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.
G

Nightlife Culture Expo Recap Day 3: Rakim Celebrates the Rise of Hip Hop Music

 

The energy for that night had been building up for 25 years.

In 1987, the Paid in Full Album was released and helped start a new age in hip hop music. Up to that point, hip hop was rarely on the radio. It was an underground sound that filtered down out of the Bronx to dominate block parties and after hours clubs. It was a fad. It wasn’t real music. It wasn’t going to last.

In 2012, hip hop music dominates the pop charts and popular culture on every level. It has altered the American language. It has evolved into different sub genres and migrated around the world. Now there are Egyptian rappers making protest songs as the soundtrack to the Arab Spring. Hip hop artists own fashion houses, liquor companies and multibillion dollar sports franchises. At this point, a significant part of American culture is hip hop culture and artists like Rakim made that possible.

The people at Sutra’s Expo party last Friday grew up with songs like My Melody, Microphone Fiend and I Ain’t No Joke. They knew the words to Rakim songs in the same way that house heads know their anthems, jazz men know their standards and religious people know their scriptures. Even with the abrasive posturing and aggressive attitudes sprinkled into the crowd, the night felt more like a spiritual ritual and less like a musical performance. The crowd surged when he took the stage. They chanted the lyrics with him and strained to capture his image on their iPhones. I just took in the positive energy of the room that had been nurtured in New York City for 25 years.

I only got to talk to Rakim for a moment after his amazing performance. Hip hop groupies are dangerous ladies and I try not to get in their way. I thanked him for performing at the Expo and for everything his music has done for me personally and hip hop in general. He was gracious and cool with his response. He thanked me for remembering him and wanting him to perform. I laughed to myself when he said that. Considering the impact he has had on hip hop culture, nightlife culture and American culture who else would offer a better performance?

Have fun.
G

   

 

Nightilfe Culture Expo Recap Day 2: Celebrating the Gay Foundations of Nightlife Culture

The upper level of Stonewall didn’t have the look of an unusual party. There were women drinking at the bar and couples whispering in the corner. There were old friends reconnecting after a long period apart and new people getting to know each other. The major difference in this room revolved around attraction and identity.

Most of the women were sexually attracted to other women. A few of the men in the room were attracted to men. It was difficult to tell who some of the guests were attracted to. At a certain point, it was hard to tell if someone was a man or a woman. The party had an ambiguous fluidity that you could see, but only if you looked closely. In many ways this wasn’t an unusual party in New York nightlife because of the strong influence the LGBT community has had on us.

Nightlife is a sexual arena. It is a sexual metaphor. Sexual exploration, sexual identity and sexual expression are at the core of the experience. Boundaries are often tested, limits are pushed and possibilities are explored in ways that are not acceptable in most homes, work places, churches or schools. The LGBT community often came together in nightlife venues because it was the one of the few places where they didn’t have to repress who they were. It was in places like Stonewall that the community fought back against institutionalized discrimination. Many of them used nightlife as a springboard for acceptance and success in other parts of society. The influence of their perspective and taste can be felt in venues of all types today whether they are gay, straight or somewhere in between.

When we talk about nightlife culture, we have to recognize the contribution that the LGBT community makes to every type of nightlife. It doesn’t matter if you are talking about music, fashion, sexual exploration or sexual identity. Without the gay community, there really is no modern nightlife. We all need to recognize, appreciate and celebrate that. We did it with powerful and energetic performances from Maor, T.R.I.G.G.A and Paige Turner. You do it every time you go out, whether you realize it or not.

Have fun.
G

Nightlife Culture Expo Day 1 Recap: Little Louie Vega Provides a Soulful Start to the Four Day Celebration

   

By Gamal Hennessy

The first night of the Expo started the way many Roots nights start at Cielo. The drinkers hover near the bar to try and coax free vodka from the stoic and aloof bartenders before the open bar runs out. Hard core dancers take over the dance floor for a communal ritual that is part battle, part education and part experimentation. A ring of spectators circle the sunken dance floor looking for inspiration and drinking in courage to get their dance on.

This was when Roots manager and all around happy soul Katerina invited me into the DJ booth to meet Vega for the first time. I’ve been coming to Cielo for years and I wondered what the booth was like ever since I started to DJ myself, but I never had a chance to see it before last night. The little set ups I’ve played in various clubs couldn’t compare to the multi-leveled monster I saw. There were half a dozen interconnected decks, sound enhancers and machines that I didn’t even recognize. I admired the way Louie worked it all like a maestro manipulates an orchestra while Katerina whispered secrets about the origin of each song and where they all came from.

I talked to Louie for a few minutes and thanked him for supporting the Expo before heading back to our party. By then, the dance floor had a good sized crowd. Liquor had washed away the shyness from the more casual dancers and Vega’s beats have lured them onto the dance floor to express themselves. Smoke from the visual system was in the air and baby powder from the dancers was on the ground. We all got lost in the dancing, grinding and heat that comes when several hundred people all move to the same beat. Most of the dancers didn’t know they were celebrating the Nightlife Culture Expo and I had no problem with that. They were too busy living it and creating it to stop and think about it. That is exactly the way it should be.

If you’d like to join us for the rest of the Expo events around Manhattan this week, just click onto the events page and find the party that is right for you.

Have fun.

G

Special thanks to Katerina and Sabrina for making this night possible.

 

Nightlife Culture Expo Update: NCI Is Now Offering Free Entry into the Finale Event!

The 2012 Nightlife Culture Expo already had great line up.. Now because of the strong reaction we are getting, we are opening up the finale to everyone. To get your name on the list, visit http://d7.eventbrite.com/

The finale combines one of New York’s celebrated artists with one of the most exclusive lounges in the city. Double Seven was one of the first major lounges in the Meatpacking District. It reopened last year to rave reviews and it is still one of the most coveted spots in New York. DJ Rob Swift is a legendary DJ for the X-Men who is returning from his performance tour of Asia to play for the Expo.

Because the overall Expo has received such strong responses, we are in a position to waive the ticket donations for the last party. We want everyone to be able to enjoy the best music in the city in one of the best settings anywhere.

The finale is this Saturday, April 7th from 7-10pm. Space is limited, get your name on the list now. http://d7.eventbrite.com/

Have fun.

Pleasure Palaces: Bars and Clubs as the Cradles of Nightlife Culture

Environment plays a huge role in the way we play. You can’t look at nightlife culture without looking at the physical space that nightlife occupies. It is the spaces that influence what you can do when you are inside. It is the spaces that help create the image and the atmosphere that the patrons are looking for. It is the spaces that bars and clubs inhabit that become the frame and canvas for every other aspect of the nightlife experience.

As we were selecting venues for the first annual Nightlife Culture Expo, we were very aware of how the venue sets the tone for the experience. The history, vibe and style of each venue fit perfectly with the celebration we had in mind. 

Cielo was a natural choice for a house music party because it is a dance destination that has been home to house icons like Jellybean Benitez and Little Louie Vega as well as famous dance parties like Roots and Dance. Here. Now. 

Stonewall is synonymous with both the LGBT rights movement and queer culture serving as the launch pad for what would become Pride Weekend in cities around the US and countries around the world. 

Sutra is a beacon of East Coast hip hop that regularly offers intimate shows with some of the most well known artists in the genre like Q-Tip, the Roots and Rakim. 

Affaire is a new venue, but it continues established nightlife traditions of adopting French epicurean flair and offering a home to the art of burlesque. 

Finally, the double seven is a reinvention of the venue that anchored the development of the Meatpacking District. It established the nightlife that helped attract companies like Apple and Hugo Boss as well as public works projects like the Highline Park to a forgotten strip of Manhattan.

The operators of each one of these venues understands the importance of nightlife cultures. They have built their businesses by offering their individual groups the space to express themselves. At the same time, they have improved nightlife and the quality of life in the city.  Your choice of venue plays a huge role in the quality of your experience.  In their own way, each of the Expo venues offers New York a unique taste of what nightlife is.

For more information and tickets, visit /events/

Have fun.
Gamal

 

Expo Update: Maor and Paul Seres Add Their Support to the Nightlife Culture Expo

The Nightlife Culture Initiative is adding two more names to its impressive line up for the first Nightlife Culture Expo, running April 4th to the 7th in New York City.

Maor (http://www.maormusic.com/home/ ) is an independent artist who has a long performance history in New York City. He has performed live at well known venues including Joe's Pub, Knitting Factory, CBGB, Don Hills, and The Bitter End. His newest single “Long Way Home” is a timely message about gay bullying and discrimination that needs to be heard in these turbulent times. Maor has agreed to bring his message and his music to Stonewall Inn as a part of the LGBT Appreciation Event on April 5th.

Paul Seres (http://bit.ly/Hh2UWh ) is one of the most influential operators in New York nightlife. As president of the New York Nightlife Association, he works with all levels of state and local government to ensure that nightlife is part of the political agenda. As a member of Community Board 4, Paul ensures good operators can open venues and poor operators are dealt with fairly. As an experienced operator himself, he has managed several venues and has recently taken over day to day operations of the new LES lounge DL . Paul has agreed to talk about the importance of nightlife culture from an operator’s perspective at the Nightlife Culture Panel at Affaire on April 7th.  

The Nightlife Culture Expo is a charity event created to help elevate the perception of nightlife culture. The inaugural Expo will have five events, four days at venues including Double Seven, Cielo, Sutra and Affaire. In addition to Maor and Mr. Seres, the line up of special guests already includes nightlife luminaries like Rakim, Little Louie Vega, Kevin Hedge and Steven Lewis.

For tickets information please visit /events/  for more information about the Nightlife Culture Initiative go to /

Fashion and Fantasies: A Nightlife Culture Interview with madison moore

    

 

Vital Statistics

Name: madison moore

Group Affiliation: Interview Magazine, Thought Catalog, Splice Today, Artspace Underground

Hometown: New York, NY

Website: www.madisonmooreonline.com  

Latest Project: Trying to finish this damn dissertation!

madison moore thinks critically and creatively about popular culture. A doctoral candidate in American Studies at Yale University, madison writes primarily about fashion, nightlife, and music, and his writing can be read in Interview, Jezebel, Art in America, Thought Catalog as well as on his weekly pop culture column at Splice Today. His dissertation is about how people in the worlds of fashion, nightlife, and music use glamour as a form of cultural critique. He gained public notoriety on the subject of nightlife largely in relation to a self-designed seminar he taught at Yale on Dance Music and Nightlife Culture in New York City.

NCI: A lot of your writing deals with fashion as it relates to American culture. Was it fashion that attracted you to nightlife culture or was it the other way around?

MM: You know, I’m interested in stories, and to my mind there is no greater story than the one a person’s fashion tells. Everybody gets dressed in the morning, and whether we know it or not, how we do it says a lot about who we are or perhaps even more significantly who we want people to think we are.

Whenever I talk to people about the relationship between fashion and nightlife, I always ask the person to think about what is typically the first thing a person does to go out? They get ready, they shave, they wear something new or different, they pull together an outfit—a look. So the question is how will you dress for the theater of nightlife? How will you prepare your body to be visually consumed by a largely anonymous audience? How will you dress to attract people you want to notice you, to get laid if that’s what you’re after (and who isn’t?) ?

I’ve always been a sort of club kid, and my favorite thing about going out at night is the fact that night time is different time—a time to do things we want to do rather than the boring things we have to do. For me, fashion plays a big role in night cultures especially since they are both about fantasy. The kinds of parties I like the most are the ones with the most fashion freaks—men in high heels and corsets, man tits fully out, girls dressed up like a fabulous bootleg Marie-Antoinette, people wearing outrageous wigs or aluminum foil, people serving beekeeper realness. This, for me, is one of the things that makes a nightclub interesting: it really hoists the intensity of the room into a kind of cinematic experience.

NCI: What is it about nightlife culture that attracts so many different types of people?

MM: Well, I’m nervous to talk about a single, monolithic “nightlife culture.” I prefer to call them nightlife cultures because, as a multi-billion dollar industry that’s responsible for a hundred thousand jobs and more than 65 million people every year in this city alone, there are various night worlds and various people who frequent them. There are swingers parties, gay sex parties and sex clubs for people who want to fuck. Some people want the jazz club experience, others want a wine bar. Some want to catch a show at the Music Hall of Williamsburg and go to the after party. Many enjoy an hours long conversation over an equally lengthy dinner. Some people go to a hotel like the Bowery or the W for an after hours cocktail, whereas others can’t wait to walk the categories at vogue balls.

What I’m saying is that there are different ways to do nightlife, and different people participate in it differently depending on what their fantasies are. That’s the key—fantasy. The one thing I think that links all the various night worlds and the pleasure-seekers in them is that everybody wants freedom, action. There’s that Alicia Bridges song, “I Love the Nightlife”—you know it—where she sings joyfully over a saxophone about loving the nightlife because she “wants to live,” she wants some “action,” and I think she leaves it up to us to decide just what she means by “action.” So what brings people out at night? : fantasy, freedom, action, wherever they can find it. 

NCI: Talk about the nightlife culture seminar. What was the reaction that your peers had before it started? What do you think the students expected at the beginning? What do you hope they came away with at the end?

MM: The Dance Music and Nightlife Culture seminar I taught at Yale was probably the most exciting part of my graduate education at Yale. It all started with the dissertation chapter I’m currently working on, which is about fashion and nightlife, and I started thinking about ways to expand that chapter into an entire class. Doing that would also help me see the architecture of the chapter I was about to begin writing. It was a way to introduce students—and myself—to the history of nightlife, and I thought that doing a class on nightlife would ultimately help me write the chapter. I was after how studying nightlife is in fact studying race, class, social issues, gender, sexuality, the law, visual culture—among other things.

The class was awesome, and I have never taught such a captivated audience! Each week was inspiring, and I really believe students responded to my creative teaching methods. Honestly, I think a lot of people (in and outside of the class) thought it was going to be this sort of puff class—you know, one of these classes where you just show up half asleep and get an A. But, no ma’am, I wasn’t having any of that. The subject matter may be fun and I might come to class with spiked shoulder pads on, but don’t make me read you. So the thing is, people still think that the only way to think critically in the humanities with a capital H is to think about old texts written by dead white people. Dead white people are great, and there’s certainly a lot of value in studying them. But there’s equally as much value in what I do, too.

A lot of the critique about my class was on how silly it was, what an easy A it seemed, and why on earth people at Yale, with its hallowed halls and collegiate-gothic architecture, would be studying this. Look, the fact is that thinking about popular culture is hard because everybody just takes it for granted. Everybody thinks pop culture is easy because it’s all surface. But it’s easy to take a single idea and make it overly complicated, which is what a lot of scholars do. It’s hard to take a massive concept and make it easy so that people can understand the world around them. Hard is easy. Easy is hard.

I think my greatest accomplishment with the nightlife seminar was that, over and over, students told me how much taking the class changed their whole perception of the world, not just nightlife. They were able to see and understand the cues of visual culture better than ever before, and some who did come into the class perhaps a bit skeptical realized that, in fact, things are not as easy as they seem.

NCI: Talk about the role nightlife plays in terms of class, race and sexual orientation in America.

MM: This is a huge question, because I would say that nightlife cultures are unfortunately already segmented along the lines of race, class, and sexual orientation. I get really annoyed when I go into a space it’s all the same kind of people. Isn’t that boring? Some straight dudes are terrified of going to gay joints lest they be “hit on,” woe is them. There’s that funny story about Park Slope being nervous about having a hip-hop club (i.e. black people) move into the neighborhood. There are clubs that enforce strict dress codes, which is just another way of racially stereotyping so that certain kinds of “undesirables” don’t get to come in. If you really want to know, I think a club should have gay people and straight people and drag queens and transsexuals and fashion freaks and people who don’t know what the fuck is going on and Wall Street types and men and women and the gay dudes are making out with women and the straight dudes are making out with the gay dudes and the music is ridiculous, and everyone just tosses their inhibitions and roles out the door. You enter the space as a body, not as a preprogrammed black heterosexual male who works on Wall Street, but as a body that wants to consume.

This, I think, was initially the spirit of the Harlem cabaret circuit in the 1920s. Cabarets were small, intimate spaces where all sorts and kinds of people were forced to bump into one another, dine together. It was intimate, and that very intimacy helped to shatter preconceived notions about social groups. The rent parties of Harlem also had that kind of spirit, so did David Mancuso’s loft parties and even a commercial space like Studio 54. I don’t think we see much of that mixing anymore, perhaps not in New York, anyway. Though I did recently go see one of my favorite bands SSION perform at the Highline Ballroom, and it certainly seemed like a very mixed crowd. When I go to some gay clubs in New York (I won’t name names!) I’m amazed at how monocultural the room is. I do not go out to be bored or, for that matter, to hear the Top 40!

NCI: To what extent does nightlife culture play a positive or negative role on the broader culture? Going forward, do you see more of less impact from nightlife culture on the broader society and why?

MM: Nightlife reform is a fascinating topic, because the social ills the media uses to scare us about the dangers of young people get framed through nightlife. The media associates nightlife with debauchery, noise, underage drinking, pre-marital sex, not to mention recreational drug use, all of which is true. But you know, nightlife is kind of this catch-22. No matter how people frame nightlife as inherently negative, the fact is that if you look at any post-industrial city in America that is currently in the process of gentrification, and so of bringing single white people and empty nesters back into the city core, what is the first thing they advertise? Inevitably they say: we have shopping, we have dining, and we have nightlife, and then there’s a photo of some people drinking a glass of wine or posing at a bar at a “hot” local club. The point is, reformers have always chastised nightlife whereas developers see it as an industry that brings in hundreds of millions of dollars into the city core and which brings with it the power to gentrify whole neighborhoods if not entire cities. In New York City alone, just think about how the neighborhoods of Chelsea, the East Village, Williamsburg, and now the Meatpacking District all came to be.

Nightlife isn’t going anywhere, even if people in New York never stop complaining that it isn’t what it used to be.

Have fun.

G

 

 

From Nashville to New York: A Nightlife Culture Interview with Shonali Bhowmik

 

by Gamal Hennessy

Vital Statistics 

Name: Shonali Bhowmik

Group Affiliation: Tigers & Monkeys, Variety Shac

Hometown: New York, New York via Nashville, TN

Website: www.shonalibhowmik.com  

Latest Project: 100 Oak Revival


Shonali Bhowmik has spent years in New York’s music and comedy scenes. As part of our ongoing focus on the panelists at our upcoming Nightlife Culture Expo, NCI caught up to her to talk about her latest album, the benefits of the internet to the music industry and being a Southern Belle…

NCI: You have your own band (Tigers and Monkeys), an ongoing comedy show (Variety Shac), a pilot for a TV series and a day job. When did you find the time to record a new album? How long did it take you to finish this with everything else you have going on?

SB: I recorded this album in a way that I haven’t done in the past. It’s taken me a few years to complete this release because I flew down to my hometown of Nashville, TN on various weekends to lay down the basic tracks in the home studio of the enormously talented Paul Burch.

My intention was to just go for a sparse live recording and immediately release the “Shonali Basement Tapes” album. But instead, I returned to New York and just started hearing additional musical layers which absolutely had to be added to the recordings in order for me to feel satisfied. So over time, I scheduled sessions with Matt Gill in his Manhattan studio, Key Room where after work he and other musicians helped me add piano, cello, guitar, vocals late at night. I just couldn’t stop recording, and then there were technical issues with converting the tape to digital format which meant we had to rerecord instruments. So the short answer to your question is this album took forever. Ha.

NCI: You have had other albums with other groups in the past. How is this record artistically different from the previous releases? What were the inspirations for this CD?

SB: This new album includes a backlog of music that I had written over the years since I moved to NYC in 2002. For the most part, they are representative of a moodier, bluesier, more country Shonali. I grew up in Nashville, TN and although I had always believed that my country roots didn’t impact my music that much. It took reading music reviews about my music and the specifics on my singing drawl to realize that I actually sing like a Southern belle. And then it came to me that I sing like that because I AM a Southern belle. This album is certainly not as hard rocking as songs found in my Tigers and Monkeys repertoire (of which we are currently recording another release).

NCI: There have been a lot of changes to the business and technology of music during your career. How does that affect the way you create an album now and how you sell it once it has been released?

SB: Honestly, the myth is that Napster and ITunes killed the music industry. The reality for me is that the internet is a direct way for me to share my music with the entire world. Due to the advances in recording technology, I don’t need to spend $100,000 making an album anymore, which believe it or not I did at one point. So now artists can spend a whole lot less money to make great music. This is an exciting time for musicians. As a business person, I think that artists have to be proactive and dictate where the industry goes. We should be forcing the direction. Big labels aren’t the experts anymore. So we can load up our music and sell it directly to the people. I find that “Pay what you Want” is the way to go. You want folks to have your music, but let them decide what it’s worth to them. Everyone has a different scale – be it they are broke, or they are rich, or they are somewhat fond of heavy metal, or somewhat fond of country music.

NCI: You perform a lot of your music in Brooklyn now because a lot of live music has migrated from downtown Manhattan over the past few years. How has that affected the way you and your friends create and perform music? Do you see musicians coming back to the city or do you feel that it will move farther into Brooklyn and Queens?

SB: Honestly, although I love NYC, I wonder how good it is for a rock band to live and pay bills here. I started playing music in Atlanta, Georgia where the rent was cheap, rehearsal spaces were cheap and jobs were everywhere. It was the perfect place to live as a member of a touring rock band.

In Manhattan, rock clubs will always be a mainstay, but I think the question regarding where the music will go has more to do with the viable living options available to artists. It’s been a long, long time since living in the East Village was an inexpensive place for rock n’ roll and artist types. Brooklyn and Queens have taken on those titles but those boroughs are getting more and more expensive day by day. I just read that Austin was where all the young artist types are moving. New York and the entire United States needs to do more to preserve its artistic culture especially if everyone is just ripping music off the web. (Yeah, and I was saying that this was a good thing in my response to your earlier question - yup, contradictory that’s me.)

Have fun.

Gamal

Celebrity Waitresses, Sex and the Sin Effect: A Nightlife Culture Interview with Steven Lewis

 

By Gamal Hennessy

Steven Lewis has been a fixture in New York nightlife for more than 30 years. He has gone from managing golden age venues like the Limelight and Palladium to designing venues like Butter and Marquee to writing for the influential nightlife blog Good Night Mr. Lewis to performing as a DJ with the 4AM DJ collective.

NCI: What attracted you to New York nightlife when you started back in the 1980’s?

SL: I went out looking for sex. What I found was sex and characters. When I was working on Wall Street, all the people I met there were mundane. When I went out at night, the people were exciting. They had personalities, vision and creativity. When I started to run clubs I made sure to create a space that would attract those same characters. The clubs I envisioned were like Rick’s from Casablanca. I modeled myself and a lot of what I did based on that concept.

NCI: How do you see the nature of nightlife culture today?

SL: The dominant theme today is the niche market. In the past, a lot of different crowds and scenes came together in one massive space. Each one of them would have their own room or their own section on the dance floor, but there was still a lot of cross pollination between the groups. Now each group tends to discount the other groups. Fewer people go out to meet and hang out with different people. Nowadays, people go out to meet and hang out with their friends or people who are similar to them. There is more focus on your space, your group, your table. You are isolated even if you are out with hundreds of other people.

NCI: What do you think contributed to this change?

SL: 9/11 had a major psychological effect on nightlife culture. We collectively embraced the concept of Safety In Numbers or SIN. Instead of feeling confident about interacting with people who were very different, we began to huddle up with their own kind. Now most of us are more nervous hanging around anyone who isn’t like us in ways we think are significant. The growth of bottle service is a direct by product of people’s need to be separated. It’s not that each group of people is doing radically different things. They are drinking the same drinks, dancing to the many of the same songs and still trying to have sex with each other. They are just less willing to mingle with other people.

NCI: So it wasn’t higher real estate prices, smaller venues, tougher laws and more fragmented musical tastes that were detrimental to New York City nightlife.

SL: All those things had an impact, but they were minor. The SIN effect caused by 9/11 caused a seismic shift that overshadowed all those other things. And keep in mind that in many ways, nightlife culture is as good now as it has ever been, it’s just very different than it was before. If you look at every element of the nightlife experience, you’ll see operators becoming more and more specialized. Each one does their separate job better than it was done in the past. They have to. Patrons feel more and more alienated from their governments, their jobs and their lives. They are looking for more and more distraction and they get that from New York nightlife. More and more tourists are coming to the city for our dance clubs and cocktail lounges. Venues are spending more and more on music, design and food. The stage is set for a new golden age of NYC nightlife.

SL: Who do you see as the next major player in nightlife culture?

The celebrity doorman, DJ, and bartender have all had their time in the spotlight. The cocktail waitress/ bottle service girl is the next big thing. She is the one people interact with the most. She can put on a show and entice people into having a good time. In the past the waitress was a model or an actress waiting to be discovered. Now, the best bottle service girls already know that the job is an end in and of itself. They can make big money, work in any major city and mingle with a very exclusive crowd in the process. Don’t be surprised if schools pop up to teach this skill set, the same way it did for mixologists and DJs. The better clubs are already teaching these skills. Everyone is more specialized now, bottle service won’t be an exception.

Have fun.

G

Why Should You Care About Nightlife Culture?

By Gamal Hennessy
When I talk to people about being an advocate for nightlife culture, the first question I usually hear is “Why should I care about nightlife culture?” It is a good question. This is my good answer.
Nightlife culture is central to the quality of life of acity and the people who live in it. Without a thriving nightlife culture, our social dynamic is crippled. When that aspect of a city is gone students, tourists and young professionals migrate to other areas to find that connection. Without a thriving nightlife culture, the artistic and creative community withers. When that happens, the economy and reputation of a city falls dramatically because people do not feel drawn to that environment. The health and progress of a cityis directly related to the health of its nightlife culture.
Nightlife culture in New York is complex and multilayered.It has fostered our arts. It has shaped the relationships between people of different classes, races and backgrounds. It has attracted people from all over the world to visit, live and work here. It is as much a part of our history and identity as Wall Street, Times Square or Fifth Avenue.
In recent years, nightlife culture has been damaged by political, economic and technological changes. Nightlife has been marked as a scapegoat and held responsible for urban crime and a lower quality of life. Rampant gentrification, higher real estate costs and contradictory urban planning has created conflict between nightlife and local communities. Advancements in digital technologies and fragmenting entertainment markets havestifled many traditional creative outlets in nightlife. While nightlife culture continues to grow and adapt, it has suffered recently.
So care about nightlife culture because it is the real reason why you go out. It is one of the reasons you live in New York City. Understand that it is important to everyone whether or not they patronize nightlife venues. Expose yourself to the cultural side of nightlife and experience everything it has to offer. Most importantly care about nightlife culture to make sure that it isn’t further eroded to the point wherethe city completely loses its artistic and social prominence.
Have fun.
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