Posts

New SF Club Halcyon Opens in SOMA near Audio SF

Life will soon return to the former BeatBox space at 314 11th St., as it prepares to become Halcyon, a new entertainment venue run by a local nightlife veteran.

The space’s new owner, Gina Milano, said it was on her radar for awhile. Over the past two decades, she’s owned and operated a handful of restaurants and nightclubs around San Francisco, including Le Club, a faux members-only club in Nob Hill; Bambuddha Lounge, a precursor to Chambers in the Phoenix Hotel; and Restaurant Maroc, an Upper Haight lounge serving Moroccan-Californian food and cocktails.

Most recently, she worked next door, helping Audio nightclub and its sister bar, Bergerac, get off the ground. The owners of BeatBox knew that she was looking to branch out on her own again, and as soon as they were ready to sell, they called her up.

Rather than simply launching a nightclub, Milano sees this new venue as an opportunity to employ a wide variety of highly creative people.

“I love being entertained, and I love hyper-creative people, and I love being hyper-creative,” she said.

On Friday and Saturday nights, Halcyon will be a dance club, with electronic DJs and semi-live performances. But in the vein of nearby Public Works, Milano also plans to host weekly entertainment events like a Wednesday-night cabaret, complete with live dance performances, booths with bottle service and 56 cabaret tables.

She’s also considering hosting dance classes on certain nights, including different types of line dancing in the evening and yoga-dance classes that will keep the space active during the day. And of course, Halcyon will be available for corporate and private events as well.

To accommodate all of these different uses, the layout and the lighting are being designed to allow the space to easily transform from one offering to another.

With brick walls and a steel support structure, it’s a “very tough, raw, industrial-looking space,” so Milano and her team are working to give it a “nice shiny veneer,” she said. LED lights are being added to the support beams, and she’s installing a “state-of-the-art” projection mapping system.

“I’m single-handedly keeping LED producers in China at work right now,” Milano joked, describing the look of the finished space as “a tough bitch in designer clothing.”

Choosing a name that symbolized her wide-ranging offerings wasn’t easy, but Halcyon has many relevant meanings, Milano said. It’s “a cool word” that’s used to refer to blissful, carefree memories or a golden era, as well as the name of a popular dance record store in Brooklyn, where visiting DJs in the ’80s and ’90s would commonly stop in before shows.

It’s also the name of two different birds: one from Greek mythology, and the other, Halcyonidae, a family of the African Kingfisher. The latter bird will grace one wall of the venue, in the form of an abstract mural.

If all goes according to plan, Milano said, Halcyon will host its first private parties during Halloween weekend, and open to the public for the first time on the weekend of Nov. 5th-6th.

Best Clubs Without Bottle Service

You may have been there: It’s late, and you’re at a club. The pounding music has started to make you question the merits of “celebrity” DJs. (Celebrities to whom?) The sweaty men and loud women crowding you are so far gone they think everyone is as excited as they are about the bottle of champagne they just spent $1,200 on. Look, it even has a sparkler in it!

Suddenly, instead of having fun, you think to yourself: Is it over yet? When can I just go home?

Good news: You’re not the only one.

“People are getting weary,” said Ronnie Madra, a co-partner with Richie Akiva at Butter Group, which owns 1Oak, Up & Down and NeverNever. “People are tired of the branding and the websites and the marketing and the minimums. Some still relish it, but as the world is changing, the landscape of nightlife is going to go with it.”

“The modern form of bottle service first started in certain clubs in the late ‘90s-early 2000s, and then things fully swung that way,” said Angelo Bianchi, the creative director of the Blond, a private club in New York. Bianchi made his name in New York nightlife as the doorman for the famously cool Beatrice Inn and Jane Hotel. “That was the reason for the success of the smaller clubs in 2006, and they were the anti to that bottles-and-models system. At Beatrice, we never sold one bottle. It was a point of pride.”

That’s why Bianchi partnered with co-creative director (and Beatrice and Le Baron alum) Julio Montero to create the Blond at Aby Rosen’s 11 Howard hotel (more on that below), and it’s why Madra and co-creators Ronnie Flynn and Deevee Kashi started NeverNever, the tiny, dark dancing space next to Up & Down that has a much tighter door policy than its siblings. At NeverNever, the crowd looks cool, artistic, international and well-dressed. Most important, they don’t all look the same. There is no obligatory bottle service.

Madra said NeverNever happened “as a necessity” to cater to a younger crowd turned off by commercial club glitz, who were venturing to Brooklyn and even Long Island to party. While it takes generally $5 million or so to open a new club, Madra spent $30,000 to open NeverNever—and made that money back before the end of the first week.

“We built it as a little place where we are not going to get rich over night, but you can make a little profit and you can bring in a goulash of personalities and social standing,” he said. “There’s no sign on the door; you can’t really Google it. That’s what we like.”

In fact, plenty of places work as the outside of the model-promoter system. They’re quieter and more hidden, but the great thing is that the amount of fun you have is usually in direct proportion to just how quiet and how hidden they are—and how discerning the guy at the door is.

“People are interested in having an authentic experience where they are not walking into a situation that feels one certain way,” Bianchi said. “They’ll know within the first few minutes of walking in whether they’ll come back. People don’t want to go to places that feel like clubland, they want something organic. They want to go to somewhere on a quiet street.”

We’ve compiled a list of the top global nightclubs without bottle service. Enjoy!

Berghain, Berlin

This is another world-renowned institution, and while it’s no chic lounge, at least it doesn’t have models and bottles. The former power plant is so notorious that GQ profiled its famous doorman, and fashion heavies frequent it on their German excursions. There’s no rule at the door, other than the fact that you probably can’t get in. You definitely won’t get in if you’re wearing a suit, high heels, or any bright colors. Music here is heavily skewed to techno and house; phones and cameras are prohibited. There are no mirrors in the bathrooms. There is no VIP area. Don’t even think about trying to buy your way in. Expect to see an older crowd, well-cultured in dark, aggressive, club-going leather, possible fetishes, and heavy tattoos.

Where: Am Wriezener Bahnhof

When to go: Don’t get there before 4 a.m.

Pikes Hotel, Ibiza

Set aside your preconceived notions about Ibiza being chock full of EDM clubs stuffed with young Brits on Ketamine. That’s about a two-street strip; the rest of the desert island is beautiful, spare, and subtle in its pleasures. Pike’s Hotel, which is formally called the Ibiza Rocks House and is hidden in the rocky hills above Ibiza town, is one of those jewels. The place is built in a 15th century stone mansion that was converted to a hotel in 1978; the lounge and music area famously hosted jet setters, bohemians, musicians, and artists in decadence for years. (It provided the set to Wham’sClub Tropicana video of the 1980s.) The space plays lots of rock ‘n’ roll and funk/disco, plus famous old school DJs most nights; costumes and props are in some rooms, if you become inclined.

Where: Camí Sa Vorera, San Antonio

When to go: Not before 2 a.m.

Raspoutine, Paris

The Blond held its Paris Fashion Week party here, which is saying something about the level of its status as an international A-List spot. Bianchi said it’s his favorite place to relax out when he’s in France. The general design of the room hasn’t changed for decades, with Byzantine red velvet and pink neon trim on the seats and walls; this is a testament to the brilliance of what used to be a bordello. The top of French creative life files through here at some point or another: high-powered fashion photographers, owners of other clubs, financiers, designers, editors, singers, painters—and, yes, Russian money—from all ages and races. Handsome, well-known-among-a-certain-set DJs imported from all over the world perform until early in the morning hours.

Where: 58 Rue de Bassano

When to go: The most fun you’ll have is a late night here during fashion week—odds are you’ll encounter the most beautiful women you’ve ever seen. (I did). Show up after the early birds finish their dinners and cabaret dances. The real crowd you want to see gets here after 1 a.m.

The Scotch of St. James, London

It’s a veritable bastion of music history: The Beatles and Rolling Stones performed live sets here, but it’s no concert venue. The owners of Paris and New York nightclub Le Baron had a hand in its rejuvenation, and now it’s updated to reflect a modern outlook; fashion types (Stella McCartney, Kate Moss, Cara Delevingne) hold parties there on special nights. So do New York nightlife gurus out for work abroad. If you go, drink Scotch whisky or bourbon—they’ll go well with the Denim Jeans and disco.

Where: Mason’s Yard.

When to go: Show up around midnight on a Wednesday or Thursday. You’ll be good.

Doheny Room, Los Angeles

The spot on Santa Monica Boulevard has a warm, airy California feel and a potentially softer hand for people who want to get inside. The walls are lined in banana palms and portraits of David Bowie and Faye Dunaway; in true LA style, the menu has lobster and vegan sushi. Upstairs offers more of a club atmosphere—you can buy a table if you want, and you will see a DJ and maybe even bottle service, though not at the level of annoyance. For LA, that’s saying a lot.

Where: 9077 Santa Monica Blvd.

When to go: Go to dinner at 9 p.m.; upstairs will have energy around 11 p.m.

Paul’s Cocktail Lounge, New York

Colloquially known as Paul’s Baby Grand (but officially named Paul’s Cocktail Lounge, so as to avoid confusion with Baby’s All Right and Baby Grand, two other NYC late night places), this is the little room Paul Sevigny created under the auspices of the Roxy (formerly Tribeca Grand) Hotel. The walls are covered in large palms (wallpapered and otherwise); the male wait staff wear white, double-breasted suits and carry themselves with the dignity of those who have partied in the glam bygone days of another era. Open format is the key here. You’ll hear dance tunes from Madonna to Scissor Sisters here; don’t expect Calvin Harris or Drake. Ludwig, the doorman, is fickle and wise; if he turns you away a time or two, he may welcome you with open arms on the third try.

Where: 2 Sixth Ave.

When to go: Go at midnight or 1 a.m. It’s closed on Sundays and Mondays.

The Oasis Clubhouse, Buenos Aires

The private members-only club is just that—unless you know someone, or want to purchase a guest pass for the entire place. While the rest of the club has a lounge, terrace, bars, a pool and gardens, weekends are the draw if you want to drink and dance: There’s usually a DJ and plenty of internationally minded sophisticates to talk to while you’re there. The feeling here is relaxed and faintly Parisian, with a twist. The place feels like a hidden Argentine villa decorated with American and European expats. (It very nearly is.) You won’t work up a sweat dancing, but you will feel extremely self-satisfied at how well you’ve managed to infiltrate the cool-people crowd. And the cocktail list is extremely well put.

Where: Costa Rica 4651 Palermo Soho C1414

When to go: On the early side of the evening, for a cocktail and respite.

Mr Fongs, New York

The brainchild of five owning partners, including Adam Moonves (yes, the son of that Moonves), Fong’s lacks signage and glitter, which is exactly why you venture down under the Manhattan Bridge deep in Chinatown, anyway. The feel here is softer, with Brooklyn creatives of all ages mixing with Manhattan artists and publicists. The DJ in the corner is almost an afterthought (there is a jukebox), but he’s there to move the crowd a bit once the night gets on.

Where: 40 Market St.

When to go: Sometime around midnight should be fine. Avoid the weekends.

NeverNever, New York

This is the secret club on the backside of Up & Down. A short, dark hallway connects the two, but a big man in a dark suit is positioned there, and you won’t be able to get from one to the other. NeverNever is more exclusive—and more secretive—than Up & Down; Benny, the doorman out front, seems erratic, but he’s sharp as a razor’s edge about whom he lets in. If you do make it past Benny, expect to see a lot of Australian surfer studs slightly disheveled in the way that charms American girls, their off-duty model girlfriends, writers, chefs, and lots of doormen/DJs/managers from other clubs who come in late to network and gossip. You’ll hear a lot of new wave and indie music here; you won’t hear hip-hop. As Madra said: “It’s not about the big experience, it’s about the right experience.”

Where: 246 W. 14th St.

When to go: No earlier than 1 a.m., weeknights. Two a.m. is better.

Paradise by Way of Kensal Green, London

The place has a menu filled with seasonal delectables and gastro pub fare, but the late-night drinks and music scene is what we’re after here. Inside are multiple levels with dark corners for chatting or eyeing the famous Sunday Roast. It’s located close to Queen’s Park and Kensal Green stations in West London, so the music (DJs, R&B, Jazz, Electronic) is as eclectic as its patrons (youngish, casually pretty) and wine list.

Where: 19 Kilburn Lane

When to go: Go for an early at 10 p.m. before heading elsewhere for the night.

Rose Bar, New York

This is the gold standard for grand New York lounge-y bars where you can hear a DJ and dance a little, or cuddle in a comfortable banquette and watch people while you sip a boulevardier under a large Damien Hirst. It’s in the Gramercy Park Hotel, so the crowd is mixed, with moneyed Internationals, uptown twentysomethings, and on certain nights, music lovers who come to hear Chairlift or CRX play secret sets. (Credit Matthew E. Green and his staff with directing a robust indie scene there.) Go on Wednesday to hear Johnsville DJ; his knowledge of dark and sexy tracks (Donna Summer, Larry Levan, Poolside) beats anything you’ll hear elsewhere.

Where: 2 Lexington Ave.

When to go: 11 p.m. or later, but before 2 a.m.

No Name, Los Angeles

Los Angeles has cornered the market on showy places with sparklers and ladies with faux appendages (hair, breasts, lips, and so forth) so to find a place truly away from big film spenders and swimsuit models on the make takes some work. Enter No Name, the unmarked spot on Fairfax that works hard to avoid those patrons. It’s unlisted, so the only way you’ll get in is through word of mouth or a quasi-secret invite system that feeds into a list as inflexible as a sidewalk. Once inside, you can order food, if you want, or gawk at the art and actors that line the walls. Listen to the DJ play Edward Sharpe; maybe drink an Old Fashioned.

Where: 423 N. Fairfax Ave.

When to go: Early, by New York standards. The place clears out by 2 a.m.

Silencio, Paris

The scent inside Silencio is subtle, intoxicating, and unforgettable, just like the weird Club Silencio that inspired it, from Mulholland Drive. You don’t really notice it at all until you’re all the way down the winding stairs to the bottom, where cavernous rooms include one for smoking, several for lounging, and a chic dance floor right in the front of the DJ booth. The bar in the center is expensive and extensive. Be ready: The fashionable crowd in front of the DJ will dance, if given the chance.

Where: 142 Rue Montmartre

When to go: If you have the chance to go, go, and the earlier in the morning (2 a.m. or so) the better. This is one of the world’s best clubs in the real sense of the word: hidden, chic, with an interesting mix of all types of creative, beautiful, stylish, and odd people. The whole thing is an experience without seeming constructed or artificial. What you won’t find inside: suits, Louboutines, body-con dresses. What you will find inside: Rick Owens, Yoji Yamamoto, Celine, Saint Laurent, obscure fashion brands from Spain, France, New York, California.

The Blonde, New York

This might be the hardest door to get into in New York at the moment; once inside—if you get inside—you’ll find the sort of interesting mix that the models/bottles formula scattered: tall, pretty, and fashionable women who happen to work as models, sure, but also young street artists, understated rich kids from Paris, a British photographer or two, and a couple of New York local downtown kids—gay, old-school club kids, too—mixed in for good measure. Even though the space is part of the Howard Hotel, it’s never open to the public, and doorman Dereck is famously standoffish, so don’t expect to get in easily. The vibe is chic, dark, intimate and faintly European; expect to hear everything from Talking Heads and Fleetwood Mac to Rihanna and 2 Chainz.

“When you walk into the Blond, we didn’t want to make it feel like a club,” said Anis Khoury, general manager of the 11 Howard hotel. “Plush, comfortable—that word comfortable just keeps coming up. The Blond exemplifies what a comfortable setting should be, a place where you go to meet friends of friends.”

Where: 11 Howard St.

When to go: Late, after midnight, on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Friday.

Pendry San Diego to Feature New Nightclub – Oxford Social Club

The first round of food and drink reveals slated for the Gaslamp’s forthcoming Pendry San Diego, the first hotel site for a new luxury brand developed by the well-regarded Montage Hotels & Resorts, contained a trio of venues that will be operated in partnership with Clique Hospitality, including Lionfish, its signature restaurant helmed by local chef Jose “JoJo” Ruiz (Ironside).

Due to open in the Gaslamp by late 2016, the Pendry is aiming to offer much more than just a swanky hotel stay; in addition to the Lionfish restaurant, The Pool House rooftop lounge, and nightlife venue Oxford Social Club, the 12-story complex will also house three more hospitality concepts designed to attract both locals and tourists. Of course, bottle service at the Oxford Social Club will be available.

Craft beer-centric Nason’s Beer Hall, named after the Nason & Co. Farmer’s Market that once operated at the same downtown site in the 1900s, will feature a deep tap list San Diego-made beers and international brews, plus a menu of global comfort food, and entertainment via vintage bar games.

At the Pendry’s lobby bar, Fifth & Rose, craft cocktails and elevated bar food will be served in a living room-inspired setting.

And its all-day eatery, dubbed Provisional Kitchen, Café & Mercantile, is being designed in collaboration with Raan and Lindsay Parton of Alchemy Works in Los Angeles. The greenhouse-like space will encompass a restaurant, which will offer a seasonal menu and takeaway options, and a marketplace retailing everything from homeware to gourmet pantry items and jewelry. In the communal dining room will be a full-service espresso bar fueled by Vittoria Coffee, an Australian brand which also runs the coffee program at Big Sur’s Post Ranch Inn.

The Chapel at the Abbey West Hollywood’s Gay Megaclub

Founder of popular gay bar The Abbey, David Cooley has his sights set on another WeHo venture: The Here Lounge. The lounge that sits directly adjacent to The Abbey will become The Chapel at The Abbey, a new nightclub space connected to the nearly 25-year-old club.

That means the nightlife mecca LOGO dubbed “The Best Gay Bar in The World” is becoming even larger. The Here Lounge will have its last day of service by the end of February, and The Chapel at The Abbey is slated to open sometime this year.

Mansion Miami Closing it’s Doors

For the past 11 years, Mansion has been one of the giants of Miami Beach nightlife, but now it appears the nightclub’s future is uncertain.

Icon Hospitality has confirmed that Mansion will close its doors next week. On Friday, September 4, 2015, Mansion is having Nicky Romero perform for what it is calling on Facebook “Mansion Closing Weekend.”

“Nicky Romero takes to the Mansion Nightclub decks one last time during Mansion Closing Weekend,” the event’s Facebook page says.

When Mansion opened in 2004, taking over the space formerly occupied by another iconic nightclub, Level, it seemed to signal the arrival of Miami’s nightlife scene on a global scale. South Beach almost immediately shifted to a bottle-service-oriented experience, and Mansion was at one point the place to be if you wanted to show off how many bottles you could buy in one night. The venue also hosted many iconic DJs and performers like Deadmau5, David Guetta, Justice, Laidback Luke, and even some off-kilter shows like a performance by a recently hospitalized Britney Spears after her very public meltdown in 2007, and a raunchy set by Peaches.

But sometimes Mansion’s bottle-service clientele would clash with performers, resulting in the venue cutting sets short. It happened to both DJ Shadow and Dennis Ferrer. In February 2012, after his set was stopped, Ferrer tweeted, “Haha @mansion_miami made me get off the decks!! said I don’t play commercial enough!! WTF!!!!!”

Still, with its stunning aerial dancers and ornate interior, Mansion has managed to stay afloat for much longer than most. But Miami’s club scene is an evolving landscape. The recent emergence of places like Libertine and Do Not Sit on the Furniture point to a shift in tastes toward smaller, more intimate venues. It begs the question: Is the mega nightclub on its way out in Miami? Places like Space and LIV endure, so certainly not yet.

We’ll keep you updated on what will become of Mansion’s space as more details emerge. It’s very possible that Mansion may undergo a renovation + name change and come back bigger and better than ever.

 

Los angeles skyline at sunset

801 Hill – The Latest Addition to DTLA Nightlife Scene

Downtown is re-club-ifying at an alarming rate, now that the streets are running green with the neighborhood’s newfound wealth. Bars like Honeycut have been doing wine raves and the 90’s club redux thing for a while now, Soho House is getting its own private partygoing in the Arts District, and newcomers like Precinct are hoping to revive the once-thriving gay bar and club scene in the area.

Next up is 801 Hill, a modestly-named nightclub spot situated in the former home of The Vault. The Hill Street address has been undergoing quite a renovation as of late, with the entire 8th and Hill corner getting a makeover that plans to drop in some retail space and a healthy-eating sweetgreen location.

At 801 Hill, which seems to have just soft-opened over the weekend, the focus is still on bottle service and DJ booths, however. The entire room is outfitted in dark tones and gleaming touches, from satin drapes to chandeliers. The bar is predictably backlit with neon lighting, and (at least for now) the dance floor is littered with a sweaty twentysomething crowd eager to party. Around the edges, circular black booths make bottle service a priority.

801 Hill soft-opened over the weekend with free admission until midnight and $99 bottles on offer, but don’t expect deals like that to last forever. They’ll likely be partying again this weekend though, so head to their Facebook page for details.

New Nightclub Confession Opens in Hollywood

Chris Breed (Cabana Club, Maui & Sons) is back in Hollywood, this time at the swanky new Confession, which officially opens on June 5 inside the Pig ‘N Whistle space behind the Egyptian theater.

Breed’s Sunset Entertainment Group takes over the historic interior, adding a few clubbier elements like a confession booth (actually a Twitter-ready photo booth), state-of-the-art sound system, and updated drink program by Frederic Vial. By day, the place remains Pig ‘N Whistle, but starting from 9 p.m. on Monday, Friday, and Saturday evenings, transforms to Confession.

With a cathedral-like interior of hand-carved woodwork, the juxtaposition between late night revelry and the place’s “holier” elements probably won’t be ironic to anyone hanging out at the tables (don’t worry, no religious icons anywhere). Want to skip the velvet rope? Hit the website for more information.

Confession
1666 McFadden Place
Hollywood, CA

 

XIV Summer Sessions is Back at Boardwalk

Summer’s arrived – which means the return of day drinking, sun dresses, tank tops, and yacht parties.

Don’t own a yacht? SBE has you covered with their new night/dayclub concept – Boardwalk.

Located at the old Colony at Cahuenga and Hollywood, SBE’s roofless new party spot is primed for some good old Sunday debauchery that’s got all the awesomeness of a boat party without the seasickness. Summer’s here and XIV Summer Sessions is back in full swing.

Imagine you’re standing on the blond-wood deck of a yacht gone full Jordan Belfort. Let’s see, there’s thundering beats from big-name DJs in a dinghy draped with bikini-wrapped dancers. Confetti dumping. Bottle service delivered on wooden lifeboats. Champagne spraying. Anchors, life preservers and… assorted Hollywood-issued flotation devices.

So when you need to extend a weekend beyond normal limits, you’ll head here with friends and enter XIV Yacht Club—that’s what they’re calling their Sunday party, and each week the vibe will change to invoke a different “port,” like Maui or Saint-Tropez. For Memorial Day, it’s Camp Pendleton.

Saturday nights will be Asian night, put on by Go Productions LA. Friday nights TBA.

 

 

Vessel SF Closing May 30, 2015

Vessel SF, a SF nightlife institution for over 8 years, is closing doors for renovation at the end of May 2015. From the VesselSF website:

Friends and Family of Vessel, the end of an era is upon us. After 8 years of being a staple in the San Francisco nightlife scene, Vessel is closing its doors and will reopen in the Summer of 2015 under a whole new name and concept. We can’t express how much every single person that’s shared memories at the club means to us and we invite you to come celebrate our subterranean playground one last time!

There was a very short list of DJ’s who we thought would be the right fit to play the last song on our beloved dance floor and we’re honored to welcome Max Vangeli back to his San Francisco home for a final bow. Max is a world renowned producer that’s thrived in the dance music scene over the last 10 years and Vessel was truly his home where he started to perfect his craft. Max has since gone on to play the best of the best festivals in the world including Tomorrowland, Ultra and EDC as well as playing every major club across the globe so bringing him back to his roots will bring out the best in him.

We would be honored to see old and new faces to help us close this place down in style!

Vessel SF has been one of my personal favorite clubs in SF – it didn’t always have the hottest DJs or the best ratio but we invariably had a great time. Check back for announcements of the new concept later this summer!

 

Grand Nightclub SF Closed for Renovation

From The Grand Nightclub’s instagram: All good things come to an end at some point or another. We had a stellar run! As nightclubs are evolving all over the world, as should we. The Grand Nightclub will be closed as of April 1st, 2015 for a major remodel and redecoration effort. With the goal of reopening before Summer 2015, The Grand Nightclub will be your premier San Francisco nightclub destination!

Reopen dates TBA, but it sounds like hopefully The Grand will be back open around June or July at the latest. Stay tuned!