Thursday, July 26, 2007

How to Find the Best Club in New York

When I meet people and they find out that I am developing NYN one question that often comes up is; what is the best club in New York?

Every time someone asks me that question, I give a different answer. I don't change my answer because I'm fickle. I change my answer because each person that I talk to is different. They are looking for different experiences and want different things when they go out.

I believe that the nature and quality of your nightlife experience will improve if you remember the best club is the best one for you when you are ready to go out. That may not necessarily mean the newest club, or the most expensive one, or the best one for anyone else.

How do you figure out the best club for you? There are five (or six) things that you should keep in mind before looking for a club. These things are pretty basic. They just require a little thought. Once you know what you want, you can figure out where to go.

Music. A club billed as the best
techno spot isn't the best club for you if you're looking for hip hop. There are a lot of clubs that play Top 40 music or a selection of music that is so eclectic and varied that you can't really identify the genre. Even with clubs that play specific genres, the type of music a certain club plays might be different from night to night or even from hour to hour depending on the band playing or the mood of the DJ. But certain spots lend themselves to certain types of music. You won't hear jazz in Coyote Ugly. Cielo doesn't play rock. Your best bet here is to find out who is playing where to figure out what you might be listening to.

Crowd: The people who hang out in dive bars and the people who hang out in martini bars are both drinking, but each group creates a distinct atmosphere that can have a major effect on your night. A lot of times, this is easier to figure out than the music because while the faces on the individuals might change, the nature of the overall group stays pretty constant. If you want to hang out with a sports crowd, hit a sports bar during or after a big game. If you want to dance, skip the wine bar (they probably don't have a
cabaret license, so you can't dance there anyway) and head straight for a club (that plays the music you want to dance to, of course)

Cost: If the greatest club in the city has a $40 cover when you only have $5, then it's not the greatest club for you. Nothing takes the air out of a night faster than unexpected costs. Before you hit the ATM, estimate how much you want to spend getting in, buying drinks (or food), and paying for other amenities. Then head for the spots that fit. It's OK to go a little over your planned amount (you're going out to live a little, right?) but if you have to spend the next two weeks eating ramen noodles because you spent a week's pay at the club, you might be hesitant to go out again anytime soon.

Company: Who is going with you? That quiet intimate lounge that you love isn't going to work for a boy's night out. The meat market club may not play well with your boyfriend. You can't take your brother from out of town to a gay bar if you haven't come out of the closet to your family (unless this was how you were planning to break it to them) and your feminist cousin might not have a good time at the strip club. Think about who is going out with you and keep their interests and preferences in mind when making your selection.

Location: The two important questions here are how are you going to get there and how are you going to get home? There are some great dance clubs on the west side, but if you live in Hollis and you don't have a car and you KNOW the
subway schedule is a nightmare on 5 AM on a Sunday morning, you have to think about that before you decide where to go. Maybe you can find a club closer to your house, or get a ride from a sober friend, or find a place to crash close to the club. There are solutions to every situation and the solution might be as much fun as the actual club, if you think about it before hand.

Extras: Do you have clients coming in from Tokyo who love whiskey? You need to find a whiskey bar. Does your new girlfriend like live jazz? Do you need to find someplace close to the office that is open right after work and has a private room for a going away party? Many places offer something special that it uses to drawn people in. Whether it's the menu or the ambiance or the music, go to the spot that caters to your mood right now. If that mood or your needs change a lot, you'll find yourself exploring a lot of different clubs on a regular basis.

All of these considerations might not be important to you. Sometimes you don't care what music is playing or you know you can get anywhere is the city without much hassle. This list isn't meant to be mandatory or all inclusive. The point is that if you know what you want, you know what to look for. This will make your search for the best club easier and you'll never wonder where to go this weekend.

Have fun

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A Bump on the Road to World Domination

NYN believes that no matter who you are, or what you are into, New York has nightlife spots to suit your tastes.

To help you find the best spot for you, we are designing a comprehensive database that lists almost every bar, lounge and nightclub in the five boroughs and as many weekly events as we can cram into our database. You’ll be able to search by the area of the city, the type of music, the type of crowd or special features that each club offers. We are also going to offer a Top 5 listing each week, showing handpicked selections from over 20 different types of parties. It’s going to be great…

But Rome wasn’t built in a day (but it did have some really good clubs from what I’ve heard) and NYN is experiencing a certain amount of growing pains. At this point, NYN needs to suspend its Top 5 coverage until our technical issues get worked out. This is a minor set back that shouldn’t take long to fix, but until then I’d like to offer some advice that I have learned from this situation.

1) It doesn’t really make sense to outsource a New York website to a company in India.
2) Just because your web design company has an address in New York doesn’t mean your project hasn’t been outsourced to India.
3) Internet entrepreneurs are rarely familiar with the technical aspects of their sites (we’re more big picture type people) so when something goes wrong, we won’t have any idea what the techs are talking about.
4) When something breaks, it’s not really important who emailed whom about fixing it or who didn’t get the email. The important thing is to fix whatever is broken.
5) Every start up company has problems. It comes with the territory. It is important to look at these problems as bumps on the road to world domination, not disasters.
6) It’s always better to launch something quietly, so you can fix the inevitable problems that come up before CNN is knocking at your door, because that could be a disaster.
7) Tenacity is often more important than knowledge, money or skill. You’ve got to be doing something that excites you enough to overcome the inevitable problems.

New York Nights (NYN)

Friday, July 20, 2007

Night of the Living Dead?

NYN got good feedback from last week's article "Is New York Nightlife Dead?". The results were pretty even.

Half the people agree with J.C. that the scene was dead and other cities have taken over: "I LOVE NEW YORK...but i think we've given way to a "wannabe" generation. the 80's and 90's were about doing it and changing the game, but now everyone wants to be like everyone's all about "gettin that paper." soooo, all the clubs that are opening are imitating other venues...same themes, same door procedure, same promises of exclusive events/treatment. Crobar was the shit, CBGB was the shit, for Gods sake, Tunnel and the Limlight were once the cusp of nightlife extravagance. then came MTV...."

The other half, which included Tony S. saw a different scene, not a dead one: "…I was part of the 80's and 90's scene and remember all too well about the Palladium, Mars, The Tunnel, Limelight, etc. And as I venture the clubs today, the faces MAY be a bit younger and the names have changed (Avalon, Pacha, Studio Mezmor) but the one thing that holds true today as it did back then, the club scene is still thriving!"

The two sides of this debate obviously use different criteria and different clubs to check the pulse of New York nightlife so it may be a long time before the issue is settled. In the meantime, there are about 15 million people per year having fun in more than 1,700 spots in the five boroughs. If the New York nightlife scene is dead, we're having too much fun to notice!

Along the same lines, JoonBug posted their Top Venues of 2007 which tracked the most popular spots on their site. One thing that seems clear from this list is the concept that lounges are rising in popularity as people look to combine music, food, dancing and socializing all in the same place. Perhaps club life is being replaced with lounge life?

What is the difference between a club, lounge and bar anyway? The definitions can be vague at times, but if you want to see one source of in depth definitions, you can check out Nightlife 101 for guidance.

What's your opinion? How do you perceive New York nightlife? Do you agree with Joonbug? How do you tell the difference between bars and clubs? Does it even matter if they have a liquor license? Let us know. New York Nights

Is New York Nightlife Dead?

Is New York Nightlife Dead?

By Gamal Hennessy

Rest in Peace?
There is certain level of malaise floating through the city when it comes to nightlife. This general dissatisfaction stems from the concept that the golden age of club life in New York is long gone. You can read it in the club reviews from magazines. You can hear it from people who ran through the clubs in the 80’s and 90’s. They say that the New York nightlife scene is dead.

The evidence to support this concept is pretty strong. Legendary spots like Studio 54, Palladium and Limelight have been gone for years, replaced by theaters and NYU dorms. AIDS and drugs hit the club scene harder than almost any other segment of society and took many of our pioneers away. Major acts like Bob Dylan or Madonna rarely bubble out of the club scene now. Today we watch them hatch on American Idol. The cabaret and ‘quality of life’ laws of the Giuliani era have been a further drag on a once very decadent environment. Other cities like San Francisco or Atlanta or Montreal have become the places to party. Things have changed a lot over the past few years.

But does that mean that our nightlife scene is gone? Have we missed the chance to enjoy New York nightlife?

Maybe nightlife has gone from alive to dead, but maybe something else has happened.

The Evolution of Choice
From the 70’s to the late 80’s there were a few dozen spots that ruled the nightlife landscape. When it was time to go out, you went to the places everyone went to and you tried to get in. Maybe you did, maybe you didn’t.

Now it’s different.

All of our entertainment is different now. Back then, you had a handful of television stations to watch. Now you can have 500 channels of cable television and sites like YouTube allow you to have more focused interests, watching hundreds of hours of video and never turning on your TV. During the 80’s you listened to radio or watched MTV to get your music. Now digital music, internet radio and ipods give you the ability to ignore radio altogether. We live in a time and a place of limitless choices when it comes to entertainment, so how can we expect nightlife entertainment to just be defined by a few dozen clubs?

Different People, Different Venues
If you actually think about what the New York nightlife scene is, you’ll realize it goes far beyond clubs. There are various venues that speak to the various tastes that New Yorkers have. The wine snob and the club kid for instance, both might go out on Friday night, and they might both come stumbling home at 4 AM, but they each had very different experiences. Even two club kids who have different tastes in music, income and lifestyle might visit wildly different venues. The more choices there are, the more ability we have to enjoy ourselves.

Moving In and Moving Out
In many respects, club life in the past was a binary situation. Either you were in (which meant you knew other people in the scene, you smoked, you drank, you did drugs, you stayed out all night) or you were out (which meant that you didn’t). But because the amount of choice has increased, things are more fluid.

Time is less of a factor. You could decide to go out straight after work for happy hour or catch and early show or watch a game at a sports bar during prime time. If you want to go out later, a club nap (sleeping between 8-10 PM) or a Red Bull will give you the energy to catch a late concert or dance all night.

Space isn’t as much of a barrier either. You don’t have to stick to your neighborhood bar and you don’t have to live near a spot to know what is going on. Many venues have websites. There are several different services available online to find parties of every type in every borough. Travel at night is safer (which might be the only benefit from the quality of life laws) so you can go to any party that you can find and you can find any party that you really look for.

Make Your Choice
Have you ever thought about what makes nightlife work? It’s not really the clubs themselves. They are just buildings. The people in the scene make it what it is. The judgment of whether something is good or bad is a function of who is involved in it and who is making the judgment about it.

Think about the people you have heard say New York nightlife is dead. How do they know its dead? Do they go out now and see empty clubs and bartenders starring blankly out the window? Did these people ever go out in the first place? If they did, why did they stop? Did they decide that they personally didn’t want to go out anymore and then decide that if they weren’t there, then the scene must be dead?

How do they get to impose their decisions on you?

Think about the people who defined the golden age of New York club life. Did they stop going out because they couldn’t find a good scene, or did they make their own party so great that everyone wanted to be included? Did they wait for someone to tell them where to go, or did they follow their own tastes? Did they follow the herd or did they define the time that they lived in?

Maybe you have personally decided that the club scene that gave us the Tunnel and the Roxy was the real thing and today’s scene just isn’t worth the effort. Sexually transmitted diseases and drugs and commercialism did have an intense effect. There are other ways to spend your free time. You don’t have to go out if you don’t want to. That is the power of choice.

Or maybe you are ready to carve your own niche. Maybe you know what you want and what you like and you are willing to get up off the couch and get it. No matter what you like or where you are there is a party for you. All you have to do is find it. You can go out if you want to. That is the power of choice.

In the end each of us has to decide for ourselves whether or not New York nightlife is dead. We all have choices, more choices than the New Yorkers before us. We can find the places that give us pleasure and enjoy our own golden age, or we can just stay home and watch others enjoy life on TV.

What’s your opinion? Let us know at

Why New York Nights isn't Citysearch, Clubplanet or Time Out

Q: So you’re pretty much like Time Out, Club Planet or Citysearch, right?

A: Not exactly. Each one of those services covers New York very well, but New York Nights isn’t really like any of them.

Time Out is good at covering a lot of different aspects of the city every week. Movies, restaurants, shopping, theater, clubs, books and TV have to share the same space. This gives them the ability to provide a wide overview of weekly events, but not the one specifically tailored for you. NYN only covers nightlife, but we do it in a way that links people to the places they want to go, not just a few places.

Clubplanet (and other sites like it) are good for getting on the guest list of certain clubs, but if you’re not into the types of spots clubplanet offers, you have to look somewhere else. We plan to cover all the places the other sites cover AND more.

Citysearch is also a good site for a general overview of the city, but it doesn’t allow you to tailor your search, it doesn’t provide much updated information on individual events. NYN will strive to be the authority for New York nightlife.

So while each of the other sites has its strengths, NYN fills a void that isn’t currently being served. That’s why we’re different.

Welcome to New York Nights

New York Nights was created to help you make the most of your nightlife. We show you places to go, give you a forum to meet people and express yourself, and try to provide tip and trends to keep you informed.

Before we start doing all of that, we should explain why NYN is here and what we want to do. Hopefully the whole thing will make more sense that way.

Q: What is NYN and why should I read it?

A: We’ve created NYN as a personal nightlife guide. We made it to help you find the bars and clubs that you like. If you’ve ever been part of this conversation, NYN can help you.

“Let’s go out tonight.”
“Ok. Where do you want to go?”
“I don’t know. Where do you want to go?”
“What about that club on the West Side?”
“The line is too long, and the music is too loud.”
“What about that bar down the street?’
“It’s sticky. The floor, the chairs, the waitresses…it’s all too sticky.”
“So where do you want to go?”
“I don’t know. Where do you want to go?”

The good news is that New York City has more than 1,700 nightlife spots and each one of them can be doing something different every night. It doesn’t matter what you like to do, or see or listen to, New York has something for you.

The bad news is that New York City has more than 1,700 nightlife spots and each one of them can be doing something different every night. You could spend so much time looking for a place to go that you wind up staying home.

We want you to use NYN as a filter. Ignore the things you don’t want, focus on what you do want.

That’s why you should read NYN.