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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Bottoms Up to Travis Bass’s Latest Nightlife Collaborations

As I told you earlier in the week, there is a lot going on as clubroom continues to play its never-ending game of musical chairs. Thank goodness I was left standing with the silly music playing sans chair many years ago and can quietly watch from the sidelines. Travis Bass, who had such a big hit with Madam Wong’s and Red Egg and those Swedish dinners on Delancey, has taken the revamped Tribeca Grand and made a go of it with a  pop-up bar. He insists it’s not really the TriBeCa Grand because it has its own entrance, but it still is so shhhh, Travis, I mean what’s the point. He also is calling it a pop-up because, like many things in nightlife, the parties come with an expiration date. That date is still undetermined but a guess would put it in mid-November.

At that time, the EMM Group’s much anticipated 199 Bowery space will open. I drive by it almost every day and just love the Monopolgy motif on the construction barrier. EMM’s foray into downtown fabulous includes ex-Collective Hardware maniac Stuart Braunstein and, I hear, ex-White Noise and ex-Mansion man Luke Brian Sosnowski. Luke has a downtown sensibility but also has the ability to sell bottles. This is promising to be a bit of what The Box offered, without the shock and awe. They are looking for talented performance-types, and my guess is that this space will be a hybrid of what EMM does and what these and other players do. It may just scratch that all-things-to-all-people itch that nightlife hasn’t returned to in a bit. The developing cabaret, performance club on Bowery seems highly exportable to cities like Vegas and AC. This is a winner.

Here, Travis Bass gave me all the details about the yet-to-open Bowery spot, pop-up bar, his role in it all, and his greatest weakness.

You launched Tribeca Grand at the close of Fashion Week. Was that a strategy?
We didn’t want to launch the “Bottoms Up” pop-up bar on a high during Fashion Week and then have half our crowd leave for Europe for three weeks, taking us down to a lower note. So we launched it when they were gone and it did amazing! Now everyone is talking and hearing about the pop-up party known as “Bottoms Up.” Now that everyone is back from Paris Fashion Week, we are gonna take it to a higher note!

What goes on here? Who comes? How has this place reinvented itself?
What goes on down there is magical. People have really been able to lose themselves and dance their asses off! The crowd is much of the same loyal fashion/art downtown crowd that we have picked up along the way since Red Egg and Madame Wong’s, with some new faces mixed in that are really into this new concept of dancing a bit and then hiding.

First off… Bottoms Up is not in the Tribeca Grand Hotel, but a world onto itself. You can’t enter through the hotel. We took the space into the basement and turned it upside down and made it the place you come to party and dance all night! Before that, it was a great space to see big bands and go to early parties. We built it out as a place you can go crazy on the dance floor or vanish into all the hidden spaces. It’s a place where you can escape from everything that is happening on the streets above you. We were going to call it “Pop-Up Vegas” as it feels like a casino, in the fact that time there has no meaning.

199 Bowery opens, and you leave. What can you tell me about EMM Group’s latest adventure and your role in it all?
The space on Bowery is going to be amazing. It will be a culmination of everything that my team and I have been doing for the past two years. The space will be like nothing you have seen before and, using the abilities of EMM, we will be able to curate experiences that have never been possible before in our scene.

Are you a promoter? A curator? A director? All of the above? More?
Dictator or Director?? Ha!

I think the best way to describe me would be all of the above, except a promoter. I put together the team and then work with my team to curate the room. I like to come into a space that no one else wants or even thinks about, move a few things around and punk it out for a few bucks so we make the money back the first weekend. 

What are your strengths and weaknesses?
My #1 strength is my ability to surround myself with an amazing team that truly loves each other and will go to battle for each other — Eamon Kelly (Best Friend/Door), Vance Brooking (Best Friend/sweetest human alive), May Kwok (Best friend/DJ) — all three have been with me since Madame Wong’s and Red Egg. Our bartenders Dave Mason and the two George’s have also been with me since Wong’s as well

My weakness is trying to find a balance in life while being in the nightlife industry. Being a healthy person that does clubs is a contradiction of terms. I am in love with the punk rock lifestyle and attitude of doing clubs, and it really hurts the day after.  Like many people that do clubs, we all need to find a balance between the late nights and having a normal life.
 

Why That Recent NYT Nightlife Article Makes No Sense

I’ll be at BOW, 199 Bowery at Spring, tonight and maybe even tomorrow to check out the latest and sure-to-be greatest offering from bon vivant Travis Bass. The 199 Bowery space is an EMM Group foray to the wonderful world of downtown. There is an attitude out there that nightlife needs to deliver uniformity or even predictability for success. EMM group seems to be taking a different approach and should be commended for their effort. A recent NY Times article " A Night Life Veteran Bets On Social Media," is not worth the paper that I didn’t read it on.

Mr. Andy Russell, a former owner at the defunct Moomba – the most overrated club in history – is gathering groups of people to joints around town early in the evening. The creatures of the night will be just stirring or putting on their outfits while Mr. Russell’s crowd gathers at places bound to be chic after they leave. It rants about the acceptance of the same ol’ same ol’ attitude of bringing like-minded people together.

Clubs are wonderful when like-minded individuals mix with people who dress, behave, and generally think differently are thrown in. The "novel" idea of having parties early so that people can be in bed by midnight is not only nothing new, but reeks of old and tired. Jerry and Mimi Rubin did this networking thing decades ago before social media made networking so easy. They drew 5,000 suit-and-tie types that didn’t want to mingle with the hipsters and those "other" types. The OMG complaint about being in a real club which will even have a door policy later in the evening is sooooo lame. This is a way for clubs to get early revenue; it’s been around and forever and there is nothing wrong with it. Andy’s crowd has a right to gather, but why the Times Inc.?. It is a tried and true way for the older set to go out and meet and agree, and it sounds as boring as anything I’ve heard about in a while. Charity events serve this purpose and exist for a good cause. 

This Sunday, a good cause requires the presence of some of these suit-and-tie types and others who want to mingle. The children and supporters of New York Foundling are having a reception at the Palace Theatre, 1564 Broadway at 47th Street, where attendees will enjoy a matinee performance of the Broadway show Annie the Musical. Attendees will include:

"Staten Island-based Foundling families, many of whom have never seen a Broadway show, and who have been trying to rebuild their lives in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. The Foundling purchased tickets for the children and their families with money donated from a campaign to support “real-life Annies” across New York City . The Foundling is hosting a pre-performance reception at the Palace Theatre featuring a special performance by students from The Foundling’s charter school in the South Bronxwho will serenade Annie composer Charles Strouse with their own rendition of “Tomorrow.” CNN “Starting Point” Anchor and Foundling volunteer Soledad O’Brien will emcee. (This short performance is scheduled to begin at 1:00pm.) Other guests include the original “Annie,” Andrea McArdle, Annie producer Arielle Tepper Madover, director James Lapine,  and Annie the Musical cast members.

Bill Rudin, vice chairman & CEO of Rudin Management Company, Inc. and Anthony Watson, chairman and CEO of EmblemHealth, Inc. will be honored for their strong and continuous support for The Foundling."

There are hundreds of events where good hearted people can meet and mingle with like-minded types.

A dinner for non-like-minded people will celebrate artist Kevin McHugh as he heads to Art Basel 2012 with all those Art-y Basel types. The dinner hosted by Patricia Fields, Wendy Williams and DJ Danny Tenaglia will be at THE OUT NYC, 510 W. 30th street, where thinking outside the box is encouraged. Kevin’s art is Pucci-inspired and will be previewed at the soiree. DJ Alex Perez’s sounds will dance around the conversation. 

Last on today’s list of things to do and, of course, not do will be Saturday’s “Wildchild” party at 107 Suffolk St., 11pm. Pal Ian El Dorado will DJ. My friend, Facebook and otherwise, Joy Rider will host and I can’t miss it. There, I will bask in rock and roll and hang with like-minded people that I like.

Super Linda More Than Super, Three-Day Pop-Up This Weekend at Chrystie 141

Bingo was riotous as usual. Murray Hill and I talked about his May tour with Dita Von Teese. After all that, we kissed our crew goodnight and walked the cool night to Chinatown. The Wo in Wo Hop still stands for wonderful. Encouraged by hearty soups and dumplings, we braved the cold night to visit Matt Abramcyk and Serge Becker’s newish hot spot Super Linda. My dear friend Travis Bass was blowing up my phone, begging me to come. We passed The Odeon and I told Amanda that 20-something years ago it was the hottest place in New York. Today it is just perfectly amazing. We entered Super Linda and immediately knew it was just super. There, a small, sharp set were lounging casually in booths and tables. Vance Bookings held court, surrounded by all his unusually beautiful suspects. I introduced Amanda to Cordell Lochin, and he and I exchanged the secret handshake and a hearty hug. The deep booth had Serge Becker and his crew of hip jet-setters talking the talk. Serge got  up and gave me the tour. He explained how the new lights for the dining room had not arrived as of yet and that there were still some finishing touches to the design coming in the next two weeks or so. I loved it. The downstairs had the right amount of hiding spots and comfy booths and there was some great detailing to the paneled wood walls. It’s opening soon. We talked a bit more about the biz and small wonders and then I visited the always excitable Travis Bass at the bar.

He introduced me to Richie Cheung, the owner of that 141 Chrystie space. I exclaimed "OMG (I say that sometimes), you must hate me." I reminded him that I had written a scathing review of his place when it opened. He said, "Oh, you’re Steve Lewis! No hard feelings. You were just doing your job and we’ve made many changes for the better." I loved Richie. I would have popped me in the nose . I felt so strongly about it I almost popped me in the nose. Instead I promised to visit the new and improved space Friday. Travis ,as his norm, never shut up about this and that and what he was doing at 141. He gushed, "I am doing a three-day pop-up at 141 Chrystie Street from Thursday through Saturday next week. It will be a raging dance club party theme. Think Ibiza or rave party with the Red Egg crew and crowd. I am going to do giant balloons and projections and laser beams."

I’m always a sucker for giant balloons and laser beams, so I agreed to go Friday. Anyway, Travis wasn’t taking no for an answer. I couldn’t come Thursday, I explained, as I am DJing at Hotel Chantelle. I expected him to ask me to put on a long song …say "White Lines" and pop over for a hot minute to see his pop-up. He continued (he always continues), "Gonna bring back the old New York high-energy dance club! No more lounging bullshit! NYC is all about fun and we are bringing that back."

He told me he was doing dinner parties downstairs at Super Linda and I almost asked him if that wasn’t sort of "lounging bullshit," but I needed to get home before sun up to write this piece. New York needs Travis’ energy. We are so often ruled by the blasè. He may be a lot of things but he certainly isn’t blasè. We kissed everyone goodbye and headed to Brooklyn to our humble home and puppy and cat. I loved Super Linda; it’s intelligent and adult-offering in a nightlife world increasingly dominated by the unfabulous…the blasè.

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!

Sandy Relief at Pacha & The Bottoms Up Controversy

You can’t throw a rock without hitting a benefit for Sandy relief efforts and so it should be. The other night, a singer in a sleazy place proclaimed her performance was to help with Sandy relief. A friend who wasn’t born yesterday quipped in my ear that "she just renamed her cat Sandy.” "Hmmm," I replied more brilliantly than it reads. I’m sure there is some of that, but these days I am believing in people. One person I can always believe in is the brilliant producer of The Love Show and an inspired performer in his own right: David F. Slone, Esquire. Last night, his Love Show, which happens every Thursday at Hotel Chantelle, before Sam Valentine’s Generation Wild party where I DJ along with him and Luc Carl, ran way over, as performer after performer had the crowd in shock and awe… and stitches. They passed the hat and raised some loot and the spirit was wonderful. Every cloud has a silver lining and without trivializing the pain and suffering still afflicting our neighbors. Sandy has gotten people working together again for a greater good. The Obama election has helped turn the mindset from the fears and loathing a Romney win would have meant. The Love Show benefit gave 100 percent of the money collected at the door  to The Brooklyn Recovery Fund to benefit Sandy’s victims.

Angela Harriell & The Love Show Dancers!
Harrison Greenbaum: Award-Winning Comedian/Magician – Comedy Central’s ‘Comics to Watch’ and winner of the Andy Kaufman Award!
Kissing booth with everyone’s favorite late night lover, Manchego!
Award-winning quirky songstress, Jessica Delfino!
Performance genius, Eric Schmalenberger!
Tight harmony singers, The Shirtwaist Sisters!
Vocal powerhouse, Corn Mo!
Sweetheart of the Sideshow, Lady Aye! 

Eric Schmalenberger slayed us as Miriam, his alter ego whom I personally like way more than Eric. In a drunken drawl, Eric…er, Miriam proclaimed "Hella fun night. My only fear is tomorrow I’ll give the NY Blood Bank blood/vodka.”

The highlight of the show was when my editor Bonnie Gleicher, out on her blind date with the debonair Craig Clemens who donated $500 to MS for the privilege, pulled a large sword out of the throat of Lady Aye. Do not try this at home.

Next Wednesday, Nov.14, I will be a guest bartender at Pacha for their gianormous HELP HEAL NEW YORK Sandy relief benefit. The DJs I can mention include DANNY TENAGLIA, FRANCOIS K ,SUNNERY JAMES & RYAN MARCIANO, 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 & MARTINDANIELLE ,PAIGE, BAMBI, THAT KID CHRIS. There are many more , but I’m sworn to secrecy. Eddie Dean and Rob Fernandez (RPM) are always spot-on in their bookings, as evidenced by them asking me to bartend.

The Greater New York Red Cross will receive 100 percent of the proceeds from door, bar, and coat check. Doors will open at 5pm and stay open till 5am. If you do come to my bar, order beers and simple drinks or else you’re going to have your own private little benefit. For the record, I entered the business as a bartender . How long ago??? Well, back in that day when you ordered vodka on the rocks and it came in a stone mug  poured over pebbles. And it wasn’t Grey Goose.; it was Grey Pterodactyl.

Oh and on another note. I’m going to a "sneak peek" preview of BOW, that much anticipated EMM Group entry at 199 Bowery, shared with FINALE. Travis Bass, ex-Madame Wong’s and Red Egg and recently Bottoms Up is doing the inviting. They say the place isn’t quite done and neither is Travis nor me for that matter so it might be fab. I’ve told you that I think this place might be a game changer and I’m anxious to see how right I am. Even if I’m only 10% right,  tonight, I anticipate much more as BOW is only part of a 20,000 square foot hospitality entry being unleashed by EMM at 199.  Travis always delivers. I heard that his off-again on-again incarnation Bottoms Up at the Tribeca Grand was often off-again because the hotel people didn’t much like the wear and tear Travis’ crowd inflicted on the furniture and decor. Now that sounds like my kind of party.

EMM Group’s FINALE Brings The Edge Back to NY Nightlife

FINALE, the long-awaited EMM Group entry at 199 Bowery on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, has finally opened – and it’s a game changer. This is a place created by a well-heeled, bottle sales-based group with creativity at its core. To those who pooh-pooh bottle service and blame it (and Rudy Giuliani) for all the terrible things that have ever happened to New York nightlife, I say pooh-pooh to you. Without bottle service, burgeoning rents, insurance, and salaries would have buried nightlife. The problem is that clubs banking for big bucks have catered to the bores with black cards, a scene that’s unbearable to the artistic set. FINALE embraces the downtown scene with performance types on staff, and bartenders and waiters dressed and ready to perform at the drop of a beat.

For far too long, entertainment in major nightclubs has consisted of little more than a forced smile from a wannabe model rushing through the crowd holding a fiery stick while a DJ plays tracks the rich dudes and their lady friends love to hear over and over again. But FINALE offers the hope that, in an effort to set themselves apart from the pack, operators will once again employ creative types to define their brands.

Back in 2007, The Box thought outside the box with its Did-I-just-see-that? brand of entertainment. For some, it went too far, but The Box is still there, and Sleep No More and other nightlife fringe concepts are bringing in creatives and spenders in equal measure. Their devotion to pushing downtown artistic programming has been justly rewarded. FINALE offers an opportunity for the public to expect even more. If it continues its success, other operators will follow its lead, and maybe the suits and ties will no longer dictate club programming. From my experience, once you start traveling towards the edge, a great deal of the public becomes interested and wants more.

EMM provides balance as they balance their bottom line. The artful mixing of downtown with the swells has worked for eons and is working at FINALE now. Plus, having a management team that’s in tune with the times helps.

Some words from the founders:

“Nightlife in New York is a bit stale at the moment—nothing new or different has opened in several years,” says co-owner Mark Birnbaum. “Both the timing and the new Lower East Side location of FINALE are perfect to attract new customers who don’t go to the Meatpacking District or Chelsea to eat and party, while bringing many of our current clientele along with us.”

“Moving down to the Bowery puts us in a unique position,” adds partner Eugene Remm. “Just as Bungalow 8 emerged on West 27th Street, and Lotus took root in the Meatpacking, we hope to be the first to bring an entirely new concept to the area. With this project, we break away from our current mold and create something entirely new on all fronts, from our music format to the location itself and the ways in which we can creatively program the entire space.”

Whether the big spenders will continue to be comfortable heading that far downtown to experience an increasingly weird mix of entertainment—and whether the creative set will keep emerging from their Brooklyn lofts to lend artistic authenticity to the nightlife venue—is far from certain. But with success stories like Abe & Arthur’s, CATCH, SL, and Tenjune in their portfolio, EMM’s Birnbaum, Remm, and partner Michael Hirtenstein are just the men to turn the mix into magic.

Travis Bass Explains the Vision Behind Madame Wong’s

When the New York Times blew up Madame Wong’s, exposing it to hordes of weekend warriors, many snarky naysayers proclaimed that the end was inevitable. The already overwhelmed door model Vance Brooking, who faced the daunting task of trying to get so many round pegs into the square hole of the Chinese restaurant Jobee, was suddenly looking forward to an invasion. But cooler heads prevailed, and instead of cramming them in, the Wong crew tightened it up. The result has been stupendous with breathing, chatting, and socializing room galore.

Once only a pop-up, it is now a must visit. I caught up with Travis Bass one of the players at Madame Wong’s.

How was the Madame Wong’s concept conceived? Madame Wong’s was an idea that I came up with while in Berlin.I was going to these really underground clubs in Kreuzberg and realized that just like ‘80s NYC, these clubs were cool and underground because they were built with art and ideas rather than driven by money. They were built by the artists for the artists. I decided to find a space in NYC that was run down and/or losing money. Then with creativity and a limit of $6,000 I would turn it into a non-pretentious place for the downtown art /design scene to get together, hang out and have fun. I didn’t want to look for a permanent space as the cost of opening it and the wait alone really puts a financial stress on you. This stress causes you to think only about how you are going to get that money back and takes away the fun. This stress Berlin and old NYC didn’t have. I realized that this is what is missing –when money is the only objective and people feel like a dollar rather than a guest.

How did you make this concept come to life? When I got back to NYC I reached out to Simonez Wolf as he was the only person I knew would understand what I wanted to create and would be the only person capable of making it happen. We had both already done some cool parties over the past year at the Bowery Hotel, Pravda and White Slab and have a very similar group of friends and taste. He is very well versed in the arts and has an incredible knowledge of nightlife. He is also the #1 person in the downtown scene. All the cool people follow him.

How did you find the space for Madame Wong’s? The first challenge obviously was finding the perfect location and space and that is where our third partner Max Koshkerman comes in. Max had been trying desperately to put a deal together for a space on 3 Howard Street called Jobee. The deal had way too many roadblocks and was left for dead. Simonez told me about the space and we realized that it was perfect for the Berlin / ‘80s NYC concept. It was on a quintessential old school NYC block that had never been gentrified, rats and all. At this point we all got together and came up with a plan to get the space.

How did you convince the owners to let this happen? Max had built up this incredible relationship with the owners of Jobee. Without this we would have never been able to sell them on our idea. The best part is that after a while they really got excited about our concept even though I’m sure they didn’t understand all of it, they really trusted us and wanted to give us a chance to show them how great it could be. None of us knew how long it would last or how big it could get, the whole process has been very organic.

How did you turn Jobee Restaurant into Madame Wong’s? Simonez, Max, and I knew that we would have to do the majority of the install work ourselves in order to give it the look and feel the way we wanted.Thinking of this not so much as a traditional interior design job but as a temporary installation that is ever changing and knowing that we didn’t want everything to be fake and perfect but to be flawed and rough. It took us six days total from beginning the construction till our first party, The ‘S Magazine’ party. We opened despite being 80 percent done and over the first month of being open we kept improving the space and changing things around. Till this day we are always changing the space. This flexibility is what makes the space fun, most spaces nowadays take themselves too seriously. Who is attending your parties? We pride ourselves on having a very diverse mix of people at Madame Wong’s. We believe that the best parties are the ones where there are no majorities. As far as celebrities: From Jessica Simpson, to Terence Koh and everyone in between.

How do you get them there? We treat our door at Madame Wong’s like the door to our own houses. The majority of the guests that come to Wong’s are friends of ours. We invite them personally, not through mass texts or emails or Facebook. We make an invite to Madame Wong’s mean something. We also get a lot of help bringing fresh faces in to Wong’s from our doorman Vance Brooking, Henry Stimler who is our VIP host/Partner plus our resident DJs May Kwok, Japanster and Zara Zachrisson.

How did you get into nightlife? Back in the ‘90s in Los Angeles I used to throw underground parties. Much like Madame Wong’s they were my answer to feeling bored with nightlife at the time. After a few years of creating these thematic events I went full-time into design and event production as well as interior design. I moved from LA to NYC in 1998 to do design for The limelight and Tunnel nightclubs for club king Peter Gatien. My job was to always keep the spaces fresh, with new art installations and designs. I ended up designing Circa, Peter’s 50,000 square foot mega club in Toronto,

What does the future have in store for Travis Bass? I’m spending the majority of my time right now launching Track Marketing Group, a company that I am partner in and creative director of and I continue to do Private events and interior design under Travis Bass. The great thing about Madame Wong’s is that it ties itself to all my endeavors and actually has been a great business card. I have a place to entertain my friends and clients and I have been able to meet so many new amazing people. I’m also working on what’s next when Madame Wong’s is over. I feel that this is just the beginning as far as a new way, or should I say old way, to look at nightlife.

Image courtesy of Urban Daddy