New York City is a better place to party than it has been in almost 20 years.
That’s right. I said it. Call your older cousin who used to party at The Tunnel every night and gives you “man-you-should-have-been-there” stories every time he sees you.
Dig out your old pictures of made-up club kids freak dancing at Limelight back in ’92. I don’t care.
Saying the past was better than what we have now is easy. It excuses you from finding killer parties, and New York City has them — more than it’s had in a long time.
“If I go out and I’m not working the next day, I’m out til 6 or 7 am,” said Bruce Tantum, editor of Time Out New York’s nightlife section. “There are more illegal options too.” (Not that we’d sell them out here.)
A brief history lesson for those of you who don’t know what the old-timers have been complaining about. It all started with Mayor Giuliani. You wouldn’t know it to look at the guy, but he was basically a 19th century school marm when it came to partying. If there was joy, he found it and killed it. Strict cabaret laws made it harder to dance, higher rents made it harder for clubs to find space.
That’s when bottle service took over NYC clubs.
And you probably know about that bottle service stuff: Throw down a couple hundred for a bottle that you can get at your local liquor store for $US30, wait in line with a bunch of girls you may or may not have recruited down the street because there are too many guys in your group, kiss a promoter’s butt. Get in. Be crowded.
Or don’t get in, get rejected.
At this point in 2014 New York City’s club scene has evolved beyond that. DJ culture has created segments of dance music for everyone from your sorority ‘woo-girls’ in heels and band-aid dresses to your genuine club kids wearing sneakers and tees because they want to get down.
“The scene’s really diverse now,” said Sascha Lewis, CEO of culture site Flavorpill. “You can have a night out where you can hear Questlove play a great hip-hop soul funk set. You can go to Output and hear some dirty techno from Europe … and you can go to an amazing underground house music party.”
The list goes on. Don’t want to stand in line for a meatpacking club but you want to hear music from Top 40 charting DJs? Fine. Pay a fee and get into Marquee or Pasha, no problem.
For the music snobs — the real heads — last year, New York City got Output, a 436-person club with one of the best sound systems in the country located in Williamsburg. More recently, Output got a (weirder) little sister in Verboten — a club just down the street that promises much of what Output does: long nights, internationally respected DJs, open parties, and lots of dancing.
For the real warriors, there are the sweaty dance parties taming Bushwick, like Bossa Nova Civic Club and Tandem.
And what if you want to party at some weird hour? Flavorpill has your back for that. Want a dance party at noon? Go to a Lunch Break party. How about one right after Happy Hour ends at 7:00 p.m.? Then you should check out The Get Down.
Part of the reason for all of this is because the Brooklyn scene grew up. The guys who 8-10 years ago had just gotten out of college or moved to the city from bubble-wherever have grown up. They have bills to pay, so they have started amazing venues like Brooklyn Bowl.
“It lends more legitimacy to the scene than the sweaty one-off parties in warehouses that used to dominate it,” said Lewis. “The whole Burning Man meets Brooklyn barrage of before was edgy for what it was, but everyone had to grow up.”
This isn’t to say that the underground scene is dead. Quite the contrary. It’s still humming along, throwing bigger, later parties. Yes, sometimes they get busted — but isn’t it worth it to see a French kid who doesn’t speak a word of English happily dancing on a trampoline next to a do-or-die New Yorker who just drove over with his friends from Bayside, Queens?
Like I said, the scene’s diverse.
For most people, night time is the most free time they have crammed together in one go. Days are often full of drudgery — of phone calls, appointments, and small-time conversation. At night, though, you can go out and find whatever makes you happy. Night belongs to you.
That’s what makes all this worth reading about in the first place.