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.