The Top One Percent

 

 

Five upscale lounges compete for
New York’s most fabulous crowd.

By Ryan Malkin

While New York’s superclubs might be biting the dust one by overhyped one, its upscale lounge scene is flourishing, with new venues opening what seems like every weekend. Catering to anyone who can afford at least a $200 bottle and looks decent enough to not horrify the celebrity clientele, these places are so Hamptons-esque that some of them are represented by Lizzie Grubman’s PR agency. And going against the usual lounge trend, each has invested some serious dime in quality sound, lighting, and video systems.



DORSIA




DORSIA
 

Dorsia
Co-owner Michael Diamond
5 East 19th Street, New York, NY

What do you offer that’s unique and not already out there? We wanted to offer a comfortable and relaxed alternative to nightlife, free of the rude door people, imposing hosts, and general hassle that unfortunately have come to epitomize the nightlife experience. I believe that Dorsia is the only venue where you can encounter the positive aspects of the nightlife experience all in one place, which allows our guests to relax and really have fun.

With so many lounges opening recently why did you decide to open up now? Are you concerned with the competition? Why not? I knew that people were waiting for a venue like Dorsia so it really didn’t matter to me how many other places were opening. The same goes for the competition. I think that if you appeal to your clientele, treat people right, and know what you are doing, there is no need to worry about competition.

How do you plan on keeping things fresh over the next year or two? I think that Dorsia has the potential of being a timeless venue. Aesthetically, we designed it so that we are able to change the look from time to time. Besides that, staying true to our original “stress-free” nightlife philosophy and preserving the intimacy and integrity of our lounge will keep it fresh for a long time.

Speakers (main floor): 6 - EV SX300 speakers; 4 - EV SB 121 subwoofers;
2 - Mackie active 15 Inch subwoofers; 1 - EV Force I subwoofer
Speakers (lower level): 2 - JBL Marquis Series MS 28 speakers;
1 - EV Eliminator I 18-inch subwoofer

Amplification (main floor): 1 - Crown Ultra-Tech 40/40 amp;
1 - Crown Micro-Tech 2400 amp; 1 - EV AC power crossover amp;
1 - Samson S100 amp
Amplification (lower level): 2 - QSC RMX2450 amps

Lighting: Color Kinetics iColor Cove.




B'LO




B'LO




B'LO
 

B’Lo
Owner Robert Vinokur and designer Lionel Ohayoa
(of iCrave Design Studio)
230 West 19th Street, New York, NY

What do you offer that’s unique and not already out there? There’s nothing in the city that’s really a New York underground. But when you come into our space from a single freight elevator, you have no idea where you’re being taken. There’s no name on the door. You walk though these curved walls and just see a sea of heads partying. Another thing is that the space was designed to be a live venue complete with sound room, lights, stage, and speakers.

With so many lounges opening recently why did you decide to open up now? Are you concerned with the competition? Two years ago the major clubs were doing well. When the economy fell people decided they didn’t want to spend $35 to get in the door; that’s when all these lounges came up. Last year it just so happened that one lounge opened and did very well, but everything has its time so we just waited for that to come to and end. The city was waiting for something new. We felt the time was right now and built, designed and opened in 45 days, beating everyone to the punch. But in general, if places are opening it’s because people are going out.

How do you plan on keeping things fresh over the next year or two? Right now this space is operating as a club and is doing very well, but any given night we can bring in a live band and transform it. We needed that evolution, yet it’s not force-fed, it’s already set-up. We built a sound room with a mixing board and everything else specifically for that. We know people get tired of a place when they start coming to it over and over. But in a year we can make minor changes. It’ll be the same room, the same energy, but it won’t look the same.

Installer/designer (sound): Smith Audio
Installer/designer (lighting): Farralane Lighting & Audio

Interiors: Lionel Ohayoa (iCrave Design Studio)

Speakers: Smith Audio (custom)

Amplification: Crest Audio

Sound processing: dbx

Lighting: 11 - Martin Alien 02 color changers; 3 - Martin
MiniMAC Profile moving heads; 3 - Martin MiniMAC Wash
moving heads; 1 - Martin Freekie controller; 1 - Martin QFX
150 FiberSource




VUE




VUE
 

Vue
Operating manager Marty Helfand
151 East 50th Street, New York, NY, www.vuenyc.com

What do you offer that’s unique and not already out there? We have something that no one else has: We’re the only surround cinema nightclub in the world. But I’m not relying on that as our sole catch. We know our place. We’re not trying to compete with the big clubs – we only hold 700 people – and we’re in midtown so we’re not competing with the downtown lounges.

With so many lounges opening recently why did you decide to open up now? Are you concerned with the competition? Initially we were just going to do a facelift to [the prior club in this space] 151. It was doing really well, but most people burn out clubs and wait until they’re rundown and disgusting before they renovate. We wanted to do it while we were on top. It just kept escalating and we all got very excited about the surround cinema system by Obscura.

How do you plan on keeping things fresh over the next year or two? Over the long term we’ll loosen up the door policy and be less selective. We’ll still be an upscale club, but we’ll definitely not market exclusively to the downtown clientele. We’ll go for the best of the best of the bridge and tunnel crowd; if you get the best of the best it’s still a good crowd.

Installer/designer (sound and lighting): Musically Yours

Installer/designer (video): Obscura Digital

Interior Design/architecture: Jill Buchanan (Garage Studio)

Speakers (main dancefloor): 6 - SLS T218/4K subwoofers; 4 - SLS T3RH/FT loudspeakers; 2 - SLS UB28R two-way fill speakers; 2 - SLS US1290T two-way loudspeakers; 1 - SLS 112RT-I two-way loudspeakers

Amplification/power/processing: 8 - QSC CX 1102 amplifiers; 6 - Ashly Protea 4.24 digital signal processors; 6 - QSC CX 502 amplifiers; 6 - QSC CX 902 amplifiers; 5 - QSC CX 702 amplifiers; 2 - ETA PD8L conditioned power distributors; 2 - QSC CX 302 amplifiers; 2 - Raxxess GAR-35-25 35-space racks; 2 - Raxxess GAR-40-25 40-space racks; 2 - RDL ST-DA3 distribution amplifiers; 1 - Ashly VCM-88 8-channel VCA; 1 - Ashly XR-2001 crossover; 1 - Ashly RW-8 wall mount remote control; 1 - dbx 2215 EQ; 1 - dbx 266 XL compressor/limiter; 1 - EbTech HE8 hum eliminator; 1 - Rane RPC-4 room controller; 1 - Rane SM-26B splitter/mixer; 1 - Rane SRM-66 matrix unit; 1 - RDL PS-24K power supply; 1 - RDL ST-PD5 power distribution; 1 - RDL STR-19B racking system; 1 - QSC MX 1500 amplifier; 1 - QSC MX 3000 amplifier

DJ booth: 8 - RDL ST-MLX3 two-line mixers; 4 - RDL RLC 10K volume controls; 4 - Technics SL-1200 turntables; 2 - Rane MP-24z mixer; 1 - Denon DN-1800 dual CD player; 1 - Denon DN-9000 dual CD player; 1 - SLS US1290 two-way loudspeaker

Lighting: 60 - Color Kinetics iColor Cove LED color changers; 9 - Color Kinetics C-75 LED color changers; 4 - High End Dataflash AF1000 strobes; 4 - High End Studio Spot 250 moving yokes; 4 - High End Trackspot automated fixtures; 3 - Color Kinetics ColorBlast LED color changers; 3 - Color Kinetics iColor MR LED color changers; 2 - Coemar iSpot 150 moving yokes; 1 - High End Dataflash AF1000 mini controller; 1 - Martin Light Jockey controller




REHAB
 

Rehab
Co-owner David Sarner
380 Lafayette Street, New York, NY

What do you offer that’s unique and not already out there? We go through a metamorphosis, a literal rehabilitation, every night. At 10pm every piece of furniture is taken off the floor of Time Café and all the lounge furniture – banquettes, coaches, pillows – is set up. Plus, the location is fantastic. And the room is something you really don’t have in other spaces, from the ceiling height to the column free space. There’s no other place that has the duality of the rooms that we have, and the actual magnitude and physical presence of this place.

With so many lounges opening recently why did you decide to open up now? Are you concerned with the competition? The city has really been boring for about a year. After 9/11 people went through a real down period and it’s kind of like the catharsis is over. I closed Cabana in Southampton for the summer and had noticed that Time Café was pretty quiet at night. It was such a beautiful space it was a shame. I approached the people who owned the lease and we did a joint venture, so we had the liquor license, insurance, etcetera, all in place and were able to open in two weeks. But whether there was no other clubs opening or 30 opening, it wouldn’t bother me. It’s not an issue for us.

How do you plan on keeping things fresh over the next year or two? When you start talking about a high-end lounge that appeals to the top one-percent of the crowd going out in the city, they have a very short shelf life. You can change the music, change the environment, redecorate, and give people new interesting twists, but more than anything else you have to stay on top of your customer base. What’s nice about a space like this where I have 50 tables is that I get to know my clientele pretty quickly. You can really cater to them; you know what they drink. It’s an easy door for them, and that’s why they come back. You make them feel like it’s home.

Speakers: Meyer Sound

Lighting: Color Kinetics

Amplification: Crown Audio




SESSA




SESSA




SESSA
 

Sessa
Co-owner Vanessa Haydon
208 West 23rd Street, New York, NY

What do you offer that’s unique and not already out there? First, we have a cabaret license so you can dance. And the Bali theme is very different from any other club. Like that [huge elevated table] seat is normally a home in Bali, and the sand completes the whole theme.

With so many lounges opening recently why did you decide to open up now? Are you concerned with the competition? New York needed a place that was different. I grew up in the city and thought it would be a cool idea to have a place where I can have some of my friends that are promoters working here and try to make it something different than anywhere else. I did it now because Lotus is over, Pangea is over and even though so many things are opening there’s nothing like this with a cabaret.

How do you plan on keeping things fresh over the next year or two? Like any other club it’s always good for the first year and then people want to go someplace else. I’m hoping that this will stay better for more than a year then at that time we’ll change things up and have theme parties. If you do theme parties and send out an invite every two months or so it brings people back.

Installer/designer (customized lighting): Frost Lighting

Speakers: Tannoy

Amplification: QSC


Copyright 2003 Club Systems International Magazine
Copyright 2003 TESTA Communications