Exactly one week
after I moved to New York City, in the spring of 2000, two
of my favorite DJs unexpectedly went into exile as their respective
long-running residencies ended.
On the very same Saturday that Victor Calderone threw in
the towel at Roxy, the city shut down Twilo, leaving Junior
Vasquez the second displaced superstar DJ of the weekend.
I had finally realized my lifelong dream of becoming a snobby
New Yorker, and then the Nightlife Capital of the World abruptly
loses two major marquee names. Bummer!
That’s not to say there haven’t been memorable
nights out dancing since. Quite the contrary! But it has been
touch and go. Yes, some parties thrived, despite Giuliani’s
best efforts at sterilizing club life and smothering any hint
of fun or creativity. But an overwhelming sense emerged that
our beloved party scene was losing its edge and was dangerously
close to becoming — dare I say it?— pedestrian.
A withering economy, 9/11 and unrelenting bureaucratic obstacles
didn’t help. Even as the 2003 coat-check season approached,
the city’s nightlife forecast still seemed mild at best,
with perhaps only a few scattered flurries of fierceness.
Like most weather reports, however, this prediction was thankfully
way off. As evidenced by a virtual avalanche of announced
club openings and dramatic DJ maneuverings, revitalization
is well under way.
Boosting morale even further was Department of Consumer Affairs
Commissioner Gretchen Dykstra’s recent announcement
that the city will soon repeal those inane, outdated cabaret
laws. Instead, her department will issue “nightlife
licenses” to address real issues like safety and noise.
Twilo space now a spiritual oasis
So with the same patriotic fervor that Shrub and his fellow
White House weeds so shamelessly pull off politically motivated
publicity stunts, I returned to the former Twilo space on
West 27th Street for Spirit’s preview party this past
Saturday night. A truly innovative (if not risky) venture,
owner Robert Whooton has created an elegant nocturnal retreat
that offers revelers a New Age nightlife alternative modeled
after his extremely successful Dublin entertainment complex
of the same name.
The holistic venue’s 35,000 square feet are divided
into three separate areas: Body (main room/performance auditorium),
Mind (massage and alternative treatments) and Soul (glass-enclosed
organic and vegetarian restaurant overlooking the dance area).
While the reported $5 million renovation has transformed the
space considerably — sunken and expanded floor, raised
ceiling, VIP mezzanine level — Twilo’s footprint
is still discernible.
Illuminating the club’s stunning interior are the sublime
lighting effects of designer/director Guy Smith (of Saint-at-Large
fame). Large video screens on either side of the stage present
additional visual diversions.
But it’s the massive white orb protruding from the
wall in between them that is the club’s centerpiece.
Interstellar images and psychedelic patterns projected onto
its three-dimensional surface create galactic illusions reminiscent
of Timothy Leary’s fabled hallucinogenic journeys.
Less impressive was the dreary show shortly after midnight.
Mercilessly long, the performance consisted of a few suggestively
attired dancers whose monotonous choreography and anticlimactic
stationary trapeze act fell short of expectations.
Spirit officially welcomes the public on Dec. 6 with a special
performance by legendary DJ David Morales, and will be open
every Saturday thereafter. Visit SpiritNewYork.com for details.
Vasquez, Calderone: heat wave
Forget La Niña and El Niño. La Vasquéz
and El Calderoñe are back with a vengeance and ready
to really heat things up in New York City with their brand
In an intriguing move that surprised many, Sound Factory
recently announced that it is going gay on Saturday nights
with a party called Re:Union. Long-time resident DJ Jonathan
Peters has been replaced by Sound Factory alumnus Junior Vasquez,
who begins his weekly residency on Dec. 6. When asked why
he’d drop the hugely popular hetero fest, owner Richard
Grant simply replied, “Time for a change! Time for controversy
… keeping it fresh and exciting.”
Vasquez will welcome guest DJs from time to time Whether
he plays the entire night or just the morning hours, he has
promised to end the party by noon on non-holiday weekends.
This is a throwback to the far more civilized schedule of
past afterhours parties that made him famous. Visit SoundFactoryNYC.com
and JuniorVasquezMusic.com for details.
Crobar had planned to open its doors the same weekend, but
the club’s perpetually delayed debut has been pushed
back yet another week. No word yet on opening party DJs, but
Victor Calderone is slated to spin New Year’s Eve and
then begin his biweekly Saturday night
residency in late January.
While the club is not specifically courting a gay audience
(“mixed” is the new black), a significant homo
contingent is all but inevitable. Keep abreast by visiting
Crobar.com and VictorCalderone.com.
Euro trashed at Avalon
Speaking of mixed crowds, I ventured over to Avalon on Thanksgiving
Eve to hear the Six Million Dollar DJ, Paul Oakenfold (he’s
been ranked the world’s most successful DJ by Britain’s
Sunday Times and the Guiness Book of World Records).
I wasn’t sure what to expect: European DJs sometimes
draw the oddest (and youngest) crowds. But I must say I was
pleasantly surprised by the turnout.
As expected, Oakey is quite the showman. But when he went
on at 1 a.m., he immediately took control of the already energized
audience and didn’t let up once before my 4:30 a.m.
departure. God bless those Brits and their aversion to dropouts.
It’s just too bad that the more popular foreign DJs,
like Oakenfold, Paul van Dyk and Pete Tong, never seem to
play gay events here in the U.S. (Hint, hint!)
Until next time: Be Smart. Be Safe. Be Yourself.