It’s a slow week in nightlife because a lot of the nightlife media is focusing less on the night to night details and more on the big picture. Steven Lewis posted a piece on the lack of originality in current nightlife music. Scott Solish did a piece comparing the creativity of past eras with modern nightlife. Another promoter associate of mine started a discussion on how hard it was to draw in a large mixed group (in terms of sexual preference, race and income) these days compared to the Limelight, Studio 54 era. On a certain level, all these writers touch on a central theme that needs to be understood by nightlife patrons and operators; the culture, society and technology has changed. Nightlife has changed with it.
There is a long list of reasons why nightlife isn’t, can’t be and won’t be what it was in the past. Higher real estate costs prompted the bottle service business model. The AIDS crisis killed many of the most creative personalities in the industry. Social networks don’t give anyone a chance to escape into the nightlife world because everything they do could be recorded forever and available to everyone instantly. Digital music and iPods mean that patrons have 24/7 control of their music now so they are rarely willing to branch out and listen to something new that a DJ might offer. Smoking is banned, dancing is illegal and noise is a crime too. With all these negative pressures, New York should be amazed and proud that we have a nightlife industry at all.
But for all the changes in nightlife, there are some things that have not changed. We still go out looking for acceptance, consumption, connection, entertainment and sex. We still want some kind of release from our daylight routines. And we can still find creativity and originality in New York nightlife. We can still make connections with people we never would have met any place else. You might have to go a little bit farther or look a little bit harder, but its out there. You might have to leave your comfort zone, but it is worth the trip. Nightlife isn’t what it was 20 years ago, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it.