Talking With Mach 8’s Fabien Beretta Before Tonight’s Opening

Joints are opening up one right after another, embracing the busy season. Clubs opening in the next few weeks get a chance to cash in big, with the Christmas season already being booked. Party planners love new over good, handsome, or even successful. Mach 8 bursts onto the saturated scene this coming Thursday, skewing towards House music over the predictable Electronic Dance Music.

Mach 8, located at 179 McDougal Street and 40 West 8th Street, has been a club since the 1920’s. Its most recent incarnation was the latest outpost of Pink Elephant, which never really got out of the red. (BTW I hear things about Pink Elephant and I’m digging deep to tell you). Before Pink it was Love, which was known for great sound and little else. Going back in history it was the very hot Bon Soir. Streisand played there. Before the recent failures were years of successful runs.

Mach 8’s Director of Operations Fabien Beretta has all the answers and is sharing them with us today.

The location, most recently the Love Club and Pink Elephant, has a rich history of night spots going back to the late 1920’s—it seems to always be evolving as development ebbs and flows. Is this club off the beaten path or right in the thick of it? 

I like to think it’s right in the middle of both. Greenwich Village has a rich history and has always itself walked the line of “off the path” and “in the thick of it.” While LOVE had an underground feel to it, reminiscent of the feel of West 8th Street at the time, Pink Elephant was over the top, which coincided with the revitalization and rebirth of the neighborhood. If you look around, you might notice that most of the outdated small businesses have shut down due to rent increase and are giving way to more upscale tenants. The neighborhood is rapidly evolving. Instead of going one way or the other, we believed it was best to combine both worlds into one. Stumptown Coffee, Liquiteria, Neta Sushi, Greenwich Project, Jane Hotel operators opened a boutique hotel named Marlton, Burger Joint…No need to say we can see major upscale changes in this neighborhood.

Mach8 Hallway

What will be the physical changes from the Pink Elephant incarnation? 

First and foremost, Mach 8’s entrance will be through the MacDougal Street entrance. The reasoning for this, is to give the room a better flow, and also to immediately reinforce the notion to guests that this is a new venue, not to be attached to the previous stigmas associated with the space.

Upon entering the unmarked black door, you find yourself immersed in a fusion of a Vogue Magazine spread covered with street art and grafitti. Think tasteful portraits and body shots overlapped with graffiti style street art sprinkled with black and silver diamond dust. This area is where the first bar resides, and embodies a chill atmosphere where you can kick back and have a few specialty cocktails crafted by our mixologists. As you make your way deeper in to the venue you will enter an infinity mirrored room that is wrapped with white leather couches. It is the perfect room to sit, chat, and enjoy a drink in good company or…the ultimate setting for our dear selfies.

After the infinity room comes our main feature. You enter an intimate, sexy nightclub that is geared equally towards dancing and bottle service. The center of the room features an open feel dance floor, while the raised sides of the venue offer table service perfect for watching the DJ and the crowd alike. Mach 8 packs all the elements of a big room (starting from our crystal clear sound system, to the lighting system, to the lasers, nitrous and haze). It embodies the underground Ibiza feel but was built to cater to high profile clients.

You are the operator, tell me your philosophy, history and vision.

I am originally from Paris and moved to New York 10 years ago.  I grew up in Dubai where the hospitality / nightlife industry is huge and the center of life. In Dubai, either you are a patron of the hospitality industry, or you are a member of its service team. In both these cities going out at night is almost an art. People play the game, and are highly fashionable. You find yourselves mingling among artists, politicians, business men, and so on.

The idea of taking over a small room is mainly inspired from the same concept, to be able to cater to people who enjoy going out, without being bumped into or constantly being spilled on by teeny boppers. We strive to maintain a nice and fun crowd who let loose their senses to be who they want to be for the night.

I see a nightclub as a playground built for adults. People want to go out to have fun and forget about their day jobs or problems. It is our mission to combine all our savoir faire so that we offer them the most unique experience—whether it be customer service or music or entertainment. What differentiates one playground from another is the amount of creativity you put into it, which is the same as what differentiates one nightclub from another 

My journey in New York started in the fashion industry, which I did not enjoy and decided to move to hospitality industry. I have worked with high energy restaurants, to more traditional restaurants, from lounges to mega clubs, to hotels. I have filled in many positions from promoting, to talent booking, to managing, to operating. This gave me a better understanding of the many facets this business has but also enabled me to know what works and what does not work. 

Mach8 MainRoom

I read that you are embracing Deep House as your format. Can you please elaborate.

At Mach 8, we embrace Deep House for the sole purpose that it’s a “vibe” that is more sophisticated than EDM. EDM is great for the younger generations who have the energy to jump for 5 hours straight. If you compare side to side an EDM track next to a Deep House track, you will notice the construction is not repetitive and that there is more thought into it than standardized riffs and drops.

Deep House has been huge in Europe for many years. When you go to Cannes, Ibiza, London, or Paris you will notice that Deep House is the predominant genre being played from the beach clubs, to the lounges, to nightclubs. The president of Ultra Records himself said recently that the next trend of electronic music to take over the US is Deep House. Very few venues in NY are actually offering a compromise of heavyweight artists in the Deep House industry mixed with glitz and glamour. You can find yourself in big rooms like Space or Output, but will never feel the entire big room experience in such an intimate setting. We decided to take a risk and create something that has not been done yet. Instead of lacking in creativity and replicating what everyone else is doing, we chose to go the other route.

Love was loved by many, but its Fraggle Rock decor was a turn off to some. For them it was all about the sound. Are there things more important or as important as sound?

Designing a nightclub is always very complex. It is next to impossible to please all your guests, especially in this highly critical Twitter generation. An important aspect to any nightclub is to make sure that your layout is on point. You want the best flow possible so that people have an easy time walking around and mingling. Whether it be the dance floor or bar guests or table patrons, you want to ensure that everyone is comfortable and having a great time.

As far as aesthetics, we wanted a compromise of underground grungy meets chic. Walking through the space will give you that feeling with our ‘Vogue’ images covered by New York City Street art.  Above all, I believe the ultimate priority is definitely the sound system and sound itself. Creating an identity is what will differentiate you from your competitor. We are doing what very few are doing and would like to think of ourselves as pioneers in our own niche market. Given that we are doing in electronic music, having the latest up to date most sophisticated sound system is a must to satisfy our music lovers.

Screen shot 2014-09-18 at 12.20.17 PM

Who did your sound, and tell me the reasons to be cheerful?

The renowned Steve Dash himself did our sound system and our music identity has been created by Danny Bar, a very talented DJ / Producer coming up in the footprints of the key players in the music industry. 

The reasons to be cheerful are truly simple Steve. At Mach 8 we decided to bring it back to the basics like the nightclubs back in the day: great talent, great music, a unique room setting with an amazing sound system, and cool people. It seems as though this is what New York has been missing for a while.

The opening is Thursday, what will impress and who is coming?

Surely Behrouz, who is one the most talented DJ / Producers will amaze you. Not to sound repetitive, but the sound and lighting system will get you going. As for who is coming, we have many industry people coming, big names deejays coming to say hello, and who knows, maybe a few surprises in store, and the burning man decompression official party.

Who is Ryan Keeley and what is he doing at Mach 8?

Ryan Keeley is a New York based artist, innovator, and entrepreneur who’s artwork has been showcased in galleries around the world and coveted by the art world’s top collectors. His distinct style and has also been applied to designing various lounges, night clubs, restaurants and retail stores worldwide. Keeley’s visuals combine a well balanced mix of high fashion and high art in an aggressive style which gives it its unique look and creates a provocative atmosphere. 

He is a very intriguing character and I sometimes wonder what goes on through his head (in a good way). For this redesign of the venue that housed the infamous Club Love and Pink Elephant, Keeley has applied his custom method of combining printing and hand-painting coined “HYBRID LAYERED EXPRESSIONISM” to cover the vast majority of walls, ceilings, stairwells, and hallways. Almost every inch of available surface area has been hand-painted by the designer, which entice and provoke the patrons into an abstract dream world as soon as they pass the front ropes and travel down a staircase into a provocative underworld of high powered music and debauchery.

Mach 8 is eight times faster than the speed of sound…or something like that. Tell me about the name.

The name is actually quite simple. First of all, our whole identity is based around the sound (aka music). Second, we are on the corner of MacDougal Street and West 8th Street. Therefore it seemed logical to combine Mach (the speed of sound but also “MAC”Dougal) alongside with 8th, the cross street.

Photo credit: The Hayes Brothers

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