Thursday, May 27, 2010

The 10 Best Websites for New York Nightlife

By Gamal Hennessy

“Where do you want to go tonight?”

How many times has someone asked you this question when its time to go out at night? How often do you just shrug your shoulders and say “I don’t know, where do you want to go?” This is not a stimulating conversation. Luckily this is completely avoidable in the modern age of nightlife. The days when you found out about an event or a new venue from a flyer, the radio or word of mouth are long gone. New York nightlife has dozens of sites to help you navigate bars, parties and “secret spots that nobody knows about.” Since you don’t have the time or the patience to sift through hundreds of sites, here are 10 good ones to get you up off the couch and into the night.*

I’ve divided the top 10 into three categories. Venue sites help you find a particular kind of place based on your preferences. Event sites help you find a particular kind of party in the near future. Finally, New Venue sites help you stay up to date with the constantly changing nightlife environment.

Venue Sites
1. Blackbook has a detailed database searchable by part of town, type of crowd, price, features and vibe. It also has direct links to Good Night Mr. Lewis, giving you a chance to go beyond the specific venue and get the insight of an operator who was there when venues like the Limelight and Studio 54 were at their height.
2. Club Planet: has searchable database that allows you to search by neighborhood, venue type, music type and “begins with” for those cool spots you went to before and would have remembered if you weren’t so drunk. There is also a list of events and a guest list feature that has worked reasonably well in the past.
3. New York Magazine: Bars is a database searchable by neighborhood and feature. The nightlife homepage makes it easy to find newest venues and most searchable spots if you want to go where everyone else is going. New York Magazine is also connected to Grub Street, which can offer you some additional insight on changes in the industry as they happen.
4. Shecky’s: has a nightlife guide searchable by neighborhood and type, with dozens of different types of spots laid out for you at the bottom of the page. While the writing is geared towards the Sex and the City crowd, men shouldn’t avoid using this site. We want to go where the girls go, so if this site is telling them where to go, then it’s telling us where to go too.

Event Sites
5. Facebook (C’mon, Do you really need a link to FB?): The good news about using FB to decide where to go is that you can find events your real friends are having or going to and you can invite your other friends seamlessly. The bad news is that if you live in NYC then you probably get 6-12 random invitations a day from promoters you have never met, for events that you have no intention of going to, that are going to be overbooked so you couldn’t get into them anyway. Stick to your actual friend and FB can be an event gold mine.
6. Going: reference to specific events, searchable by night of the week, types of event. While it isn’t very easy to navigate, it does have a wide range of venues and events for those who don’t want to go to the same places with the same people all the time.
7. Guest of a Guest: The event calendar on GofG lists events by the hour, so you can bar hop in style. But be warned, the listings are not exclusively for club events (they mix in book signings, fashion shows, charity events and other types of parties) and they often list events that you or I can’t get into without a prior invitation. Sometimes I feel like they aren’t listing the event so you can go. They’re listing events to show you what you’re missing.

New Venue Sites
8. Thrillist: might only have one nightlife listing per week, but it is probably going to give you info on the venue of the moment. You can sign up for their newsletter and always know what is opening up whether it’s a beer garden in Brooklyn or a rooftop in Midtown.
9. Urban Daddy: is like Thrillist’s rich cousin. It offers weekly listings of the newest venues (among its fashion, leisure and food reviews) as they open but it serves an older, more affluent crowd. If Thrillist wears a graphic tee and skinny jeans, Urban Daddy has an Armani suit with a pocket square.
10. Eater: tracks venues as they open, but the site goes farther than other sites in this category for two reasons. First, they go behind the scenes of the process of opening a venue, showing the development of the space, liquor license updates and struggles with the community boards. Second, they also let you know which venues have closed so you don’t bring your friends out to your favorite spot on a Friday night only to find out that its been shut down for weeks.

Picking a site (or sites) from this list is mostly a matter or personal taste. If you like Blackbook you might not need New York. If you’re happy with Thrillist, Urban Daddy might be redundant. You don’t have to visit all of them to find somewhere to go but spending a little time with at least one of them can make a night on the town much less confusing and much more pleasurable. And in the end, that is the point.

Have fun.

P.S. You will not that I didn’t list
New York Nights as one of the best sites for New York nightlife. That is not a function of false modesty. If you’re reading this, you already know what NYN is about. You know what it offers and you already know that all the sites listed here have links on our homepage. The sites listed here offer something that we don’t and we offer something that they don’t. Your best bet is to visit them and us to get a more complete picture of the nightlife you live in.
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