Welcome (again) to the age of the megaclub in New York City. In recent years, a slew of supersized dance halls with names like Marquee, Sankeys, and Output have sprung up all over the city on a level unseen since the 1990s, catering to the hedonistic needs of Wall Street's nabobs and Williamsburg's dandies alike. Last Saturday, the venerated Ibiza staple Space became the latest to toss its hat into the ring, opening a 20,000-square-foot outpost in Manhattan's Hell Kitchen neighborhood.
Space isn't the first group with a notorious Ibiza club to venture into the New York market. Pacha opened their North American iteration blocks away in 2005. But by adding Ibiza to its name, Space more explicitly brands itself with the Spanish island, capitalizing on the club fantasy it's become synonymous with.
Coinciding with New York Fashion Week, the days leading to the club's official opening fete were packed with appropriate levels of both glitz and disaster. On Wednesday evening, the space held the afterparty for fashion's golden boy Jeremy Scott—Skrillex, Madonna, and Diplo turned up, although Scott's newest collaborator Miley Cyrus was conspiciously absent. On Friday, Opening Ceremony was set to host its own afterparty in the club, but a faulty gas leak prompted a last-minute relocation to a nearby hotel instead.
The club's technical problems seem to have been resolved in time for the club's big public opening on Saturday night. A line snaked the block leading to the Hudson River where Space can be found. Inside, there was an air of anxious excitement in the already-crowded building. A funeral-like procession of cases of beer and bottled water raised above heads hurried past me to the DJ booth as I made my way to the VIP section. One staff member with bee-stung lips who could have been a long lost Kardashian was frantically rattling a flashlight and pacing back and forth by the bouncers charged with separating those with wristband from those without. Live performers hired for the night looked like characters out of the exotic far east in Danearys's Game of Thrones, and I found myself agreeing to snap cell phone pics for groups of men posing together in varying hues of button-up shirts uniformly three buttons unbuttoned.
Space's main room is one enormous rectangle. The DJ booth flanks one end like an altar. The ceilings are high, minimally outfitted with disco balls that move around covertly throughout the night. It's probably the largest single room I can remember being in a club in Manhattan. It has the potential to house a sublime experience of mass worship. But on Saturday, the vibes were decidedly less than transcendent. British house revivalist Duke Dumont headlined, opening his set with a sample from Ginuwine's Pony (If you're horny let's do it…) while a sea of mostly heterosexual men swayed awkwardly. Although there was supposedly a lounge tucked away in one of the club's (decorative) shipping containers, I couldn't find it, and was anxiously craving a second or third smaller room to ping-pong back and forth between all night. One large room can have create a memorable experience of Haaj-like pilgrimage vibes. But it can also mean you feel like cattle in a pen. The club is slated to open a basement lounge and rooftop in the coming year, and it can't happen soon enough.
When you leave the main room, there's an air of confusion about the line for the bar and the line for the men's restroom, drawing to mind a mildly unpleasant parallel that the one body function precedes the other. When I finally found the ladies room on the second floor, I struck up a conversation with the women waiting in line (as one does). One of them told me that her friend's boyfriend paid $150 to get in.
On the plus side, Space seems to be wheelchair-friendly. I met one man in a wheelchair in the the VIP section who told me clubs in the city can either be terrible or great, and so far, he said, this club had been very accommodating.
It's clear that Space is vying to be the next VIP club bringing Ibiza's magic to Manhattan. Pacha, its predecessor, has had its time in the sun. Sankeys, another Ibiza import, announced in August that it is moving to a new location—in Brooklyn. But Space is still facing some tough competitors, including Marquee, with its recent $3.5 million facelift. Despite the recent boom, nightlife in New York City is still a trecherous endeavour, and clubbers are a fickle breed. I don't blame Miley for skipping Space Ibiza during Fashion Week. Because Manhattan's newest super club might be big, but it's pretty boring.
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