Tonight: DJing At BlackBook’s Party At Toy

Before I scoot over to Toy to DJ at the BlackBook Fashion Week soiree, I will scoot over to the Secret Society book’s event at Soho boutique treasure & bond, 350 W. Broadway. My friend, mentor, and owner of my DJ management agency 4AM – Jonny "The Lover" Lennon – will be spinning at this soiree. The hosts are myself Nur Khan, Serge Becker, Simonez Wolf, and Christian Alexander. That’s good company, and I’m honored to be there. It’s a book signing event.

Here’s the official info on treasure & bond:
"Every purchase we ring up generates change – 100 percent of all our after-cost profits go directly to the programs that benefit people in need, right here in our own community. Located at the intersection of retail and philanthropy, Nordstrom-owned treasure & bond is more than just a store; it’s an exciting concept that has one simple goal: to help people help people, with wit, imagination, and style."

The tome, Secret Society: Modern Speakeasy Style and Design, was put together by Patrice Farameh of Farameh Media, a NY-based publishing house with the help of nightlife guru Christian Alexander. It takes you to the "world’s hottest speakeasy destinations…showcasing dozens and dozens of undercover clubs, and drawing you into this world of secrecy and exclusivity."

I went to Wikipedia for the source of the term "speakeasy:"

"They were so called because of the practice of speaking quietly about such a place in public, or when inside it, so as not to alert the police or neighbors."

See? I write, I DJ, I design, and I educate you. See you somewhere tonight.

My Labor Of Love: The Rosebud Speakeasy Opens In The Out NYC Hotel, Gala Tonight

I love publicists. They make everything sound so very nice. They specialize in wow’s and oh wow’s and are so crafty with words that sometimes they don’t have to even say anything. The truth lies between the lines, and the lies become truths if you say them often enough to the right people. "They make lemons taste like cherries," a wise lady told me. I have favorite publicists and I’ll name two. Tomorrow, all the rest will have you believing I named them. Brad Zeifman of Shadow P.R. is wonderful, and so is R. Couri Hay of the P.R. company with his name on the door. 

R.Couri and his crew are handling the P.R. for the opening of The Rosebud. This is honorable work, as the product is honest and may actually be wonderful. Rosebud opens tonight after a minute or two of delays. I designed the place alongside David Davis, who is always around projects I do but gets little attention. He is my Johnny Depp, not my Tonto, a reference that some P.R. companies will make clear to you any week now. On the invite I appear in bold letters described as "Designed By Nightlife Industry Leader Steve Lewis". OMG! Thanks, but I haven’t led the nightlife industry since the last century. I go so far back that a vodka on the rocks had real stones in there. Fred Flinstone was my…  well, you get the idea. You can read between the lines.

The biggest hurdle the P.R. company faced at the straight-friendly The Out NYC complex which also includes KTCHN restaurant and The Out NYC Hotel and The Out Spa and Gym, and all that is how to explain the sculpture I put up in the middle of the room. It was best left undefined, says all. I call it "Woody," and you’ll have to come by and find a name for yourself for it. The press release says:

"Nightlife veteran and acclaimed interior designer Steve Lewis was inspired by the ‘Good Ol’ Boys’ network, adding a warm, relaxed, and yet exclusive feel to THE ROSEBUD NYC. Incorporating elements like walnut, rosewood, leather, and bronze, Lewis transformed the 2,000 square-foot space to a traditional setting with a modern touch. Strategically placed lighting flatters and enhances the space, and comfortable banquets made of rosewood and velvet around the 350 foot center bar offer the perfect spot to see and be seen." 

I guess that’s all true, but Woody isn’t even mentioned and Woody does own that room. I wanted to make it all warm and comfy and really set it apart from XL, from which Rosebud was carved. I didn’t want the ceiling sculpture to distract or offend or define the room as a men’s club because the complex caters to all types. Then the-powers-that-be named the place Rosebud, which is not a Citizen Kane reference, and I got confused and figured they all said WTF and went with it. Woody speaks for itself. It also lights up and flashes and doesn’t just sit there limp by any means. 

The rest of the press release describes "signature cocktails" by "celebrity" mixologists (I do hear they’re swell at making swill taste great) . I’m gonna ask one to make some lemon thing taste like cherry. I bet they can.These cocktails and bottles will be served up by staff wearing "Prohibition-era" cocktail dresses and matching "1920s hairstyles." The guys will be wearing "classic white oxfords, black vests, and trousers." That’s catching the whole Gatsby wave I guess because some publicist somewhere got some people to say that that movie was actually good… but thats’s another column. 

Their will be memberships for sale at Rosebud. The P.R. release says:

"Privileges include a variety of exclusive perks including guaranteed entry and priority-table reservations at THE ROSEBUD NYC and XL Nightclub. Members will also receive special offers from THE OUT NYC including special rates at the straight-friendly urban gay resort, discounts at KTCHN Restaurant, complimentary access to THE OUT NYC’s spa and gym and invitations to private events throughout the year."

The Rosebud is located at 512 West 42nd St. I am very proud of it and will attend tonight’s gala. 

Follow me on Twitter here

Seduction, Tassels, Burlesque, & Beats: Thursday Nights At Cafeina

Thursday nights are a curious beast. Like starter fluid, they have the capacity to set fire to your entire weekend – one night before it officially starts. They’re the appetizer to your entrée. The foreplay to the fun. And in Miami’s Wynwood Arts District, a new Thursday night party is kindling that has all the fire, foreplay, corsets, and tassels you need. The name: Beats & Burlesque, and it’s happening at Cafeina, the restaurant-lounge-art gallery that has a lot of everything for everyone. Happening inside Cafeina’s just-launched, 1920s speakeasy Mezzanine – the new party is a study in tease and seduction, starring guest DJs, and international burlesque star Aurora Natrix and her Ritz Glitz Revue’s gaggle of red-headed and raven-haired, scantily-clad dames. 

While the burlesque girls gyrate their nipple-tasseled selves and swallow flaming wands of fire, you get the chance to swallow gulps of Cafeina’s signature cocktails, such as the caffeinated Gaucho drink with Jamaican coffee spirits, bitters, and Rye Old Fashioned, and the Cane Daiquiri with fresh grapefruit, sugarcane syrup, and Caribbean Black and White Rum. There are also champagne bottle specials if you’re planning on staying (most of) the night.  

And since we all need a little sustenance when we’re busy gazing at corsets and downing coffee spirits, executive chef Diego Pasqualicchio brings the Latin flavor right to your seat, serving Latin tapas like crispy baby back ribs, Cafeina’s beloved stuffed dates, slow-cooked pork tenderloin, and white corvina fish ceviche.

Lucky for you, the show starts at 8pm and lasts until 1am, so you only have to wait eight hours before you can get to work and excitedly gab by the microwave to your co-workers about the burlesque-tapas-champagne-fire-filled night you just had. Of course they’ll think you dreamt it and name you The Office Crazy, but you’ll know deep inside it really happened. You’ll know. 

Get the inside-scoop on Cafeina, & follow Bonnie on Twitter here

Mixing Alcohol & Literature At Chicago’s New Secret: The Library At Gilt Bar

Perhaps it’s true – eventually, we become our parents. And after a couple of generations of drinking-establishment evolution, there certainly are a lot of "daddy’s old club" places popping up. The latest: The Library at Gilt Bar. Tucked below the swanky River North dining hotspot (yes, Gilt Bar is actually a restaurant), it makes no small work of cultivating old-world atmosphere, with exposed brick, plush velvet booths, and vintage crystal glassware. The name is to be taken literally as there’s a collection of classic literature on hand, though the low lighting would seem to hinder more bookish activities.

There’s no dedicated menu at The Library, but the space begs a careful editing of the selections from Gilt. We’d recommend the foie gras and pork liver mousse toast, or maybe a sausage & gruyere fondue. As for the drinks, make like dad would and order a few rounds of the classics: whiskey sours, Pimm’s Cups, Moscow Mules, or better still, Old Fitzgerald Manhattans. There are just twenty seats, so reservations are a must.

Know every inch of this city by visiting BlackBook’s Chicago City Guides.

Dining At The Narrows In Brooklyn

When the The Narrows opened up in 2010, the idea was to bring a speakeasy-style bar to Bushwick, Brooklyn. The space is dark, simple, and like the name boasts, very narrow. A little over a month ago, the bar doubled in size as the owners added another two rooms, which coincidently prove as narrow as the original. The main difference, the new space was built to serve dinner instead of the bar snacks the bar initially offered.

You can still get those too, though now options include spiced nuts, Manchego fritters, and oysters. In charge of the kitchen is Nick Subic, formally of Do or Dine and Roberta’s. Subic’s main inspiration comes from the Alessandro Fillipini’s The Delmonico Cook Book, and his sparse, though solid menu offers hearty American dishes including rustic chicory salad with goat cheese, steak Delmonico with grape must, and home-made doughnut ice cream.

By ignoring the high ceilings and deciding to occupy two spaces rather than one, The Narrows keeps its speakeasy vibe. Of course, the cocktails help that too. Try the smoky Penicillin or one of their own concoctions like the Anaglypta with gin, Campari, vermouth, and yellow Chartreuse. If you forgo the bar seating or want to check out the additions, you can choose from the back room where a giant map lines the wall and a globe glows in the corner. Here, they have placed a community table, and is the only spot in dining area where more than two people can sit. The other room hosts comfortable black vinyl booths, with low, Art Deco lights to dimly illuminate your meal.

Before you finish conducting all your secret business, make sure to try Subic’s lamb potpie with juniper cream. Only then will you be ready to pull up the collar of your trench and head out into the dark streets of Brooklyn.

Chicago Opening: Untitled

The sheer scale of Untitled, an 18,000-square-foot speakeasy, makes it a little hard to keep up such pretenses as "secret" or "underground lair." But it’s always better to cop your cocktail conceptualizing (and the food, for that matter) from the Prohibition Era than from the post-Millennial twee that haunts so many serious new imbibing destinations. And there’s something kind of cooly meta about calling your place Untitled (it’s sort of like naming your kid Noname).  

Make no mistake, this is no six-table basement hideaway. Rather, it is labyrinthine supper clubbing to the extreme, with a large-boothed dining area, a whiskey-focused library room, and a lounge with a bar the length of a couple of healthy giraffes. There are the usual text message procedures and special VIP keys and whatnot, to add the frisson of challenge to the proceedings.  All sorts of retro naughty entertainments will also be regularly proffered, with Bally Hoo! being the high-profile Friday night fete. Unititled…unfettered. 

Want to know about it first? Sign up for BlackBook Happenings now and get the latest openings and events in the city of your choice, delivered to your inbox every Monday.

CFCF Gives Us a Tour of His ‘Continent’

Regulars of Montreal’s Green Room are already familiar with DJ Mike Silver’s mastery of music. He’s been a mainstay at their Saturday-night party for years, and he can kill the dance floor with anything from obscure punk to a hip-hop slow-burner. But this Thursday, under his moniker CFCF, he’ll be making his first SXSW appearance at Speakeasy, where he’ll most likely play tracks from his luminescent debut album, Continent. Released late last year, this exercise in electro-pop perfection (there is zero filler on this one) has established Silver as one of the most promising DJ/producers working today. Here, he takes us on a personal tour of his Continent.

“Monolith” – Probably my favorite track on the album. Though I tend to include house and ambient influences in most songs, this is the most successful and seamless pairing of the two. Initially the song didn’t have the big house climax, and simply faded with all the tension left unresolved. The addition really complemented the first part of the song, in a surprising way.

“Half Dreaming” – The reprise actually came first, but after I’d made it I felt the mysterious melodies deserved a bit more attention, and thought they might make a good little odd disco track. I’m quite proud of the way the drums and synths interplay in the “chorus” of the song. The guitar lines take the back seat as accents to the rhythm. And the ambient finale kind of cleanses it all.

“Letters Home” – Definitely an attempt to update classic house in a kind of balearic style, as others have mentioned. Some think the pan flute is too cheesy, but that’s never been a word I like to use in relation to music. Besides, no one said it was cheesy when Fever Ray used it on the amazing “Keep the Streets Empty.”

“Come Closer” – This is an ode to 00’s synth pop, Timbaland and Mr. Fingers. Definitely one of the few times I’ve gotten so unrestrained in terms addressing house and techno influences, but I was trying to make a kind of pop song in the end.

“Snake Charmer” – The flipside to “Come Closer,” a totally instrumental epic guitar “world beat” jam. I just wanted to make some psychedelic, slow-burning pop disco. Though the guitars are drenched in delay, I’m no The Edge quite yet.

“Half Dreaming reprise” – I believe the original project file to this was called “owls in the trees.” Kind of indicative the of the mood I was going for. I think it was made during a serious Twin Peaks kick.

“Raining Patterns” – An attempt at a more atmospheric version of the stripped down sound present on the Panesian EP. This was also the first song I made after switching from PC to Mac!

“Big Love” – Originally made as a contribution to an 80s cover project, I had to rescind the offer after the track began to take on a life of its own. Probably the most straightforward “disco” I’ve ever done. The track is really an ode to Arthur Russell framed through a Fleetwood Mac cover.

“Invitation to Love” – I’d sort of happened upon the Alan Parsons track and thought it would make a great little disco song. When I was finished I did an Internet search to see if it had been sampled before, and discovered the Quiet Village track “Pillow Talk.” Great song, but I think we both did very different things with the source in the end so they can stand alone from each other.

“Summerlong” – A hazy interlude. Kind of an attempt to bring some sunlight to the record, I think.

“You Hear Colours” – My attempt at a mixture of psych, hip-hop and balearic ended up being pretty moody. Tommy Boy’s wonderful video was the finishing touch in my mind that gave the track its feel.