March 03 2016

Cures for New York's Club Culture

New York-Le Bain
What ails the club scene? What are its cures? We asked some of Le Bain's regular collaborators.

If you’ve been staying up with us over the past few weeks, you know that we’ve been on the search for Cures. Up to now, we’ve largely focused on personal cures, from the physical to the spiritual, but what about cures for something more communal. New York nightlife has highs and lows, and we wanted to take its pulse. We wondered what is ailing the club scene, and second, what the cures might be. Le Bain asked its community of collaborators for the diagnosis. 

Here’s what they had to say…  

Eli Escobar (Dance Dance Dance): Based on what I see almost every night I'm out, I would say cell phones. They are constantly distracting people and preventing them from truly getting lost in the music or the atmosphere of the club. I don't really know what the cure would be. It's an addiction, and one that seems to show its face in times of potential social discomfort. I wish people would give themselves the chance to see how their night would turn out if they just ignored their phone for a few hours!
"One of the positive constants in nightlife is change."
Occupy the Disco (Paradisco): It's funny you ask that. Occupy the Disco started out 5 years ago because of our shared frustration with New York nightlife, but since then we've realized one of the positive constants in nightlife is change. As New Yorkers, we tend to be nostalgic for the past without realizing all of the great things we have right in front of our faces. Nightlife would be boring if everything stayed the same all the time. New York City will always know how to throw the best parties, but you also need to be adventurous enough to find them. The club scene is on fire right now. We feel really lucky to be a part of it.
"The New York City club scene is ailed by stressed out, overworked zombies struggling to pay this crazy rent."<br>

"The New York City club scene is ailed by stressed out, overworked zombies struggling to pay this crazy rent."

Valissa Yoe (On Top): The New York City club scene is ailed by stressed out, overworked zombies struggling to pay this crazy rent. It takes miles of booze and drugs to take their edge off before they can even think about dancing. Once they loosen up a bit, instead of enjoying the people and music, they're trying to take the best selfie, then retouch the selfie, then post the selfie, then check the likes on the selfie. New York needs to get back to the basics. Let your stress go and let the music be your therapy. Put away your cell phones and start dancing with the stranger next to you!
"The cure to shitty clubs is a lot of patience and faith."
Andrew Devlon (The Level Party) Not sure there's too much wrong right now! People always want to be nostalgic on this topic but I think the status quo is pretty alright. On any given weekend, the hardest thing really is choosing between so much good music happening at the same time. 2016 in New York has already been crazyOmar S,  Soichi Terada, Hunee & Intergalactic Gary, Anthony Naplesit's nonstop. There are club nights, warehouse parties, after hours, house parties, pizza parties....Of course, I wish people would stop staring at their phones at these events and the venues themselves weren't so overcrowded. But I still find most dancefloors open up after 3am and really good things still happenDJs drawing on a lengthy canon of club music and adding exciting stuff from today. What a time to be alive! 

<i>"As for the cure… I’ve found it and it ain’t in New York."</i>

"As for the cure… I’ve found it and it ain’t in New York."

Justin Miller (Have A Killer Time): In my opinion, what ails the club scene in New York is New York itself and technology. The standard was cemented long ago in its glory days from the '70s thru the '90s. It's more than obvious that the high cost of living and the time needed to incubate and grow a scene in New York just isn’t possible in the modern age. There’s still a lot of magic in New York and I’m sure the kids coming here today feel the same way that I felt when I arrived for the first time in 1998. But ask anyone who’s been involved in the club world in New York for 30 plus years and they’ll shoot you straight. It was better before. To me, the micro-scenes that exist today just don't stack up. As for the cure…I’ve found it and it ain’t in New York.

"Raw, uninhibited, unadulterated fun has gone astray."
Christine Tran (Discwoman): For me, the club scene thrives when people are having fun, celebrating, and are surrounded by good people and good musicwhen it doesn't feel like a place you have to impress anybody. Being so close to the production and booking process makes me really appreciate when the people who put together events really care about the music, everyone involved, and the guests who attend.
"People have forsaken fun for phones."

"People have forsaken fun for phones."

"Making people dance never gets old."
Dan Wender (Rinsed): I think what ails the club scene is a lack of patience and foresight from club owners. There is often a disconnect between what's best for the club's vibe, energy, and ultimately momentum, and meeting the financial goals of the club for its investors. Clubs often put undue pressure on promoters at the peril of the ultimate goal of both parties: to have a party that's great, so people want to come, want to text their friends to come, want to dance, want to stay, and want to drink. Nightlife is a competitive business. Desperation is not sexy, and people can smell that shit from a mile away. The cure to shitty clubs is a lot of patience and faith. Opening a club is a long game. If you curate an environment that people can be comfortable in, feel safe enough to let their inhibitions down in, and feel like the club is there to serve their needs and not the other way around, then you're going to have a great club.
Becka Diamond (Zig Zag): The culture of requesting and "everyone's a DJ" ails the club scene. I think the cure would be a no request policy, and encouraging the old school vibe of just showing up to have an experience. Instead of suggesting a track, I'd much rather have someone ask me what I'm playing. Making people dance never gets old.

<i>"The culture of requesting and 'everyone's a DJ' ails the club scene."</i>

"The culture of requesting and 'everyone's a DJ' ails the club scene."

Taimur Agha (Blkmarket Membership): I think the club scene today is split up amongst many groups and parties. Everyone wants a piece of the pie. I'm a firm believer of unity and collaborating with the people who work to make a better scene all under one umbrella. If you work hard to achieve what you want to do, the opportunities are endless. People need to come together more often. It's the best feeling when it happens, because nothing beats that connection.

"The ultimate archetype of social gathering"
Waseem Cheema (Zig Zag): I think people have forsaken fun for phones. With everything so accessible and everyone engulfed in social media, raw, uninhibited, unadulterated fun has gone astray. What I love about a good party is it represents the ultimate archetype of social gatheringgreat music, wonderful people, and outstanding energy. Getting lost in bass and fog, focusing on being present, and having a different experience week after week encourages one, I think, to involve themselves in the moment and allow merriment to ensue once again.
<i>"Most of the exciting stuff is happening in Brooklyn."</i>

"Most of the exciting stuff is happening in Brooklyn."

Josh Houtkin (Fixed): We're generally pretty excited about the current state of the NYC scene, but aside from an exception or two, most of the exciting stuff is happening in Brooklyn. We'd love to be able to do more in Manhattan! It's really about having the proper venues with no issues and attitude.
"Don't give up on a set because of one weird track!"
Higgins (Kaviar Disco Club)I think the club scene in NYC is the best it's been in a long time, so this took a while to think of, but one ailment to the club scene here is the sound levels. I think in NYC there's a tendency to really let the decibel levels get high when perhaps the cure is just to upgrade the system. I think in Europe they have a better sense of keeping levels reasonable so we're not all deaf in a few years. And if there was a second ailment, I guess it would be that crowds dance to what they expect. I don't know the cure to that, but maybe it's more openness to DJs getting a little weirder. Playing weird records is definitely trending, but we can always get weirder. The people make the party so don't give up on a set because of one weird track.
All photos by Neil Aline.