If Nightlife is Dead, then You Killed It

By Gamal Hennessy

If you read the nightlife blogs on a regular basis, you’ll often find reader comments about how New York nightlife is dead, how all the clubs suck, how all promoters suck, how (insert the name of a random city here) has a much better nightlife scene, how things aren’t as good as they were in the old days and other cultural critiques ad nauseam. This commentary isn’t isolated to online chatter. It isn’t hard to find people willing to bemoan the current state of affairs and pine away for the good old days (even if they weren’t around during the good old days)

What do people mean when they say our nightlife is dead? They can’t mean that no one is going out anymore. Clubs in New York currently register more than 64 million entries every year, which by some accounts is more than every major local sports team and Broadway show combined. They can’t mean that nightlife doesn’t generate any money. Clubs are responsible for 9 billion dollars in annual spending which is a lot of money for a dead industry. They can’t mean that no one is working in nightlife. The unofficial count right now is that there are at least 30,000 operators in the city. They can’t mean that the environment is stagnant. At least a dozen spots open up every week. So what are they talking about?

I think what they are really saying when they say ‘New York nightlife is dead’ is “my personal experience in New York nightlife is not meeting my expectations and therefore I have decided that the entire industry is somehow deficient.” If that’s your opinion you can’t be wrong. That’s the way you feel and no amount of statistics or data will change that. Your level of satisfaction with the nightlife climate is a subjective and everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but if you can’t consistently find a party you like in New York then you might want to consider changing your game instead of bitching.

Option 1: Look around
The sheer size of New York nightlife negates the idea that you can’t find your sweet spot. There are literally more than 1,100 nightlife venues that have a valid liquor license (I would never send you somewhere that had no liquor) and there are thousands of parties going on every single week. There might be tens of thousands of parties but I’m too lazy to sit here and count them all. I’m not talking about parties just on the weekend. There are events every single night. I’m not just talking about bottle service and Top 40 hip hop either. Almost any variation and combination of qualities you might be looking for happens here. You want reggae music in an outdoor garden on the East Side? Done. You want an interracial swinger party in Midtown? Not a problem. You can have loud or quiet, cheap or expensive, basement or rooftop…whatever. You can find it. All you have to do is look for it. Besides, that’s why God made the internet, so you can find stuff like that.

Option 2: DIY nightlife
Now let’s assume that you’re selective. You’ve searched and searched for a party that has the right combination of people, music, and atmosphere that you’re looking for but can’t find anything. That means NY nightlife is dead, right?

Wrong. If you can’t find what you’re looking for you can make it yourself. A prominent promoter that I recently interviewed told me that the only thing you really need to throw a party in New York is a Crackberry. A few phone calls, a couple of handshakes, an invite on Facebook and Going and you’re in business. You won’t be running Saturday night at Pink Elephant, but if you wanted that, you wouldn’t need to throw your own party. If it’s your party and you can pick the setting, the crowd, the music, the theme and all the other factors that you feel are missing from nightlife now, how can you not enjoy it?

Some people simply enjoy complaining. The ‘lack’ of nightlife in New York just gives them another reason to bitch. Some people are intimidated and complain as a defense mechanism because even if there was some ‘perfect, ultimate party’ to attend, they wouldn’t go. It is easier to wait around for some amazing party to walk up and smack them in the face than actually look for it or create it. But that probably won’t happen. Don’t let the complainers discourage you from going out and having a good time. Life is short. There is a lot of drinking, dancing and general carousing to do before we’re done. We don’t have time for a lot of bitching.

Have fun.