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Go BackNY CITY IS SPECIAL - Despite anti-fun legislation Avalon, Crobar, Arc get credits for success and you still can't get no sleep

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Kicking club scenes are not inextricably allied with a atmosphere of general lawlessness. New York nightlife is currently under severe pressure from anti-fun legislation, but proposed restrictions such as 1am closings and the total smoking ban already in force haven't stopped an impressive surge of investment and creativity. Avalon and Crobar are two of the more celebrated hot spots, famous for honkingly good sound systems & committed crews. Our "sweeeett" Lisa talks to the marketing manager of the former, and correspondent in North America, enthusiastic nu playa Angie Camara, does a consumer review of the latter.

On a more defiant note, Laura de Palma from the 1,500 capacity Arc tells us what they're up to. Plenty, despite the lack of a venue. Yep, 6 Hubert St is to close. No doubt the residential real estate in its place will be bought up by mature ravers looking to relive their daze of whoring glory. Similarly optimistic is professional publicist Betty Kang, from Plexi PR, whose comments are also included below.

NYC'S AVALON[/center]
Lisa Loco writes:
Taking its name from the mythical island paradise where King Arthur went after his death, the rather large (but somehow intimate) Manhattan nightclub named ‘Avalon’ threw open its landmark doors back in September 2003. Club owners John Lyons and Steve Adelman now hold the lease to this world famous location, beside the successful existing Avalon clubs in Boston and Hollywood, Los Angeles. Completing Avalon’s trio of sizeable clubs, the gothic NYC venue has realised an astonishing history itself since the 1800s, when the club was actually a church! Ironically this holy ground later became the legendary ‘Limelight’ nightspot, engaging in a decadent relationship with wild card, king of clubs Peter Gatien. Andy Warhol set the stage hosting Limelight’s opening party, and in the following year (1984) William S. Burroughs’ held his 70th birthday party there, at this church of the (modern day) Holy Communion

Avalon’s NYC website declares: “Out of the ashes of the previous church, a modern club design, combined with state of the art sound and lighting systems has developed.” Indeed it has been widely reported that Avalon has helped illuminate city clubbing and contribute to a resurgent nightlife. Take New Year’s Eve for example, made extraordinary through Avalon’s endeavours as saint Sasha and Jimmy Van M spun stateside into 2004 at Avalon, New York, whilst Digweed djed on the West coast at Avalon, Hollywood.

Avalon’s ambition wants to take the ‘superclub’ aesthetic and blend it seamlessly with a cosier environment of the popular lounge bar. Avalon’s ‘Spider Club’ concept reflects this aim and is an elitist VIP club-within-a-club, developed at both Avalon’s NYC and Hollywood locations. New York’s Avalon and The Spider Club were both designed by sought after ‘d-ash design,’ an exclusive David Ashen firm. The customised ‘EAW Avalon Series’ sound system and dynamic lighting rigs on vertical trusses have further renovated this club. We’ve been told that the finely tuned sound system must simply be heard to fully comprehend its might and impact… This all sounds like a heavenly match, and being angelic and naturally curious we wanted to know more. Fedor Banuchi is the Marketing Director at Avalon, and from ‘the city that never sleeps,’ Fedor took some time out of his busy schedule to pencil in some astute answers to our questionable enquiries…

Greetings Fedor, how has your week been so far?
”Pretty good so far… This past week has been quiet, eventually winding down from all the New Year’s craziness. Things are about to pick up though in the next couple of weeks, and there are lots of things to plan for 2004.”

Congratulations, Avalon looks magnificent with some splendid new design and beautiful original features!
”Thanks... We had a great building to start out with, and a wonderful design team to work with on it.”

How did you first become involved with Avalon?
”I used to produce raves in the Boston area, back in the early 1990s... As the rave scene died, the (DJ) acts moved into the clubs. John Debo was already working at Lyons group (the parent company of Avalon.) He and I had been friends for years and he suggested that I come and work with him on a new project. Debo had been supporting underground DJs for years with ‘Axis’ (Avalon's smaller sister club.) He had just started the ‘AvalandFriday night in Avalon, which up until then had been a commercial venue. The concept was pretty simple, combining the biggest underground djs with the most elaborate decor and over the top production, all together in Boston's biggest and best room. I jumped at the chance, and have been with them since 1997.”

Avalon opened its doors on Saturday 20th September 2003. How have the past few months of business been on the NYC scene?
”The club has been doing great! I think that people in New York were looking for that ‘big club’ experience once again. Before we opened up, there really hadn’t been a new ‘big’ club in NYC for quite a while. A lot of them had been either shut down by the city, or closed down for various other reasons. Previously most of New York’s nightlife consisted of small and seemingly endless numbers of "boutique" style trendy lounges. People thought we were crazy to open up this place, a lot of people said that it wouldn’t work with all the history of the Limelight weighing down the project. However we just persevered, and now I think that the combination of Avalon and a few other places opening up last Fall has brought a new sense of excitement that New York nightlife was missing. I hear the comment(s) that, "people are excited about going out again," all the time these days.”

Regarding your 1,650 capacity club, do big dj names usually work at filling it and what’s your approach to this?
”We don’t like to rely on the DJ to fill the room by him/herself. If we did we would be doing a string of one off concerts. Instead, we like to combine a strong social promotion with various DJ acts that suit the night. In that way there is a solid core of people in the room who come week after week, regardless of who is playing. The big names thus become the gravy on the dish, instead of necessary to sustain the business.”

You currently have promoter Tom Mello out helping with Friday’s (house) night bookings and Saturday’s are (more trance-like) with John Debo is that accurate? Also how is the music policy of Avalon going to evolve this year?
”The bookings have already evolved. The house format wasn’t really a good match for the group of social promoters that work on Friday’s. The Friday bookings have actually become harder, while the Saturday bookings have become far broader based. Judge Jules for instance is playing on a Friday, and Felix Da Housecat on Saturday’s.”

Does Avalon NY plan to maintain substantial links with the other Avalon’s in Boston and Los Angeles?
”There are strong ties between all of these clubs. They all share the same upper management and certain owners.”

Do you have to be extra careful with the political (hot potato) drug issue at Avalon? NYC clubbing message boards are even carrying warnings on their websites…
“Due to the history of the venue we have to be especially sensitive to this. We search all people before entering, and have a zero tolerance policy.”

Meanwhile in places like Ibiza there’s a more liberal approach to the problem. What are your thoughts?
”I think that you have to be fully aware of the political climate in your area regarding certain issues, and base your company policies accordingly.”

Are you sick of the media going on about Limelight and the so-called ‘dark ages,’ when there was so much light and goodness involved in the mix there too?
”Not really. We knew going into the project that there would be a lot of Limelight talk/ and comparisons. The Limelight was one of the most famous clubs in the world after all. People still call the place looking for it… (We have kept the same telephone number as the Limelight.) Tourists still come from abroad looking for it, and New Yorker’s always talk about the good times and bad times that were experienced in it. We actually did a book release party for Patrick McMullan's "So 80s" last November. Patrick is a New York/ Hampton’s celebrity photographer. He’s been taking pictures in clubs since Studio 54 and was a regular at Limelight; a lot of pictures from the book were taken there. Anyway the room was filled to capacity with all the 80s glitterati and we even hired the period Limelight resident DJs to play at the night. It was really a fun event.”

Are you superstitious about the address? It’s an interesting location for a church with a 660 Sixth Avenue address, or is it 47 West 20th Street?
”Not really, but our neighbours address is 666 6th Ave… 662 is the official night time address (people enter the club on 6th Avenue. 47 w20th is the mailing address.”

You’ll have seen ‘Party Monster’ do you think it’s a good movie production?

”Yes I have seen "Party Monster." I didn’t really like the movie. However there’s a book called "Clubland: The Fabulous Rise And Murderous Fall Of Club Culture," by Frank Owen which tells the complete story.”

Does it worry you that Crobar has opened (among other large clubs,) or will competition bring out the best in Avalon?
”Competition is healthy! At one time there were eight active mega clubs in New York, (The Palladium, Twilo, Tunnel, Sound Factory, Roxy, Webster Hall, Club USA and Limelight) all of them busy. As I said before, the combination of all of us opening (Avalon, Crobar, Spirit, etc.) has brought a new level of excitement to New York’s nightlife scene. I think it is actually making "more" people go out. Besides high tides float all boats, there are enough people around for all of us.”

Do you have any other news to reveal or Avalon plans for the future?
”Here’s what we’ve got lined up DJ wise at Avalon until March


MARCH 2004
Friday March 5th - JOHNNY VICIOUS
Saturday March 6th - JUDGE JULES
Saturday March 13th - CARL COX & CHRISTIAN SMITH
Friday March 19th - LISA LASHES & MAX GRAHAM
Saturday March 20th - TALL PAUL & DAVE RALPH
Saturday March 27th - GABRIEL & DRESDEN

APRIL 2004 confirmations

Saturday April 10th - JUNKIE XL (LIVE)
Saturday April 17th - DAVE SEAMAN

[/right]Thanks go to Fedor for taking the time to answer these questions!
Loco:Rites PO Box 119, Leeds, LS9. UK

The Church of the (modern day) Holy Communion is located at:
662 Sixth Avenue @ 20th Street -- 212.807.7780
Doors at 10pm -- 18+ girls, 21+ gents
$25 general admission -- $15 reduced list before 12am / $20 reduced list after 12am

Reduced list Email:
Advance ticketing at:

The third addition to the Crobar family was born on Thursday, December 11th, 2003 at approximately 9pm [/center]
Angie Camara writes:
Thousands of party goers looked on as proud parents Ken Smith and Cal Fortis announced that doors are now open and "THE PARTY HAS BEGUN!!!

Crobar NYC is located in the not so trendy Meat packing Distrikt, but don't be fooled as the inside is definitely a designers dream come true. Lionel Ohayon of ICRAVE design was given the task of giving the very critical New Yorkers something to talk about! He did alright ... the design is very industrial, very New York but a lot of thought went into the details. A must see.

Most of us know Crobar from their 2nd location in Miami {first one in Chicago}, which plays host some of the best parties during the Winter Music Conference in March and attract some of the biggest stars all year round. The Miami location has been nominated for Best club venue by Dancestar USA. Not bad for a club that's only been around since December 31st, 1999.

Back to New York. The opening party was the talk of the town, if you didn't know anyone or your name wasn't on the list .. forget it. Matt Damon had to wait outside for hours, so I hear. It was a massive mob scene outside at 9pm, Studio 54 re-incarnated. The police had to get involved and shut off both ends of the street from 26th to 28th! Once we tackled getting in we entered an area with a wall of plasma screens with different visuals on them which lit up the red carpet. Then up the stairs where they display some very interesting signs i.e. "leaving childhoo"d were displayed. Very cool. The bar/lounge area has a foresty feel as the design incorporates a lot of wood ... Big bamboo poles with little tables in-between to put your drinks. They dj played hip hop in a booth facing out to the crowd, located behind the bar and raised behind glass. Interesting.

Next stop ... main room: You walked through a tunnel that had blue/white squares on the floor and gave you an airport terminal feel and the designer meant it because when you stepped out you felt like you were in an airplane hanger! The main room was HUGE ... I can almost compare it to the Guvernment in Toronto but the balcony goes all the way around and people were just going CRAZY! The night was a non-stop theatrical experience. Cirque de Soleil performers, naked people sitting on sofas, go-go dancers with crazy outfits, a guy building a dress on the stage made of paper which by the end
of the night took up the whole stage area, a woman playing the harp and we can't forget the guy who was so fucked up that he decided to perform with the woman on stage! The performances were very Manumissionesque.

Their Phazon Sound System was so crisp I could hear everything so clearly. It is one of those systems that is very loud and strong but you can still hold a conversation with the person next to you, reminded me of Stereo in Montreal. Frankie Knuckles provided ear candy that night, and didn't disappoint one bit! As he relieved the opener (can't remember who he was) the CO2 jets went off a la Space - Miami and the crowd went nuts!!! At times the loud hissing of the CO2 cannons went off and in 5 seconds the room was completely drenched in thick white and very cold air. The lights show was like a visual orgasm, when working with the CO2 cannons ... unbelievable.

HELLO NYC ... CROBAR HAS BEEN BORN! Frankie was booked under the direction of David Waxman who is A&R at Ultra Records, a DJ and the musical director at Crobar. David played in the Saturday and will continue to reside there every Saturday.

They sent out 4000 invitations, the capacity is approx. 2800 and it felt like I was partying with 6000 of my closest friends ...everyone wanted in, including celebrities! It wouldn't be a Crobar opening without them...
Pharell Williams, P Diddy, Tyson Beckford, Maxwell, Armand Van Helden, Beyonce, JLo and Sean Paul just to name a few.

A great accomplishment for the Crobar team who invested approximately 7 million rumored dollars into the biggest club in New York to date. If you're in the Big Apple, make sure you stop by as I am sure it will become just as much a tourist attraction and the good ol' Statue of Liberty. God Bless Crobar, I mean America.

Victor Calderone however is unlikely to share Angie's sentiment. He announced via his website that Crobar's management "has been forced to pull the plug on all non-holiday weekend after-hours".

Vic continues:
The simple solution would be for me to move the party to the earlier part of Saturday night. However, neither Crobar nor I feel that EVOLVE would work in those earlier hours. I am just not interested in developing a party that, at this time, has to close by 5am. I am obviously disappointed that things didn't work out, but I haven't given up hope of finding another residency in New York City.

Moving on to more concrete news, I am very excited to announce that Danny Tenaglia has invited me to spin at his "Be Yourself" @ NV event in Miami during the Winter Music Conference. The party actually spans two nights this year - Sunday, March 7 and Monday, March 8 - and will be held at NV Nightclub in downtown Miami. I'll be playing the middle set on the first night beginning around 3:30am. Aldrin and Behrouz will kick off the party followed by Tom Stephan, with Danny taking over sometime around 7:00am. Danny will also play the second night accompanied by Tony Thomas, Demi, Chus and Ceballos and DJ Vibe.

Arc’s closure has caused consternation amongst the club-going populace of NYC. Danny Tenaglia loves it so much he doesn’t want to play anywhere else in New York. Fellow resident Sander Kleinenberg eulogised thus: “it will remain a legend and an inspiration for many more nocturnal and musical adventures to come”. (From

In its place will be luxury condominiums. Laura De Palma, the Arc brand’s Creative Director, says they’re working on “the next incarnation”, but was short on details. The Ibiza regular says though the pressure on the nightlife were worse under neo-con Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, but concedes regulations which send people outside for a fag in subzero temperatures might seem “restrictive” from a European vantage point.

The music doesn’t seem to have suffered though. How’s this for a Miami (Winter Music Conference) lineup:

Laura: Right now we are gearing up to go to the WMC where we are producing 5 events. We are taking over the venue B.E.D. where we’ll have Danny Howells’ Made in Bed III, this will be the third year of mayhem for that one and Get Some in Bed with the 112Crew, Bill Patrick, Dennis Rodgers, and Matt Licata. These guys are our residents and their monthly Get Some party is soon becoming the most talked about night in the NY clubscene. We’re also hosting the Axis Records party, where Jeff Mills will be playing for the first time at conference. We also have a lot of great closing parties coming up at Arc, we will be bringing back some of the legendary parties that existed in the space; Body & Soul, Lil’ Louie Vega, Nasa, along with other great closing parties that represent what Arc’s been about.

What's Arc like compared to Avalon, Crobar (NY), or Cielo? How stiff is the competition?
We are first and foremost about the music, and the kind of music-oriented crowd that brings. I think each club attracts a slightly different clientele. But in general, the more clubs in New York, the better it is for all of us. It simply encourages people to go out on weekends.

What's the music policy?
Innovative, one of the things that we have always been interested in is pushing the music forward. Keeping the musical integrity of nightlife, not relying on what has been done before, not taking it easy.

Did you attend the NYNA (New York Nightlife Association) meeting at Lotus on Feb 4?

The legislative environment in New York looks restrictive. How does it feel close up?
From a European vantage point I’m sure it seems restrictive. It feels like it is lightening up a bit from the Gulianni years.

How will this affect life for your average NY clubber?
At the moment, other than the smoking-ban, I think things are OK for the average clubber here. We made it through the winter with sending people outside to smoke, I imagine the summer with be a lot more pleasant! And at least we don’t have to close at 1 or 2 like some other states. I can’t imagine that.

What effect do you think it will have on tourism and the reputation of NY nightlife?
Hopefully not too much.

What are the elements of a really kicking scene?
For sure it is about the music creating the right vibe. At the best parties, there is always a feeling of being on the same vibe as everyone else. It is a feeling of cohesiveness, when that element is lacking the event is mediocre.

Why do the authorities have so much of a problem with nightlife?
That is a good question that I don’t have the answer to. My guess would be that it is viewed by some in this country as a ‘public service’ it is what the politicians can do as a form of PR. Make the public think that they are doing something worthwhile and skirting the real issues.

In your opinion, how much of an influence has the States' puritanical heritage had on recent anti-smoking and other legislation?
I think that there is some of that way of thinking at the base of the view that nightclubbing is debauched. Which is kind of an undercurrent in this society. I don’t know if it has anything to do with the anti-smoking laws. I think that America is really starting to except that smoking is extremely bad for your health. It has been banned in offices etc. for years here.

Have you travelled to Europe much? If so, what is your impression of the nightlife scene in European centres as compared to NY?
Yes, I‘ve travelled extensively in Europe and lived there for a bit. It is really hard to group all the countries together. Each country, or city in fact, has a different take on night life and clubbing.

Have you been to Ibiza? If so, how was it?
Yes, we go every year and I love it! I always manage to get inspired - even if it is just that one thing, one sound, one party, that I’ll bring back to New York with me. And that moon!

What is Ibiza's rep in the States?
For the club-goers and dance music industry I think people love it and want to go every year, or if they haven’t been they want to go. I do find that for most others it has a bit of a bad rap. People think that it is only about the party there, they don’t get that there are so many other things to enjoy other than the party. Although lately, I think it is being rediscovered by people who would not necessarily have gone before.

What's going to happen now?
As you’ve heard, we’ve announced just recently that we will be closing our doors at 6 Hubert Street on the last weekend of April 2004. The building has been sold and will be made into luxury condominiums. The closing of the space represents the end of an era – that space was home to a number of legendary clubs and parties in the past 25 years and we are honored to be named among them. That said, this change has brought about the opportunity to look for a new home for Arc. I can’t give details at the moment, but I can say that as always, we are committed to keeping the integrity of underground clubbing alive in NYC. And that we are currently working on the next incarnation of Arc that will take underground clubbing to the next level!

Queen bee of NY public relations, Betty Kang pumps it up for us also:

New York City is in the midst of a clubbing and nightlife revival. Thankfully, a NYC government 1am licensing proposal was recently squashed due to overwhelming public & nightlife business protests. With great sadness we mourn the loss of ARC formerly Vinyl – home of the world-famous Body & Soul parties and Danny Tenaglia’s 5 year Be Yourself party. On the flip side, the energy and excitement is back on the rise, as new clubs have been steadily opening up in the last few months. AVALON nightclub has brought back world class talent to NYC to the former Limelight, including Richie Hawtin, Doc Martin, Josh Wink, Felix Da Housecat, Timo Maas, Steve Lawler. Crobar is finally reuniting Sasha & John Digweed, and Spirit nightclub in the former Twilo space is poised to infuse Friday nights with underground talent. Also, underground party stalwart Jason Swamy of Shameless fame is poised to open up a new music-centric restaurant-club Movida in April 2004.

That’s not including the new crop of djs and producers, with Astro & Glyde leading the field with a newly signed track to venerable label Bedrock, Chris & Kai on Yoshitoshi, Hisham Samawi, Bill Patrick and the 112 Crew with Dennis Rodgers & Matt Licata– they’re all making impressions on our dancefloors and worldwide. Look for them in a dj booth near you.

With the warmer months just ahead, the city will most definitely heat up. Ibiza, London, Berlin and now New Yok City, is again becoming a global clubbing destination.

For those who want to experience a slice of NYC clubbing before it's
gone. The official Arc closing party will take place the weekend of April 23rd, with possibly two events helmed by Danny himself on Friday and Sunday. Check out for updates. It's going to be one for the clubbing history books.

Betty Kang
Plexi PR
tel + 718.729.6550

Thus concludes our "NYC IS SPECIAL" special. From this side of the Atlantic it appears that naturally fierce and life-loving New Yorkers are showing resistance to the puritanical aspects of their government. As well they should. Clubs like Arc, Avalon and Crobar amongs others provide a high quality service for people who just like dancing and sharing. They should be encouraged, not repressed.

Words by Lisa Loco & Angie Camara