World Dance Music Capital 03: New York.

Words by: I-Voice
Posted: 8/12/08 15:17

There was a time when in our World Dance Music Capital series we could have featured New York in episode 1 and just left it at that.

Yet, the landscape of NYC nightlife has been in a constant state of flux since the mid 90s with seminal clubs like Twilo, The Tunnel, Limelight, Vinyl, Arc and Crobar now all just names for reminiscence.

The impact of Rudy Giuliani's mayorship in particular has resulted in a New York clubbing scene constantly swamped by a web of legislative constraints, austere policing and smear campaigns. In the city that never sleeps, closing times are incredibly strict, 4am without exception, and clubs are continually raided leading to the threat of closure or licence suspension. 

Yet, as you'd expect for the USA's biggest city, the talent on show every week (and almost every night of the week) is exceptional. Whether it is Berlin's finest in Brooklyn and Long Island City or superstars like Tiesto and Erick Morillo in downtown Manhattan, you will find it all here. DJ Boo, resident at the Sullivan Room and promoter at the influential Basic NYC, confirms this; "There's something for everyone in NYC - from big clubs to smaller rooms. It's always a good idea to get a presale ticket to avoid getting turned away at the door if a venue is particularly packed on the night you want to go."

So then, the World Dance Music Capital road trip welcomes you to the Big Apple for a night out in the centre of the world, well, at least that's how it feels when you are there.

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If Cielo is the most well known club in New York, Pacha runs it a close second. Due to the relative importance of the NYC Pacha branch, it has been the most closely monitored operation of the Urgell franchises.

Moreover, having friend Erick Morillo as partner has clearly helped matters, not just due to his own New York roots, but in terms of the calibre of artist the venue has attracted. It would have been a disaster had this venue suffered from tacky third rate line-ups, the fate of many Pacha franchises worldwide.

Regular top house and electro artists play here - Tenaglia, Louie Vega, Deadmau5, Bad Boy Bill, Swedish House Mafia and of course Morillo himself. This 4 flour, multi room goliath is situated on the site of the old Sound Factory and can house close to 3,000 punters.
The fact it is Pacha and that the door policy is as liberal as in Ibiza, means the crowd can be a mixed bag from kids to supermodels. 

Erick Morillo told us the success of Pacha has been based on "the design of the club capturing the Balearic feeling of the original in Ibiza but adapted to the dynamics of New York combined with the best DJs in the world. It also has New York's only Alpha Dynacord sound system imported from Germany."

Tip: It gets very hot and very busy in Pacha NYC and the club probably also has the highest cover charge of any in the city. Take heed anyone for whom those 3 factors sound like a recipe for disaster.

Subway: A, C, E to 42nd Street (Port Authority Bus Terminal), then 10 minute walk to the club in Hells Kitchen.
Address: 618 W.46th Street New York, NY 10036
Tel: (212) 209-7500

Arguably the most well known club in the 'Big Apple', Cielo is relatively small venue considering the stars international DJ names it attracts, whose presence ensures a large range in clientele, from locals to eurotrash to club first timers. Undergrounders will no doubt find it too popular and even the most happy-go-lucky of clubbers may find the door policy a little too much. Over recent months in 2008, Cielo have stepped up security to the extent that very intimate searches take place - of you and your possessions - and as a result the atmosphere on the door is notably tense and even intimidating.

All of which is a shame because music is most certainly the mainstay of the club, testified by top quality line ups almost every day of the week starting with François K's 'Deep Space' on Monday, then Tuesday and Thursday are frequented by heavyweights in the house and techno scene, read Dubfire, Deadmau5, Adam Beyer, M.A.N.D.Y, Steve Angello, Danny Tenaglia. Friday and Saturday offers more of the same, with the cream of local promoters, Blk/Market Membership, Basic NYC and Made Event, delivering heavyweight lineups in line with what you'd expect from a club of this stature. There are also Sunday events, with Junior Vasquez a monthly billing with his night 'Freedom'.

François K confirmed the music first policy of Cielo: "the fact the party is on Monday means if people are coming, then they must really love the music. This makes for a fantastic vibe"

Tip: It can't be stressed enough how tough door searches in New York have become. At Cielo, take ID, don't have anything you shouldn't have as it will be found and expect to wait in the queue for a long, long time.

Subway:  8th Avenue-14th Street (A,C,E, L)
Address: 18 Little West 12th Street New York, NY 10014
Tel: (212) 645-5700 

Public Assembly
Cool 2 room venue near the East River across the Williamsburg Bridge in Brooklyn. Formerly known as Galapagos, the ethos of eclectic programming, fair drinks prices and good times all round remains status quo.

One of NYC's best parties, 'The Bunker' takes place here every Friday with guests such as Bruno Pronsato, Queneum, Matthew Dear, Ryan Crosson and Miss Fitz making sure most use is made of the fairly spacious setting

Beyond Booking, who promote 'The Bunker' events, explain "We relocated our monthly Lower East Side event across the Williamsburg Bridge and set up shop at one of Brooklyn's premier artist coves / watering holes. Our events are a rare chance to hear cool guests play in a more intimate setting. We always reach capacity, so early arrival is advised"

Tip: the club closes at 4am, like all New York City nightspots, so get there early to make the most of it. Either way, the regular $10 cover for The Bunker is still good value.

Subway: L train to Bedford Ave
Address: 70 North 6th Street Brooklyn, NY 11211
Tel: (718) 384-4586

Studio B
Ongoing licence problems, like many NYC hotspots, don't bode well for the future of this now legendary Brooklyn club. 10 minutes from midtown, line ups as strong as any in the city and a sound system that will rock your world, Studio B is a bomb of a club. Expect to see only the best of house and techno, ranging from Derrick Carter to M.A.N.D.Y. to Carl Craig to Juan Atkins. The club, from the same owners as Miami's Studio A, also has a seasonal roof terrace that has film screenings and becomes chill out zone and barbeque spot when events are on. 

The guys at the club told us "we've recently made some major improvements to the interior design and staff at the club. Also, along with a brand new sound installed by TurboSound, the layout of the club has changed providing more comfortable seating and a larger, spacious dance area. The roof of the club is under construction, and once finished it will provide one of the most unique party spaces NYC has ever seen, with a retractable glass roof and panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline." 

Tip: Forget trying to blag the VIP, head to the back room instead, which has comfy leather couches in the otherwise understated club decor.

Subway: G at Nassau Ave; L at Bedford Ave
Address: 259 Banker St, Brooklyn
Tel: (718) 389-1880

This is a brilliant small underground venue that has seen the likes of John Creamer, Danny Howells and Rui Da Silva recently, or - if that's all sounded a bit old and prog - you can always depend on cool promoter Blk/market membership for booking such as Damian Lazarus, Craig Richards, Ewan Pearson and even the Secretsundaze crew.

This is a place where people go to dance, where who and what you are doesn't matter and the music, delivered through a meaty sound system, is the chief protagonist. Whilst house and techno lead the way on Saturday, Friday is a drum n' bass only zone and midweek is a lot more eclectic and finally, two rather charming smaller rooms complete the picture of one New York club that is punching well above what its 300 capacity weight should allow.

Tip: Check this place for after hour specials.

Subway: A, C, E, B, D D and V to West 4th St or R and W to 8th Street-NYU

Address: 40 W 8th St
New York, NY 10011
Tel: (212) 477-5683

Bar 13 
13 refers to the New York street where you will find this club, which is still going strong after 8 years located near the buzzing Union Square. The slick design and multi-level venue with roof deck, make it similar to Weekend, although, unlike the Berlin club, there isn't much of a view from the top.

The fact it can be described as trendy means it has been popular for a while with Fridays being the main night for electronic music. In the recent past, often through Blk/Market Membership, guests have  included Johnny D, Mike Shannon, Markus Fix, Cassy, Lawrence and Stimming. After his set there this year H.O.S.H. described Bar 13 "as a real intimate feeling dimly lit room, a great place to perform at."

Tip: Variety is the spice of life, but Bar 13 has everything from poetry to techno to karaoke to midweek happy hours for the after work crowd. So check listings!!

Subway: Union sq/14th street
Address: 35 E 13th St New York, NY 10003
Tel: (212) 979-6677

Sullivan room
A few blocks away from Love on the other side of Washington Square Park, when people talk about this as underground they're not just on about the music. This basement is another small venue that is one for the purists rather than the style council - don't expect the Cosmo drinking brigade here. The club's long standing commitment to underground vibes is probably best demonstrated through quality promoter Basic NYC, who have attracted the best from both sides of the Atlantic, and beyond, with Green Velvet, Dan Ghenacia, Simon Baker, Miguel Migs, Mark Farina and Quentin Harris just a flavour of past guests.

Resident DJs at Sullivan Room, Sleepy & Boo, describes the club as "one of New York's last true underground venues - a music-first club where you can hear amazing international DJs up close and playing to a crowd that's there to get crazy."

Tip: Be warned, there is loud and then there is Sullivan Room loud, so, yes folks, get ready for those ringing ears. (Or buy some ear plugs) 

Subway: A, C, E, B, D D and V to West 4th St

Address: 218 Sullivan St New York, NY 10012
Tel: (212) 505-1703

This meatpacking district club is a little gem for true electronic music. Inside the cosy decor makes it feels like home with a lounge upstairs and bar-come-club downstairs. The schedule is generally busy with all sorts of dance music including names such as Magda, Tony Humphries, Claude von Stroke and even Afrika Bambaataa the previous talent on show. Despite the location, APT is probably one of the few places in the city that has the charm and drama free feel of yesteryear and certainly doesn't have the bullshit you'll find at Cielo or Pacha.

DJRolando on playing there said "this place is one of the best for genuine Detroit techno." Whilst promoter RAW show they have their finger on the pulse "In recent years, techno has undoubtedly been electronic music's preferred plat du jour. But as ever in the shapeshifting world of electronica, a fresh spate of revivals is on the cards. House music is one such genre experiencing a resurgence lately and that's represents our policy for events at APT"

Tip: All New York clubs are smoking free zones since 2003, so look for the balcony, terrace or back door if you want to light up. APT has its own terrace at the back of the main level.

Subway: A, C, E; 1, 2, 3 at 14th St; L at 8th Ave
Address: 419 W 13th St, New York, NY 10014
Tel: (212) 414-4245

Santos' Party House
A clubbing for dancing and partying situated a stone's throw from Little Italy, where inside the atmosphere is generally hot and sweaty and issues like dress code and gaining entry rarely seem to rear their ugly heads.

There is an eclectic dance music card on offer, from Juan Atkins to David Morales to Farley Jackmaster Funk to Moby. In summer 2008, Made Event promoted 'Été d'amour' and Thursday guests included Matthew Dear, Michael Mayer, Ame and even Timmy Regisford. Otherwise Saturday is generally the choice day although Nicky Siano, he of Studio 54 fame, playing host to Sunday parties has been of interest. However, Siano has left the club now and plans to retire in 2010 after playing monthly throughout 2009.

Tip: No cameras allowed as photography is banned in the club

Subway:  6; J, M, Z; N, Q, R, W at Canal St
Address: 100 Lafayette St New York, NY 10013
Tel: (212) 584-5494

P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center
P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center is one of the oldest and largest non-profit contemporary art institutions in the United States. It functions as an exhibition and performance space as well night-time rendezvous. The most well known night here is called 'Warm Up', which only runs through the summer months as it takes place outdoors next to the main building on Saturday afternoon.

The roster of artists who have performed at Warm Up includes in 2008 Matthew Dear and Ryan Elliott, with Tenaglia, Xpress2, Josh Wink amongst the other previous big names. The special vibe generated at this Long Island venue was evidenced by the decision of Body & Soul to host their 10 year anniversary party here in 2006 with Francois K, Danny Krivit and Joe Claussel of course.

Tip: Check out the rest of the centre, it is affiliate of the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA).

Subway: 7 at 45 Rd-Court House Sq; E, V at 23rd St-Ely; G at 21st St-Van Alst
Address: 22-25 Jackson Ave Long Island City, NY 11101
Tel: (718) 784-2084

Webster Hall
Multilevel, multipurpose, multiroom; this is a monster size venue that specialises in one offs, particularly for hosting the bigger names who would pack out Cielo 10 times over. So Paul Van Dyk, Carl Cox, Sasha, Tiesto and Deadmau5 have all played gigs here in recent memory.

An old ballroom with marble stairs and intricate carvings, the diverse crowd acts as both a pro and con, whilst the queue to get in is always long. The nature of the club means most people will find something they like about it (music, different rooms), but the trade off is that there will be at least a couple of things they don't like (music, crowd, size, cost). Located in the East Village not far from Union Square.

: Many events take place midweek, so check listings to catch dance acts like Justice or Pendulum or even superstar DJs trying to squeeze as many dates as possible into their schedule.

Subway:  4, 5, 6; N, R, Q, W at 14th St-Union Sq; L at 3rd Ave
Address: 125 East 11th Street New York, NY 10003
Tel: 212-353-1600

Where once stood Crobar, one of the city's premier clubs, now resides Mansion and the clue is most certainly in the name. The Chelsea hotspot has been themed in the style of, errm well, a mansion; with VIP rooms called The Study and The Library as well as women only Cougar Room.

The rest of the club is just as plush, whether that be the luxurious finish or the robes of the glitterati who come to dance here. Recent gigs from Sharam and Felix da Housecat merely add to the sense that this place is anathema to dirty, underground, raw clubbing environments. Don't they know how it all began?!

Tip:  There is a real snooty aspect to this club, from the door to the service to the crowd. Give it a miss or go to Bloomingdales and spend a small fortune on new rags and attitude. 

Subway: Penn Station is nearest but still 10 minutes walk away.
Address: 530 W. 28th St. New York, NY 10001
Tel: (212) 629-9000

Le Royale
A dark, sexy space to drink fair priced bevarages and bump into a cross selection of young and trendies in this location near Greenwich Village. Moreover, the 300 capacity club has over 2008 increasingly seen its stock rise with bookings such as Ame, Dixon and Damian Lazarus, whilst the Friday night 'Robot Rock', with occasional big name, is an award winning electronic music night from promoter GBH.

Tip: Wear what you want, but leave the smart shirt and shoes for somewhere else. 

Subway: A, C, E; B, D; F, V at W 4th St; 1 at Houston St
Address: 21 7th Ave S New York, NY 10014
Tel: (212) 463-0700

Opened in 2003, this 600 capacity space is one of the most successful multi-event clubs in the city, hosting different nights almost every night of the week. The all over wood effect and polished feel have made this Hollywood/jet set central with red carpet events, private parties (including a Playboy one) and a super private VIP room. Accordingly, credible electronic sounds or artists are rare here but long queues, massive bar bills and an all round air of pretentiousness are not.

Tip: This club is an abomination of everything that electronic music culture stands for, don't go, ever.

Subway: Don't bother getting off
Address: 289 10th Ave New York, NY 10001
Tel: (646) 473-0202

The Fillmore New York at Irving Plaza 
Theatre, nightclub and live music venue, this is somewhat of a New York institution. Bands like Coldplay have played here before and the music can range from punk to minimal to full on rock.

The place does get rather busy at times, especially when Live Nation promoted events arrive, such as in 2008 with Booka Shade, Deadmau5 and a Pete Tong special with Soulwax, Luciano and James Lavelle. Located in the vicinity of Union Square.

Subway: 4, 5, 6, N, R, Q, W at 14th St-Union Sq
Address: 17 Irving Pl. New York, NY 10003
Tel: 212-777-6800

Leopard lounge/ Sin Sin
A definitive lounge environment. Snug sofas, intimate lighting, poised dance floor and healthy bar menu make this perfect for almost any type of night out. Sin Sin is the bar at street level and Leopard Lounge is up some stairs above.

The latter provides a defintive lounge environment with snug sofas, intimate lighting, poised dance floor and healthy bar menu make this perfect for almost any type of night out. Jon Cutler hosts a Thursday night 'Aqua-Booty' for all things house and soulful, including guests such as Tony Humphries recently. The music policy for the other nights of the week is anything and everything; punk, rock, techno, comedy, pop, you name it!

Subway: F, V at 2nd Ave
Address: 85 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10003 Tel: (212) 253-2222

Located in tourist trap central, aka Times Square, this space is actually mostly used as a high-end event/exhibition space for fashion shows, art displays or corporate affairs.

However, every Sunday 'Assesteria' take over with the macho loving men, gay friendly party, which has had guests like Queen Danny Tenaglia and Tom Stephan in the past. Definitely good fun if you like that kind of thing.

The Asseteria crew lucidly state that "Sunday is strippermania, so all members of the adult entertainment industry get in free". So if you've got nothing better to do on a Sunday in New York City, you know where to go.

Subway: B, D, F, V; 7 at 42nd St-Bryant Park
Address: 135 W. 41st St. New York, NY 10036
Tel: 212-278-0988

Located in West Chelsea, 5 different zones make up this venue, although much of the music on offer resembles commercial dance, hip hop and r'n'b or 70s/80s music. This time last year  in one month alone they had Sneak, D Ramirez, Robert Babicz and Trentemoeller, but recent don't seem so strong.

That said, Marco Carola has played for a Minitek event and omnipotent Made Event have done the SOS boys and a Sunday event that saw James What & Dan Berkson with Mr. C and Martin Landsky in support. The now familiar traits of heterogeneous crowd, poor service and aggressive door security make this fairly typical of an average New York night out. Check listings for the best nights to go to.

Tip: Have a dance inside one of the iron cage on the dancefloor.

Subway: just one block from Penn Station
Address: 251 W 30th St # 2 New York, NY 10001
Tel: (212) 695-2747

Water Taxi Beach 
See if you can work out what this venue's name says about it? Apparently it took nearly 500 tonnes of sand to create this Long Island City burger joint, cocktail bar, volleyball court and, of course, night spot, which has stunning views of Manhattan.
Sundays seem to be the choice day to relax whilst enjoying anyone from Danny Krivit to Ryan Elliott to Chus & Ceballos. It is only open during the summer (June to September) and is handily located next to the water taxi drop off point. A unique party location in NYC.

Tip: check out the water taxi 

Subway: 7 train to Vernon Avenue/Jackson.
Address: 2 Borden Ave
Long Island City, NY 11101 Tel: (212) 742-1969  

Hiro Ballroom 
Japanese themed venue with paper lanterns in abundance and rounded ceilings way up high, this place certainly looks nice. A favourite haunt of minor celebs, the only real thing to point out here is that there is the occasional midweek guest from the underground, such as Damian Lazarus or Matthew Dear or special events with dance/pop crossover acts like Moby or Justice playing DJ sets.
Adam Freeland told us that his performance there "killed it, but in a good way, not my usual crowd but still cool". Apart from theses nights however, this is generally a place to be seen if you're on the scene, far too many tables and champagne sippers for it to ever be a real clubber's club.

Subway:  A, C, E; L at 14 St-8th Ave
Address: The Maritime Hotel 371 W16th St. New York, NY 10011
Tel: 212-727-0212    

Le  Poisson Rouge 
Multimedia art venue dedicated to cultural manoeuvres in music, film, theater, dance, and fine art. Located in Greenwich Village - where else -, the black and red décor has a fish tank chandelier in the entrance and the main room has two film screens and two raised level opera boxes for VIP purposes.

Naturally the fish in the tank are red ones. At a capacity of 800 when fully open, artists like Moby, Max Tundra, 16 Bit Lolitas provide an example of what's on offer. Otherwise, it is a complete lucky dip of what you might find, from live jazz to modern art.

Subway: A, C, E; B, D; F, V at W 4th St
Address: 158 Bleecker St. New York, NY 10012
Tel: (212) 228-4854

Iconic New York club name, Club Shelter, has been located near Greenwich Village since 2004, but was then closed most of 2008 whilst a new venture called Greenhouse was being prepared. This new club is, as the name suggests, an eco friendly venue with waterless urinals, energy saving features and organic vodka.

Word is that Timmy Regisford will still be playing here on Saturdays for the finest house music all night long for one of the city's most traditional and pure clubbing brands. Other club guests last year, before the renovation, included Loco dice, Patrick from M.A.N.D.Y. and Adultnapper.

C, E Spring Street
Address: 150 Varick St New York, NY 10001
Tel: 212-807-7000

Tiny venue for small, local promotions and artists but playing the best in underground house and minimal. Friendly atmosphere and great place to go for an unpretentious and cool crowd who love and know their music. The size of the club, East Village location and lack of big names make sure this place keeps out the strays nearly most clubs end up with.

Tip: check the fire breathing, cocktail technician barman

Subway: N, R, W at 8th St; 6 at Astor Pl
Address: 511 E. 6th St., New York, NY 10009
Tel: 212-995-8889

New York on the web  


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Politics Of Dancing
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