Will the NYPD Save Bottle Service?

Cielo, one of the two remaining iconic house music clubs, will be closed for the month of August for violation of a court -ordered stipulation. This stipulation required the club to search everyone who entered the premises. Cielo staff failed to search a member of a team of undercover police who, according to sources, have been “tasked to violate specific nightclubs.” This police team is made up of “members of both narcotics and vice, and it was such a team involved with the Sean Bell tragedy.” A source told me “undercover police teams are buying bottles at clubs all over town,” and these officers are “specifically looking for narcotics sales involving club promoters and security.” Another source added, “the police can gain entry to clubs where they previously would have trouble getting past the doorman by buying bottles; they use fines from violations to pay for the table.”

According to Cielo owner Nicolas Matar, the police in the Cielo incident “came in at about 10:02 p.m. before security was properly settled in and were bottle buyers.” Matar said he will take advantage of the forced summer vacation and travel in Europe. “Cielo has enjoyed six years of success and I don’t get a great deal of time off. I will do Cielo-branded events in Europe, and besides owning Cielo, I DJ also and will use the downtime to DJ abroad.” Although this seems like a rosy alternative, Nicolas tells me that he is taking “a huge financial hit.” European tourists flock to New York in August for the annual summer vacation. “Paris and Milan become ghost towns in August and it is embarrassing that New York may not have a real European-type club to greet them.” With Cielo closed and things still unclear over at Pacha, New York may not have a purist house music offering.

Speaking of which: closing arguments were heard in the Pacha case yesterday. Pacha is of course the other iconic house club and is currently closed pending the result of this trial. State Supreme Court Justice Joan Madden will make a decision “in the next few days” on whether the club has done enough to prevent drug sales. No member of Pacha’s staff has been accused of selling narcotics, but the police position seems to be that house clubs attract drug users and are “a drain on police resources.” The police department’s position seems to be that although Pacha has done a good job and has great security, it isn’t enough. They believe that the club presents a clear danger to society and should be closed. Approximately 150 employees are “awaiting word on when or if they can resume earning wages and tips to pay their bills.” I asked Nicolas Matar if Cielo is currently picking up the slack and attracting the shut-out Pacha patrons. Nicolas said he didn’t understand why, “but there has been no increase in patronage with Pacha’s shuttering.” Another house head volunteered that “Pacha is the only big-room kind of place left in town.” I asked if M2 was an alternative and was told that “the way they set it up it really isn’t, but I suppose they are getting some of the crowd.” I asked, “What about Webster Hall?” and was told, “Nobody goes there, unless they have a really big DJ like Victor Calderone — and even then, they really don’t want to.” Another source volunteered, “It says a lot that a Pacha can flourish in over 25 cities worldwide, but can’t stay open here.”

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