Bottle Service Lives On: Judge Blocks Bloomberg’s Large-Soda Ban

Judge Milton Tingling proved that you can fight City Hall when he overturned Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s ban on large containers of sugary sodas. Using words like "arbitrary" and "capricious," nightlife’s favorite judge stopped the insanity hours before the regulation went into effect. The rules would have banned carafes of mixers used in bottle service, forcing night spots to have containers of 16 ounces or less instead of the usual double that. What that means is tables designed to accommodate a bottle or two, ice buckets, napkins, glassware ,and mixers to name a few would be unable to handle that load, and alternative systems would be needed.

The regulations would not in any way stop the delivery of sugar-containing mixers, but it would just make that delivery more problematic and costly. Most clubs do not serve 100 percent pure fruit juices with their bottles, so orange and cranberry juice would also have to be poured from smaller vessels.

Clubs were scrambling to find smaller containers, and all sorts of other adjustments were going to be needed to comply. The size of tables needed to be rethought and possibly extra personnel hired to bring what patrons needed.

This law was silly. No one drinks out of a carafe, and it’s obvious that said container is meant for multiple patrons. I’m all for educating people about the harmful effects of sugar, and advising people to only drink diet or water. However, there is a great difference in keeping children away from large containers of sugary liquids, and it’s another thing to force adults to stop having what they want.

Where does this end? Surely the alcohol is as dangerous as the sugar. Surely the staying-up-late can be harmful, same with the noise and the possible unprotected sex. Passing laws that infringe on lifestyle is dead wrong. I agreed with the smoking ban because secondhand smoke hurts other patrons and workers, but secondhand sugar is not a reality. Kudos to Judge Tingling, and here’s hoping Mayor Mike’s threatened appeal is lost.

What on earth is happening down at Bow. Closed already, sources told me the place on the Bowery where Crash Mansion offered local and national bands is needing a rethink. Finale and The General are doing just fine, but Bow in the same building has Travis Bass bowing out.

The other day I wrote a story that things over at Butter Group were not exactly hunky dory. This got a response from the players there that my sources are wrong and that everything is actually hunky dory. Sources are sources, and I did write I was unsure of the validity of their remarks. I wish those guys a ton of success as I have only the greatest affection and respect for them. I look forward to a redone Butter, and the new programming I hear from all sides will happen at The Darby. When I went back and asked one of my sources about the story’s accuracy, they replied that they would stand by their statements, but that the normal state of things over there is confrontational – but somehow they always deliver a great product.

Photo Courtesy of Bon Appetit

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This Week: Ray-Bans & Rolling Stones Celebrate Milestone Anniversaries

I was so crazy yesterday that I forgot to do the one thing I really wanted to do. This season does that to you. I wanted, expected, ached to attend the Ray-Ban: 75 Years of Legends event at The Darby last night. The Flaming Lips performed. I will attend the Rolling Stones concert as they bring their 50th anniversary tour to the Barclays Center on Saturday. It’s amazing that we are celebrating something that started 50 years ago and another thing that’s 75 years of tradition.

On this oldie-but-goodie tip, we have the wonderful Beatles cover band, the Newspaper Taxis, performing Revolver at the Red Lion, 151 Bleecker St. According to my pal Brian August, The Beatles never performed any part of Revolver live. My ex- wife Jennifer Hamdan did cover “Tomorrow Never Knows” when she was signed to Next Plateau Records. Her track failed to make it to any plateau, but it was fun. Still on the oldies tip, Gary Spencer will celebrate his 50th birthday with a bash tonight at  his Hanky Panky attachment to Webster Hall. Oldies but goodies – the prodigy producer/mixer Neil McLellan and good ol’ Andy Rourke (The Smiths) – will DJ, and The Darling Darling Music Company will perform live.

Older than Methuselah, Marty Abrahams told me about his solo exhibition “Break On Through” at the Salomon Arts Gallery, which will happen on 12/12/12 from 6pm till 9pm. If I’m not at that mega, super duper, ginormous Sandy relief concert at the Garden with Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, The Who, Roger Waters and all those other old guys, then I will attend Marty’s thing.

Somebody who never ages and whose humor is timeless, Murray Hill, will bring his annual “Murray Little Christmas” to us next Saturday the 15th, from 8pm to midnight to Le Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker St. Murray is amazing, amazing, amazing. Here’s the scoop:

“Expect an evening of hilarious and wacky skits with the cast, a sleigh full of cheesy holiday songs, plenty of nuts, fruits and tree trimming. This year’s special guests:

BRIDGET EVERETT (carnal chanteuse and fearless cabaret star), ERIN MARKEY (wacky performance artist), CARMINE COVELLI (a.k.a. SEBASTIAN THE ELF), THE NYC BURLESQUE CHOIR (conducted by Shelly Watson) with live swinging holiday music from Murray’s band THE CRAIG’S LIST QUARTET (Jesse Elder–piano, Kenball Zwerin–bass, Matt Parker–saxaphone, Arthur Vint–drums and rimshots). Set design by Steven Hammel."

The Legendary Debbie Harry Will Host Dropout’s Fashion Week Party

A smart, sharp, beautiful, successful friend asked me where she could entertain her out-of-towners. Not knowing anything about these tourists I sent her a list of the A-List places. This list included joints as diverse as The Darby, Avenue, Provocateur, Electric Room, Le Bain, Le Baron, and W.i.P. There are of course many other choices and places closer to the edge but as I said they are strangers in a strange land and these felt safe to recommend. After describing each place in a couple of sentences they opted for W.i.P. W.i.P. is satisfying the needs of a downtown art/fashion/mixed crowd that had been forsaken for so long. Their Tuesday night soiree’ Dropout continues to service the Post Jackie 60 scene. Tomorrow night in honor of Fashion Week they are offering up the amazing Debbie Harry. I caught up with Dropout honcho and man-about-town Lyle Derek and asked him all about it.

What does it mean to you/Dropout to have Debbie host this Fashion Week party?
Debbie is in a class all on her own by her doing this show for us. It confirms yet again how cool she is. Debbie is giving back to New York nightlife culture. With some of these pop stars that pretend to care about the NY scene and the underdogs, Debbie put her money where her mouth is and she doesn’t have to keep proving anything to anyone. We all know some of these girls can sell out the Garden, but what is really cool and a real feat in my book is doing small club gigs and keeping NY alive and exciting. Since we announced Debbie’s show we have gotten hundreds of emails from people saying how much this means to them to get a chance to see one of their heroes in an intimate setting like this. She is the real deal – not only one of the best pop song writers, but one of the sweetest people in show business.

Debbie is a rock icon/star. How do you interact with her? How hard is it to be a friend without the cloud of celebrity?
Debbie and I met when I was in film school, while I was producing the documentary about the legendary ’90s nightclub SqueezeBox, and we have remained friends. She makes me feel totally comfortable because she is so human and so real. Her beauty is the only thing [that’s] a little spooky. I mean that face! She is even more stunning in the flesh!

How did the Dropout concept begin?
Dropout was an idea that my pal from Texas – filmmaker Jonathan Caouette – and famed Dutch actor Noah Valentyn had. We wanted a new party that celebrated live performance and what New York City was when we started it almost a couple years ago. We did it at Don Hill’s, and there was nothing like that going on. Noah Valentyn came up with the name and we all created a night from the heart. Jonathan’s new movie took him to France and then sadly Don passed away and Don’s closed. We were shocked when we discovered our little art party had captured the imagination of the city and of the club worlds as we got calls from six club owners to move it to a new venue.

How did end up at W.i.P.?
We held off for a bit as most club owners do not support parties like these and don’t see the big picture of what this could grow into. The only owners in town in my book that get that are Barry M. and Noah Tepperberg, but none of Noah’s clubs have stages and we couldn’t do the party without a stage. Barry wanted the party and said he would put a stage for our nights and we started back up at W.i.P a few months ago and it was the best move we made. It was our first time working with Barry, and he cares about NY nightlife the way we do, and after our first meeting we were sold. His new venue W.i.P. was one of the best; Noah Valentyn and I discovered and it being new and fresh and letting us have a stage was the right fit. Stu [Braunstein] was also someone we worked with in the past and he gives W.i.P. a sick gallery of artwork and that helped make Dropout the perfect venue, ’cause Don Hill’s was a hard place to replace with its stage and feel. Barry also gives us the resources to bring on our hosts from Don Hill’s: the cool Darian Darling, Kiss, and Tommy Hottpants, and some new ones like recent PS1 curator Tim Goossens, upcoming designer John Renaud, and cutting edge art producer Michelle Tillou. And one of the best club DJs in New York ever: Miss Guy! Guy is one of our close friends and gave us the idea for a mannequin DJ back at Don Hills when we started because we couldn’t afford a real DJ! It was our way of downsizing. So having Guy on board to DJ was key and all that helped the night in blowing up. New York is very excited about this party cause we are giving artists an outlet they didn’t have otherwise ,and there is a real scene and community happening like many folks haven’t seen in a decade. We get calls from bands everyday – well known and new young artists that want the chance to play in front of an audience that celebrates new music and risk-takers. Artists feel safe coming to play Dropout and that why it works so well.

Dropout is really growing and has already garnished a great reputation. There is a lot going on these days – mostly good in nightlife. Have we turned a corner? Is nightlife back?
I think we have for sure turned a corner for the better and this show with Debbie Harry on Tuesday, which will also feature guest DJ Nick Zinner and a debut music video for the Miss Guy album, out next month. It will go down in the books as a night that helped spark a true happening – the kind you only have in New York City!

Confronting My Past, Present, and the Article in ‘Crain’s’

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 reporter, Ali Elkin, was very upfront about her desire and obligation to tell it like it is. I told her it was quite alright because it is a huge part of what drives me and defines me and I have never hid from that past. She noted in the article my take on things: "Currently living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, he denies any wrongdoing."
 
The responses and Facebook posts ranged from "Shoot the messenger," to "It’s fabulous." I responded that "I yam what I yam," quoting that great poet, Popeye. I would tell you my side of that story in details, but so many have done so already, including Frank Owen in his Clubland book, which tells a story pretty close to the real. There was a little bit in there that I objected to, and my old friend Frank and I almost came to blows, and that spat resulted in a few articles here and there. We’re friends again. There is also the Limelight documentary by Billy Corben and Alfred Spellman which is coming out any day now on DVD; it really does a great job in summarizing that circus. I’m all up in that and advise you to check it out if you want more insight into that era and the circumstances of my conviction. I didn’t participate in any Ecstacy ring. I didn’t need that to fill clubs. I and the people assembled to run those clubs were the best in the business. The creativity and results of our efforts were rewarded with tens of thousands of satisfied customers who enjoyed one of the best nightlife eras.
 
The running of clubs, the wars fought , the million smiles, the million nights, the trial, the prison stint all define me as well as my relations, friends, and my little dog too. My creative abilities, as meager as they often are, come from creative freedoms earned on a hard but rewarding road. When someone hires me to design their joint, I understand the price of succeess and failure. I bring all my experience to the table. I have made a great deal of omelettes and have had to break a great many eggs as well, but it all seems worth it when I walk into The Darby, Stash, Butter, the WeSC store, or Aspen Social Club and see them occupied by people enjoying my work. It’s been almost 10 years since my first design gig. Butter was the first place I designed for people other than myself. For many years I designed the places I was going to operate, but Butter was for others. In prison, having completed Butter, I decided to design and write when I hit the streets.
 
I practiced and studied and used the time I was given to learn how to redefine myself when I got out. Now, after a decade of doing it, I am clearly happy with the Crains article, which celebrates my attempt to get up and stand up. It’s harder than I thought to live with a felony conviction. Many things you take for granted are very difficult for me, but I have no regrets. I may have lost this or that, but I earned a lot and learned a great deal about what it takes to survive. My friends have always been there. The greatest gift has been the clarity I have when I look in the mirror at the beginning or end of every day. Many have said I should have done this or done that or said this about them or that.  A thousand "whatevers, what ifs, and why nots" have been analyzed and debated till my stomach was knotted and then un-knotted with the satisfaction of doing the right thing … I wouldn’t want to change a thing. Nothing in my life, or that wonderful Crain’s article.
 
Oh, if you are going out tonight, visit me at Hotel Chantelle, or head over to Bowery Electric for Frankie Inglese’s Beahver party. This party dominated Thursdays in NYC forever before Frankie moved to LA. I cannot recall a better party. I guess any party better leave me unconscious and without memory.

Riff Raff’s 1 Year Anniversary, and Commune Hotels and Resorts’ Newest Addition

The three-day weekend that seems so long ago has me confused about what day it is. I can’t decide if it feels like Wednesday or Friday, but it can’t be Thursday…can it? The beautiful weather has me itching and scratching to go out. It has lurched my cabin fever into spring fever. My 30-minute DJ stint at Lit Lounge’s 10-year anniversary also confused my schedule. Of course I’m on tonight at Hotel ChantelleJustine "D" Delaney was scheduled to go on after me, and we caught up before in a big way as dude after dude played impossible tracks to a spectacular crowd of downtown denizens of the deep art/rock world. Justine told me of her recent engagement and showed me the ring and introduced me to the doctor she snagged. Nice guy. We reminisced about working together at Life and then Spa. She would come in during the day to chat or pick up a check and I’d turn on the sound system and we would put on records (remember those?) and annoy the staff as we explored the old sounds. After our sets, I retreated into the Fuse Gallery to hang with Erik Foss and his crew. I met amazing folks including artist Joe Heaps Nelson, whose show "This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things" opens at Fuse on February 25th. Lit lives and thrives, entering its second decade because it feels like home to so many of us. Foss joked that he was going to try to go another 10 without renovating and I agreed. You don’t fix things that are perfectly imperfect.

The weather allowed me to don my old leather jacket which, like Lit and maybe Foss and myself, is becoming more perfectly imperfect as time goes by. Amanda and I talked of Oscars and where we might go to watch it. The Darby has a big dinner/viewing thing going on and there are always friends’ house parties. I haven’t seen The Artist and will tomorrow, for sure. I loved The Descendents, and Hugo was a masterpiece, but for me The Tree of Life is just gorgeous.

I wanted to check out Riff Raff’s celebrating its year anniversary. I have never been and really want to. Riff Raff’s is part of Fourth Wall Restaurants and owned by Michael Stillman. Fourth Wall owns and operates The Hurricane ClubQuality MeatsMaloney & PorcelliSmith & WollenskyThe Post HousePark Avenue Seasons, as well as nightlife venue Riff Raff’s. Those are great joints and I am interested in meeting Michael who, at a very young age, has built this impressive empire.

Last but certainly not least for today’s spew… Salvatore Imposimato my dear friend who did such an amazing job at Morgans Hotel Group has a new and very exciting gig. Light Group moved into Morgans, and Sal has moved on to be the executive director of entertainment for Commune Hotels and Resorts. Sal sent me this:

"Commune Hotels and Resorts is a collective, uniting two different hotel brands, Thompson Hotels and Joie de Vivre, into a truly independent, multi-platform company. Our mission is to offer our guests a wide range of eclectic, local and inventive experiences in authentic settings, without the bureaucracy that a big brand imposes. Nothing short of revolutionary, our ethos is about individuality, community, locations that are authentic to their environment, and the kind of exceptional service that makes travel unforgettable."

He starts April 1st as he has another baby due, any second. I dined at The Darby last week with my Amanda and his lovely wife Andrea. We asked for a table for four and 8/9th’s but of course that seemed cleverer before it was said. Andrea was the door girl at the Boom Boom Room before she blew up (with baby). She worked with me at my doors for years. She is beautiful, bright, and amazing and I am curious if this second child will finally get her out of nightlife.

Thompson Hotels, with Sal programming entertainment, will be wonderful and a fixture in this column’s must-attend events listings. The company has 40 plus properties in its portfolio. Congratulations Sal and Commune!

A First Glimpse At What’s Opening and What Never Should Have Closed

A very fat – or is it phat – quiet cat is out of the bag. I am sworn to secrecy about Toy, the new Tony Theodore/Koch brothers-driven spot in the Ganesvoort Meatpacking. I was graciously and quietly given a tour the other day while workman readied the Jeffrey Beers-designed space. I promised to keep it all on the low but once a PR firm sends out invites… it’s time to talk. Toy looks like it will be fun to play with. My goodness that was corny but expected I guess. Daniel, Derek, and Tony gave me the $2-tour and I was impressed. There is a wonderful outdoor space, an oyster bar and multi-levels and faceted mirrors all over the ceiling, fabulous blue booths and ebonized tables, and the whole place is better suited than previous incarnations to embrace those seeking the good life down in the Meatpacking District.

The event the PR peeps are hawking is this Monster Diesel party Thursday night. No, that’s not a truck and an energy drink soiree rather it is the clothing company announcing the launch of its "Noise Division" and a headphone company. Noise at the event is offered up by Theophilus London, Solange Knowles, and Brendan Fallis. I promised everyone I would attend and will do so.

On Saturday night I was hobnobbing at Snap and Stash where bon vivants gathered to watch that wonderful fight where Tim Bradley whipped Manny Pacquiao. After the fight, the models, promoters, and owners poured into the street and then over to Darby Downstairs. I heard Ryan Gosling and a slew of others like that attended. I didn’t see them in the crowd. I did get to chat up a bearded Leonardo DiCaprio who I hadn’t seen in a minute. He used to hang with us at Life and other joints we ran. He’s as cool and down- to-earth as ever and it was great to small-talk with the big star. I don’t much like to talk about celebs in clubs, but when they’re on the sidewalk talking to me I figure it’s OK.

After all the hoopla, I joined my party downstairs at Snap for a bottle of Beau Joie Champagne. My group included Jenny Oz Leroy of Tavern on the Green and Russian Tea Room fame. It’s amazing to me that this city pushed her out of Tavern, the joint her dad created from nothing and now, years later, the building is rotting. It’s a testament to bureaucracy gone bad and it’s complete and utter bullshit from the pencil-pushers involved.

Tavern was part of the fabric of this town. It was weddings and galas and lights and magic. It was visited and revisited by generations. It was memories. It was jobs and tax revenues from one of the highest grossing restaurants in the country, until Vegas exploded the undisputed truth in restaurant revenues. It lays empty, and every warm summer day underscores the huge mistake made by this administration. Admit it fellows…admit that you royally fucked up, dropped the ball, blew it, and beg Jenny to take it back.

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New Year’s Eve Parties for All, and Management’s Response to the Christmas Incident at Le Souk

First of all, Happy New Year. Today will be short and sweet as BlackBook staff is cutting out to get ready for the big night. Yesterday’s article about Sam Valentine allegedly getting beat up by Le Souk management did get a response, which you will find below. As for New Year’s Eve, I, of course, will be DJing at the Dream Downtown and will be there when 2013 is rung in. Afterwards I probably will pop into Lit to say hey to that gang.

I am sending people to parties that suit them. There isn’t a be-all event for everyone. Many will love the Dream, many 1 OAK. Many will just be in heaven at The Darby while others will love Toy. For people with my view of things I’m recommending the Box and Bow.

I am heading out to 305 Ten Eyck, Brooklyn for Seva Granik’s party, BRCDBR and THV ENT. present Shanghai. Seva and Thunderhorse are producing this event and the installation, which "is going to focus around the fear, or the premonition, of China and Chinese culture taking over the U.S. So lots of  futuristic stuff like screens, lasers, smoke, etc." The DJ’s are Gavin Russom, a "legendary DFA label guy who built their synths for them and played in the now-seminal act LCD Soundsystem" and Venus X, a big deal. The New York Times just did a profile on her. The music is going to be very dancey and very unexpected. Admission is $10 and it starts at 1am. They have my vote.

On New Years Eve the biggest problem, except for the people you are surrounded by, is getting around. If you are not a public transportation kind of guy or gal I suggest hiring a local car service for some hours. Rates range from $25 to $50 an hour . Traditionally I have hired them from 1 to 7 am, sometimes splitting the cost with another. It’s great to have a driver to whisk you around safely while you party like it’s 1999. New Year’s Eve is amateur night for the club industry. Take it from a pro and prepare for all contingencies.

In life they say there are two sides to every story. In nightlife, when you add in booze , dark lights, loud music, and other factors, some stories can have multiple sides. Yesterday I ran a story about a beaten up and down story, Sam Valentine. Others who were at Le Souk on Christmas night verified that indeed owner Marcus Jacob had kicked and punched Sam. Today Le Souk responded to the allegations that Sam was attacked, bruised, and hurt to the point of hospitalization by Marcus Jacob with the help of security. Yesterday I referred to Sam as hobbit-sized, and that description is fairly accurate. He told me he was 5 foot 7 and I’ll believe him as long as he believes I’m 6’3". Sam is 5’7" standing on a phone book. He has heart but is no match for the forces that hospitalized him. 

The response from partner Lamia Funti is below. She is a partner at Le Souk and wife of Marcus Jacob. I have always respected and enjoyed her, but having read her response I cannot help but think that excessive force was brought to bear. Her version only tells of a late night argument, with promoter Sam Valentine reacting badly to not getting paid on Christmas. The amount was $200. All accounts agree that he was loud and demanding, but Sam is a lover and a promoter/DJ, not much of a physical threat to anyone.

The response attempts to justify the physical altercation. It does not explain the injuries inflicted by bonded security and an owner. Anytime a person is beaten badly and in need of hospitalization somebody screwed up. Unless weapons of mass destruction come into play security must contain the situation, and kicking and punching are not allowed.

Here is the response from Lamia:

Unfortunately, it was a small situation that escalated over nothing. Our accountant took the day off since it was Christmas so there was no one to make the checks. We let our staff know so that they do not wait for the checks in vain. Everyone was fine with it, since we never have problems with the checks.

At the end of the night, Sam Valentine comes storming downstairs, asking Marcus to give him "his fucking check now." Marcus was actually very calm, he’s really not the guy that likes to fight, he was trying to calm him down, but he was cursing out, and making a scene at the bar downstairs.

I called the security to calm him down because now he was pushing people around when they are trying to talk to him and we didn’t need a scene in front of our friends and family, while Marcus only asked him to wait til tomorrow for his check. Since it was Christmas, our friends were all there and two of my aunts that are much older in the fifties were there as well, which was embarrassing.

I went quickly to tell him to stop and he pushed me with his hands and called me a bitch, the security saw that and they tried to contain him but he wouldn’t stop fighting, we just asked him to leave, he did not want to leave, and started throwing things around and fighting with the security who was trying to escort him out. I also have several witnesses that saw that and saw him wrestling with the security.

We actually called the police, before it got out of hand, which is really unfortunate. When the police got to Le Souk, he started cursing the officers out which I’m guessing that’s why they told him they would arrest him. And the rest is history. We have been in the business long enough to be mistreating our staff or customers in any way, and we always pay on time, for someone to be acting that way after we ask him to come back the next day because its Christmas and nobody came to the office to work, but we can not tolerate having people storming at us like that while there was no wrong doing.

I guess this is the way he’s planning on getting back at us. And by the way, Ariel was at no point near the scene, he didn’t see anything at all and witnessed anything, and did not talk to the security at any time, he was upstairs the whole time.

Spending Saturday Night with Madonna, You?

No place to go on a Saturday night? Well, if you find yourself in the same joint as Madonna, then I guess you’re doing okay. I will be in the same room as Madonna this Saturday night, as Smirnoff Nightlife Exchange Project is providing the action. I am told they’ll be sponsoring and curating parties occurring simultaneously in 50 countries on 5 continents. We get Madonna, and other countries get Kelis, CSS, Basement Jaxx, Janelle Monae, and of course, 40 plus more fabulous acts and DJs.

I am also told they will be giving away over 117,000 "carefully crafted Smirnoff cocktails." I’d love to see the math on that. The New York soiree will include Amanda Lapore, Amber Rose, Lady Bunny, and more. There’s some sort of competition going on. Apparently, the NYC event will "feature an incredible performance from dancers around the globe who are competing for a spot on Madonna’s next world tour.  The Material Girl herself will be on hand to crown the winner while DJ Martin Solveig will be spinning tunes between performances." This Martin Solveig dude is supposedly a big deal.

"Madonna, along with choreographers Rich & Tone Talaugea, will watch the final dancers perform, and select the winner of Smirnoff’s exclusive high-profile global dance competition. With art direction and choreography by Shay Norman, the 11 finalists will battle it out in front of over one thousand guests. The designated winner will become an official member of Madonna’s dance crew. The thrilling evening will also include Madonna’s personal selection to headline the event – DJ and Producer Martin Solveig. Solveig has been collaborating with Madonna on her upcoming album." With technology, social networks and all that, they claim that 10 million people will catch this thing. I will be on hand eyeing and ogling and snapping cell phone photos with the pack. What WILL she be wearing?

Somehow I am going to navigate myself over to the Highline Ballroom to catch Locksley. Not sure why I love this band so much. It is unusual for me to get excited for a live show, but I do know this: every time I put on one of their tracks when I am DJing, the crowd goes wild. My inquiring mind wants to know more.

Last night, I visited 1Oak to celebrate bon vivant, promotional guru, and all around good guy Richie Romero’s birthday. I walked past The Darby on a beautiful misty night where another birthday boy, Leonardo DiCaprio, was celebrating. Celebs were rolling in according to my spies, but we don’t name those kinds of names here. Richie got my full attention. 1Oak was filled with familiar faces. The word is that it has been completely revived since The Darby opened. Not that it had wavered much at all, but it traditionally has a great late crowd and The Darby skews early, and so the crowd heads over to 1Oak after. I had a blast. I stopped by Electric Room to chat with Nur, forgetting he was in LA. The very capable Matt Strauss entertained me and mine before we headed back to Brooklyn. There aren’t enough hours in the night.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I asked Mark about hitting the half-century mark.

"First I never even thought I’d live past 40 so making a half century is just a bonus to me lol, I feel better than ever (and cutting some bad things out of my life have made things WAY better) …..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"