The New Marquee: Believe The Hype

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While the folks in Washington DC struggle to raise the debt ceiling, the good folks of Strategic Group have literally raised the roof on the redone Marquee which opened last night. The roof is now 30 feet high, which is unheard of. The front wall is dominated by a 24-foot LED screen which flashes and pops and keeps the energy up. Costumed go-go dancers did their thing on elevated catwalks while EDM banged on. I said it before and I’ll say it again (probably a few more times): Marquee in New York City dispels the adage, “What Happens In Vegas Stays In Vegas.” It also knocks down another common saying: “Don’t believe the hype.” Believe the hype people; Marquee NYC is built for speed, sound, and sight lines.

Literally everyone in clubland was there to see what has been hyped as the next big thing in clubland. It seems bigger than before, as volume will do that, though the capacity hasn’t changed. I spent my time chatting up club royalty like Jamie Mulholland, who has had great success with Caine, GoldBar, Surf Lodge, and all sorts of excellent etceteras. Noah Tepperberg tore away from his table of gorgeous jet setters to give me the $5 tour. We posed for pictures on the way.

For the most part, they stuck with the floor plan I helped devise around a year ago. There was some furniture that wasn’t on the plan but Noah told me that’s going since it will be a big room for dancing. shows, and events – with considerably less seating than the Marquee design that was so successful before this latest incarnation. Noah thanked me for my minimal effort, recognizing that I have always had a special attachment to the venue which I helped design a long time ago, in what feels like a galaxy far, far away.

Alacran Tequila honcho Artie Dozortsev chatted me up about his White Mezcal Tequila bottle and the pink bottle he’s hyping for Valentine’s Day. A percentage of sales of Artie’s hot product will go to a variety of breast cancer awareness charities, thus defying another old adage… nice guys can finish first. I hung with Bill Spector and Richie Romero and Paul Seres and Pascal and and and…. I stopped to congrats co-owner Jason Strauss who was herding a bevy of beauties past the door bureaucracy. The staff was brilliant and helpful. Some dude once said, "you can’t go home again.” Baloney! I went to Marquee last night and It felt like home. 

Being the nightlife veteran that I am, (for those that don’t know, I used to be Steve Lewis), I went to Strategic’s other hot property Avenue to see how it was faring on a night when everyone was at their new elsewhere. Avenue was packed with an eclectic crowd. Sam Valentine, a big-haired rocker, hosted a table that wasn’t aware of the hoopla 10 blocks up 10th Avenue. The programming of those who wouldn’t know about Marquee or who dance to the beat of a different drummer…er DJ… was an act of professionalism that should be noted.

Avenue was doing business, maybe not as usual, but busy. Let’s just say it was doing business as unusual. Strategic’s great minds brought in folks to pack the place while most of their efforts and their a-team were occupied with the Marquee opening. To a visitor unaware, it seemed like a great club night. I did a walk through 1OAK, which was gathering steam and ready to embrace the late-night crowd that it always gets. Marquee’s revelers would surely be packing booths in an hour or so. 

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A Fresh Wind Blows In Montauk

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As usual the end of a Friday night had us at the Olympic diner on Essex Street, a stone’s throw from the Williamsburg Bridge – the yellow brick road to my BBurg Oz. It’s a couple eggs over easy amongst a club crowd of workers and late night revelers. No one at Olympic was discussing the Olympics. No one I know is discussing it. It’s all over my Yahoo! as I start to write today, mostly Enquirer-level tales of fat Olympians, or sexy ones, or "hurray for our team!" chatter. I don’t care what Michael Phelps’ mom has to say, although she seems like a nice lady. I’m beat up, burnt out, and shouldn’t even be here (on a couple of levels). I told my editor to expect me only Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday through Labor Day as I want to get busy with being lazy for a few weeks. Yet here I am. 

The second level of not being here is I passed out behind the wheel of my car on the way home from Montauk Saturday night. Didn’t crash, but had a moment. I found a quaint little rest stop in the middle of nowhere on the LIE and used the fancy recliner feature and reclined for an hour. I woke completely refreshed and made it back to un-civilization. 
 
I should have stayed. Chiropractor to the in-crowd Lila Jean Wolf offered me a place to stay at her digs in Montauk. We had spent the hours before my DJ gig at the Montauk Beach House walking the shore and taking dips in the brine when we heated up. I didn’t understand much of what she was saying to her myriad of surfer friends. It was not only a language barrier but everyone was being so friendly and wonderful. It was like the hippie shit I remember from the Haight in the early ‘70s. Lila divides her time between her practice in NYC and out there and I tell you it’s not too far-fetched for her or even a landlubber like myself to consider spending a lot of time there. In a former lifetime me and mine would scamper out to Hither House, a homey hotel near the dunes of Montauk on winter Sundays and Mondays. We’d beachcomb with adventurous puppies and enjoy the food at local mainstays and the company of townies. 
 
Montauk has a certain light, a certain energy. Lila tried to explain it in Haight terms. She spoke of a "vortex” and an "octagon" and things like that that make more sense when catching waves is the only thing that takes you to Nirvana. Whatever the explanation it is magical. I’ve been to the lighthouse at the end of our country over a hundred times. If my own personal vortex or octagon or fate allows, I’ll go hundreds more. The thing about Montauk is it’s kind of far. You have to go way past the Hamptons and then back in time. Until maybe now.
 
Back in 2008 the Surf Lodge opened and too many thought it was a scene too far. But Surf Lodge managed to accomplish what no restaurant, resort, surfing, fishing or solitude could. It linked the scene in the Hamptons to the last town on Route 27. Like those covered wagons that betrayed the Native Americans, it’s never just one, and they just kept coming. My DJ gig at Montauk Beach House showed me a different Montauk than I remember. I got in early and saw the families in a feeding frenzy for pancakes, coffee, bagels and such. It was kids misbehaving badly because their parents were behaving badly, all for hot caffeine and starch. There were more of them than in years past and instead of the friendly "hellos" from the locals it was all seasonal types loud and rude.
 
Lila scooped me up at Whites where I stocked up on things I needed for my unexpected journey to that beach near Ditch Plains. The water was a rush hour subway ride of surfers paddling to not bang into each other positioning themselves for waves that won’t come till the hurricanes. A surfer dude said that Montauk was the 5 story walkup tenement of surfing … until the hurricanes come. People were learning from leather-skinned pros and every so often something bigger gave someone a ride and they talked in terms I didn’t understand. It was not unlike fisherman talking of big ones that got away or that they caught and gave them religion. I wanted to be a surfer dude but realized my age, abilities, and inclinations would be obstacles. I vowed to Netflix Point Break as a compromise. I had to leave go DJ by the pool.
 
Montauk Beach House be’s all it can be. It is comfortable, friendly, clean, and well planned. The DJ booth was professional and well situated. I opened for Andy Rourke (of the Smiths). The pool scene was fabulous. The design and feeling bordered on Miami but without the cheese. The place has only been operating a few weeks, opening with no less than Paul Oakenfold and my pal Kris Graham. Next week they’ve got mega-uber-superstar Mark Ronson. The James Bond of Dj’s. He even has the accent! The week after it’s Paul Sevigny. The bookings go forward to Sept 1 with Jesse Marco and Aaron James, although there is talk of programming as the weather allows.  Terry Casey who, along with Matt Thomas, books this wonderful resort DJ’s each week as well. He has done an amazing job putting this brand on the map. The delightful DJ Bridget Marie was on before me and was slated for a spot later in the day as well. She’s there each week also. She played some cute rock stuff to segue into my rock set. She’s a House Head but mixes it up and about in a refreshing manner.
 
Montauk Beach House is great but it also represents a quantum shift in the thinking of out East. It, like the Surf Lodge before it and Ruschmeyer’s, bring the good, the bad and the beautiful to the quaintness. Bottles can be bought and that in itself changes the game. Someone said "East Hampton has moved further East". There’s no place else to go unless someone gets permission to throw a rave in the Lighthouse parking lot. Montauk will be the last stand. The question is whether this ancient town will stand for it. I was assured that everything is being done to assure peace and quiet and respect for what has always been. The Montauk Beach House lives on the sight of what was a blight, an eyesore, and it brings jobs and cash flow and quality to the town. Yet the blue Bentley parked out front and the fast and furious Ferrari’s and other man mobiles I saw scattered here and there about town spoke of an unfamiliar wind. 
 
We’re not talking money. The money has always called this home or maybe the second home or 10th home. This wind blows conspicuous wealth at you and will manifest itself in a different crowd and a different decorum. I didn’t see anyone throw napkins in the air but it surely will happen.  "Change is Good" said the tourist T-shirt but that’s for panhandlers, not necessarily Montauk old school townies. Saturday there was an easy peace and I heard of no complaints. The bartenders served up delicious cocktails. I did my best and Andy Rourke a little better. The bikinis were filled with wonderment and somewhere to my right and back a little bit Lila Jean and her crew were waiting for the next wave. More on this tomorrow.
 
Sat – July 14th    Young Empire    Paul Oakenfold    Liquid Todd Kris Graham Owed and Operated    Terry Casey
            
Sat – July 21st     Postelles    Chainsmokers        Terry Casey
                
Sat – July 28th        Cobra Starship        Terry Casey
                
Sat- August 4th    Booga Sugar    Andy Rourke ( from the Smiths)    Steve Lewis (BlackBook Magazine)    Terry Casey
                
Sat- August 11th    Garret Borns (live)    Dj Vikas    Mark Ronson    Terry Casey
                
Sat- August 18     Capital Cities Live    Peter Makebish (bday)    Paul Sevigny    Terry Casey
                
 Sat- August 25  The Knocks     Krystal Klear Wilkies    Terry Casey
                
Sept 1st    Bella  (Ultra records)    Jesse Marco    Aaron James    Terry Casey

Terry Casey: “There Are Big Changes Happening in Montauk”

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I don’t do The Hamptons. Although I have great friends that love the prospect of driving hours in a car through the cultural desert of Long Island to hang with people I strive to avoid in Manhattan while eating $50-a-pound potato salad, the idea has never appealed to me. I have done it and done it right, but I do remember spending a year there one night . I did design Dune at one point but never actually graced it with my divine presence. During the winter months, my clan treks out to Montauk to huddle around fireplaces and beachcomb. The water, the light, and the lack of crowds made me a believer years ago. I’ll be there come the cold. Apparently they have built this wondrous place called The Montauk Beach House and I have been told it’s a game-changer. My pal Paul Sevigny DJd there recently. When I was considering a story about Bastille Day and looking through my online emails and evites, I saw a big name pop out at me: Paul Oakenfold, one of the top DJs in the world. He’s doing a gig at The Montauk Beach House this Saturday, July 14th at 3pm. Take a look at the pics – it’s gorgeous. My pal Terry Casey is booking the joint and DJing as well. He called me about playing there come August so I asked him what the heck is going on.

What the heck are you doing out there? Who have you had already and who’s coming up and who’s coming to this place and …tell me all about it!
I GOT ASKED BY EVENT SOCIETY (RENE AND FRANCOIS) TO BOOK AND PRODUCE A MUSIC SERIES AT MONTAUK BEACH HOUSE WITH A GOOD FRIEND: MATT THOMAS. HE’S A BRIT AND WANTS GOOD MUSIC AND IS VERY KNOWLEDGEABLE. OWNER CHRIS JONES ALSO DESIGNED NIKKI BEACH, AND MONTAUK BEACH HOUSE FEELS LIKE A MIAMI HOTEL SO IT’S A NEW CONCEPT IN MONTAUK…RENE MANAGES OPERATIONS AND DOES IT WELL AT MONTAUK BEACH HOUSE; HE’S  THE OWNER OF EVENT SOCIETY. IT EXCITED ME TO DO AS I’VE BEEN GOING OUT TO MONTAUK FOR A NUMBER OF YEARS – I FEEL MORE AT HOME THERE THEN IN THE HAMPTONS. I USED TO DJ IN HAMPTONS CLUBS AND FEEL LIKE I SOLD MY SOUL. I STILL DO A FEW WILD HOUSE PARTIES IN THE HAMPTONS, BUT THAT’S VERY DIFFERENT TO THE CLUBS…THE CLUBS IN THE HAMPTONS ARE NOT MY THING. MONTAUK IS MORE LAID-BACK AND LOT OF SURFER CULTURE …THERE ARE  BIG CHANGES HAPPENING IN MONTAUK; PLACES LIKE SURF LODGE AND RUSCHMEYER’S HAVE SET THE PACE…LOTS OF FRIEND HAVE MOVED TO MONTAUK AS THEY PREFER IT.

WE DID A SOFT OPENING WITH PAUL SEVIGNY LAST WEEK AND HE PLAYED A LOT OF GOOD ROCK, SOUL, FUNK ..HE ROCKED THE PLACE….A GREAT DJ AND REAL RECORD COLLECTOR PLAYS VINYL AND LOTS OF IT. IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE TO GET HIM OFF THE DECKS. I GAVE UP AT 4AM, HAHA. I PLAY ROCK AND ELECTRONIC SO IT’S NOT ALL ONE STYLE …AND THE MUSIC SERIES WILL MIX UP BANDS AND DJS…ALL SUMMER…

FOR THE DAYTIME BY THE POOLS, WE HAVE DJS LIKE BRIDGET MARIE AND SARAH RUA. THEY PLAY MORE HOUSE, AFROBEAT, SOULFUL VIBES.I’ve rarely enjoyed the music out east during the summer.. you told me Montauk is different… tell me why that is.
MONTAUK IS DIFFERENT BECAUSE YOU FEEL AWAY FROM NYC. THE HAMPTONS FEELS LIKE AN EXTENSION OF PEOPLE’S BAD BEHAVIOUR IN NYC…PEOPLE ARE STILL RUSHING AROUND…YOUR SUPPOSED TO BE CHILLING OUT…ON VACATION.

I GO TO PLACES LIKE BANZAI BURGER AND FEEL LIKE I’M AT THE BEACH OR IN THE CARRIBEAN.  BANZAI IS ALEX DUFFY AND STEVE KASUBA’S NEW PLACE OUT EAST. THE FOOD THERE ROCKS…I GOTO SURF LODGE AND RUSCHMEYER’S. THEY’RE ALL GREAT PLACES AND ALL VERY DIFFERENT FROM EACH OTHER.

Are the townies coming or is it a hipper visitor, vacationer, weekender?
ALEX DUFFY LIVES IN MIAMI AND THERE ARE A LOT OF PEOPLE FROM MIAMI, NEW YORK, AND OUTSIDE THE US COMING IN. AND, OF COURSE, THERE ARE LOCALS.  ON WEEKENDS A LOT OF THE PEOPLE THAT ARE SICK OF THE EVENTS IN THE HAMPTONS ARE COMING TO MONTAUK FOR SOMETHING DIFFERENT…IT’S THE SAME REASON PEOPLE IN MANHATTAN GO TO WBURG …THEY’RE OVER MANHATTAN AND ARE LOOKING FOR SOMETHING LESS CHEESEY.

At the end of the summer, will you try to continue this series in a NY venue? How would you describe the state of NYC clubland?
I’VE BEEN APPROACHED TO DO MORE EVENTS IN NYC AND MIAMI AND I HAVE PROJECTS IN MUSIC IN THE WORKS. I LIKE THAT THERE’S MORE CLUBS BOOKING MUSIC ACTS AND LESS MODEL PROMOTERS …BUT NYC NEEDS MORE BALANCED MUSIC AND SOCIAL CLUBS. I WISH THE FESTIVALS WOULD BOOK MORE LOCAL DJS…WE ARE BOOKING TALENTED LOCALS LIKE JESSE MARCO ,CHAINSMOKERS, DJ VIKAS, JULIO SANTO DOMINGO, KRIS GRAHAM, LIQUID TODD, SHORTY, AND MANY MORE..THESE GUYS ARE LOCALS AND TRAVEL THE WORLD.

Paul Oakenfold. Like …how do you swing a name like that?
PAUL OAKENFOLD AND YOUNG EMPIRES (LIVE) …YES, ME AND MATT HAVE CALLED A LOT OF FRIENDS TO GET PEOPLE TO PLAY ALL SUMMER FOR SMALL FEES IN A 200-400 PEOPLE VENUE BY THE POOL….WE HAVE A LOT OF ACTS COMING LIVE AND DJING….I DONT WANNA SAY WHO, AS EVENTS ARE INVITE- ONLY..  BUT EXPECT MORE HUGE ACTS. 

Despite the Naysayers, It Was the Best Season Out East In Years

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At the start of every season in the Hamptons a pall of despair, cast by bellwethers of doom, predicts that this will be the year it all falls apart. This will be the summer that the septic system in Montauk finally succumbs and fills Fort Pond with raw sewage. The year that the East Hampton Town Board pawns their power for a fat check from Ralph Lauren and absconds to Argentina. The year the piping plover finally falls victim to rising oceanfront real estate prices and cashes out of this world forever. And every season, Labor Day slips by with about as much ceremony as a wet fart, leaving locals slack-jawed and staring at each other with glazed eyes, like six-year-olds after a Pixy Stix binge. 

After breathless predictions that when the rising tide of excess, self importance, and big city ‘tude finally breaks the East End will be a desolate wasteland of empty Moët bottles, snapped stilettos, and the acrid smell of precision-engineered German rubber lingering over still-smoking patches in the westbound lanes of Route 27, one can almost hear the wah-wah of a muted trombone over the collective sigh of service and retail industry personnel headed to newly-deserted beaches with their pockets full of Benjamins. 
 
The Hamptons are embodied by hyperbole: big houses, big bank accounts, big events, and big personalities. Because of this, for the three months and change that the Hamptons are, well, the Hamptons, they personify everything we love to hate, and perhaps more tellingly, hate to love. These dour perennial premonitions stem from the fact that the Hamptons represent something special to everyone—whether it be as a home, an escape, a party, or another notch on the social ladder—and when it appears that something is about to change that sacred place we all hold dear in our collective unconscious, it kindles the irrational, almost xenophobic the-end-is-nigh fear that fosters overblown rants about zoning laws, the fluoridation of water, and insidious plots from the far right.
 
Truth be told, this season ranks as one of the best. After a few touch-and-go years, Montauk’s social scene emerged from its chrysalis as something far more fun, yet far less reckless, than the whistleblowers foretold. The Surf Lodge had a solid season with its summer concert series, with no repeat of the potential septic nightmares and stack of citations of last year. Montauk Beach House committed no heinous offences and certainly did not herald the undoing of the sleepy fishing village aura some in the town have tried so hard to preserve. We’re not about to embark on a discourse of the problems facing small scale commercial fisheries in this economy, but seriously, nobody is really complaining about having dingy and dying business give way to popular new sources of revenue, even if some visitors don’t know how to clean up after themselves. 
 
Moby Dick’s was a seriously chill, laid back spot that popped up this summer and somehow stayed somewhat under the radar, and when Swallow East finally went live, the place was a hit (the end of season employee party featured tattoo artists, and no one gets tattoos to commemorate an awful summer). And the first public incarnation of SUPERBURGER was an end-of-summer coup de grace. Trust us, we were there, glistening, greasy, fat, and happy, reveling in the August sunshine. Let’s not forget Momofuku: please, please come back next summer, we promise to eat so much pie.
 
Elsewhere, things were business as usual. Sag Harbor got a few new restaurants, the yachties kept doling out their owners’ loot on Main Street, chef Matthew Guiffrida found a new home with his restaurant Muse on the Harbor and David Lowenberg’s new venture The Bell and Anchor kept the North Haven celebrity quotient suitably stuffed. 
 
Heading south to Bridgehampton, the big news was that the Polo Classic toned down the spectacle, um, debacle, under the VIP tent into something that actually resembled a VIP tent and not a slightly damp, champagne fueled upscale bacchanalian frat party with a horse thing happening somewhere. 
 
With so much focus on Montauk, the two Hamptonian juggernauts—East Hampton and Southampton—were almost forgotten in the social media grist mill. Even though the venues change, it all really stays the same. Southampton Social Club kept things social, no big news there, and Nammos repping the luxe Mediterranean vibe in place of Nello’s made sure the Euro set had a place to spend 15 bucks on a beer.
 
Even in East Hampton, boozy brunches on Three Mile Harbor Road barely raised any eyebrows or tongue clucks from the village fun police and the jeroboams of rosé kept coming at Beaumarchais, but the real party, as revealed by the ladies at Guest of a Guest, was down at Indian Wells beach, where a week after their story ran, nervous nellies started reporting about nudity and people drinking hard alcohol on the beach. Well, um, that’s kind of what happens on a beach, in the summer, populated by young people who are mostly nude to begin with. What a shocker.
 
Now that another tumbleweed Tuesday has come and gone, plans for the postseason get underway.  The weeks after Labor Day aren’t quite like most people imagine, with sheets of plywood in short supply as business owners close shop and McMansions are locked down for the winter months. September is quite easily the best month to be out East, especially if you’ve been working the whole summer, you know, making hay while the sun shines. The ocean is as warm at it ever gets, the crowds are gone, and everything is on sale and up for grabs. It’s sort of an inside wink among those who slog, heads down, working through the summer months while the rest of the world is on vacation. Hotels have vacancy, tables are available for 7pm dinners almost everywhere, but it certainly isn’t desolate. It’s still the Hamptons, just a little bit more reasonable. It’s also far from over, the Topping Rose House in Bridgehampton has yet to open its doors, and we are interested in what Tom Colicchio will be putting on the menu.
 
So where does this leave us? New stores and restaurants have opened, Montauk’s nightlife scene turned it up to 11 (but was considerate enough to turn it back down after 2am) parties were had, charities funded, share houses shared, and at the end of it all, there were fewer tears (and code violations) than in years past. Despite the traffic, the crowds, and the near-record level of DUI traffic stops, the sanctity of the Hamptons has emerged intact. Thanks for a great season. Now leave us alone, we have a beach to enjoy. 
 
For a complete rundown of all the hotspots, check out the BlackBook Guide to the Hamptons

Jamie Mulholland Teases His Return to New York

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If you find the weather outside frightful and are seeking a destination that’s delightful, I have an idea. Book yourself a trip to the Bahamas and join the Cain at the Cove 4th Anniversary Party, next Saturday, November 12th. DJ Cassidy will join Stan Courtois from Paris, and the jet-set and Cain flock will be in full force. It could be déjà-vu, all over again. Cain was a legendary club anchoring a West Chelsea gathering of joints that included Bungalow 8, Marquee, and Pink Elephant. Owner Jamie Mulholland has been a little low on the NYC radar compared to then, but his Goldbar, anchored by its smashing Sunday Funday party and man-about-town Jon Lennon, still thrives. His Surf Lodge has just enjoyed its biggest season yet. News comes that something new is in the works, and I asked Jamie all about it, and the anniversary.

Tell me about what you are up to, your lifestyle, and business development? After taking a bit of a hiatus from opening anything new to enjoy my son and family, I have aggressively been looking with Conquest Advisors to open my new concept in New York. I have been refining the concept over four years and feel it is now the right time to do it. I have been spending a lot of time in the Bahamas at Cain at The Cove Atlantis, The Surf Lodge in Montauk, and also Goldbar in New York.

You seem to have chosen surf over turf. Is the life better for you with not so much of a presence in NYC? Ha! No, not really, mate. I am ready to do this new concept and have been working hard at assembling a strong team.

Tell me about the anniversary party. We are celebrating four great years in the Bahamas. We have a great line-up planned on the island for the weekend, including DJs Cassidy, Stan Courtois, and Frank Delour. I am looking forward to celebrating with all our friends that have been supporting us for the last four years.

Talk to me about Goldbar. I am really proud of GoldBar. It has a loyal following that has been with us consistently for four years. A lot of the credit is due to the incredibly warm staff, it is very much like a family. Jonny Lennon has worked hard at the music format and programming, and it is big reason why this venue has had such stamina. I love the venue and think it remains one of the most fun rooms in New York.

In Casablanca, it is said that the fundamental things apply as time goes by. What are the fundamentals in hospitality, and do they always apply, or is change itself fundamental to the biz? Well the business is always evolving, and there are certain things that are always taking different strategic paths, like the marketing and conceptual approaches. But I would have to say the fundamentals of this business, like the service and true hospitality never change, and are the roots of our business. When you look at the current state of affairs in NYC nightlife, you need to assess what is missing and what is in too much abundance.

This is obviously just my view and not necessarily the correct one, but I feel that there is a real lack in creativity at the moment. And I don’t mean that in reference to just design. There are places that we have all experienced that truly are living and breathing spaces, that have a life of their own, a soul. In a city like New York, we should be seeing a lot more than there has been recently. I think our business has become too cookie-cutter and lifeless.

Lavo New York Coming Soon, Will Not Miss

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Lavo is coming soon. It looms as a game changer. Located on 58th Street right off Park Avenue, it is, as far as I can tell, the first joint to be conceived in Las Vegas and then land in New York. The big world of nightlife keeps getting smaller and the diversity narrower. These club/restaurant combos that are all the rage cater to increasingly identifiable crowds with service and style to please anyone. Lavo figures to be a place where uptown money, Europeans, and Upper East Siders can enjoy downtown and Vegas levels of service right in their back door. Tao, right across the street and owned and operated by much of this same crew, has been one of the top-grossing joints in this country since its inception. There is money in those hills, heights, high-rises, and townhouses north of the traditional club/restaurant world, and this crew will be cashing in.

It was in this space that Au Bar, the seminal uptown boite, offered thriving bottle service when most of today’s club operators were sucking on a bottle of milk. Whether bottle service was “invented” by myself, David Sarner, Michael Ault, or Jeffrey Jah is an argument for the bored. There is no doubt that the Euros and the Asians did it long before it was perfected into an art form and a way of life. The Lavo space has operated under many names, including The Grand (which it wasn’t), and has always managed to get people from the club world to migrate up, or service them if they found themselves nearby. Lavo and Tao are oases of chic in a neighborhood where people live in hamster habitats, dormitories for slaves, or in the grandest of homes. The Upper East Side set that will flock to this new and fabulous offering traditionally eat and party at the mediocre restaurants, bars, and joints at hand, but travel to the heat of downtown when they want to really play.

The new team is a who’s who of NY and Vegas nightlife, and I think it would take an hour or so to sort out the number of spaces they operate between them. Off the top of my head there are the Tao Group properties in Vegas and in New York, Lavo Vegas, Stanton Social Club, Avenue, Marquee, Surf Lodge in Montauk, GoldBar, and more I can’t think of this early in the day. The advantages of operating multiple properties are many, but as the science of cloning has not kept pace with this group’s expansion, delegation of responsibilities is an issue. They like to grow their management from within and reward loyal employees with security and big paychecks. They operate a machine that appears to be fun and loose and state of the art. I was given a tour of the soon-to-open Lavo New York by Noah Tepperberg, Jayma Cardoso, Jason Strauss, and Rich Wolf, and it was a learning experience, a classroom most club operators would love to have sat in on. It was Nightclub 101 mixed with modern theory. They have the basics down pat: bar locations, flow, visuals, and they will bring a level of service that will be embraced by patrons who demand the best and are willing to pay for it. They make it look easy. Lavo can’t miss.

This is a natural. Bottle service in this part of the world has been going on for a long time. Jayma, You have done Surf Lodge, GoldBar, Cain, which are kind of downtown-meets-uptown places. Tell me what your strategies are? How are you going to get your crowd to this location. Jayma Cardoso: I always believe that if you put a good product out there—the right energy, the right team, which we obviously have, you build and they come. We’re not trying to reinvent uptown or bring in the downtown crowd. This location helps. There is no competition. There’s a market here that is waiting for us.

When you were at these other places, the uptowns and the Euros and the South Americans were mixing with the downtown crowd, because that’s what clubs do, but up here is it as necessary to have that mix, or is it better to have a purity and let this exist as an uptown, South American, Euro crowd? Is that more of the strategy? Is the downtown crowd less important here? Downtown doesn’t go uptown right? Jayma: Why not? Rich Wolf: I think downtown finds itself uptown often. Sometimes you’re uptown and you’ve gotten done with dinner, it’s 12:30 and the thought of schlepping a dozen people downtown and dealing with the door is like, Let’s just go home, as opposed to, We’re having dinner at Tao, let’s just go across the street to Lavo. I grew up on the Upper East Side and have been living with Tao for ten years now. There are clubs that are old, clubs that were here a long time ago. You have world class people staying at the Four Seasons hotel across the street, and they too want to go out. I think people from downtown will find themselves here more than you might think.

This is the Tao group, and I don’t want to get into who has what, how the partnerships are layed out, but the partners here have lots of properties. It keeps going. Noah Tepperberg: We have about 50 places, we don’t even know where construction is anymore.

But the places people know, how do you not step on each other’s toes? Marketing-wise, Noah, how do you use it as an asset to have all these places as opposed to having every place competing with each other? Noah: People don’t go to the same place every night. So if a friend of ours comes to Avenue one night, the next night they go somewhere else. Someone goes for dinner at Stanton Social one night, the next night they want to try something different, they go to Tao, and if they want something different they go to Lavo. If someone wants to go to GoldBar on a Tuesday, they go to GoldBar. The idea is to give our customers, our friends, our following, a menu of places to go. Wherever they go, they know they can get the same service, the same hospitality, the same recognition, the same rewards for being loyal. For us, this is just one more property inside of a great portfolio of great properties and again, people don’t go to the same place every night.

I bet Jason’s pretty happy I didn’t ask him that question. Jason Strauss: No, the one thing I would add is that we’re very specific about creating different experiences, different cuisines within our restaurants and different experiences within our nightlife venue. The experience at Avenue is a very different experience than what is happening downstairs with regards to music, dance floor, size, across the board. How do we not cannibalize each other? We are very specific in giving different experiences to the same audience.

It must be very useful sometimes, the fact that you can tie up a DJ pay him a little less but feed him a whole week. You actually did this with promoters at Marquee. You gave them contracts exclusive for two or three years and they’re loyal to you, you own them in a way. So with DJs, you can take a DJ and put him in one spot here and one spot there and feed him for a week. Noah: I think in Vegas we can do that, but the DJs that play at Lavo are completely different than the DJs that play at Avenue or at GoldBar, and if we use hosts, they’ll be different than the ones that work at Avenue. Everything can be centralized through the back of the house, but a lot of it is location specific. Not all of it is across the board, not all of it can be shared. I think the key though, is that we have different restaurants. We have Asian, Greek, French, downtown shared food, Italian, downtown hipster—we have a place that’s hip-hop and rock, we have a place that’s going to play European dance music, and it’s all a totally different product.

Another thing you can share is lawyers. Lawyers have certainly become a very important part of nightlife society. It’s very hard to run a nightclub without a lawyer. Rich: We do that across the board—Lawyers, accountants, all types of professions. We’ve established relationships years and years in the making. In twenty years, we can call them up and say we need a contract and they bang it out. We don’t even need to tell them anymore.

Mundialista: Where to Flee (In Coach) After the World Cup

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As a player, winning a World Cup for the first time makes you want to kiss the first Spanish TV reporter you see, especially if she’s your distracting girlfriend. Losing a World Cup, on the other hand, has a different effect—on the footballers, their home countries, and their fans. The French opened up Parliamentary investigations into their team’s spectacular loss and made the team return home in coach. The Brazilians tried to kill the players when they were coming off the plane after sending their normally pampered asses back home, also in coach. Maybe that’s the problem: these superstars are so used to being treated like royalty that flying coach is the ultimate punishment, whereas the North Korean penance of being forced to fly coach and work in the coal mines is probably a tad more effective. It’s a toss-up between that and Uday Hussein’s popular method of flogging losing players and making them bath in raw sewage. Somehow, I can’t picture Cristiano Ronaldo being forced to shower in shit as punishment for his terrible World Cup, though Nike probably wants to flush him down the toilet right about now. But for fans such as myself, there is no punishment greater than having to visit a World Cup smack-talking country when all you want to do is be on a beach somewhere. That’s why my first stop coming back from South Africa after Argentina exited the Cup was France. Sure enough, Paris as a whole acted as if the World Cup had never happened. This, and about 20 liters of wine had me feeling great.

So great, in fact, that I decided to push my luck and accept an invitation from some good Brazilian friends of mine to go hang out in Montauk for the weekend as soon as I arrived in the US. With dozens of Brazilians, no less (as well as BlackBook’s very own party gal Cayte Grieve, it turns out). Normally, any Argentina loss means you can’t set foot in Brazil for at least a few weeks, unless you are a complete masochist. Had Brazil won the World Cup instead of Spain, I would have banned myself from Brazil for about four years, till the next one (which happens to be in Brazil). And I have a lot of family and friends in Brazil. In fact, it’s one of my favorite places on Earth, but the sheer amount of chest-thumping would have been unbearable for this particular Argentine. Even my little 8-year-old cousins there would have been talking smack to me.

Luckily Brazil lost this time, a day before Argentina, so I gave peace a chance and Montauk a shot. Plus, it was all for a good cause: to support a Brazilian children’s charity at an event sponsored by a Brazilian hair product called Envix. My friend, the artist Damon Johnson, had even painted some soccer balls to auction off for the event, held at the muito chic Surf Lodge in Montauk. The morning of the event, I woke up to the news that Lionel Messi and his girlfriend were vacationing in plain sight, post World Cup, smack in the middle of Rio de Janeiro, strolling around the beach like nothing happened. Could it be? Had our respective defeats at the World Cup brought our two countries together, united in the face of footballing adversity? Would I be able to have calm, rational football discussions with my Brazilian friends and family regarding Maradona’s clear superiority to Pele, until the next World Cup? I think so. Or rather, I thought so, until I was driving back to New York after a couple of perfect beach days with two Brazilian girls in the back seat, stuck in traffic somewhere in Long Island, and I heard, “Nossa! Four goals, Fernando…we only lost by one. Coitadinho Maradona. At least we didn’t have to see him naked!” I refrained from driving into oncoming traffic, but I’m officially banning all contact with Brazilians for a couple weeks.

Photos by Hunter Muse

Brazilian Beauties at the Surf Lodge

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There comes a time in a young girl’s life when she must use a relaxing beach escape for actual rest. Now is not that time. Though the spa treatments brought to the Surf Lodge in Montauk this past Saturday—thanks to the SoHo-based Maria Bonita Salon and Spa—for an event to fete the official launch of BrazilianSupplement’s Envix Deep Conditioning Hair Masque certainly helped me and my ocean-fried hair to feel refreshed, the open bar of Leblon Natural Cane Cachaça caipirinhas and a sexy live music set by Brazilian beauty Karina Zeviani had me, once again, hitting the sauce. The lovely and lively event, however, did afford me a closer look at the Surf Lodge’s more active alternatives to your usual drunk-in-the-sun-fun. An account of my day, which moved from clouds to sun to a particular, lime-scented kind of fog, after the jump.

A salty, surf-side rain soaks the Surf Lodge at about 4PM, but the dampness only seems to bring out the finer point of the beachy haven. The guests, in bathing suits and breezy dresses, squeeze into the front bar area to keep dry, while others huddle under eaves, tossing around soccer balls designed by contemporary artist Damon Johnson and chatting with their hands in a way only Brazilians can. (Later, they will raffle off a unique art piece designed by Johnson, to benefit the Brazil Child Health Organization.)

image Johnson and his balls.

There is something about an event full of Brazilians—they are a group that pulls you in and treats you like an old friend almost immediately. More importantly, they love to party. Some have changed into custom designed T-shirts resembling Brazil’s World Cup jerseys, and several have decided to slow dance to the acoustic entertainment. Nearly every guest speaks of Karina Zeviani, the former Ford model now singing a soothing set, as if she were a sister.

image Karina Zeviani.

Somehow, after countless caipirinhas, I manage a conversation with the amiable Fernanda Lacerda, founder of BrazilianSupplements, owner of the Brazilian model-ridden hotspot Maria Bonita Spa and Salon in Soho, and guru of all Brazilian beauty treatments. As it turns out, while we New Yorkers have become recently obsessed with Brazil’s beauty bounty, a lot of the products they swear by are not available in the states. As it also turns out, BrazilianSupplements is a well-known importer for all of those tough-to-find Brazilian beauty products, like the widely adored Envix Hair Masque. With a blend of 20 ingredients, like wheat protein, amino acids, soy, and keratin, it’s the perfect hair cocktail after a day of surfing and sunning.

The Surf Lodge was the perfect pairing for the event, being that the vibe, as one partier puts it, “is very Brazilian.” How so? “It’s disguised as very laid back, but that only creates a bigger party—you’re drunk before you know it.” Indeed, most of the venue’s devotees are also incredibly active during the daytime, surfing, kayaking, biking and using those stand up paddle board thingys. Sure enough, the laid-back vibe only heats up as the drinkers catch their second wind after a day of the outdoors.

image Half-eaten Surf Lodge fish tacos.

In case your second wind proves elusive, the Lodge offers alternatives to re-charge: weekly yoga classes held on a private deck overlooking the water, in-room massages, facials, and other detoxifying spa services. Additionally, bicycle rentals, surf lessons, sport fishing, and horseback riding can help you work up an appetite for chef Sam Talbot’s menu at The Restaurant, which, to further the healthy lifestyle of their active patrons, serves fresh local seafood. The healthy drinkers, as I found out late Saturday night, keep the party going, late into the night.

Main Photo: Anna J, Gabriel Ruas, Christina Carey. Photo by Hunter Muse

The Dish: Surf Lodge’s Fish Tacos

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What: Tilapia fish tacos served with mashed sweet plantains (or baked beans) and corn on the cob. Where: Surf Lodge, Montauk’s arbiter of cool and one-stop locale for drinking, dining, taking in the view, and, as of recently, shopping (Memorial Day marked the opening of the Store at the Surf Lodge). Ideal meal: When the weather’s good, this place is a sure bet. The view of Fort Pond from the deck on a nice day/night, taken in while sipping a Caipirinha, is unmistakeably one of the most picturesque Hamptons experiences on the market. Because: Chef Sam Talbot established himself as a post-Top Chef success with this local-ingredient heavy, seasonal everyman’s menu. This summer, the culinary hunk is also overseeing the the Surf Lodge taco truck for late-night bites, starting in July. Tastes like: Talbot’s inclusion of ginger, cabbage, garlic, jalapenos, and Avocado Crema give the fish a little kick, and each bite gets a keep-you-coming-back-for-more zest. Bottom line: $23 for tacos seems steep, but with the side fixins included, it makes for a filling entree.