Friday, January 29, 2010

Attend the Nightlife Town Hall Meeting!

If you own a venue, or work in one or enjoy going out in New York City, you have a reason to attend next week’s Nightlife Town Meeting. New York Nights will be at the event to support the industry and report back on what comes out of the meeting.

When: Thursday, February 4th 2010 @ 6:30 pm
Where: PS 20 166 Essex Street (between Stanton and East Houston)

Have fun

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

China Club, Poor Service, West New York and the Nightlife Town Hall Meeting

The New York Nights Club Report for January 27, 2010
Compiled by
Gamal Hennessy

…I hunt down the nightlife news so you don’t have to…

Nightlife Town Hall Meeting
(New York Nights)
Community Board 3 on the Lower East Side is scheduling a Nightlife Town Hall meeting at P.S. 20 (
Essex and Stanton) on Thursday, February 4 at 6:30 pm. The agenda of the meeting is unclear, but natives and operators who work at or patronize any venue in the Lower East Side or the East Village should attend and make your voice heard. Don’t let the anti-nightlife minority speak for you.

Clubs Could Be Closed for Violating the Smoking Ban
(Daily News)
Two weeks ago we ran a story about the increase in smoking violations inside some clubs and lounges. The Department of Health has started cracking down on alleged offenders, but instead of forcing clubs to pay fines, they are taking the aggressive stance of trying to revoke the liquor licenses of M2, the Box and other high profile venues. Is the city trying to make an example of these spots, or are governed by an administration with an unspoken anti-nightlife stance that would rather see clubs close than thrive?

West New York Could Skip Liquor Licenses
Local leaders just across the Hudson River are considering a plan to let venues serve wine and beer without applying for a liquor license. Considering how many people come into the city from across the river to party on the weekends, a move like this could siphon away revenue from local nightlife. If things continue to be problematic for operators here, we could lose some of venues to the Garden State as well…

China Club
(Daily News)
Three men allegedly got into a fight outside of the midtown venue. Two of them went to the hospital. One of them died. This crime seems to follow a major trend in nightlife violence because the assault seems to have occurred just outside the venue and it occurred close to the
end of the night, when many questionable decisions are made. The pattern suggests the need for increased police foot patrols as venues close, which would discourage crime and decrease noise in nightlife concentrated areas.

Why Do Patrons Put Up With Bad Service?
(Club Planet)
JRL asks why so many people are willing to pay for top dollar bottle service only to be treated like they just ordered off the value meal and paid with coupons?

Have fun

Monday, January 25, 2010

Seize the Night Introduction Chapter

If you would like to take a look at the dedication, acknowledgements and introduction to Seize the Night, please click on the link below.

Seize the Night Introduction Chapter

Please leave a comment and let us know what you think.

Have fun.

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Minor Arcana, Panda, Tequila Library and Telephone Bar

The NYN Club Report for January 22, 2010

Compiled by
Gamal Hennessy

…I hunt down the nightlife news so you don’t have to…

Coming Soon
Tequila Library
TriBeCa has the Brandy Library. In March Midtown East will get a library devoted to serving agave based spirits. Who said libraries were useless in the internet era?

(Urban Daddy)
Hidden Coffee Shop by Day, Hidden Dance Club by Night

Minor Arcana
Prospect Heights gets its very owned Tarot themed neighborhood bar.

Telephone Bar
A staple of the East Village closes its doors at the end of the month.

New Feature
The Rusty Knot Party Bus
(Good Night Mr. Lewis)
The West Side Highway Bar will pick you up and bring you to their bar for free. But are they going to drive your drunk ass home at night?

Have fun


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Does a New Decade Mean New Nightlife?

Gamal Hennessy

Nightlife in the 1970’s was about discos. The 80s gave rise to the mega club. The 90s brought us lounges. The first decade of the 21st century made the speakeasy and the exclusive venue prominent. What major trend will permeate New York nightlife in this new decade?

Outside Influence
Nightlife is similar to any other local industry. It does not develop in isolation. Economic, political and social factors create environment for nightlife trends. The economic malaise, reduced regulation and residual attitudes towards sex and recreational drugs from the free love era of the 60s created a space for the Studio 54, Limelight and Sound Factory scenes. Rising real estate prices, increased gentrification, more scrutiny from City Hall and onset of AIDS caused a contraction in the market leading to smaller venues that charged higher prices without the decadence of previous years. The residential real estate boom, increased security concerns, on demand entertainment and social media shaped the current pseudo celebrity climate that we are currently experiencing. In order to predict what the next decade will bring, we need to look at the external factors that will come into play.

Pundits are predicting a “
U shaped recovery” meaning that it will be some time before employment, wages and spending return to pre-recession levels. That means that at least in the short term bottle service won’t be as strong a trend as it was in the last decade. Commercial real estate costs will not come down significantly forcing operators to either go with smaller spaces that are economically viable or go for a major venue that can serve multiple groups of patrons to maximize the revenue coming out of the space.

third term for Mayor Bloomberg probably signals a certain amount of status quo in the relationship between nightlife and City Hall. However, recent changes in nightlife leadership and the creation of the Nightlife Preservation Community could be the beginning of a stronger nightlife lobby and increased political influence. The new chairman of the State Liquor Authority has made some progress in improving the situation between nightlife and the state government, but pressure from local politicians and community groups could push back any gains that have been made unless the industry remains wary.

Technology is on track to make niche entertainment and mobile connections more prominent. That means it will be harder to have
one large venue catering to various different segments of the nightlife population all at once the way Studio 54 or Limelight did. It also means that because everyone is connected to the outside world all the time, it will be harder and harder to create a kind of escapist fantasy environment that nightlife represents. We won’t be able to escape because our connection to our world is always in our pockets. Finally, because everyone is in a position to broadcast their actions in real time and many of us are constantly trying to increase our popularity, status and image, the trend towards more and more outrageous public acts (whether real or staged) will probably increase.

It is
too early to tell exactly what changes (if any) New York nightlife will see in the next decade. But it is clear that we need to look outside at our collective situation before we can look into our crystal balls. The operators and patrons who go out into the night with their eyes opened will be the ones who get the most out of the new nightlife.

Have fun.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Bar Seven Five, Beatrice, Boom Boom Room, and the Roxy

The New York Nights Club Report for January 14, 2010
Compiled by
Gamal Hennessy

…I hunt down the nightlife news so you don’t have to…

Public Service Announcement
Haitian Earthquake Donations
Nightlife Media is making a cash donation on behalf of Haitian earthquake victims through the International Red Cross. The money will be used to provide medical aid for survivors, identify the dead and restore contacts between family members separated because of the earthquake. If you'd also like to make a donation, please visit the IRC website.
Beatrice vs. the Boom Boom Room
The club of the moment, A-list sub culture is gearing up for a little friendly competition. Boom Boom Room has been at the top of this scene for about a year now. Beatrice used to draw the same crowd before
an angry CB shut them down, but the owners are planning to make a comeback and reclaim their market share. Will this struggle lead to more creativity and diversity in this market are there enough exclusive patrons to maintain the status quo?

2010 Club & Bar Finalists
(Guest of a Guest)
Several NYC venues were named in this national competition, but New York didn’t have the representation that Vegas does. Maybe Sin City is doing something right when it comes to nightlife. Maybe they have ideas that we can steal, or at least borrow.

Coming Soon
Ace Hotel Speakeasy
(Black Book)
Get a first look at the space that is so secret the owner sometimes forgets where it is.

The Roxy?
(Chelsea Now)
It appears that the owners of Taj, Katra and Lepoard Lounge have plans for the space abandoned by the Roxy in 2007. Will this new group succeed where
other attempts to reopen the space have failed?

Bar Seven Five
A cocktail bar without an actual bar opens up in the Financial District.

Have fun.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Community Boards Push Back Against New Liquor Rules

by Gamal Hennessy

The New York State Liquor Authority is trying to improve its service to the restaurant and nightlife communities. But by making its applications more efficient, it has stirred up anger among local community boards that see the new moves as an attack on their political influence. Unless a compromise can be reached, we could see a return to the corruption and stagnation that has plagued the agency in the recent past.

Improvements in the SLA
A venue requires a license to serve liquor in New York State. The State Liquor Authority (SLA) grants these licenses and plays a pivotal part in the ability for a venue to be successful, because a club that doesn’t serve liquor will not be opened for very long. For the past few years, the SLA was understaffed and the application process was extremely inefficient.
Applications that were supposed to be reviewed within a few weeks routinely took 6-8 months to process. There was a huge backlog of applications that cost the state money and curtailed growth of the industry. In 2009, things got so bad that former SLA employees were accused of taking bribes from operators in an attempt to get their applications out of this administrative limbo.

After the corruption scandal, a new chairman named Dennis Rosen was brought into the SLA with a mandate to weed out corruption and improve the SLA. Chairman Rosen
created a fast track process that made the liquor license process more efficient and streamlined. This move was praised by operators and industry advocates across the state who were shocked at the speed that this "new" SLA could do its job.

Community Board Reaction
But the previous system did work in favor of some groups. Local community boards (CBs) provide advisory opinions to the SLA for almost every new venue that opens in the city. If they vote against a venue, there is a good chance that venue will never open. If members of the CB push hard enough, they can
force an existing venue to close. Many CBs base their decisions based on a vague "quality of life" concepts as opposed to formal economic or urban planning concerns so operators were often at the mercy of anti-nightlife elements within the CBs. The previous process benefited the "not in my backyard" (NIMBY) elements within the CBs who exerted power and control over nightlife through the SLA.

The new streamlined system undercuts the CB’s influence. Some CB members didn’t even know that the rules had been changed. Now they are voicing their displeasure. Harold Egeln of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reports that
Community Board 10 has formally asked the SLA to abandon the new policy and go back to the 6-8 month waiting game.

Considering how pivotal the license process is to CB influence over bars, we should expect to see more CBs join the fight to roll back SLA rules and regain influence. But, as with all political issues, there is a compromise between alienating the CBs completely and giving NIMBYs control of the liquor license process.

One solution could be to bring in actual experts in urban planning, zoning, and real estate development to advise the SLA on behalf of the individual CBs within the new fast track framework. This would give the CBs a voice within the new licensing process without crippling the process itself. That will allow the SLA to continue its improvements, foster growth within nightlife and address relevant community concerns.

Going back to the old process is not the answer, unless the goal is to stifle nightlife in New York.

Have fun.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

New York Nights Now Available on Twitter

Nightlife Media would like to announce that New York Nights is now offering short venue reviews, breaking nightlife news and shameless promotions on Twitter:

Have fun

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

2010 Predictions, Red Velvet Lounge and Leisure Time Bowl

The New York Nights Club Report for January 6, 2010
Compiled by
Gamal Hennessy

…I hunt down the nightlife news so you don’t have to…

Bitter Shortage
It appears the world wide financial crisis has crippled the production of Angostura Bitters, which could alter speakeasy menus around the city...

Leisure Time Bowl
(Guest of a Guest)
Is the newest trend in New York nightlife opening up in the Port Authority Bus Terminal?

Major Club Closings of the 21st Century (so far)
A list of the venues that we lost during the last decade…

Predictions for 2010
(NBC New York)
Operators say which venues and trends will be prominent in the new year…

Red Velvet Lounge
(Urban Daddy)
A new Lower East Side bar combines two of the best things in life: liquor and cupcakes.

Have fun.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

2010: The Year of the Smoker?

By Gamal Hennessy

The ban on smoking in New York clubs was one of the key nightlife policy changes of the last decade. But news stories at the end of 2009 reveal that more and more venues allow smoking and run the risk of fines and possible closure by city authorities. Where does this defiance come from and how will it impact New York nightlife in 2010?

A Shift in Stance
smoking ban took effect in 2003 and while most venues complied, there were always a few spots that wouldn’t stop you from lighting up, even if they did incur the occasional fine. Early in 2008 there were growing public instances of venues that did not rope off areas out front or create special outdoor sections for smokers. Some operators, both openly and privately, came to the conclusion that it is easier and more cost effective to simply allow people to smoke.

At the end of 2009
smoking in clubs was again reported to be on the rise in New York City. This may be because enforcement has dropped off or because the fines are low enough that paying them costs less than complying with the law, receiving noise complaints from neighbors or alienating influential natives.

Patrons might do choose to remain indoors to smoke for convenience when it’s time to satisfy their cravings, but the reasons for non compliance from the operators’ perspective are largely economic.

One of the
problems that nightlife advocates predicted before the ban took effect was an increase of street noise that is a natural by-product of the law. When patrons go into a bar, they grab a drink and begin interacting with each other. The volume of the music played in the venue and the increased levels of intoxication raises the volume of the patrons when they are inside. They are screaming, laughing and shouting at each other. Then a few of them go outside to grab a smoke.

As they open the door, noise from the dance floor and the DJ booth spill out into the street. When the patrons get outside, they are still intoxicated. Some of them, especially the
amateurs and fanatics, are still screaming, laughing and shouting at each other. The only difference is now they are yelling beneath the window of the preppy couple who just bought a four million dollar condo across the street from the venue because they thought the neighborhood was trendy. The couple can’t sleep. Their expensive purebred dog is stressed out. They get frustrated. They call 311. The club is fined and their liquor license is threatened because they conformed to the smoking ban.

The operator is now caught on the horns of a dilemma; enforce the smoking ban and risk losing their liquor license because of noise complaints or control the noise by allowing people to smoke inside and risk losing their liquor license because of DOH violations. Neither choice is satisfactory.

There was (and still is) an alternative that protects the health of patrons and operators, keeps noise levels down outside of venues and allows patrons to smoke all at the same time. There are
air filtration systems on the market that have been approved by the Department of Health and are currently used by infectious disease wards in hospitals. These systems reportedly are the size of a humidifier, one of them can keep 1,250 square feet of interior air cleaner than the air in Central Park, even if 60 % of the people inside are smoking. Nightlife advocates proposed that if a venue was primarily a bar, lounge or club and not a restaurant, then they could have one filter installed for every 1,250 square feet of interior space to become exempt from the ban. This alternative was not included in the final version of the law.

The Year to Come
It remains to be seen how Bloomberg will react to this defiance during his third term. The smoking ban was largely his brainchild and he might feel the need to crackdown on wayward operators. If there is a new round of anti-nightlife sentiment from City Hall, the ban could be used to shut venues down in the same way Giuliani
used the cabaret law to shut down spots he didn’t like. It might be a better long term plan for the industry to come together to help change the law instead of ignoring it.

Have fun.