out to Adam Alpert. I gave 4AM the month of September: Brooklyn Don, Theory, Ani Quinn.

SL: How do you know what to play when you have multiple events going on?

CB: That’s always difficult. Example: Sunday football. You always want to play the primetime game. So, if there’s a Jets game going on, or there’s an Eagles game going on, or a Dolphins game going on, primarily we’re always going to be playing a Giants game or a Jets game. We don’t favor really either team, we’re both. We’re both a Jets bar and a Giants bar.

SL: Hmmm, did you actually talk about the place being women-friendly?

CB: No, I didn’t.

SL: How did you make this place woman-friendly?

CB: That’s a great question…

SL: Let’s ask this anonymous woman sitting near us. Why do you feel more comfortable here than at a typical sports bar

AW: Well, I think with typical sports bars, you loose your attention and get bored of watching the game. At Bounce they place music during commercials, they play music over the game sometimes, and it’s still entertaining. You can sit at a table and talk to someone, and then get up and dance.

SL: Is it less frat boy?

AW: It’s more upscale. It’s less fratty. It’s more sophisticated, but it doubles as a nightclub, so it’s not so boring for girls who aren’t that into sports.

SL: And there’s enough women here so you don’t feel like it’s a male-dominated environment.

AW: Right. It’s a great mix.

SL: It’s not as bottle driven as many of your other ventures. It’s drinks, it’s beer, it’s the pairing of beers with food… CB: 100%.

SL: So the revenue streams are different. You’re also game-dependent to a large degree. Baseball season is certainly not as lucrative as football season.

CB: 100%.

SL: How have you switched your mentality from promotion to having the patience to deal with a sports bar?

CB: Well, if you come in here on Sunday for football, you kind of see the difference between the Bounce atmosphere and another typical sports bar atmosphere. The bounce concept has a little bit more of a party atmosphere mixed in with the sports, so for example on Sundays, we’re not playing the sound with the game unless it’s a primetime game. I have a DJ going on commercials, half-time.

SL: I’m looking at a menu that would take me about fifteen minutes to read, but it’s a really good menu. You’ve got some of my favorite things here. I mean, deviled eggs trio with lobster jalapeno, bacon, and eggs… that’s pretty hot. It’s not your typical burger/fries sports joint.

CB: Definitely isn’t.

SL: Talk to me about the menu, and how you merged a traditional sports bar menu with the needs of your crowd. You’ve got roasted organic chicken, soup and sandwichs, flatbreads, salads…

CB: The menu was put together by Sean Olnowich, he’s our executive chef. He designed the menu at our sister location, Vero, and he’s the executive chef and partner at The House, which is in Gramercy, on Irving. With this space, we needed to create a menu that was, as you said, woman-friendly and neighborhood friendly. A typical sports bar is known for having fried, greasy foods, so we wanted to stay away from that. There’s a lot of sharing items on the menu.

SL: There’s Matt Shendell over at the Ainsworth, there’s Matt Isaacs at Snap. Do you ever feel that you should change your name to Matt? What I’m really asking is, you’ve got these people that come from clubs, who’ve turned to sports bars, and I think it’s just the tip of the iceberg. You’ve got guys who are traditionally not into this now getting into it and the revenues are… well these places are doing very well. Snap’s packed, Ainsworth slammed, you’re packed. Do you see sports being part of regular clubs and more of the club owner types getting going into this?

CB: 100%. With this space, we wanted to create a hybrid. Number one it’s restaurant, number two sports bar, and number three, nightlife. We wanted to create a space that’s capable of doing multiple things. I do see the city starting to turn towards sports bars. They’re more maintainable, manageable, and everyone loves sports, so they’re easier to cater to.

SL: You’re talking to someone who has never seen a football game.

CB: Really. Can I take you to your first Jets game?

SL: I’ve never desired to. I used to entertain all these guys at my clubs, I’d get free tickets all the time, but I spend my Sundays at flea markets, museums, and antique stores

CB: Well Bounce is gonna have to take you to your first football game.

SL: Eh, I dunno. It’s tough. I just don’t get it. I mean, I understand the game… I actually watch highlights sometimes, but I couldn’t name ten football players. I don’t know who the quarterback of the NY Giants is.

CB: Eli Manning.

SL: See, I did know that. And I know who Mark Sanchez is, because he does a lot of commercials. But after that, I don’ t think I could name another football player in the National Football League, and I’m kind of happy about that. Can a person like me have fun at Bounce?

CB: 100%, for a sports bar. Like I said earlier, it’s not your typical sports bar. There’s more of a party atmosphere going on, and a great menu.

Mighty A-Rod Strikes Out, Lavo Strikes It Big

A giant pin-striped cloud hangs over Manhattan, as mighty Alex Rodriguez has struck out. But there’s still joy in Mudville. Alex has proven once again that he’s no Casey, or Babe, or Lou, or Joe, or Derek, or even Jorge. Alas, there would be no story-book ending (unless of course you were from Lansing, Michigan or some such place). But that’s alright, as A-Rod seems to be a real nice fellow, especially when you see him out in those seriously tailored suits. As a movie star once said, “there’s no crying in baseball,” and it is hard to cry for this guy or his teammates, who are making tons of money while most people are trying to just get by. The good ones make over a hundred grand a game, sometimes more, even if they don’t play.

In the end it wasn’t the maligned pitching that let our hopefuls down but the vaunted bats of our gaggle of 20-million-dollar men. What does this mean for nightlife? Who are the winners besides Detroit and the losers besides the Yankees and their followers? Early October is still the off season for nightlife. Most of the tourists are back where they live, and aren’t due back until the Christmas shopping season or next summer. The students are studying, or spending their trust fund loot on keggers. Everyone is a little ill as various viruses and bacteria celebrate our chills and dampness. It gets dark way too early, and that can be so depressing.The weather is much colder at night and people go home to change and stay there. The Jewish holidays occupy a great deal of the population and everyone is still trying to pay for there summer frolicking. Finally, nobody knows what to wear.

September after fashion week until Halloween is rough. Throw in the baseball playoffs with a local team involved and it’s a disaster. The crowd at Snap sports bar was nervous as I popped upstairs while taking breaks from the renovation I’m doing downstairs. The place was packed with concerned citizens munching burgers and fries and more exotic fare, washing it all down with gallons of swill. It won’t get better than this. With the Yankees out of it, these sort of parties will be reserved for Saturday, Sunday, and Monday night football. The sports bars took a big hit because the Yankees couldn’t make one. The regular joints no doubt owned by sad Yankee fans will rejoice as the early exit of the home town heroes will have the hordes seeking other distractions. DJs and booze will help them forget.

The game ended while I was on the L train going home to Brooklyn. I stopped caring about Baseball and football and especially basketball a long time ago. Maybe it was that sequence from A Bronx Tale where Sonny tells the kid to stop hating Bill Mazeroski, the Pirates slugger who had made Yankee legend Mickey Mantle cry. Sonny asks the kid whether if his dad needed money, would Mickey come up with it? I’m not going to cry about the pinstriped millionaires now off to an early vacation with their movie star/model girls. I’m concerned about building joints that pinstriped suits enjoy enough to spend a thousand dollars on a bottle of booze. Love Derek and Alex to death, but we all have bigger problems.

I was a real Nowhere man last night. I had every intention of heading back to the city to celebrate with Rocco and Jayma and Andrew and Noah and the rest of the gang as Lavo turned one years old. I remember Noah asking me if I thought it would work. It was a sort of a redundant question, as he and his very sharp partners had crunched the numbers and dotted all the I’s before investing the millions it takes to build such a place. I told him it would be a home run. It’s more than that — It’s the grand slam the Yankees never managed. It has spread nightlife up and to the right of its familiar zone. I will be up there for brunch on Saturday to support and celebrate.

Last night, I walked Lulu and chatted up my neighbors on the way. The air was chilly and me and my crew headed to The Brooklyn Star to find hearty fall fare. We were joined by a real movie star and his gal and enjoyed the food and vibe of this seriously great restaurant. The desserts made the eyelids heavier than the coffee could handle, and we said good nights. Somewhere, a Yankee was taking off his socks in his luxury apartment surrounded by the stuff that dreams are made of … but he wasn’t thinking or caring about me, and frankly the feeling is mutual.

A Private Tour of the Electric Room With Nur Khan

It was my first real adventure at the Dream Downtown complex. It began with a stroll down Marble Lane, the lobby restaurant. It was all serious steaks, with a staff that makes few mistakes. I was joined by young interior designer and old friend Christian Zavala, who marveled at the well-heeled crowd. The lobby was unlike any hotel lobby I had ever seen. It was a scene. Everybody was mingling with cocktails and intentions.

We scooted up to the roof in an elevator with one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen and, of course, all we could talk about was her beautiful and architecturally amazing Alexander McQueen shoes. (Christian had a legitimate excuse and I guess I’m developing into a gentleman as I move farther away from puberty.) The roof was slammed and noticeably more intimate, with new curtains making the skyline a peek-a-boo affair. The DJ and the big-brained and well-mannered Matt Strauss, the hotel’s F & B guy, wanted to show us Nur Khan’s dream come true, Electric Room.

We hop, skipped, and jumped down the Haculla (artist Harif Guzman)-imprinted garage ramp to the hidden gem. There we hung with new friends Adam and Adam as we waited for Nur to give us the tour. He was texting me to stay where he was as he cabbed it from Kenmare. As we waited, I noticed some familiar sights like the Sante D’Orazio photo hiding sweetly behind the DJ booth. His neon from Don Hill’s was there as well. Nur came, he saw us, and showed us what he had conquered. He was particularly proud of his own art decorating the main wall. He has a right too. The beautiful and successful poured in as if some gilded spigot was whooshing them from some fabulous event over there, somewhere. The bold face names that have reportedly splayed themselves on the sumptuous chesterfields are mind boggling. Mick Jagger was mentioned—It’s like that. The intimate room is everything Nur could ask for. It’s a perfect combination of Don Hill’s and Wax and Rose Bar; a place to hang his hat and hang with his rock star friends after Kenmare. If he can give us a show in some ballroom somewhere he will surely reach “Nurvana.”

We rushed back into the night. The streets were jammed with the hoi polloi all pumped up after the big fight. Apparently Floyd Mayweather sucker punched Victor Ortiz and then picked a macho argument with 0ctogenarian announcer Larry Merchant. I gathered bits and pieces as wannabe tough guys relived the affair in both pantomime and loud voices. I dodged more lefts than Mr. Ortiz. The story was relived a thousand times as we wandered the city streets and would be relived again at Kellogg’s Diner when the day beat down the night. I was exhausted after three weeks of non-stop action. Hurricanes, Labor Days and nights and then NYFW left me looking for an early knock out. We hit The Darby, Snap and a few others but I was supposed to be at a thousand can’t-miss events, but, but, but…Brooklyn and its relative calm was tugging at me. I missed the set by that lover not fighter DJ MC Slutbag. It was at Volstead yet another new, hot spot on my nightlife bucket list. I’ll catch them both next time when I’ve had time to recover. I feel like Mr. Ortiz and a little like Mr. Merchant.