What’s Going On with the Chelsea Room?

The Hotel Chelsea won’t be reviving the spirit of any of its famous ghosts with the Chelsea Room, the lounge that’s just opened in the bowels of the infamous hotel. An after-dark destination since 1883, the hotel has seen Jimi Hendrix, O.Henry, and Tennessee Williams check in, and is famously haunted by Sid’s murdered girlfriend, Nancy. But the Chelsea Room is getting devoured by PR piranhas and promoters too soon, which seems to suggest that it may be dead in its tracks already. While the initial news that Surf Lodge’s Marcus Bifaro would be taking over the defunct Star Lounge was met with skepticism by the blogosphere (especially after it was reported that he would be taking the space “back to the early 1900s” with “exposed brick and barn wood from upstate”), I was hopeful for a spot that would do the beloved hotel some justice. Sadly, the subterranean lounge is now being promoted like a Times Square hotel during New Years Eve, announcing grand opening parties on a weekly basis and offering perks like “one hour free Champagne served by hot lingerie models.”

The first opening announcement I caught wind of was for Saturday, October 9th. As I trolled the Internet for party recaps and photos, I received another email from one Michael James of Epic Group Worldwide, which boasts the tagline, “Securing the Velvet Rope.” While searching for more information about said Group, I found yet another grand opening announcement from the kids at Sam n’ Jo, a company which essentially does mass email promotions. Their invite, which notes “Samnjo offers limo all night long to groups of Ladies (8-20 people) to go to the Chelsea Room from anywhere in Manhattan to please you” and “some of you may know this very arty venue,” was placed on sites like internations.org, Metromix, Model Mayhem, and Plancast. It was also promoted on Twitter by this guy.

It certainly doesn’t look like the Chelsea Room’s management cares about who’s showing up. Not that it should be an exclusive hang, but another lounge without a clear concept of what it is, with no plans to curate for the sake of ambiance, combined with the terribly cliche trend of slapping together some barn wood and exposed brick, scans like they’re just not trying here. Which is a shame.

But I could be wrong. To be honest, this comes as speculation, as I have yet to set foot in the new spot. But if it’s a soft opening, create buzz softly. On the upside, Ladyfag will be hosting a party this Friday called Clubber Down Disco, which might create buzz for her band of New York club kids hankering for a dose of house music, with help from resident DJ Honey Dijon and Jason the Black Teen Wolf. Also on the upside, a Yelper had this to say about her experience:

The Chelsea Hotel is a NYC landmark with a raucous rock and roll history. Creating a club/lounge out of the basement could easily disappoint diehards but this was plain fun, the old fashioned way. I look forward to watching it evolve and just hope they keep it simple.

Still, I fantasize about the Chelsea Room drawing the kind of crowd that has a bit of reverence for the ancient space, or at the very least, finding a proper promotions company that can take care of building a clientele, one that’s slightly more diverse than “hot lingerie models.”

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