Despite my big hoopla Tuesday night at Avenue, today/tonight is my real birthday. It is very common in clubland to celebrate your special day on another day. I remember, back in the day, every time a Quentin Crisp or another not-so-rich celebrity needed $500, we would throw them a birthday party and give them the loot and a phony club dinner. Sometimes six months separated the event and the reality. A rival club honcho asked me why I did my bash at Avenue and I referred to yesterday’s article and told them that "they asked." It was wonderful.
Yesterday, I took a moment to reflect on the birthday of Frank Sinatra, who was born December 12, 1915, and passed in May, 1998. It was kind of ironic to learn on that very day that I will be DJing with DJ Sinatra (no relation) at a Blackbook and Patron party this Wednesday at Stash. Sinatra, like moi, is a 4AM DJ, well known around town and the world at large. Stash is piping hot, pretending to be this little speakeasy kind of joint right next door and to the right of Darby, and to the left and downstairs of Snap Sportsbar. I, like the Yankees, play a Sinatra song to send the crowds out after my game. Good enough for the Yanks is good enough for me.
News comes of the sale of White Noise, one of my favorite spots. I will stop by Friday for Sam Valentine’s bash, which continues to flourish. It will most likely move as new ownership is suffering from "other ideas." Sam is one of the promoters who brings a crowd of rocksters to hear me spin at Hotel Chantelle on Thursdays, where I have been moved from the roof to the lobby. I have hypnotized them into thinking I’m doing well.
Also on the move semi-officially is East Village staple Lucky Cheng’s. Hayne Southern as reported here years ago has been eyeing a Times Square location for her drag and food fest. The majority of her profits come from birthday parties and such, and the new location is far more convenient. It will also provide her with a zillion tourists looking for a real New York experience. These days, they’ve all seen drag queens on TV, and what was taboo a few years ago, is much more accepted in today’s mainstream. As the East Village continues to lose its edge, with rents skyrocketing to Times Square prices, America at large gets a taste, and the girls get steady work.
Also on the move is Dune nightclub in Southampton. The rent is a mere $22,500 per month, which seems fair if you only pay that for the 3 or so months you can actually operate, but that’s $22,500 for 12 months. If you use your iPhone calculator, that means you are spending about $90,000 a month for the season. Plus there’s key money, and it will need some sprucing up, and they’re only offering a 4 year lease. Seems rough, but promotional entities needing to service their big clients during the summer might see it as a must-have. Summer seems far away, as Santa is getting ready to roll, but players know summer will come.
I didn’t get a chance to recap the opening of the Mick Rock photo exhibit at the W Downtown. You, however, can still go there and check out the show without the hordes and all the opening night wristbands and such. The images of Madonna, Bowie, Iggy, and every rock icon imaginable is nothing short of breathtaking. The crowd was an adult rocker crowd, punctuated by notables including John Varvatos, Albert Hammond Jr., Ann Dexter-Jones, Bebe Buell, Betsey Johnson, Caitlin Moe, Chace Crawford, Chaske Spencer, Chelsea Leyland, Frank Tell, Jenne Lombardo, Mark Ronson, Mia Moretti, Michaelangelo L’Acqua, Penn Badgley, Sky Nellor, Skylar Grey, Stephen Baldwin, Theophilus London and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Phantogram performed in the huge tent downstairs which proved to be a rough situation for sound. Around the 3rd track you could actually tell that they were real good. I had a great time and enjoyed my cuddle with my old friend Mick Rock. My crew, which included Lit oncho Erik Foss and Paper guru Carlo McCormick, headed to I Hop for late night pancakes and conversation.
I must note the birthday of my dearest friend Brittany Mendenhall, who is heading into her 2nd Quarter with stars in her eyes, brains in her head, and love in her heart. I adore her and wish her the best.
A freak injury involving a work boot, an immovable object, and an unfortunate little toe has made this a slow news day. I blew off yesterday with pain pills and bandages, just mobilizing enough to DJ last night. I had a tumbly, tossy night of medicated dreams and am coming at this late in the day. Normally, I’m up at 7am, but the painkillers convinced me my pillow was where my fortunes lie. Of course, they lied and my editor is going to hurt another toe or something.
I plan on limping over to Stash tonight for Kelly Bruce’s Massively Epic Birthday Bash. Kelly left Blackbook just a few days ago and I have been inconsolable since. Stash just got a fab mention in New York Magazine’s Design Hunting section …much thanks to Wendy Goodman. I will then pop into The Darby for a peek; they finally got their marquee up. It looks fabulous and makes the place look even more elegant. I’m a proud papa. Then it’s Provocatuer to be amazed. It never ceases to amaze me.
Nightlife is getting bigger and better, except sometimes when it gets smaller and chicer. Fashion week looms and everyone is getting ready to slam into the new season. Club operators are getting ready to unveil or, at least, have polished the silverware and brought out the good china. New spots like Le Baron will help define the night. XL will be a game-changer as well. Christina Visca is having a good old- fashioned grand opening tea. Be there this Sunday for the boys and girls who need a place of there own. It starts at 5pm and ends at 10pm so there are no "tomorrow’s a work day" excuses.
Of no significance at all is my birthday bash at Avenue this coming Tuesday. I will be older than the wind but still young at heart. I’ll DJ for a half an hour with pals DJ Sinatra and Todd Smolar. I will pop a couple bottles of Beau Joie Champagne and promise myself that this year I will offer no more teenage excuses. The people at Avenue, Lavo, Marquee, and the great team at Tao Strategic Group are family to me and I am honored they are offering me a party. It’s what they do best. Shout out/ Happy Birthday to the Group’s Judy Tepperberg.
So a friend (who prefers to remain nameless) and great publicist from R.Couri Hay Creative Public Relations, handles Stash, a club I recently completed, and Elsinor, which I am finishing up. I’ve known her forever and she is the tiger you want in your tank when you need some ink … press (if you need the other ink ,a tattoo, then Three Kings or Graceland serve me… well but I digress) She pitched and placed an article about me which talks about her clients in Crain’s, and that’s a big deal. I had mixed feelings about the piece which, while blowing me up as this design hero, brought up my checkered past, including my conviction for being part of an Ecstasy sales ring while I was director of the Tunnel, Club, USA, Limelight, Palladium. It also mentions my year in prison. Some people thought this was an unfair attack, or old news, or unnecessary for the story. A debate raged on Facebook, on my phone, and in emails and among friends about the value of the article and whether it was actually a positive thing. I called her up and she gave me this spin: "Your past has helped shape who you are today, and it’s a testament to the quality of your work that you’ve remained a player in the design industry for as long as you have. Clearly, there’s no end in sight." I’m buying into that.
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) …..no 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"
Marshall Weinstein, known to club-goers and music aficionados as DJ Martial, is having trouble getting used to the deep freeze New York currently finds itself mired in. When I reach him by phone at his Brooklyn apartment, he’s just returned from a work trip to the Caribbean, a difference of 1,650 miles and five layers of clothing. "I was DJing in St. Maarten in 85 degree weather and here it’s 10 degrees outside," he says with a laugh. "The airplane wouldn’t even go to the gate because it was frozen, they had to bus us in. It was crazy." He won’t be frozen for long, as he’ll soon be on his way to balmy New Orleans for a handful of gigs centered around the upcoming Super Bowl. We caught up with him during his brief layover to find out how he got started, his favorite clubs to perform in, and his secret for de-stressing fast.
Where are you from, and what kind of stuff were you into as a kid that led you to being a DJ?
I went to elementary, middle, and high school outside of Boston. I started DJing in 1993 when my older brother introduced me to underground electronic rave music. I was 13 at the time. When I graduated from high school I moved to New York City. My mom is originally from Long Island and my dad is originally from Coney Island, Brooklyn, and my whole family lived in the New York area, so it was a no-brainer. I went to Hofstra and DJ’d my way through college. I’ve been actively in the New York music scene since 1998 when I came to the city.
So, Yankees or Red Sox?
I’m definitely an all-Boston sports fan. It’s a little upsetting with the Patriots losing recently, however now that I’ve got some gigs at the Super Bowl I can focus on work and not sports.
How did you start DJing in the city?
When I got to New York, I realized that I had access to the best city in the world that had the best music. At Hofstra I was on the radio, and I majored in television video production communications, so music was always a part of my life. Whether it was in the studio working with audio tracks or video, or at the radio station on the air, all I did was music music music. When I got out of college, I was still DJing nights and weekends. With my full-time job – I worked at MTV and in the industry – eventually it steamrolled. I was picking up more and more gigs to the point where I was burning the candle at both ends. I couldn’t be in a television studio at six o’clock in the morning when I got out of a club at four.
So you decided to make a change?
In 2006 I realized that I’ve been DJing for 13 years, but I had a career in television. I said to myself, I’ve always wanted to be a full-time DJ. I had an opportunity to work overseas for three months as a DJ, so I sat down with my boss at the time and explained it to him. He said, you’ve got a lot of passion for this, so go for it. I put in my two weeks, it was December 2006, and since then I’ve been a full-time DJ. I also do a lot of private events, not just in New York but around the nation and internationally, and I book DJs at clubs and events through my company, SET Artist Management.
Is that when the momentum started to build?
Once you do one event it leads to another. Being humble and staying true and smiling and constantly following up with everybody, it leads to an escalation. Since then I’ve never looked back or second-guessed myself on leaving a career that I went to college for.
What kind of clubs were you playing at the time?
When I went overseas I was working in Israel, in various places in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Haifa. Clubs like Shalvata, Lima Lima, City Hall, Layla Bar. Then I came back to New York and gigs started to add up, residencies here and there. I’ve worked at clubs like Beauty & Essex, WiP, Double Seven, Top of the Standard, Yotel, Stash, STK Midtown, Gansevoort Park, Bounce Sporting Club on 21st, Haven Rooftop.
How would you describe your musical style, and how do you adjust that for the crowd and event?
I’m a 100% open format DJ. I love all types of music and I’m not afraid to drop anything. It’s not about what you play, it’s about what you follow up with. You can drop a song from the ’70s and people start to get into it. For the next song, whether it’s a huge club banger or a perfect smooth transition, it can make the song before it that much better. My outgoing personality shines through my beats, like a sixth sense. I bleed hip-hop, ’80s, rock, house, and still stay true to the music and dance floor because I keep those classics in the mix. And I have no problem playing the most current, hottest tracks, to do whatever I can to keep the dance floor packed till dawn.
So you believe that the context is important, it’s not about any one individual song, it’s about the whole set and the vibe you’re putting out there?
Yes. It’s not like I’ll play one ’80s song, one ’70s song, one rock song, one hip-hop song. Then it can be a bit ADD. It’s more about the way you blend different genres of music together throughout the night to build that crescendo. You finish the night and people look at their watches and they can’t believe it’s four in morning and the club’s still packed.
What do you have going on with the Super Bowl?
I’m down in New Orleans Thursday through Monday. I’m working at the NFL House, doing parties Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, and I’m doing a number of parties for CBS, including pre-game and post-game on Sunday. The two CBS parties I’m involved in, there’s one Friday night at the Contemporary Arts Center, and Saturday I’m doing the party at Generations Hall with a live performance from Trombone Shorty, who is a really talented local guy who does huge live performances with a big band feel.
What else do you have coming up?
I’ll be DJing in the number one college town, Morgantown, West Virginia, at a place called Rock Top. I’ll be in Boston. I do a lot of private events for BlackBerry, since I’m the official Latin American BlackBerry DJ. In the summer I’ll probably have a lot of Hamptons gigs.
What clubs do you like to play in?
I like being close to the crowd. Mid-sized clubs work really well. I love working at Stash on 14th Street. Beauty and Essex is a great place to feel the energy and the vibe, and Double Seven is another spot where you’re right in the mix.
What’s on your iPod?
I have a series of playlists for all the new stuff I need to hear. There’s never enough time in the day to hear all the new songs. But when I’m relaxing, I love old school music. Old classic rock, ’70s, ’80s, things like that.
What do you do to relax and de-stress?
I love going to the Russian and Turkish Baths. Sometimes I just need a good shvitz. And I’m not afraid of the cold pool either.
What advice do you have for aspiring DJs?
Be as musically knowledgeable as possible. Everybody knows that electronic music is huge right now, techno, house, dubstep, but the more versatile you are, the more gigs you can play. If you want to specifically become an electronic music DJ, and that’s your passion, go for it, but if you’re trying to get noticed and get gigs and get experienced, the more versatile you are, the more avenues you have. Stay humble and keep in mind there’s a big line between work and play. Keep a clear mind.
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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!