Bingo and Avenue A Soundcheck Party Tonight, the Passing of Bruce Patras

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Tuesdays are the best night of the week for people with heads that tilt like mine. I’ll tell you all about that tomorrow. As the warm weather progresses, many successful joints will turn to alternative programming early in the week. These off-the-beaten- path parties on the so-called "off nights" will offset their predictable model/bottle weekends and add cool, cool cachet. The competition is fierce, with nightlife enjoying a renaissance, rebirth, or whatever you want to call it. Places are looking for the edge to set them apart from the pack. Throw in Brooklyn nightlife, and what we have here is a golden age. The party is as good as it has ever been, albeit with some sacrifice. I gladly miss the smoke-filled, drug-induced mayhem of previous decades. My friends aren’t waking up dead and my hair doesn’t wash out gray from cigarettes… only old age.

Mondays are heating up with The Double Seven introducing a concept that I like. After Bingo tonight, I’ll coerce my crew to that 63 Ganesvoort hot spot for Nima Yamini’s Avenue A Soundcheck Party. It’s a weekly concert series – this week featuring Interscope Records artist Zander Bleck. Zander is being produced by two- time Grammy Award winner RedOne. He toured with Lady GaGa. CEO daughter Hannah Bronfman is doing a guest DJ spot tonight. Giza Selimi of The Box will be the friendly and handsome face at the door.
 
I spoke to Nima at Bantam (or 17 Stanton, depending on who you talk to) Saturday night at one of their preview nights. I told him to send me info on the night and promised to attend. He sent me this:
"The Mondays are not at all about the models, bottle spenders, etc. (same cookie cutter format everywhere) and are 100% about the musicians. This is a home for live music by a new generation of musicans in 2012 with a passion for rock n roll, alternative and indie music. People who want to come see a kick ass rock show on a Monday night. Jeffrey Jah, David Rabin and Mark Baker have given me 100% support on this project and I am excited to work with them on it."
———————-
 
With great sadness I report the passing of an old friend: Bruce Patras. He passed after a battle with cancer at the young age of 54. He leaves behind a couple of kids and a loving wife. I hadn’t heard from or seen Bruce in 20 years. A Facebook friend tracked me down to let me know he succumbed in December after a courageous fight. He was sometimes called "crazy Bruce" because he often…misbehaved. His incredible smile and deep dark good looks always gained forgiveness. I knew him to be solid, always looking out for the other guy, never backing down to a challenge. We shared a thousand nights and once dated the same girl. We cavorted and laughed and played in the moonlight. We drank from the same cup and then drifted apart. I read his Facebook wall and reconnected with him after the fact. I read his hopes and felt his fear and his bravery. Club life creates bonds that can never be broken. There came a time 20 years ago when life and responsibilities and other
relationships separated us. I never stopped loving him, and his passing leaves me a bit more mortal and understanding of the gifts of life and friendship. Yesterday, another Facebook friend who saw the Limelight movie was saying she felt bad how the government fucked us over a long time ago in a galaxy… far, far away. My reply was the lyrics from a Tuxedo Moon track: "No tears for the creatures of the night." Today, I take that back. Tears for Mr. Bruce Patras: a saint, a sinner, and a real great friend.

DJ Elle Dee: “I Made the Wrong Comment In Front of The Right Person!”

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I’m still recovering from the weekend which lasted an extra day for me. That was an extraordinarily wonderful idea. I saw The Hunger Games and loved it but offer a couple of observations. The club world was looking like those people 10 years ago, and it is wonderful that some people postulate that the extraordinary from now will be the norm. Michael Alig, Sacred Boy, Astro Earle, and the club kids of our recent past may have been a lost bunch, but they did do this… then. Secondly, as a hospitality designer, I must poo-poo the future furniture and set designs. Almost everything I saw I have seen before and is for sale at the modern furniture boutiques that grace our town. The rooms looked like something out of the The Real World L.A. rather than a true futuristic vision. I would have done better, as would a thousand other design visionaries.

As a DJ in this wonderful town, I offer my own rock and roll stew at places that want that sort of thing. Adam Alpert at 4AM (which handles me) puts my ass in the right seat. Most clubs in town offer up the same old mash-up and mixed- format swill to their bottle-buying guests. It’s what they want when they pop bottles and so they must have it. Most DJs in these situations could do so much more but find themselves playing down to the crowd as musical ignorance is bliss. I am not complaining, as I enjoy my niche. It is wonderful when I walk into a room and hear a DJ that curls my toes and fills my ears with sounds less often heard. At The Double Seven the other night, DJ Elle Dee thrilled me. I asked her some questions about herself and her craft.

How did a nice girl like you become a DJ?
I grew up in a very musical home. My mother’s father used to play bossa nova with the big guys so my whole life we had jam sessions in my living room till very late at night. I started to play drums myself I was 14, so music was always a huge part of my life. Back in São Paulo (where I’m from), I started to play at rock parties when I was only 19. At that point it was all vinyl too; there were no computers and even CDs were not accepted at all. It was the real deal. It was only a fun thing to do though, not my full-time job. I was finishing studying journalism and had my own fanzine to work on. When I moved to New York five years ago this April, I managed to do what I do best… I made the wrong comment in front of the right person!!! I was out with some friends and said to one of them “Why is it so hard to find a good DJ in NY.” A voice came into the conversation and said, “Can you do better?”  The following Monday I was on and, of course, after the first song the whole equipment collapsed and the music stopped completely – haha.  I recovered from that pretty quickly though and soon everyone was having a great time. I locked my first weekly gig that night.

I heard you spin the other night and was quite impressed. When we spoke, you talked about how rare it is to find a place to play that doesn’t want a commercial or familiar set. Expound.
I am actually really lucky to only have gigs where I can play what I like and believe in. I wouldn’t do it otherwise. I like to work with owners that understand that a cool night is good for business too – even refreshing, let’s say. It also attracts interesting people.

DJ Elle Dee

How do you mix in newer or hipper stuff to keep from going nuts and continue enjoying your craft?
As a DJ, I believe I should be the one to find what’s new and good out there. Even though I’m all about the old stuff, it’s so nice when you discover a new band or track that amuses or inspires you and then get to share it with everyone else. It’s like a mission every night and I love that challenge. I try to make a new track mix with an old one that I know everyone already loves, and get them to believe that the new one is one they’ve known for ages. Making it work is a challenge, but I love it! Getting people going with new or even obscure tracks – it’s what gets me going! And that’s when I remember why I put myself through all the work. It’s very rewarding.

Where will this take you and what else do you do?
That’s a question that I wish I had the answer to myself! As long as I’m involved and around music, I’m happy. And if I can make a living out of it, ever better. I am a musician at heart and always will be. DJing gives me stability and a way to explore and learn every day, and that allows me to work on my own music. I’m in a good place right now and feel confident to be going back to the studio to work on my own tracks. I’ve been writing songs for years and now it’s time to get ready to perform live. I will always keep spinning though because I really love what I do. If I go on a vacation, for example, after only a few days I already miss the DJ booth and, of course, all those people dancing on the other side.

Where can we hear you?
Right now I spin in the city five nights a week so it’s not that hard to bump into my set here and there. I’m regularly at The Electric Room at the Dream Downtown, Boom Boom Room at the Top of The Standard, The Double Seven, and Soho Grand. I travel a lot, opening shows for bands as well. I’m about to go back home on a little tour which is gonna be so great. So far, I have six gigs booked and a few more that we’re trying to fit in as I’ll only be there for two short weeks. Once I’m back I’ll finalize my website –djelledee.com– which will have some mixes for all. I’ve got some very big surprise gigs coming up but I can’t tell you quite yet… Once I can, I will be posting it on my Facebook and all those other communication tools of life.

Taylor Mead at Last Night’s Bingo, Addressing the Adam Hock-Prince Pierre Casiraghi Brawl

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The Academy Awards were delicious. I enjoyed the show, the choice of movies, the actors featured, and most of Billy Crystal’s schtick. I especially enjoyed watching it at home with delicious popcorn and other treats and my delicious Amanda. Foregoing the bull-chit banter and bad hors d’oeuvres at some Oscar party is the way to go. Although I was aware of The Artist for eons before it came out and wanted to go day 1… life got in the way and so I vowed to go last night and nothing was going to stop me.

Monday is of course BINGO night at Bowery Poetry Club. If you want to whack me or serve me with papers or get my autograph, you can find me there. I sit up front and personal so I can catch every delicious word from co-hosts Murray Hill and Linda Simpson. This Monday night happening needs no plug from me as it sells out virtually every night and has for years. I arrive very early to wind down from my day jobs and  to catch 87-year-old Taylor Mead. Taylor is best known as an Andy Warhol luminary, but he is so much more. It wasn’t Andy that made Taylor fabulous…he was fabulous so Andy wanted to have him around. Google him…find out more…or come around 6pm on any Monday to catch him reading from his life’s work.
 
One of the highlights of Taylor’s schtick is the reminiscing about his life less ordinary. Last night, he told of a play he was in in Boston back in the ’70s. He found himself late-night in Chinatown at a table with actor John Cazale (Fredo in The Godfather, Deer Hunter, Dog Day Afternoon) and Meryl Streep. Meryl was dating Mr. Cazale, who died young, of cancer. She was unknown and quiet then and Taylor thought she was sort of dull, "like a statue." He lamented not quite breaking it to the big time because "I never sold out… Elizabeth Taylor, Meryl Streep all sold out. I never sold out…I tried to… I spent three months with her, everyday." It continues like this for around 45 minutes as the BINGO crowd comes in and are blown away by this frail man and his sharp mind. A satchel containing loose notes sits beside him while a small boombox plays Mingus, to underscore his dirty poems. He randomly pulls art and poetry and notes from the satchel, reads them, and goes off on delicious tangents. He says that Harvard is taking his papers this summer. They currently occupy garbage bags in his cramped apartment. He says he is hesitating, as a friend has told him Harvard will just bury the work. Talk raced from the 30th anniversary of the Faukland Islands war between Argentina and Great Britain and chance sexual encounters of days of yore. Taylor has been particularly brilliant recently as the full room seems to have inspired him. Let me know if you’re coming and I’ll save you a seat.
 
Murray Hill will be around for a bit but will soon scoot off to tour with Dita Von Teese on the West Coast. BINGO on Mondays at Bowery Poetry Club is the best game in town. After BINGO, I scooted off to see The Artist and, of course, was blown away. The big movies at this years Oscars were not box office bonanzas. The Artist has taken in under $40 million, The Descendents with Clooney star power under $80 million, and films like Iron Lady and The Tree of Life appealing to smaller audiences than the big films of years ago, like Titanic, Avatar, Star Wars and all that romantic comedy stuff that make bank. For instance, Bridesmaids is up around $288 million. Hollywood gold went to more artistic fare, less commercial offerings. The art of making big money on your art is a very Warholian concept.  I’m going to buy Taylor a drink next Monday and discuss.
 
I have been asked to write something clever about the brawl between clubber Adam Hock and Prince Pierre Casiraghi of Monaco at The Double Seven last week. I started my research by calling The Double Seven’s Mark Baker to get the inside scoop. Baker was speechless – not a common occurrence for him. He referred me to Jeffrey Jah who reportedly was there when the shit hit the fan-tastic Prince and his entourage or vice versa, depending on whose PR has the ear of what publication. I have been told there was blood but not a lot of real guts displayed by anyone involved. A big guy hit a famous, fabulous, and rich guy and others meekly or weakly got involved. My old pal Sal Strazzullo is the attorney that will try to help Adam Hock stay out of jail and not have to hock everything he owns to settle a possible lawsuit. Sal said in the Daily News that the Prince and his pals "think New York is their honeycomb. They think they can come here and do whatever they want".
 
I’ve never been a fan of Adam Hock but don’t have anything against him either, but the spin Strazullo puts on it makes Adam seem like a hero in the eyes of the hoi polloi. He is our champion. It was almost his sacred duty punching out those rich famous young people making all that noise. Sal continued: "They wanted some recognition [from the women] and it happened because of that. My client acted in self -defense, it was an unprovoked attack. I don’t know why Mr Casiraghi got jealous about my client – he is from a humble background." He added: "My client is not Bruce Lee… These four guys are trust-fund babies who think the world is owed to them. They are like spoiled brats."
 
I decided not to look for the truth. My time would be better served by ignoring this raging bull-chit and seeing another movie nominated for the Oscars, like Iron Lady. I think Margaret and probably Meryl could kick all their asses. If I got it right, according to the attorney, it seems that Adam Hock did what we all secretly yearn to do: what needed to be done and about time at that. He did it for us all. Those royals and their buddies and their beautiful women better behave…or else. There might be some truth in that, but on the other hand Adam might have actually behaved badly. I won’t seek the truth because I suspect that old Oscar buddy Jack Nicholson got it right… I can’t handle the truth. Now that’s entertainment.

A Play, a Songwriter, and A Lot of Furniture

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Tonight is your last chance to catch 1952, a play written and directed by Yekaterina Minskova, debuting at W.i.P (34 Vandam St.). It starts at 8pm. It’s live theatre and film, and a portion of the proceeds going to The National Alliance on Mental Illness of New York City, Inc. From the PR team:

"Everything isn’t always what it seems in 1952… The author boldly addresses many hard topics and the far too common misdiagnoses that went along with the times.  The subject matter is inspired by actual patient accounts and addresses many hard topics manifested in the dark corners of the 1950s American Mental Health System."

Among the notable cast is the ever-dapper Errickson Wilcox. He is known by denizens of the deep dark night as a gentleman doorman at all the spots in town. He was Wass Stevens’ right-hand man at Marquee years back. Now, he is popping up as an actor and will soon wear the glamorous label of "As Seen On TV’ in a major production that I’m not going to talk about yet.

After that, I am totally psyched for “Westgay at Westway.” Frankie Sharp’s weekly party at Westway has taken the town by storm. Tonight there will be a performance from Natalia Kills. The English singer/songwriter’s set will surely feature her track “KILL MY BOYFRIEND” off her PERFECTIONIST album. They advertise  $6 frozen flirtinis, $10 FUCKTINIS!!!! ALL NIGHT, and 2-4-1 Vodka Sodas till midnight. Yeah, it’s like that.

According to Wiki – my number one source for everything from the population of the US of A to spaghetti sauce recipes – she "called Kate Bush and Alanis Morissette her most important musical influences, highlighting them as emotional artists who write honestly about their own experiences. She has also gone on to cite Gwen Stefani as her hero. She also claims that Depeche Mode, Prince, Vanity 6, and Freddie Mercury inspire her live performances." Yeah, it’s like that.

Lastly, I had too much fun at BINGO last night, and now I’m late for the final day of the International Contemporary Furniture Fair at the Javits. All of nightlife’s serious players are stopping by to check out furniture, lights, and other design stuff that will be part of their future expansions or renovations, so I’m just about out the door.

After BINGO, it was our traditional dinner at Joe’s Shanghai and then a walk-it-off to the Tribeca Grand Hotel to catch up with honcho Matt Green. I chatted up Kid Cudi, who reminded me that he had played my birthday a few years back for a whopping fee of a cheeseburger. He’s a great guy and deserves of all his continuing success.

Then, we joined Bantam partner Seamus Regan and his lovely Tatjana Gellert at The Double Seven who was celebrating her actual birthday (the events of the last week were shams). We opened up a bottle of Beau Joie and toasted to many reasons to be cheerful. The Double Seven’s rock-based Mondays will see a lot of me. A couple bands, a rock DJ, and a seriously fun crowd took my breath away.

It’s Been Said Before: Greenhouse & W.i.P. Have Reopened

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The news that Greenhouse/W.i.P. has reopened for booziness is welcomed. Although there will be future legal back and forths, for now it can serve its adoring public which includes the fabulous Susanne Bartsch and Kenny Kenny’s Sunday night soiree. Last Sunday it was emails and Facebook messages and texts proclaiming it "on" and "off"… "on" and "off" until that game of musical chairs ended with…"off." I’m not a big fan of Greenhouse; I never go there, but I firmly believe that a club should not be held responsible for the bad behavior of its patrons unless management is either ignoring or complacent. Humans often behave badly… drunk humans more so. Bad behavior is to be expected on occasion. Accountability is important, but it is impossible to expect multi-million dollar investments in tax-generating, job-creating enterprises if a sword of closure hangs over operators’ heads for actions they may not reasonably be able to control. As much as I don’t listen to hip-hop or enjoy hip-hop-heavy parties, I surely recognize its impact on club culture and life in America in general. It is enjoyed by all demographics. The 800-pound gorilla that isn’t really spoken about is whether or not Greenhouse is being persecuted because this is an “urban thing.” A prince gets into a brawl at a chic meatpacking joint and closure isn’t an issue. Hey, this has been said before.

The city is scheduled to rule on a controversial plan to expand NYU’s village campus. According to many residents, this expansion will destroy the character of the neighborhood which has, of course, been a creative cauldron for NYC life as we know it for eons. We’re talking two million square feet in tall buildings with apparent loss of green areas and such. Worse than all that will be the expansion of the population of frat boys and frat girls and the changes their needs will bring. Mom and pop restaurants and quaint coffee shops will be gentrified out to accommodate student-friendly shops like 16 Handles and chain stores.

NYU is a dark force that should be pushed to areas like Wall Street or Brooklyn or Queens. The city has lost so much of its core character and can’t afford to be further compromised. Why do I care? Every few days I walk past the NYU Palladium Housing on 14th Street which once was this incredible theatre that I attended and then operated during my club years. I knew it as The Academy of Music where I saw The Clash, U2, The Cramps, and a long list of etceteras. I hung out there when it was the Palladium – the club – and saw early rock and dance. I operated it for Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager and came back to fill it a few other times for other moguls.

Once, when I was remodeling this beautiful 108,000-square-foot facility, I was prevented from nailing things into most walls or ceilings. I can’t find any official landmark references, but I was told at the time that it was one. It was protected because of its ancient and significant beauty…its recognized importance in design and architecture. I got married to my first wife there. I think it was its only wedding.

NYU came along…needed it …tore it down. The ultimate indignity is that when they built the Palladium Housing, they used the same logo or similar font as the legendary club. It’s fucking Mordor. This too has been said before.

Tonight I’ll be at White Rabbit DJing with a host of wonderful folks at the Tattoos & Art show at White Rabbit around 9 or 10pm or 10 to 11pm…you know how these things go… and, of course, this has been said before.

13 Questions for Friday the 13th

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It is Friday the 13th and, yes, I am getting a "13 ball" tattooed on my arm from Magic Cobra Tattoo Society.  The line on Driggs and South 1st was long and totally fun for the inexpensive permanents. They ink for 24 hours starting at midnight and I gave them mixed CDs for the occasion …some biker/tattoo music to ease the pain.

It may be Triskaidekaphobia that has me not willing to write today, to commit to a story, say anything I might regret later. I was up until 8am at Magic Cobra haven and woken at 7am Thursday morning. That question from Dirty Harry keeps banging around in my head "…But being this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky? Well do ya, punk?’” Well I feel anything but lucky today and the entire world away from my pillow feels like a .44 Magnum; I am absolutely feeling like a punk, so forgive me if I keep this to 13 possibly dumb questions with uneven answers.

Q1) Was it the luck of the Irish that got that fabulous Ballinger crew open almost immediately at Webster Hall after a stabbing at a hardcore show, while  Greenhouse/W.i.P. got shuttered harder and longer for a bottle-throwing incident?
A1) I think it’s a matter of a long history of working well with the community that has Webster doing its thing, while Greenhouse has been way more annoying to some. The fact that the Webster stabber and stabbees were white and the bottle throwers and brawlers at Greenhouse were black never crossed my mind.

Q2) Are the rumors that Pink Elephant may close for August true, and was it bad luck or bad planning to open a Euro-based club in the beginning of the summer or was it planned like this all along?
A2) I’m too tired to ask them the question today and you know what will be said anyway.

Q3) Is The Double Seven just being unlucky or is it the weather, or is it just fabulous and not as confused as my personal confusion perceives it?  A source who made me swear to say nothing about what he told me about The Double Seven will be happy that I respect his wishes.
A3) Mark Baker and crew will tell me how wonderful it is over there if I had the strength to pick up the phone so why should I bother to call?

Q4) So why can’t they call it Bungalow 8 and what did Amy Sacco ever do to be the focus of such silliness?
A4) She is so fabulous and smart and fun and if they want to call it "8"…wink, wink, I’m going to go anyway. Hey, they can call it 13 and I’m there.

Q5) Is the Xtravaganza Ball really going to happen next Sunday, July 22, and have they really asked me to be a judge?
A5) OMG ! Yes ! What to wear? I must look …legendary.

Q6) Have those wonderful and erotic Domi Dollz fallen into a pile of good luck now that every skirt on the planet has read Fifty Shades of Grey?
A6) I missed their monthly soiree/seminar this past Thursday at the Museum of Sex but predict they may soon need to get a bigger room to whip those novices into shape.

[Editor’s Note: I went, and it was amazing. Those Dollz know how to whip you and their leather-collared, half-naked boys into shape.]

Q7) Am I really going to do 13 of these?
A7) No, seven is more than half of 13, I think… and considering the condition my tattoo is in, it’s all you can expect. I’m going to crash…get my tattoo from Adam Korothy at Magic Cobra, rinse, and repeat.

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

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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"

DJ Martial Is Just Getting Warmed Up

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Marshall Weinstein, known to club-goers and music aficionados as DJ Martial, is having trouble getting used to the deep freeze New York currently finds itself mired in. When I reach him by phone at his Brooklyn apartment, he’s just returned from a work trip to the Caribbean, a difference of 1,650 miles and five layers of clothing. "I was DJing in St. Maarten in 85 degree weather and here it’s 10 degrees outside," he says with a laugh. "The airplane wouldn’t even go to the gate because it was frozen, they had to bus us in. It was crazy." He won’t be frozen for long, as he’ll soon be on his way to balmy New Orleans for a handful of gigs centered around the upcoming Super Bowl. We caught up with him during his brief layover to find out how he got started, his favorite clubs to perform in, and his secret for de-stressing fast.

Where are you from, and what kind of stuff were you into as a kid that led you to being a DJ?

I went to elementary, middle, and high school outside of Boston. I started DJing in 1993 when my older brother introduced me to underground electronic rave music. I was 13 at the time. When I graduated from high school I moved to New York City. My mom is originally from Long Island and my dad is originally from Coney Island, Brooklyn, and my whole family lived in the New York area, so it was a no-brainer. I went to Hofstra and DJ’d my way through college. I’ve been actively in the New York music scene since 1998 when I came to the city.

So, Yankees or Red Sox?

I’m definitely an all-Boston sports fan. It’s a little upsetting with the Patriots losing recently, however now that I’ve got some gigs at the Super Bowl I can focus on work and not sports.

How did you start DJing in the city?

When I got to New York, I realized that I had access to the best city in the world that had the best music. At Hofstra I was on the radio, and I majored in television video production communications, so music was always a part of my life. Whether it was in the studio working with audio tracks or video, or at the radio station on the air, all I did was music music music. When I got out of college, I was still DJing nights and weekends. With my full-time job – I worked at MTV and in the industry – eventually it steamrolled. I was picking up more and more gigs to the point where I was burning the candle at both ends. I couldn’t be in a television studio at six o’clock in the morning when I got out of a club at four.

So you decided to make a change?

In 2006 I realized that I’ve been DJing for 13 years, but I had a career in television. I said to myself, I’ve always wanted to be a full-time DJ. I had an opportunity to work overseas for three months as a DJ, so I sat down with my boss at the time and explained it to him. He said, you’ve got a lot of passion for this, so go for it. I put in my two weeks, it was December 2006, and since then I’ve been a full-time DJ. I also do a lot of private events, not just in New York but around the nation and internationally, and I book DJs at clubs and events through my company, SET Artist Management.

Is that when the momentum started to build?

Once you do one event it leads to another. Being humble and staying true and smiling and constantly following up with everybody, it leads to an escalation. Since then I’ve never looked back or second-guessed myself on leaving a career that I went to college for.

What kind of clubs were you playing at the time?

When I went overseas I was working in Israel, in various places in Tel Aviv,  Jerusalem, and Haifa. Clubs like Shalvata, Lima Lima, City Hall, Layla Bar.  Then I came back to New York and gigs started to add up, residencies here and there. I’ve worked at clubs like Beauty & Essex, WiP, Double Seven, Top of the Standard, Yotel, Stash, STK Midtown, Gansevoort Park, Bounce Sporting Club on 21st, Haven Rooftop.

How would you describe your musical style, and how do you adjust that for the crowd and event?

I’m a 100% open format DJ. I love all types of music and I’m not afraid to drop anything. It’s not about what you play, it’s about what you follow up with. You can drop a song from the ’70s and people start to get into it. For the next song, whether it’s a huge club banger or a perfect smooth transition, it can make the song before it that much better. My outgoing personality shines through my beats, like a sixth sense. I bleed hip-hop, ’80s, rock, house, and still stay true to the music and dance floor because I keep those classics in the mix. And I have no problem playing the most current, hottest tracks, to do whatever I can to keep the dance floor packed till dawn.

So you believe that the context is important, it’s not about any one individual song, it’s about the whole set and the vibe you’re putting out there?

Yes. It’s not like I’ll play one ’80s song, one ’70s song, one rock song, one hip-hop song. Then it can be a bit ADD. It’s more about the way you blend different genres of music together throughout the night to build that crescendo. You finish the night and people look at their watches and they can’t believe it’s four in morning and the club’s still packed.

What do you have going on with the Super Bowl?

I’m down in New Orleans Thursday through Monday. I’m working at the NFL House, doing parties Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, and I’m doing a number of parties for CBS, including pre-game and post-game on Sunday. The two CBS parties I’m involved in, there’s one Friday night at the Contemporary Arts Center, and Saturday I’m doing the party at Generations Hall with a live performance from Trombone Shorty, who is a really talented local guy who does huge live performances with a big band feel.

What else do you have coming up?

I’ll be DJing in the number one college town, Morgantown, West Virginia, at a place called Rock Top. I’ll be in Boston. I do a lot of private events for BlackBerry, since I’m the official Latin American BlackBerry DJ. In the summer I’ll probably have a lot of Hamptons gigs.

What clubs do you like to play in?

I like being close to the crowd. Mid-sized clubs work really well. I love working at Stash on 14th Street. Beauty and Essex is a great place to feel the energy and the vibe, and Double Seven is another spot where you’re right in the mix.

What’s on your iPod?

I have a series of playlists for all the new stuff I need to hear. There’s never enough time in the day to hear all the new songs. But when I’m relaxing, I love old school music. Old classic rock, ’70s, ’80s, things like that.

What do you do to relax and de-stress?

I love going to the Russian and Turkish Baths. Sometimes I just need a good shvitz. And I’m not afraid of the cold pool either.

What advice do you have for aspiring DJs?

Be as musically knowledgeable as possible. Everybody knows that electronic music is huge right now, techno, house, dubstep, but the more versatile you are, the more gigs you can play. If you want to specifically become an electronic music DJ, and that’s your passion, go for it, but if you’re trying to get noticed and get gigs and get experienced, the more versatile you are, the more avenues you have. Stay humble and keep in mind there’s a big line between work and play. Keep a clear mind.

Do you enjoy going out and experiencing DJs and live entertainment? Check out the BlackBook City Guides for all the best spots in New York and around the world. Download the free, GPS-enabled iPhone and Android apps, and sign up for our BlackBook Happenings newsletters for New York, Miami, and Los Angeles. Knowledge is power. 

Industry Insiders: Henri Binje, the Gatekeeper

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With an eclectic background that stretches from Belgium to Ibiza to New York City, the multi-talented Henri Binje has seen nightlife from every angle, which probably explains his gracious approach to working two of the tightest doors in Manhattan, the Double Seven and Jimmy. We caught up with Binje to talk about nightlife, his acting career, his new clothing line, and a few other secrets of his trade.

Where are you from, and what were you into as a kid? 
I was born and raised in Brussels, Belgium. I was a very social kid, had lots of friends, and was into sports, soccer, tennis … and partying. 
 
How did you get involved in nightlife? 
When I started going out at the age of 17 it was the beginning of the house music craze in Belgium — it was called "new beat" back in those days — and people were coming from everywhere in Europe to dance to it because the house music scene was huge in Belgium (not to mention that there were ecstasy labs all over the country). I discovered Ibiza with my twin sister and some friends during summer vacation in 1990 and it changed our lives. We had such an amazing time there that we decided to come back the following year to start working for clubs promoting  parties on the island during our school breaks. 
 
How long did that last? 
We were so hooked on the magical island vibe that we end up doing full summer seasons in Ibiza for the next eight years. It was during one of those seasons that I met some friends who were managing Spy Bar in New York [the first club to introduce bottle service] at the time. They invited me to work with them in New York. At the time I was going out with a girl who was from New York as well. And that’s how it got started. 
 
What was it like going from working at clubs in Ibiza to New York? 
The nightlife scene in New York was a lot more fun at the time. In 1998 clubs like Limelight, Twilo, Shelter, Vinyl, Life, Chaos, and Lot 61 were still around, and after-parties were still happening all over the town. New York still had a lot of glamour and decadence. Doing the door of a club at that time was mind blowing. Every night was an adventure. Now things have changed a lot. It’s a lot more commercial out there.
 
What is it about nightlife that you find so enticing? 
Music has always been a part of my life, especially after all those years spent in Ibiza. It became a lifestyle for me and my friends. We always had a dream of opening a club here in New York that would bring that Balearic house vibe, and we actually ended up realizing it when we opened Cielo in 2003. Unfortunately, business and friendship is not always the best mix and we ended up splitting a couple of years after that.
 
You’re also an actor, with credits in such films as Zoolander and Hitch. When did you begin acting?
I caught the acting bug very early when I had a role in a primary school play called "Le Petit Prince de St. Exupery." That led to other plays. I loved being on stage as a kid. So acting has always been a dream of mine. I had been taking some acting classes in London before I arrived in NYC. When I booked a job at my first audition (Zoolander) and become a SAG actor in the process I realized that I could really do this. I had to do an improvisation scene on the call back with Ben Stiller, who was directing and was my actual partner in the movie. It was awesome.
 
What exactly do you do now?
After taking nearly a year off from nightlife and traveling in India to recharge my batteries I came back to New York to run the doors of the Double Seven and Jimmy. I also decided to focus a lot of my energy on my acting, as well as Young Liberators, a T-shirt line that a friend and I created last year.
 
What my average day like for you?
Depending if there’s a casting or an audition I’ll either wake up really early or else at around 11 am. I have a class of some kind almost every day. It might be an acting class, a yoga class or a Muay Thai boxing session. Even if I am working in nightlife it’s very important for me to still wake up early enough to get things done during the day. I am not a vampire. I need my daily sunlight.
 
What do you enjoy the most working in nightlife, and what are some of the challenges? 
The social aspect of it is really amazing as you meet people from so many different social classes and backgrounds. The challenge is definitely dealing with the rejection process when I work the door. People are not always very understanding when they can’t get inside, and some take it way too personally, which is never the case.
 
When you work the door at a place like Double Seven, how do you decide who gets in and who doesn’t? 
On a regular night it’s like creating a mixed salad of interesting people. Believe it or not, beauty is not the most important thing, it’s a lot more about personality and the way you present yourself. Humility and kindness go a long way. 
 
How do you let people down gently? 
Turning people away is never easy. As humans we are all sensitive, and many people have big egos. You can be as polite as you can be, but some people have a hard time hearing that they can’t get in and take the word No as the ultimate insult.  I always try my best to be as polite, understanding, and compassionate as I can be. It’s a very delicate process sometimes.
 
Tell me about Young Liberators. 
Young Liberators is a T-Shirt line that my partner and I had the idea of creating about two years ago. It’s about raising our level of consciousness through liberating the spirits and strengthening the minds of the people. It’s about uplifting, reaffirming, and enlightening. The idea came from an old magazine about Harlem in the ‘70s that we found at the Brooklyn flea market. The goal is to create a full clothing line and make it global.
 
What acting jobs do you have lined up?
I just booked a part in a French movie called "PEPLVM" by Christophe Perie. It’s a survival comedy. They’re still financing it, but hopefully that will be complete this summer and we’ll start production soon after.
 
What advice would you give to a young person looking to follow your footsteps?
Believe in yourself, become your dreams, and never let go of them
 
What are your plans for the summer?
I’ll be taking a month of vacation to go visit my twin sister Shanty and friends in Ibiza! It’s an annual ritual. There is nothing like going back to the source.