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

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.

Nur Khan Responds to WTF Gossip, Alacran Tequila Turns Pink

Yesterday’s story, which dealt with swirling rumors, was apparently well-read as I got lots of complaints about its veracity. I though it was clear that it was only rumors from unreliable sources, but it seems to have stirred things up. The retooling of the TriBeCa Grand will not include my pal Nur Khan, who chewed my ear off for putting my foot in my mouth for things I heard with my very own big ears. Good thing I have such a handsome nose. Nur made it clear that he was extremely happy with The Electric Room. He told me "… I love the Electric. Any rumors that I am leaving are 100 percent unequivocally untrue. I have a lease. I love the space, pour my heart and soul into it…Why would I want to leave? It’s extremely successful albeit small. False rumors."

That’s from the horse’s mouth. He told me how he was completely devoted and was going to "grow the brand".

I looked up at the Empire State Building last night and it was all bathed in pink light. It took me a minute, but then I remembered it was for Breast Cancer Prevention 2012. On Facebook this morning I was tagged by liquor hawker Arty Dozortsev. The tag was for a matte pink version of the usually black Alacran Tequila bottle, in honor of breast cancer awareness. Alacran will donate money from sales of this bottle. Alacran is a superior product that I endorse because it makes statements like these for good causes.

Exclusive: Nur Khan on Guns N’ Roses Show at Hiro Ballroom, Burlesque King Ivan Kane On Revel Resort

I wouldn’t recognize Fashion Week if Nur Khan wasn’t presenting one or more serious Rock and Roll shows. Fresh off The Kills‘ 10 Year Anniversary party hosted by Lovecat Magazine the other night, Nur throws Guns N’ Roses into the Hiro Ballroom. Talk around town has Mark Packer soon converting the space into a Tao Downtown, gobbling up Hiro and Matsuri in the process. Nur was the hero at Hiro when it was what it was. He is seriously happy about sending his old turf off with a bang. I caught up with him and gave my regrets.I cannot attend, as I will be DJing with Kelle Calco at Hotel Chantelle while all the hoopla is hooplaing. I asked Nur all about it.

The rumor was that the show was going to be at The Electric Room but it got too big a thing and now it’s at Hiro. In the future, you plan on doing a lot of shows at The Electric Room. How do you shows there….logistically?
I just did my first show there the other night. I remove furniture in front of a fireplace and half of the room. Set the PA and backline up in front of the fireplace – very similar to what I created with the Rose Bar sessions. You get the idea. You were at some of them. I see The Electric Room as a better fit for emerging bands. I’m doing this at Hiro; it’s sort of my two cents into the goodbye. The town is losing another rock and roll room. I’m going to have to build another. We’d still be at Don Hill’s if he hadn’t died. This show at Hiro is all out …confetti canons, arealists. It’s the last hurrah before Mark Packer takes Hiro and Matsuri over and does what he does to it.  
 
I know why you, me, and everyone and their brothers want these shows …how about the bands…what’s in it for them? Why do they want it?
For the most part, the bands are friends, so relationships are important when it comes to these…  everyone loves these intimate shows. It feels very special and inclusive, like the band is playing in my loft. It’s also a slightly different PR angle for the bands; there’s different press attached to these shows than, say, perhaps a Madison Square Garden show. They get reviewed differently from a different demographic that they don’t get from just a regular concert.  Because the shows are so small and private, they generate a lot of interest. I have gotten bands a lot of editorial work and exposure/campaigns sometimes etc., so the bands benefit from it being a very special show. A lot of VIPs and NYC tastemakers, and just an overall different experience that’s fun to do once in a while. I’m sure at one point all these bands were playing in a garage or something in their early days. They like the fact that these shows are a little "out of the norm" and, like i said, it’s usually friends and family so everyone’s happy to do the shows regardless….
 
What are you up to?
I am so busy just focusing on Fashion Week right now. I’m swamped with events this week. Task #1 is trying to keep up with an email every 30 seconds this week !!
 
Another Fashion Week frenzy….what’s driving you these days, besides money…besides being surrounded by fast woman and gallant men?
Haha. That’s funny!!!  What’s driving me?? I enjoy what I do and as you know, I am super passionate about music (and design, like yourself)… I really am thrilled with the way The Electric Room came out…  I just finished having another custom- designed mirror today – big clockwork orange eyes, back painted on glass behind the whole DJ area. What drives me is to create something new, designing the clubs, and I like to shake things up when I can and go in different directions when there is a trend happening in town. If everyone is going right,  I like to go left!!!  But always stay consistent with my music programs, which are geared for a musically literate clientele!!! Please!!!!  Come to the Guns N’ Roses show I’m doing tonight. It’s gonna be a full-on electric three-hour set!!!
 
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Ivan Kane headshot
 
I am a regular visitor to Atlantic City and it makes me happy that the resort Revel, for so long an empty monolith on the beach, is getting geared up to open. Previews begin April 2nd, and the opening is on May 25th, kicking-off Memorial Day weekend.  One of the entertainment editions to speak of is Burlesque Maestro Ivan Kane’s Royal Jelly Nightclub. I asked Ivan to tell me all about it:
 
This isnt my dad’s AC and the Revel figures to take it to another level. What is AC 2012? Where is it going and what does the Ivan Kane’s Royal Jelly Nightclub do to the AC game?
I have always been known for expanding the genre of burlesque and creating a unique, sexy, and sensual vibe.  It’s a bigger experience than one usually finds in a nightclub environment.
 
Royal Jelly sounds sticky and sweet. Where does the name come from?
Queen bees are made, not born, and Royal Jelly is the key ingredient to the burlesque royalty found only at Ivan Kane’s Royal Jelly Burlesque Nightclub.  
 
Burlesque in NYC has become a staple, yet only a couple of years ago it was relegated to off-nights in out of the way places. Now, it’s a boom town with serious shows almost nightly. NYC is enjoying a burlesque renaissance. Will this renaissance translate to South Jersey and Vegas by the beach?
Burlesque entered the pop culture lexicon with the phenomenal success of Ivan Kane’s Forty Deuce in Hollywood and at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas. Now I am bringing my burlesque to the east coast with an unparalleled nightclub experience that I created exclusively for Revel Atlantic City.
 
Revel has been a long time coming. When did the idea of your joint form and what will it look like?  
I am very excited to be a part of Revel; it has been a long time coming. Royal Jelly is a nightclub-in-the-round, where the DJs and dancing are complemented by the drama and excitement of the burlesque shows. Royal Jelly was designed to be exciting no matter where you turn, with multiple stages and flying catwalks that drop from the sky, animating the entire space.
 
How do you clone yourself? Will you always be around or sometimes in LA or NYC or Vegas? What capable person or persons will spot you when you’re afar?  
I touch everything Royal Jelly, but I surround myself with incredibly talented, able, and creative people. Because we are producing highly produced shows every night, I am never too far away for too long a period.  

From Avenue to Bantam to the Diner: The Never-Ending Night

I try not to write too much about what you already know. Everyone knows the bottle clubs, the scene clubs, the celebrity, the jet-set joints where money is no object – but then again, it is the object. These places are often considered commonplace by the common man who dwells in hipster havens and dive bars. That perception is wrong. There is validity to what these operators offer, although they aren’t all things to all people. Most people can’t afford to party there or they lack the looks or connections to pass through their velvet ropes. Once inside there is always action. Although the bottom line is the bottom line, as it is in most businesses (including the nightclub business), these clubs deliver a quality good time to their often well-know audiences. The DJs often play a set that contains crowd-pleasing, familiar tracks, but the DJs themselves are great DJs and giving the people what they want makes it fun -and what in the name of God is wrong with pleasing a crowd?

Last night I whisked myself to Avenue for club mogul Noah Tepperberg’s birthday. He co-owns a lot of places. Off the top of my head, he has pieces of Marquee (NYC, Vegas, Australia), Lavo (NYC, Vegas), Tao (NYC, Vegas), Marble Lane, Ph-D Rooftop, the aforementioned Avenue, Artichoke Pizza. There are all sorts of pool entities and spin-offs of these places now. He has many reasons to be cheerful, despite being half the man he used to be. Well, not exactly half, but he has lost a lot of weight by watching what he eats and drinks, and working out with a new trainer who Noah introduced to me last night. Avenue was packed with the beautiful, the rich, and the famous last night. The energy was through the roof. I’m not going to mention the celebrities that I saw, as that comes with the no price for admission. Avenue is a gossip-free zone and those that go know that.

We bolted into the night and popped by 1OAK, which was just getting started. A late-night rush comes from sister space The Darby Downstairs which closes early by NYC standards. The Butter Group operators, which own these properties and Butter, understand that after a while, crowds want to hop, skip, and jump elsewhere, so they engineer that hop-over to another one of their spaces. Thus, 1OAK gets a big late boost. We chatted up a looking-real-good Richie Romero and said hello to all the familiar faces of the vibrant staff as we headed into the night. We strolled to No. 8, where Amanda danced with Amy Sacco who was simply being wonderful. I hadn’t been before, as I rarely get over to this hood during the week. Currently, they aren’t open on Saturdays, but will be when the summer spins away. I loved No. 8. The music was amazing. Amy, one of the best operators in this business, was an active part of the action. At 8, I saw countless familiar faces. The crowd was mixed and adult and I loved it.

Still, the night had me moving, and we headed to The Electric Room, where Angelo made sure we were happy. Nur Kahn is in Italy with The Kills. In the past, when Nur traveled, The Electric Room often lacked…electricity. He and I talked about that a couple months ago. Last night, the place was pumping. Amanda said, and I quote, "The thing about this place is that it never compromises. When you walk in the door, you always hear great music and find yourself amongst a cool crowd.” She isn’t taking over this column, but she is spot-on about this spot. The Electric Room was fabulous.

Outside we ran into pal Dean Winters who was out causing mayhem but not as seen on TV. We chatted him up in front of the Dream Hotel, where we also ran into Limelight producer Jen Gatien. Jen, me, and mine spent an hour trading war stories and catching up. I told her she gave me yet another 15 minutes of fame as Limelight is now On Demand on Showtime. I am getting stoppedeverywhere. Someone asked me who I wanted to play me in the sure-to-come epic movie about my life, and as I looked at this silly person, I reached into my bag of stock answers for occasions like this and deadpanned the answer: “… Denzel.”

After the very brief chuckles, we headed to The Darby. I just wanted to see it in action. I occasionally pop in to see how it’s wearing and tearing. Designers do revisit their babies just to see how the fabric is holding up. Design is theoretical until a place opens. I like to see what I could have done better and what is working just fine. Dean Winters joined us at the bar and we toasted to something important to that moment. I stopped by Bantam as I headed to the Bridge. It was a classic 3am crowd of revelers enjoying the moment and the sticky liqueurs. Bantam is great for that first stop or that last stop, and not bad if you’re caught in between.

After we left and had our late-night meal at a diner, we arrived home just as the sun was coming up. We got the leash on Lulu and went to stock up on diet sodas and popcorn and such. As usual, my head hit the pillow at 6am and here I am at 10am talking to you. Someone told me yesterday that not needing sleep is the sign of a genius. I don’t know if there’s any truth to that, but if it is true I suspect that he’s a very tired genius.

This Just In: DJs Erick Morillo & Afrojack Join Pacha Benefit

This old guy once wrote: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way…." The quote begins Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities.  He continued  "…in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only." Mr. Dickens offered this tome in 1859, but was referring back to the French Revolution days. He might as well have been talking about now, for New York is a tale of two cities. While many of us are sipping lattes and talking football and going to parties, others are struggling in the cold, displaced and in despair.  It is the worst of times for so many of our neighbors while most of us are busy as bees, forgetting the destruction and "inconvenience" the storm brought, and readying for the holidays.

Last night at BINGO at Hotel Chantelle, a packed house laughed and squealed with joy as regular hosts Murray Hill and Linda Simpson returned to the stage after a two-week Sandy-induced hiatus. They were joined by Michael Musto who proved to be a joy. Like almost every event worth mentioning these days, this night was dedicated to raising money for victims of Sandy. Specifically, BINGO raised much-needed funds for the Ali Forney Center which was flooded by the imperfect storm. Homeless LGBTQ homeless youth can drop in when they need a place. 

Tonight I will party like nothing ever happened at The Electric Room where the dapper Nick Marc will celebrate yet another birthday. Partner-in-crime Justine D. will DJ. Kodi Najm of Hypernova will host. There are rumors of a proper English celebration with everyone involved partaking in heavy drinking and partying. This is rock and roll, followed by some rock and roll and then quite a bit more rock and roll. I’ll be there.

Tomorrow night, Richie Romero will celebrate his birthday and has tasked me to open up for real DJs Jesse Marco and ?uestlove. This affair is at 1OAK and I am very excited about it. I love the staff of OAK and, of course, Mr. Romero. As is his way, Richie was complaining about his age and other trivialities. I’m going to play tracks older than him to cheer him up. I reminded him that I have shoes that are older than he.

As I wrote the other day, I will then whisk myself up to Pacha for their Help Heal New York Sandy benefit where they have me bartending. Since I will have my CDs and headphones with me, I stand ready to pitch in if one of the following DJs fail to deliver: DANNY TENAGLIA, FRANCOIS K, SUNNERY JAMES & RYAN MARCIANO,  Chainsmoker, SHERMANOLOGY, DANNY AVILA, D BERRIE, AUDIEN HARRY, CHOO CHOO ROMERO, SHAWNEE TAYLOR (live), CARL KENNEDY, HECTOR ROMERO ,DAVID WAXMAN, CEVIN FISHER ,THEO, HEX HECTOR, PAUL RAFFAELE, CODES, ROXY COTTONTAIL ,SAZON BOOYA, DALTON, SIK DUO, CARL LOUIS & MARTIN DANIELLE, PAIGE, BAMBI and THAT KID CHRIS. 

Just added as we go to press are superstar DJs Erick Morillo and Afrojack. This is a serious not to be missed event. There are some fabulous surprises that, because of conflicts and dotted i’s and such, can’t be listed here but will be appreciated there. Among that illustrious crew are DJs from my management company 4AM. Chainsmokers are whisking in from Singapore and are off on tour but are stopping by for this fundraiser. Dalton has been debuting his new house tracks along the Northeast corridor, making stops in D.C., Boston, and Philly. 4AM just booked me for New Year’s Eve … yeah, it’s coming up fast.

Please help those still without, and as the holidays approach, be aware of those unable to have a normal celebration. Help where you can.

WTF?! This Fall’s Nightlife Gossip

I remember my first date with Jeannie LoVullo like it was yesterday. She chewed a lot of gum and said "what the fuck" a lot. This weekend was like a date with Jeannie LoVullo; my movers, who were indeed shakers, were chewing gum and saying "what the fuck” a lot. They got me saying it. I didn’t have time to go out but did answer the phone and heard bits and pieces of what seems like a great game of musical chairs. I’ll get to the bottom of all this faster than you can say "wtf," but for now you will have to accept these moist and fuzzy tidbits. I hear that Nur may be leaving The Electric Room on his way to the newly remodeled TriBeCa Grand. My source who is usually unreliable swears it’s true, citing contract endings and stuff like that. I also hear that Travis Bass will also bring his special brand of whoopee yippee yay nightlife to TriBeCa. This may be a temporary thing, as he is slated to be a honcho over at the 199 Bowery space that EMM Group is developing for November. OK, OK,. I’m pausing for a WTF…

I heard that Jamie Mulholland was all set for that bank space on the corner of Houston and Essex which has, for years, been so many things to so many people. Now, this other group is there doing something irrelevant, and I’m not sure what’s going on with Jamie. He would be the perfect fit for what is an imperfect space. I’ll find out WTF is going on and tell you when the time is right.

 Also, I am told that Vala Durvett has taken over the job of putting asses in seats over at the almost new Bishops & Barons. They kicked Danny Kane and his crew out for lack of performance, according to another fairly unreliable source. Translation: they opened at a bad time, withered during the summer, and kicked their team out as the season began. Vala is a good fit for this joint as its 14th Street East location is a tough destination. Bishops is located right between the IHOP, and they just opened Bait & Hook, my pal Div Patel’s (formally of Nest) seafood joint. WTF, Vala has her work cutout for her, trying to hook people over to a hood where no man has gone before. Good thing she knows a lot of women. It can be done; Beauty Bar has been there since WTF – the last century. I’m sure I’ll get some calls to clarify, and so I will.

Moving has been one big WTF and I’m a bit frayed. I’ll be at BINGO as usual tonight to get my mojo back, and if I win I’m just gonna yel…you got it.. WTF!