New York: All the Week’s Parties

Just heard a very realistic rumor that East Village hipster standby The Annex has been sold and will become, of all things, a sports bar. In honor of the decline of yet another club kid landmark, the infamous electro-nu-rave Ruff Club party will be throwing a final hurrah for the sweat den it made popular on September 11, bringing out some underground all-stars: the Misshapes, Spencer Product, and the Ruff Kids. Another fond farewell to a Friday night hotspot that many called home.

It’s been interesting keeping tabs on this moody teenager we know as NYC nightlife. As staple bars close, the beloved Beatrice for one, patrons react as like displaced persons, leading a moveable feast in search of their next home. Keeping a regular weeknight schedule has been futile, as flash-in-the-pan venues like Chloe 81, which used to rule Wednesdays, cool down after losing a place in the rotation. These changes, however, open up the field for some new players. Thursday is becoming a great New York night, with two parties on opposite sides of Manhattan drawing their respective crowds. Likewise, people are turning to venues with solidarity, places that have stood the test of time (if not just a few months) to become sleeper hits. While many spend more of their evening arguing about where to go than actually going anywhere, here are some suggestions for parties on the verge — and old favorites rising to the occasion — for every night of the week.

MondayLit (East Village) – With Le Royale creeping out of the picture, Lit now has a refreshed patronage and a fresh outlook. ● Le Souk (East Village) – It will take a little while to regain the status their Monday party once enjoyed, but this mischievous restaurant is poised for a steady comeback thanks to a loyal following. ● Stanton Social (East Village) – In the spirit of restaurants shape shifting into nightlife, this table-hopping joint has been a mainstay on Mondays, though it may seem a left-field choice. The mounting interest in doubling your fun at dinner attracts a diverse crowd.

TuesdayAvenue (Chelsea) – Beatrice reggies rejoice! Todd and Angelo bring their special brand of refusal to the plush doors of this slick lounge — with Wass! It’s an all-star door, meaning you’ll find a mix of Beatrice groupies dressed up in nostalgia, seated next to high rollers and genuinely pretty people. It’s like a temporary shelter built for nightlife refugees, though this could prove to be long term. ● Rose Bar (Gramercy) – Indeed, the beautiful people have been planted here for a while now. So what? It isn’t any less of a party just because it has been around the block. It’s comforting to know that whenever you might desire being near to big art, Lily Donaldson, a mixed crowd, and a rope you might not get past on a Tuesday night, this is your go-to. ● Above Allen (Lower East Side) – Promoters? Bottle models? Hipsters? Ballers? Promoting hipster bottle models with money? All here on this diverse, overstimulating Tuesday night. Go, dance, get drunk — especially if you and your group are at a loss on Tuesday night.

WednesdayMinetta Tavern (Greenwich Village) – For once, go to this ubiquitous restaurant for the bar. Indeed, the bar lives in the shadow of the food, but the cocktails and bartenders really round out the celebrated establishment. Wednesdays are particularly wonderful here because those on a trendy feeding frenzy are less inclined to stick it out through the night. This means a better crowd, and a better chance to actually get seated — even if it isn’t your main concern. ● 1Oak (Chelsea) – The Koch twins once did a bang-up job on Thursday nights, but the shared sentiment about this golden child is that Wednesdays are now bringing the crowd. “It’s organic, a phenomenal mix of people, and there are usually surprise performances,” one faithful patron says. Indeed, the midweek party hits its stride, and even celebs like Rhianna — who showed face here just last Wednesday — have been known to drop in. “The best part is,” the patron continues, “the B&T crowd isn’t in full force and you actually get to enjoy the surroundings.”

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ThursdayJane Hotel and Ballroom (West Village) – Steve Lewis calls the Jane the Obi Wan Kenobi of nightlife. “It is proving to be the savior,” he says, and really, the Jane is something to get excited about. Though some nights showcase bland party princesses better served for the Meatpacking District, we both agree there are enough pockets of poise on their Thursday night to negate the posturing — a feat Lewis says makes this fete a new staple in a nightlifer’s diet. “Any day of the week could be a good night to go to the Jane.” ● BEast (Chinatown) – Ryan McGinley’s Thursday party proved to be a hit with the gays, then came the girls, and now Thursday night is just a mecca of mess (in a good way).

FridayWhite Slab Palace (Lower East Side) – While some things should be kept a secret, this must be said: the decrepit oyster bar throws a pretty great party on Fridays. Known as the Swede Party the music is satisfying, the crowd is fashionable and extremely drunk, and the bartenders seem to be having just as much fun as everyone else. The front seems like a quiet pub, and just like all fronts, appearances are not as they seem. Though the place has caused rumors to fly about questionable activity, it all seems like good, clean fun, aside from the sweaty, dirty dance floor that is. ● The Standard Beer Garden and The Standard Grill (Meatpacking District) – The property is an all inclusive playland. Start off in the garden, if you can stand the crowded atmosphere. Great for a leisurely cocktail to begin the night, especially since you won’t be able to spend your entire night here. After you’re unceremoniously booted around 12am (though the fun sometimes ends around 11pm because of “neighborhood concerns”) gather ’round the friendly front tables and make friends with the rest of the drunks. Sometimes it boasts an unsavory crowd, but the property must be savored in the summer as a premier adult playground.

SaturdayVon (NoHo) – We’ve done everything a person could do on a Saturday night, and we’ve found that staying in or hiding from the masses are usually our best bet. Hiding counts for something at Von, because it isn’t the upstairs bar we’re after, but what’s hidden below it. Try to find it while it’s still mythical.

SundayGreenhouse (Soho) – For those that need their dance fix on Sunday night, Kenny Kenny and Susanne Bartsch bring them great happiness. Though Sundays aren’t at a loss for dance parties, the Vandam party is particularly worthy to check out. ● Goldbar (Nolita) – You can carry the party from brunch to Broome Street, where you’ll probably run into fellow brunchers still carrying on. Very much the Cheers of nightlife, thanks in part to the work of doorman Jon Lennon. ● Sway (Soho) – Sway is still around, and it is still a place to house the freaks and friends of Sunday night. Last time I casually dropped in for a drink, the bartenders were randomly handing out shots, and a colleague of mine was caught crawling around on the dance floor.

Photos by Frank Horvat

Ladies Night: Catherine Pierce & Tamaryn Reign

Women in music reigned last night in New York City. To begin with, Catherine Pierce, from the songstress-sister-duo The Pierces had an art opening at Cameo Gallery in Brooklyn. Catherine invited me to check out her latest paintings on display, so naturally I said yes to the lovely lady and friend. Nadia Koch, a huge music fan and partner in Home Sweet Home, tagged along with me for the evening. We arrived at Cameo — which sits behind The Lovin’ Cup Café — to a sea of Catherine’s friends and family, including her younger sister Louisa, plus Paige Wood, who also had artwork on display. Alison Pierce, Catherine’s better half from The Pierces was of course there as well to support. And oh! I can’t forget this bit — the girls introduced to me to their mother! After our introduction, I knew why her daughters are so sweet.

I asked Catherine what she’s been up to. “Allison and I just returned from France. We had a performance at the Nouveau Casino in Paris! It was sooo nice!” I wish I could’ve snuck inside Catherine’s suitcase and joined along for the ride. Next time perhaps.

Nadia and I quickly said our goodbyes due to the need to catch a show at Annex back in Manhattan. Tamaryn, a young and up-and-coming singer on the rise, was scheduled to perform. Think dark, think Siouxsie and the Banshees, think, gypsy — that’s Tamaryn’s look. (Surprise, surprise, her music falls within the same vein.) We walked inside to a packed house just in time to catch her set. Quite good I must say. Each time I see one of her performances, she gets better and better. Rest assured, Tamaryn is one to watch.

After the show, Nadia and I snuck off to the Cabin for a nightcap; it’s a watering hole for a slew of notable musicians in New York City. I wasn’t surprised to see Kirsten Dunst and Fab from The Strokes upon entry. Nadia and I didn’t stay too long, but rest assured, fun was had. Sans-boys nights are indeed a necessity for us ladies and should happen more often.

Video: ‘Gossip Girl’ Taylor Momsen Rocks Out

imageSPOTTED: Jenny Humphrey/Little J/Dan’s sister (Taylor Momsen) of Gossip Girl fame, kicking ass, taking names, and generally rocking out at The Annex last night. Momsen’s band is called The Pretty Reckless; they’re going on tour with The Veronicas in June. And according to former Huffington Post writer Rachel Sklar, they were pretty decent. Video after the jump.

Sklar says:

A pretty promising mixture of Debbie Harry/Courtney Love/Kim Carnes/Alannah Myles/Hedwig — and killer boots. Needs to rock out a bit more (as opposed to trying to rock out — a little self-conscious in places) but pretty good. Also did I mention the boots?

As you can tell from above, Sklar got video of the shindig. More photos and videos on Sklar’s site here. As for Ms. Momsen’s rockstar aspirations, we kindly approve — how can you not? It’s like My First Band or something. This is the shit pop culture gold is made of. Oh, and pervy pervs: she’s 16. Don’t even think it. Flamboyantly yours, XOXO, etc.

The Top 10 Acts to See at CMJ

Ah, the modern institution of the Indie Rock Music Festival. If there’s a better way for western youths to stay drunk for a week, I haven’t found it. And while drinking alcohol on its own may be a wonderful way to spend one’s time, it’s always better in the presence of live music. And unless you’re Usain Bolt and can sprint across avenues and bridges in record time, there’s no way you’ll get to see even a fraction of the bands playing at this year’s CMJ Music Marathon in New York City. So here are our picks for the top 10 shows to see at the fest. For a list of the top 10 liquors to get plastered on quickest, please consult your local bar wench.

1. Jay Reatard – at Maxwells on October 23 at 11 p.m. , because, while a little predictable, he’s the best rock star out there at the moment, and it’s always great to hear an artist that cites The Ramones and the Clean as major influences, rather than The Beatles and The Beach Boys.

2.Duchess Says – Mysterious as always, there’s no venue or date listing — because they are already legendary in their hometown of Montreal for truly brain-busting shows and kickass, balls to the wall, “take no prisoners and burn down the village” electro-rock.

3. Janelle Monae – At the Bowery Ballroom on October 23 at 8 p.m. Full disclosure: Just putting this one down because I think she’s unbelievably beautiful and has one of the wackiest music videos out there at the moment, “Many Moons.” Android Auction? Are you serious?

4. Land of Talk – At the Brooklyn Masonic Temple on October 24 at 8:30 p.m. Because these Montreal natives know how to get your ass shaking while still seducing.

5. Oakley Hall – At 92Y Tribeca on October 23 at 10:10 p.m. This Brooklyn six-piece does more than just rehash the southern-rock playbook. They tear it to shreds, set it to flames, and dance around its ashes.

6. Chris Bathgate – At Union Pool on October 22, 9:15 p.m. This Ann Arbor, Michigan, singer/songwriter is responsible for some of the most hauntingly dark country and folk out there at the moment.

7. The Del McCoury Band – At the Highline Ballroom on October 21, 10 p.m. It’s an old fashioned bluegrass jam, and their album with Steve Earle from 2001 (The Mountain) is on constant rotation on my stereo.

8. Crystal Castles — At Webster Hall on October 23 at 9:45 p.m. These Toronto glitch-freaks come as close to thrash metal as you’re going to get with MIDI samples and a drum machine.

9. HR (Bad Brains) – AtCrash Mansion upstairs at BLVD, on October 21, 11:45 p.m., because whether he’s with his legendary Washington hardcore band Bad Brains or a man alone, he is the real deal and a force of nature to be witnessed.

10. Apache Beat – At The Annex on October 21, 8 p.m. This Brooklyn-based band knows how to make powerful indie rock that sounds truly epic.

Creatures of the Night: A Gallery of After Darkers

In the booming, bustling world of urban nightlife, things are neither silent nor still, nor necessarily what they seem. Here, when most people have begun cashing in on their eight hours of rest, we hit the streets with our most beloved, insatiable crew of revelers—from deejays and drag queens to one very poised 92-year-old single gal—to experience the debauchery and decadence of the world after dark.

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The Downtown Dynasty: Geordon Nicol, Leigh Lezark and Greg Krelenstein of The MisShapes with Sophia Lamar and Spencer Product, photographed at the Annex, New York City. Never mind the fickle nature of the deejay lifestyle. The enduring hipster phenomenon known as the MisShapes — Geordon Nicol, Greg Krelenstein and Leigh Lezark — continue to garner momentum while other club kids simply spin out of control (Lezark has even managed to leverage her downtown success into international stardom, most recently as one of the celebrity faces in this fall’s GAP campaign). When not living out of suitcases — filled, almost exclusively, with black clothes — they most often frequent the Annex, a casual, beer-soaked club on Orchard Street overrun with irony and seam-defying denim. “I want to feel excited and sometimes nostalgic when I’m out listening to music.” says Krelenstein.

Their close friend Sophia Lamar, a trans-gendered Cuban refugee, style visionary and onetime member of the Michael Alig crew, shares the same passion for the deep, dark bowels of evening revelry. A nightlife fixture for years, she cops to having witnessed some strange sights: “I once saw a performer who was naked on stage eating corn on the cob. She then blew popcorn out of her ass.” Lezark and Nicol chime in with their own memory: “We saw someone in a bear suit catch fire, and his friend pissed on him to extinguish the flames.” In response to a question about rest, Lamar’s longtime friend and party conspirator, deejay Spencer Product, whose mix album …Product was released last month, asks, defiance in his tone, “Sleeping pattern? What sleeping pattern?”

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The All-Nighters: Deborah Harry, musician, actor, and Justin Bond, cabaret performer, photographed at The Diner, New York City. Rock goddess Deborah Harry and international cabaret star Justin Bond (aka Kiki of Kiki & Herb), friends for over 10 years, revel in pleasures of the evening — creative and otherwise: “I look at it like this,” says Harry, casual and still utterly iconic in her white blouse and stripey pants, hair platinum blonde, fresh from Blondie’s Parallel Lines anniversary tour. “My favorite part of the day is from about 4 a.m. to 7 a.m. I love those hours. I think that being in the city, staying out all night and facing the dawn offers an amazing perspective. It’s a very creative time. I either get there from the back side or the front side.”

For Bond, charismatic and festive in eyeliner and quilted jacket, the hours between 10 to 12 offer the first window of nocturnal magic: “Putting on my makeup is like zen meditation, especially if you have girlfriends to get ready with,” he says, seated across from his partner in crime over blue plate specials at a Chelsea diner. “Then, three to five is good, because all the hardcore people are left, the risk-taking people who’ve come out from their buildings to mingle with each other.” Living in one of the world’s 24-hour cities, both agree, is a major perk. Bond’s after-hours itinerary includes catching up with moonlighting deejay John Cameron Mitchell at Mattachine, a Thursday night blowout at Julius in the West Village. Harry, whose favorite clubs over the years have included Jackie 60 and Mother (“high on the list, if not the top”), CBGB, Max’s Kansas City and Studio 54 says: “At least in New York, you can act like an adult. You can be responsible for your own irresponsibility.”

When it comes to their choice libations, Bond, whose boozy chanteuse Kiki has a celebrity-addicted following, says that he likes “a nice slug of Jack and Coke.” Harry, the quintessential diva of the night, whose seductive “Heart of Glass” and “Rapture” are inevitable pleasures in any nightclub (the endurance of the songs “is the best thing that happened to me, but I prefer now to the past. I’m not really a nostalgic person,” she says), gets her thrill from champagne, Cristal to be precise: “It’s the ultimate. You can always rely on it. I never get hangovers.” But if they mix their poisons, or have one too many, what do the dedicated nightbirds turn to for hangover cures? “Advil, or a hamburger,” Bond offers, “and sex. Anything that makes me sweat.” “There you go,” says Harry. “Best cure yet.” — Ray Rogers and James Servin.

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The Late Bloomer: Zelda Kaplan, nightlife legend, photographed at Bungalow 8, New York City. Zelda Kaplan, 92, sits tucked away in a booth at the back of Bungalow 8, one of her favorite New York City haunts, sipping from a champagne flute. Scheduling an appointment with her days earlier came with the following caveat: “Remember, sweetie, don’t call until four or five in the afternoon. Otherwise, I’ll still be in bed.” A trained ballroom dancer, the twice-married humanitarian has traveled throughout Ethiopia to raise awareness about female genital mutilation (“It’s excision, not circumcision,” she says). These days, she saunters about town at all hours of the morning, wearing that cylindrical hat of hers, draped in rich fabrics she discovered while touring Africa. “I like to go out,” she says, her sharp eyes shielded by sunglasses. “I like to be with nice people, although not the types who get sloppy, sloppy drunk.” She remembers, after the loss of her second husband, “going home at night and thinking, My gosh, this is so boring! But how could I possibly go out without an escort? And then one night, I went to Bungalow 8. There were people in line, but I was let right in. I went straight to the bar. To take up a table by oneself is awful, and besides, I wanted to talk to people.” Which is precisely what she did, forming a core group of friends, many of whom could pass as her great-grandchildren. And that’s just fine with Kaplan, who has little patience when her few remaining nonagenarian peers complain about rheumatoid arthritis. “After two or three minutes, I’m like, Whatever,” she say, smiling. The club scene, of course, has changed drastically since Kaplan first hit the dance floor, and she’s the first to notice: “Women today, these girls, present their fannies to men by bending over at the bar. And the men, they come up close behind them, you know, moving. I’ve presented myself to men like that before, but never in public.”

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The Firestarter: Luke Worrall, model, photographed at his “mum’s house” in Croydon, London, U.K. Luke Worrall was only 17 years old when he made his second appearance on the cover of Dazed & Confused magazine, the lascivious proposal “SEX ME UP!” brandished over his body, which was tightly braided in an embrace with two other naked models — one male, one female — colorful phallic blow-ups adorning their heads. A few months later, in January of this year, Worrall cracked the pages of W in little more than an Ann Demeulemeester coq feather vest, actress Hilary Swank on all fours in front of him. Photos like these, along with his closely monitored romance with Kelly Osbourne (about which he’s chosen to remain reticent), have positioned Worrall as quite the party boy. It’s a label he’s quick to discard, and one of the reasons he vows never again to model naked. “I like to go out,” he says. “But I also party at home with my family.” A run-in with a torch might explain his preference for celebrating on his own turf: “I was recently at the Versace party in Milan during Fashion Week. I had just modeled in a show where they had done up my hair in fine cornrows. I walked past a hanging lamp and, the next thing I knew, my hair was on fire.”

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The Stone Thrower: Perez Hilton, celebrity blogger, photographed outside of the El Rey Theatre, Los Angeles, California. At 5:40 a.m., merciless Hollywood blogger Perez Hilton, 30, sits down at his computer to defile a few well-known faces with the hand-drawn semen he’s become famous — and reviled — for. But while most guerilla gossips remain faceless, if not altogether nameless observers, Hilton has built an online empire on the promise of full disclosure and constant exposure — which hasn’t always worked in his favor, especially among certain members of the tight-lipped, West Coast nightlife set. “Getting kicked out of Chateau Marmont was shocking,” he says, “because I didn’t do anything to deserve it. They just knew who I was, what I did for a living, and made it clear that I was not welcome there.”

He has, however, befriended the inspiration for his eponymous website. “Paris Hilton knows how to throw a really good house party,” he says. “At her place, I always see the most random group of people, from A-listers to D-listers.” When asked if he’d rather throw down in New York or Los Angeles, the self-appointed “Queen of all Media” says, “New York is dangerous because the clubs don’t close until 4 a.m. My favorite place in Los Angeles, which I go to pretty much every weekend I’m in town, is Akbar in Silver Lake. There’s no velvet rope. There’s no cover. They have a dance floor, but they also have a jukebox in the other room, if you feel like lounging. In L.A. — even though clubs close at 2 a.m. — you can get in a lot of trouble because you still have to drive home. And we all know how much celebrities love to drink and drive.”

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The Keepers of the Faith: Michael Musto, Andre J., Joey Arias and Amanda Lepore, club kids, photographed in the bathroom at BBar & Grill, New York City. Outside of the tiled bathroom at BBar & Grill on Manhattan’s recently sanitized Bowery strip, hundreds of fragrant men cluster together in shape-defining jeans for Erich Conrad’s notorious Tuesday night happening, Beige. They sidle up to one another, impatient for cocktails. Inside, in front of a wall lined with urinals, French Vogue cover model Andre J., dressed in a hot pink halter with matching booty shorts, bends down to cool his face with the breeze from a nearby hand-dryer. Next to him in a black pinstripe suit, The Village Voice columnist Michael Musto jokes with drag cabaret performer Joey Arias, while Amanda Lepore, photographer David LaChapelle’s muse — and “the world’s most famous transsexual with a fully-functioning vagina,” according to her voicemail greeting — places the scarlet heel of her right Louboutin into the urinal beside her.

But despite being crammed together in that scant, airless room, business proceeds as usual for the club kids who discovered themselves and one another throughout the 1980s and 1990s. The surroundings don’t faze them, especially not Musto, who used to ogle Michael Jackson at Studio 54 and dodge streams of projectile breast milk used to make White Russians at Susanne Bartsch’s infamous bacchanals. Because he doesn’t drink, Musto describes himself as “a eunuch at an orgy,” and says, laughing, “I think heaven will be awfully boring — Mother Teresa and Angelina Jolie tending to the children and Julie Andrews singing ‘Chim chim cher-ee.’ Give me hell anytime!” Of his relationship with the other three assembled here tonight, Musto says, “They are people of the night! My kindred spirits pursue their dreams, living as their most extreme and fabulous versions of themselves. Most people don’t have the balls to do that.”

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Les French Fries: Yelle, singer-songwriter, photographed in Paris, France. French siren Yelle (pronounced “gel,” not “jelly”) first performed the acerbic lyrics to “Je veux to voir” last fall, to a sold-out sea of neon tights and tattered T-shirts at one of France’s trendiest nightclubs, Le Paris Paris. “I wanna see you in a porn flick,” she sang, “Getting busy with your potato or French fry-shaped dick.” The audience went crazy, and one can’t help wonder if that’s why the spud theme has stuck. “I love a good hamburger with French fries,” she says, adding, “But a plate of pasta with butter is also pretty perfect after a long night out.” Since stomping her cyber footprint on MySpace only a few years ago, Yelle, 25, has taken control of French airwaves with tracks from her bold, brash debut album Pop-Up — sex toys, lesbian desire and love are all explored in her songs — for which she is currently touring America alongside her two bandmates. With her electro-sexpot look and wide, bewitching stare, one imagines she attracts plenty of attention when out with friends. “The worst pick-up line I ever heard was, ‘Your father is a thief. He took all the stars from the sky and put them in your eyes,’” she says, rolling them.

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The Playboy: Sébastien Tellier, musician, photographed at Santos Party House, New York City. It’s nearing dusk when French musician and deejay Sébastien Tellier breaks from conversation in search of another drink at the Tribeca Grand Hotel. He returns, his Herculean sunglasses still firmly in place, and says, unprompted, “I drink one glass of white wine before every show to loosen up my throat. And, of course, I smoke a joint.” After a reflective pause, he adds, grinning, “I smoke a lot of joints, actually.” On tour in support of his latest album,Sexuality, a warm, writhing toe-dip into Gainsbourg territory that was given its pre-release exclusively at American Apparel, Tellier explains that his creative focus has shifted from politics to sex. “I used to make music for a room of French intellectuals,” says the self-described “enemy of convention,” who has worked closely with the members of Air and Daft Punk, with whom he also spends most nights out. “And now, I see young women in the crowd who are barely 15 years old. Their spirit and youth are wonderful. I don’t even really want to see people dance to my music, but I do want to see them kiss.” Has Tellier ever played his own love jams to set the mood? “Holy shit, no. I’m not that much of an exhibitionist.”

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The Anarchist Gypsy: Eugene Hütz, singer for Gogol Bordello, actor, photographed at Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel, Providence, Rhode Island. In the dank, wood-paneled Bulgarian bar Mehanata on Ludlow Street, Eugene Hütz, the churlish but spirited creator of New York’s gypsy punk rock band Gogol Bordello, spins beat-driven songs for a messy crowd of dripping, drunk Lower East Side dancers. “I’ve never really liked hipsters,” says Hütz, 35, after being called one. “They’re an unfaithful bunch. I’d rather rely on intelligent people who can see past what’s of the moment.” His homespun, bedraggled looks inspired Frida Giannini’s breakthrough Fall-Winter 08/09 collection for Gucci, and his star will certainly rise this month with his top-billing role in Madonna’s feature directorial debut, Filth and Wisdom, but his heart still belongs to the New York night and his riotous weekly parties. “I’ve spoken to a lot of people who were brought up by 1970s New York underground culture, which was disorderly and uncompromising in a lot of ways,” says Hütz, who was born in Ukraine before immigrating stateside. “So, I came to New York with a democratic mentality. Someone would be playing an acoustic guitar in a little after-hours club with people who didn’t give a fuck, and something special happened — talent knew no borders, hierarchy was thrown out of the window. I live for that atmosphere.”

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The Globe-Hopper: Nigo, fashion designer, photographed in Tokyo, Japan. Japanese fashion designer Tomoaki “Nigo” Nagao still calls Tokyo home, but he goes where the energy flows for inspired nights out. These days, that means New York. The nightlife there, he says, maintains a “genuine craziness. I can really feel the excitement.” It’s been 15 years now since the former magazine stylist and hip-hop deejay changed the look of streetwear — and the backstreets of Harajuku — with the creation of his fashion label A Bathing Ape (BAPE). Looking back, Nigo, 37, can’t help but notice a change in tenor throughout the Tokyo nightlife circuit. “Going clubbing in the ’90s, everyone cared about how they looked, and it was creative and progressive in terms of fashion. Today’s scene is much smaller and more disparate.” No matter — Nigo keeps that creative flame alive with his labels, which include BAPE, but also Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream, with friend and co-founder Pharrell Williams. A retrospective of his work comes forth next month in the form of the Rizzoli tome, A Bathing Ape. But he’s got a tall order if he wants to top his most exciting night out to date with Pharrell. “I remember going to Miami for the first time ever, to the video shoot for ‘Frontin” from Pharrell’s first solo record. We went to some big club to celebrate, and almost every song the deejay played had been produced by the Neptunes. Pharrell really doesn’t drink, but we were all going wild.”

Photos: Victoria Will (MisShapes, Sophia Lamar, Spencer Product; Deborah Harry, Justin Bond; Zelda Kaplan; Sébastian Tellier), Atlanta Rasher (Luke Worrall), Brian Lindensmith (Perez Hilton), Lizzy Sullivan (Michael Musto, Andre J., Joey Arias, Amanda Lepore), Yoann Lemoine (Yelle), Isa Wipfli (Eugene Hütz), Maria Amita (Nigo).
Gogol Bordello Tickets Variety Playhouse Tickets Atlanta Tickets

Spencer Product: Notes from the Underground

Back in the late nineties, when Brooklyn wasn’t yet the new Manhattan, Spencer Product was throwing the kinds of parties in his heart-of-Williamsburg loft that today might be found in the outer limits of Bushwick. Filled with upstart creative types, demand forced him to move them across the bridge — first to Luxx, where he started the “Berliniamsburg” night, which attracted acts like LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy and electroclashers Fischerspooner.

After a decade, Product is still on the vanguard of NY’s indie club scene with his Ruff Club Friday nights at Lower East Side sweat den The Annex. On September 5, he celebrated the release of his first mix album …Product, released on Coco Machete and featuring attitude-pumped mixes of songs by the likes of Bloc Party, Cut Copy, and Pop Levi. I spoke to Mr. Product in the thick of Fashion Week, where he spent the previous night at a Christie’s party and Interview’s party at the unfinished Standard Hotel. I caught him as he was preparing for the night with what else but humus, zucchini cooked in olive oil, and K.

So how’s it going? It’s okay, I’m never drinking champagne again. I had three glasses of it all night, and I feel horrible. It doesn’t agree with me.

Is that all you drank all night? No, I had a Stella Artois at the Beatrice, an eight dollar one, mind you.

So what’d you do today? I did some laundry, ate some lunch.

What’d you eat for lunch? Some hummus, and then I had zucchini sautéed in olive oil.

Did you dip anything in the hummus or did you just scoop it with a spoon? I used crackers.

What did you do while you ate? Chewed, then swallowed.

But do you like to read something while you eat, or maybe watch TV? No, I just eat. I graze, like a cow. I ponder and chew. I enjoy concentrating on the flavors, and I have to concentrate on chewing so I don’t choke.

So how are you preparing for your big record release party tonight? I think I’ll drink a twelve-pack. And then I’ll do a quick bump of ketamine, followed by a Red Bull, and then I’ll be good to go.

So what makes for a good crowd at your parties? Diversity. Everyone being together, jocks and nerds, living harmoniously.

Can you tell me about The Dirt Lab? It’s myself and my collaborator Jake Sinclair, who is one of my resident DJs on Friday nights at Ruff Club. We started collaborating last year, doing remixes for the Horrors, for his other band The Films, and Pop Levi. Then I had a lot of material that I hadn’t used and that I wanted to make something with, and after Black Moustache dissolved, I was sort of at a loss as to who to collaborate with, and Jake and I were doing such cool remixes, that we decided to do a record together, which we just finished recording in June.

Why did you and Black Moustache break up? We just dissolved, really. There was no fighting — more like alienation and neglect.

Some people credit you with helping your parties at Luxx ignite the electroclash phase of turn-of-the-millennium New York. Thoughts? Yeah, Larry Tee and I started those in 2000, and I guess Ruff Club is sort of the continuation. But I was never fond of labeling anything. Everyone asks me what Ruff Club is, is it a rave, is it punk? It’s just a party. I have a certain aesthetic but it’s really hard for me to label my work. I have influences. I’m really influenced by Prince, but I don’t think I sound anything like him.

So is Product your real last name? Right now it is. What do you mean by real?

Were you born Spencer Product? In some ways, yes.

How long have you lived in Manhattan? I lived in Williamsburg from 1997 to 2004, and I’ve been in Manhattan for four years.

And where were you before New York? I was in London.

What brought you there? I was scouting living locations, and I had studied there, and my family is from there, so I thought, why the hell not? So I went there, and it was really expensive, and I kept comparing it to New York. And I always wanted to live there, so I moved.

What did you do when you first got to the city? I had a series of bad day jobs.

Like what? The first job was internet porn. I was a graphic designer. I was a visual artist pursuing an art career, but it was easier to do graphic design, and it’s hard doing visual art and graphic design at the same time, because you spend all your creative energy on someone else’s stuff.

And then what? You start throwing parties at your loft? Yes. I had this great loft on North 5th between Bedford and Berry.

Did you have roommates? Yeah, three. It was 2,500 square foot. Black Moustache would rehearse and play there as well.

So was your DJ career something you set out to do, or did it happen by accident as a result of these parties? No, everything just seemed to click. Back then, New York nightlife was really inspiring.

Is it not inspiring anymore? Well, I hope it is.

image Spencer, having a laugh.

So what comes after DJing? You can’t do this forever. Some people do. I don’t know, I have some tricks up my sleeve.

Can’t you just live off the millions you’ve made so far? Yeah, I’m actually at my beach house in Puerto Rico right now. Then I’m going by helicopter to the Hamptons, then I’ll land on the pad on top of my loft, and then boat-plane it to the Annex.

Are you surprised at how much money celebrity DJs can pull in these days? I’ve heard what some people make, and it’s pretty insane. And they play songs we’ve all heard before. But more power to them. I don’t find my rate to be overly–pricey.

What do you do when you don’t go out? I get creative.

Do you have Netflix? I do; I just got two movies in the mail today.

Which ones? The Boys and Girls Guide to Getting Down and Emmanuelle in Paris.

What do you do on the weekends? I’m not very ambitious on the weekends, because I get so much done during the week, that on the weekends I just retreat. Living in SoHo, sometimes I just retreat, or I escape to Brooklyn, because it gets too crazy here.

You should go to the beach. I would love to go to the beach, but I’m too intimidated by the commute. It’s like a train, a bus, a car, a shuttle … I prefer to just go to the airport and fly to Miami. That just seems more feasible.

Do you travel a lot? I do. I spend two or more months of the year away from New York. It’s great. Traveling is the best education.

Industry Insiders: Jason Baron, Dark Knight

Jason Baron, owner of two of the Lower East Side’s finest music dens, has all the makings of a rising nightlife macher: great timing, the party bug, plus tons of famous music-making pals. Five years down the road, the Annex and Darkroom owner reveals what it takes to stay current in the ever-shifting LES.

Point of Origin: I’m from Detroit originally. I moved back here about six years ago from London where I went to university. After I finished, I assisted a fashion photographer, but found I didn’t like fashion, so I got into music. When I moved back to New York, I was still photographing bands, including all the Interpol shows. That was what helped me get a scene down here.

The Darkroom used to be another bar before, and a friend of mine was familiar with one of the owners. They wanted to sell. The only places on the street were Max Fish, Motor City, and Pianos. I found out the place was open, so I just dove headlong in. I had had experience in nightlife in London and New York doing parties with friends and DJing, but I mostly learned as I went. It turned out to be an experience because I studied economics; I didn’t study food service management or anything.

The first night [at the Darkroom] was the Libertines after party, and after that it spun out of control. Even last Monday, there were people from Stone Temple Pilots and Spiritualized®. There are always 10 to 15 bands here. It’s usually people from out of town — people from London or Los Angeles. They still come back here because it’s their only point of reference in New York and they know it will be a good time.

Occupations: We hit the ground running and became a part of the scene down here. Even to this day, with everything being built up, we still are a big part. Things went so well here we were able to find the Annex. It used to be another bar that had closed down and we rebuilt. The previous owners were six, seven months behind on rent. They hadn’t paid the liquor bills in forever but it made it really easy to get the place because the landlord was like, “Please, take it over”. Their concept was a little bit different. I don’t want to say it was tacky or anything. It was the same problem you see with places like Libation. They are trying to cater to a crowd that is only here on Friday and Saturdays. Everywhere is crowded on Friday and Saturday. You really make your money on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. I think that’s what killed them over there [at Bar Eleven]. It was more of a party than a job for Simon [owner of Eleven]. I think he took off and moved to the Jersey shore to sell T-shirts.

The idea with the Annex was to have an independent music venue because most of the other venues were controlled by Bowery Presents and AEG. Fortunately, knowing a lot of key people in the industry got us secret shows and after parties and really brought the name up. Thursday nights we have “Club NME,” and that has a huge profile. And Friday, we have “Ruff Club” — you see it in travel magazines on British Airways. Saturdays we have “Tis Was,” and it’s still doing quite well. We have bands seven days a week, and now and we have club nights after the bands Tuesday through Saturday.

What do you think has people coming back? I think it has kind of a clubhouse feel. They see other people here in their industry. Plus, they are well taken care of. It’s a destination point. When you go to certain cities, there are places you always go back to, especially if you are in the music and fashion business. We’ve never had a door policy. We charge gigs over there [at the Annex] so the bands can get paid, but that’s it. People always feel at home. There’s never a lot of press written about it. There used to be when Tricia [Romano] was at the Village Voice. She’d write “so and so was there,” and I would always get really mad. I like keeping it low-key so people know they can turn up at any time and be themselves. They don’t have to worry about someone saying they were drunk the next day to the press. Places that stick around for a long time and have a good name will grow on their own. All you have to do is keep on top of the new things — the new DJs and the new scenes. If you look at the big clubs on the west side, they blow the places up, make them huge, and pay people to come and hang out. But, then they usually close after two years. The lease at Darkroom has another 12 years and the Annex has another 15.

Known Associates: I work with Spencer Product from Ruff Club and Dimitry from High Voltage. Really everyone in the industry is just an acquaintance. A lot of the richer, older, more established club owners have more of a clique.

Where do you hang out? I go to shows, mostly. It feels like every freaking day there is someone coming in from out of town — bands calling me up to come down [to the bar]. I’d love to have a night off. I’d say I spend most of my time going to Bowery Ballroom just to keep on top of what’s happening with the music scene. As far as bars, I don’t really have a frequent hang. If anything, I go to ‘inoteca to have dinner. Is it trendy bars I’m supposed to say? I’ve been to every bar. I’ve done a lot of research.

Do you still have the exclusive basement open? No, that’s been done for a while. We used to be a lot looser with the way things worked around here, but as you grow up, you realize the consequences. I used to live upstairs from Darkroom and then upstairs from the Annex up until a year ago. The weirdest people would turn up in the middle of the night. Dave Attell did a TV show once in my apartment. Axl Rose was there one night. It used to be the most surreal shit. And usually it would just Paul [Banks] and I sitting around, going “Who are these people?” We’d be hanging out watching TV and a band would be on Saturday Night Live and then they would show up an hour later in my shitty little apartment. There are a lot of stories. Now, I’m a gentleman.

Industry Icons: Ian Schrager. He’s diversified so much, but if you remember, he was just a guy who owned a bar in Jersey and then he opened up Studio 54. He’s also a genius as far as design is concerned. Look what he’s done to the Gramercy Park Hotel. It’s amazing. He has longevity. You get the people that come in and out, open a club here, then one in LA, not focusing on anything. I know he has done things in London, but he’s always been really focused on NY. Also, Tony Wilson is an influence, the man behind Factory Records and the Hacienda Club in Manchester.

Projections: I’m working on an English pub that’s going to be in the neighborhood. I can’t really say any more about that. Someone asked me to do a bar in a hotel that will be in the area too. I think it’s the natural progression to be moving from bars to being a restaurateur to an hotelier one day. I’m engaged now. I just bought a ring. I look at it like a career. I’m still down here seven days a week.

What are you doing tonight? I’m going over to see my friend Simon [White]. He’s picking up a new band called Amazing Baby. He manages Bloc Party, CSS, and Broken Social Scene. He’s come over from London and I’m doing a special showcase for him. Supposedly, they’re amazing and going to be huge. They are playing with Bloc Party tomorrow so this is supposed to be their warm up show.