A storm was created in the teacup of New York nightlife writing this week when Elite Daily posted an article lashing out at nightlife because it was becoming oversaturated. The point of the piece was that more and more exclusive venues are fighting over the same small client base to the point where no one is getting a good crowd. The article suggested that New York nightlife would die a slow sad death
There was a small but spirited reaction to the piece that generally fell into three camps:
1) The author is right. Nightlife in New York will (and should) collapse on itself because small handfuls of people can’t sustain revenue for more than a few venues.
2) The author is right but no one should care because people don’t need to worry about going to the nightlife they went to 10 years ago. (Chichi 212)
3) The author is missing the point because New York nightlife is bigger than just the exclusive clubs so the expansion and contraction of one scene doesn’t define an entire industry.
I am a flag bearer for camp 3. From an economic perspective, it might be accurate to say that there are only so many people who can go to the Boom Boom Room, 1OAK, Lavo, double seven and the new incarnations of Beatrice Inn, Pink Elephant and Bungalow 8. But the idea that the only real nightlife in New York City is the exclusive tough door venues is like saying that the only real movies are the summer blockbusters. It is a statement that ignores dozens of different scenes in nightlife culture and hundreds of different venues.
To say that people should move past the type of venues they went to 10 years ago is also accurate…if you went to those places 10 years ago. If you’re just getting into nightlife now, how can you be tired of something you haven’t done yet? It’s true that the nightlife culture you enjoy evolves as you get older. Maybe at 21-25 you want to break into the exclusive scene then at 25-35 you want the lounge scene and then at 35-50 you want the live music, wine bar and cocktail scene. People's tastes and preferences change but someone will always fight to get into the tough door because someone will always be (or pretend to be) 24 years old.
But New York nightlife is a diverse environment. We do have exclusive clubs. We also have dance clubs, wine bars, beer halls, cocktail lounges, strip clubs, sex clubs, sports bars, pubs, live music spots, date spots…you get the idea. That doesn’t even take into account the specific spots we have for different races, types of sexuality, music styles, income levels and a host of other variables we choose to congregate around in what Steven Lewis refers to as the safety in numbers syndrome.
New York nightlife may or may not have more exclusive venues than it needs, but that issue will be resolved by economics. Some clubs will stay open. Others will close. But the larger issue revolves around what the nightlife writers define as New York nightlife. It is bigger than the exclusive clubs that we may or may not grow out of. It is bigger than the bridge and tunnel traps that Elite Daily attempts to casually lump every non exclusive venue. There is a lot more to New York nightlife and If you only focus on one narrow, isolated segment of the experience then its not surprising that your reaction will be disdain, frustration and cynicism.