The Emperor’s New Column

Each morning, as I coffee my way to awareness, a blank Word doc stares at me. There are mornings, as I’m sure regular readers and editors understand, when I have little to say, or no time to say much. Sometimes it’s a matter of, “If I don’t have nothing nice to say then don’t say it,” while other mornings, the great story I went to sleep with wasn’t so great in the light of day. Yes, that does describe my dating before Amanda. Sometimes I have nothing to say because I promised not to say anything, even though the other blogs are all over it. As a designer involved in some projects of interest, I can often only read about what I’m doing, as non-disclosure agreements gag me from telling you the truth. Because of my schedule getting a half dozen joints open in September and another six ready for construction, I have internal debates that go like this: “Eat or write,” or “Sleep or design,” or “Breath or…” Well you get the idea. My desk is a heap of unopened envelopes, piles of notepads and gadgets with voices on them, half-empty cereal boxes, wood, wallpaper, stone and glass samples, and a very large cat.

Today I am meeting the players over at Lavo NY. I will sit down and chat with Noah Tepperberg, Jason Straus, Jayma Cardosa, and Rich Thomas. After the ”oohs and ahhs” and “how nices” and other obligatory wonderment at seeing a grand place for the first time, we will all sit down and chat. Part of that discussion will be about how they market their joints so that they compliment—not compete with—each other. Lavo principals also include Rich Wolf and Mark Packer. Who works where/owns what is too complicated to get into at this time of the day, but besides Lavo NY, these people operate Lavo Las Vegas, the Tao entities in NY and Vegas, Marquee, Stanton Social, Avenue , and some others. Not stepping on each other’s marketing feet is a great feat.

Part of the solution is defining the space for a specific type of crowd. From all reports, Lavo is being built for the Euro set and Midtowners. It could probably thrive just on the overflow from Tao across the street, but will most likely be defined as a playground for the jet set. Top tier organizations with multiple venues strategize how to not only secure the piece of the pie they are familiar with, but also how to secure compatible crowds. Moving and feeding multiple promoters, DJs, and management, from one venue to another, saves money. The ability to bring crowds common to one place to a soft night at another one of your properties spells success. The Tao Group will certainly not want to loose the Euros and South Americans that frequent Avenue, but will want to service them better at a joint built just for this crowd. At Avenue, the very fun Tuesday nights curated by Paul Sevigny have added enough diversity to legitimize the place for some downtown crowds without scaring away the base of monied players found there every night. The change in programming on Tuesday does “turn off’ some people, who avoid that night but come on another. This helps the venue last longer, as patrons don’t burn out so fast. I wonder if Lavo will have a night where downtowners will feel comfortable. The old adage is that downtown never goes uptown, while uptown will “slum down.”

In days of yore, clubs were often built to be populated with an exclusive but diverse crowd. Today, specific spaces service specific scenes. Spots today are often run by successful promoter types who parlayed the investment capital of friends and clients into small lounges, restaurants, or clubs. Most of these people hang with like-minded pals and rarely delve into other habitats where “different” types party. Diversity in nightlife is commonly missing. The addition of the two house haunts I mentioned yesterday will not change anything. Clubs like these—and Pacha and Cielo—don’t often acknowledge that music other than house is legit. With the exception of Webster Hall and Marquee and a couple of other joints, I am hard pressed to think of a place with more than one viable dance choice. There isn’t a place where diverse music on different dance floors mixes with people from all walks mingling and making each other tingle. The Kenmare is the best at mixing the crowds, but its music is not as diverse, and it is intimate and conversational rather than grand. 1Oak often offers musical diversity and crowds from different cultures, but it’s one medium-sized room. Every time I read about someone talking about bringing it back the way it was, I watch them build something for the way it is now. I think that’s a good idea, actually, as the mixing of musical genre’s, different classes of people, different sexual predilections, and different views is a job for a great operator. Although there are a few people out there capable of going this route, these respected fellows seem to be un-inclined to do so, or satisfied servicing their own core crowds. It could be done,,,but I’m not coming out of retirement.

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