Nightlife Culture Expo Recap Day 4: Debating the Past, Present and Future of Nightlife Culture

Mornings are often not good for nightlife natives. Most of us would rather stay in bed after a night of dancing, drinking and general carousing. That made it even more impressive when the artists, experts and interested showed up for our brunch seminar last Saturday. It would have been easier to stay home on that sunny spring afternoon, but group all felt that this topic and this discussion was worth the effort. I’m sure the free brunch didn’t hurt either.

My view of the meal before the round table was encouraging. I saw operators talking to academics about the impact of gentrification on the nightlife industry. I saw friends sharing stories about meeting over body shots several years ago. My guests enjoyed eggs Benedict and waffles with a mimosas or a Bloody Mary.   By the time we started our formal discussion the crowd was well fed, relaxed and ready to talk.

The subject of the discussion was the same as the message of the entire Expo; importance of nightlife culture to New York City. To do justice to the topic, I collected a diverse group of experts to approach nightlife culture from different perspectives. Steven Lewis is a former operator and current nightlife personality. Paul Seres is president of the New York Nightlife Association and a member of several community boards. Shonali Bhowmik is an underground musician and comedian who performs in nightlife several times a week and madison moore is a doctoral candidate from Yale who created a nightlife culture course at Yale University. With this collection of opinions, I was hoping for a lively debate.

That is exactly what we got. Steve prickly insights counterbalanced Paul’s pragmatic expertise. Shonali’s defiant optimism blended with madison’s quiet observations. The discussion often shifted into debate and at times the debate became heated, but the passion that everyone brought to the topic infected the audience and gave everyone a new appreciation for the importance of nightlife culture. That is exactly what I was looking for.

We ended the seminar and the Expo with a private burlesque performance, because there is no better way to end a discussion of nightlife culture than with music, dancing and sexual innuendo. The Expo ended on a high note. Hopefully next year’s Expo will pick up where this one left off.

Have fun.