Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Empire Room, Mad46 and SLA Improvements

The Nightlife Report for March 30, 2010

SLA wipes out license backlog
(Business Review)
Less than a year ago, the State Liquor Authority was facing a corruption scandal, license applications that were supposed to be reviewed in a month often took 6 months to review and there was a backlog of over 2,000 unprocessed applications languishing in Albany. Now the old regime is out,
applications are being reviewed within several weeks and most of the backlog is gone in other parts of the state. While there are still considerable challenges facing Chairman Rosen, including eliminating the backlog that still remains in New York City, overhauling the Prohibition Era licensing laws and updating the technology infrastructure of the agency, this announcement is welcomed news to an industry that is often at odds with state officials.

Empire Room
(Urban Daddy)
rise of midtown as a nightlife hub continues with the long awaited opening of an upscale lounge located inside the Empire State Building. Although the location might make it impossible to hide from tourists, one can only hope that the doorman enforces a no fanny pack policy to the best of his ability.

The Most Expensive Venues in New York
(Club Planet)
In a recession, an operator has to cater to a very specific clientele if he wants to charge top dollar for his or her hospitality. At the same time, a nightlife native needs to know which places are the most expensive and plan their evenings accordingly. Some will avoid these places, others will flock to them. While any place can break the bank if you order bottle service for everyone, Taryn Haight of Club Planet list these five venues at the top of the price pyramid.

Re-Opening (April 7th)
The Roosevelt Hotel throws its hat into the retractable rooftop ring with a midtown lounge that promises to combine signature drinks, gourmet snacks and quality service to create the perfect place to start your night. Look for a full review of this venue in Prince of the City later this month.

Have fun.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Listen to the NPR Interview for Seize the Night

Cityscape is an award winning radio program from NPR focusing on various aspects of life in New York City. Author Gamal Hennessy recently sat down with the host of Cityscape to discuss his new book Seize the Night. To listen to the podcast of this radio show, click on the link and then click on the “View in iTunes” button for NYC After Dark.

Gamal Hennessy interview on NPR’s Cityscape

Have fun

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Avoiding Sexual Violence in Nightlife

By Gamal Hennessy

It is a
scene that started out with banal familiarity and ended with nauseating violence. A young woman in a club decided not to dance with a man who approached her. He responded to this by following her when she went into the bathroom and beating her savagely. While she lies in the hospital and the venue works with the police to find the criminal, anger and anxiety ripple through New York nightlife. What can women do to protect themselves and still enjoy their clubs?

Roots of Violence
Marc MacYoung is a noted expert on the mental and emotional elements of violent confrontation who has
defined four types of violence: territorial, in which violence is used as a tool to remove someone from an area claimed by the attacker; behavior correcting, in which violence is used as a tool to stop some activity that the attacker defines as undesirable; criminal, in which violence is used by the attacker as the means to gain some monetary good; and predatory or revenge, in which violence is used to retaliate against an actual or perceived attack. Any type of violence could occur in nightlife, but revenge violence is the most common form of violence in nightlife since fanatics see it as a legitimate form of expression.

When a
fanatic engages in revenge violence, it is commonly in response to something. That something could be an emotional, physical or verbal action. It could be an actual action or the absence of an action. Whatever form the something takes, it boils down to the concept that you hurt his ego, his self-esteem or his standing within his group - whether you stepped on his foot, “hit on” his girlfriend or refused to dance with him. Whatever you did, he doesn’t feel that you gave him the respect he deserves, so now he feels justified in physically punishing you for your “offense.”

The most important thing to emphasize here is that the responsibility for revenge violence does not fall on women or operators. The fanatic alone is to blame. Revenge violence is often committed by people with low self-esteem that existed long before the situation unfolded. The anger, frustration, hatred and self loathing that fuels them often has very little to do with the particular victim. It is a product of his unhappiness with life in general. Unfortunately, these people use violent confrontation to “let off some steam” and momentarily re-establish their feeling of self-righteous power. They need an unwitting volunteer to unleash that anger upon. Some of them find that volunteer in and around clubs.

Avoiding Violence
There is no practical way for women to alter or eliminate predators or fanatics in nightlife. It is often very difficult to even identity a potential threat in the chaotic environment of a club. But there are five
steps that women can take to deter and avoid assaults while they are out; group movement, designated watchers, deterrence images, retained awareness and responsible indulgence.

Group Movement:
Lisa Friel is an Assistant District Attorney for the sex crimes unit in Manhattan with experience in cases of nightlife sexual assaults. She advocates that women use the concept of group movement, meaning that the ladies go out together, remain in the same general area and leave together. This prevents any one woman from being isolated and abused. Ms. Friel isn’t saying you shouldn’t dance, meet boys, exchange numbers and generally have a good time. She isn’t saying that the whole night should be one huge exercise in cockblocking. She is saying that there is strength in numbers when it comes to preventing sexual assault.

Designated Watcher: Ms. Friel also supports the use of a designated watcher. Similar to a designated driver, the watcher drinks less than the rest of the group and makes sure that no one falls unconscious, gets overcome by a group of fanatics, or stumbles out of the club at 4:15 without any idea of where they are or how they are getting home. Again, this isn’t an invitation for a wet blanket to play morality cop and ruin everyone’s night, but if you go out in a group and the whole group gets blind drunk, then the security of the group isn’t that effective.

Deterrence Image: If you are separated from your group, or if you are the designated watcher, you will need a way to drive off people who might cause problems. Sexual criminals in nightlife are similar to predators in nature. When choosing someone to attack, they often choose the person who appears the least likely to protect themselves. They target the weakest of the herd. In the nightlife context that means they will target people who are drunk, isolated, preoccupied, confused, or who project weakness through non verbal signals in their body language. Victimology experts Chuck Hustmyre and Jay Dixit suggest that attackers are less likely to choose targets that are organized in their movement, confident in their posture and comfortable in their surroundings are less likely to be singled out.

Retained Awareness: The concept of an ambush is one of the most common elements in violent confrontation. Put simply, it is very hard to get out of a situation that you are not aware of. If you are surprised, caught off guard or blindsided, you are more likely compound your problems. Maintaining awareness of your surroundings as you party is an integral part of being a nightlife
native. You can have a good time and keep your eyes open, but you have to make that choice up front.

Responsible Indulgence: The basic concept that women can use to protect themselves is responsible indulgence. It isn’t about being afraid to go out or going out looking for trouble. It is about knowing your limits and being familiar with your environment so you can deal with a potential problem if it arises.

Sexuality is at the core of the nightlife experience. Women are the linchpin to the majority of nightlife business and culture. But that doesn’t mean that they need to feel uncomfortable, threatened or afraid when they go out. It does mean that they need to take some precautions to deter the fanatics of the world.

Have fun.

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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Chelsea Hotel, Collective, Ink 48 and the Nightclub Convention

The Nightlife Report for March 10, 2010
Compiled by
Gamal Hennessy

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

The Collective
(Urban Daddy)
An anti-bottle haven springs up in the heart of bottle territory.

Coming Soon
Ink 48
(NY Barfly)
Although the rooftop lounge isn’t open yet, Midtown West has a new hotel with a new bar. Maybe you’ll be able to wave to your friends at Hudson Terrace from there…

Chelsea Hotel
(DNA Info)
Operators and local residents are having a hard time agreeing on the application for two new bars inside the historic Chelsea Hotel. At this point, they can’t even agree on a time to meet or agree about what they disagree about, so this project might take a while to develop.

The Nightclub & Bar Convention
(The Las Vegas Sun)
The 25th Annual trade show kicks off in Las Vegas this week amid concerns over falling revenue and increased competition. But the nightlife industry as a whole appears to be thriving there. A local nightlife writer named Jack Colton was quoted as saying “A nightclub in Las Vegas is a lot like a tree growing in a lush tropical forest. Our nightlife operators enjoy relatively lenient alcohol laws in a popular tourist market, providing substantially larger budgets to do everything it takes to consistently be considered the best.” New York is a popular tourist market that can provide substantial budgets to some operators. Could it be that our licensing process or our zoning laws are preventing the local nightlife industry from consistently being considered the best?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Nightlife Racism, Tiny Hotels and the Cocktail Olympics

The Nightlife Report for March 5, 2010
Compiled by
Gamal Hennessy

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

Coming Soon
Le Baron
(Societe Perrier)
Operators of a well known Parisian club are planning to set up roots in Chinatown. Hopefully they can use some of that French charm to overpower the NIMBY element of the community board.

(The Independent)
Pod Hotels are big in Japan. They are called pod hotels because the rooms are about as big as a coffin. The operators of an international pod hotel chain are bringing the concept to Times Square in 2011. With all the space they save on the rooms, they plan to open the largest outdoor lounge in New York putting themselves in direct competition with Hudson Terrace. I’m not sure the coffin sized hotel room thing will work here, but its hard to go wrong with a roof top bar.

Martini Week (March 1-14 at Various Locations)
(Tasting Table)
Spend the next two weeks sampling new martinis all around the city in an event brought to you by Tasting Table and Thrillist

Ultimate Cocktail Challenge (April 12-14 at the Astor Center)
(Bar Business Magazine)
If you’re still going through Olympic withdrawal head down to the Astor Center for the ultimate in cocktail competition. It’s a lot more exciting than curling.

Tangled Wine Bar
(Time Out New York)
You want to feel like you are protecting Mother Earth while you drink. You’ve already been to Greenhouse and you’re over it. Now you can go uptown and drink from a organic, biodynamic (whatever that means) wine menu complimented with Mediterranean tapas.

Segregation in Clubland
(Good Night Mr. Lewis)
Very few venues can boast about having a diverse multi-ethnic crowd. Several natives and operators have pointed out that the “top venues” in the city today are more segregated than a Birmingham lunch counter in the 1950’s. In contrast, they point to a high level of diversity in the days of Studio 54, Limelight and Paradise Garage. Is this the result of niche marketing or outright racism? Read the article (and the comments) and decide where you stand.

Have fun.

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