Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Ainsworth: The Venue with Something for Everyone?

by Gamal Hennessy

Nightlife venues used to be melting pots; microcosms of the city itself. Preppy, hipster hip hop, rocker, model, plain, professional, artsy, straight, gay all occupied different pockets of the same venue. The music would shift back and forth to cater to each crowd and mixing and mingling outside your comfort zone was as easy as crossing the room.

Niche venues and promotion companies that catered to a specific demo have largely replaced the mega venue melting pot. The multitude of choice has segregated the nightlife community into smaller tribes of like-minded patrons. This new era gives us more control over the type of night we want to have, but it doesn’t offer many opportunities to sample music and people from other walks of life unless we go to a new club.

Ainsworth might be a return to the venue that tries to be all things to all people. Billed as a gastropub (basically a pub or a sports bar that serves gourmet pub food), the 6,000 square foot Chelsea has a lot to offer. There are huge screens to watch sports. There is a pub menu that includes unique items like pineapple ribs, wild mushroom pizza, and miso duck spring rolls in addition to pub favorites like calamari and cheese fries. There is a DJ booth and a good sound system for music. There is a small place to dance. There is a space for bottle service. There is a brunch menu for the daytime crowd and there are specialty drinks for the ladies. The only thing the Ainsworth doesn’t have is an outdoor terrace. It might not do everything perfectly, but it does have the potential to do several things well.

The crowd is the most unique aspect of the space. Instead of instantly drawing in a huge sports crowd, or a big model and bottle crowd the operators are filling the room with a variety of patrons. The emo kids stood by the bar with the business suit crowd. The glamour girls hung out near the nerds. The DJ dropped a Michael Jackson tune and everyone went bananas. If you ignored the people staring down at their Crackberries, you might have mistaken the scene for the old melting pot venues of the 80s.

The novelty will eventually wear off and the free liquor will eventually stop flowing. When that happens, a specific group of patrons might eventually claim Ainsworth as its territory. You should get there before that happens. Who knows when you’ll find another venue that will let you mingle outside your comfort zone just by crossing a room.
Have fun

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