The THUMP Guide to Clubbing: New York
Where to go when you don't sleep in the city that never sleeps.
New York is the city that never sleeps, but die-hard clubbers know there are plenty of chances for snoozing-in the backseat of cabs as you flit from party to party, under the VIP table of some fancy Manhattan club, etc. The Big Apple's footprint on dance music history is uncontested. From Studio 54 to ad hoc Red Hook warehouse dancefloors, under the rallying cry "you better work!" the people of this megalopolis have partied furiously through the final decades of the last century and well into this one, defining nightlife and its sounds along the way.
We've come a long way from the revolutionary but often lawless days of The Loft, Danceteria, and Paradise Garage. Some people bemoan that bottle service brats and bridge and tunnel crowds have corrupted what was once pure, but those people are just going to the wrong parties. New York still has everything to offer for beat-seekers after dark, even if that now means going to different borough.
Even as trends, scenes, and car services come and go, one thing never changes: New York is a city that takes you as you are-especially if you can freak. Whatever jams you're into and however you like to wear your hair, there's a disco ball beckoning in this town every night of the week. How does one choose from such a bounty of club options? Here is The THUMP Guide to Clubbing: New York.
Like the stern Berlin nightclubs it's modeled after, Output forbids taking photos of any kind-yes, that includes Instagram. But don't let that daunt you. Getting into Output requires nothing but a smile and a ticket. (Pro tip: get the latter online and save some dough.) Big-ticket DJs like Carl Cox and Joris Voorn preside over the balconied main area, while local promoters like Let's Play House, The Bunker and FIXED have free reign in the intimate Panther Room. The giant roof boasts unmatched views of Manhattan and daytime parties during the summer months.
For many, the arrival of Output marked the return of NYC clubbing to its golden years, ableit in Brooklyn. For others, it signaled another step in Williamsburg's douche-ification. Which one is it? You be the judge. All we know is their Funktion-One sound system is the altar before which we shall all kneel.
Food & Drink:
Do: Grab some Blue Ribbon fried chicken and beer at Brooklyn Bowl down the street.
Don't: Pre-game at the Wythe Hotel next door. You'll waste half your night waiting to get in the elevator, and possibly get into a brawl with a drunken European tourist.
Fashion: Output's official dress code, should you choose to take it seriously, is "Brooklyn is the new black." You can wear neon, but you'll look more out of place than Mitch McConnell at a hemp convention.
Nothing screams grandeur and opulence more loudly than Marquee. Like its Vegas counterpart, this is a megaclub in its purest form, with a main room the size of an airplane hangar. Here, you'll find Brazilian models thoughtfully debating Wall Street excess with hedge fund-types. Kidding. They're popping bottles and attempting to twerk. Still, Marquee pulls in some of the biggest talents from around the world, with their Friday party, Basic, run by much-loved local duo Sleepy & Boo, and Ibiza kings like Guy Gerber, Damian Lazarus, and Jamie Jones frequently behind the decks. If you've got deep pockets (or investment banker friends), this is the place to grab the hand of a firebreathing dancer and lose yourself in a champagned-fueled reverie.
Food & Drink: Line your stomach with choice eats from the foodie paradise known as Chelsea Market. It's a stone's throw away from the club, and even has a vibey basement bar called The Tippler.
Fashion: As with most high-end nightclubs, guys in baseball hats, tennis shoes, and open-toed shoes will get nothing but scowls from the bouncer.
Beware: Cover at Marquee runs up to $50, and different price points are offered at the door for guys and girls to keep their ratio balanced. So don't bring a sausage party.
Cielo (West Village)
You can't call yourself a real New York dance pro until you've rolled through Deep Space-Francois K's beloved Monday night residency at Cielo. The long-running party celebrates everything related to dubplate culture, and puts DJs like Digital Mystikz and Scuba in charge of spacey beats and bone-rattling low-end. You can bet they make full use of the state-of-the-art Funktion-One soundsystem. New York's Meatpacking District often feels like bottle-service Disneyland, but on its best nights, Cielo holds it down for the heads.
Food & Drink:
Do:Pre-game at Hogs & Heifers-the neighorhood's only dive bar left standing. It's not for the faint of heart (honky-tonk girls dance on the bar while truckers drool on) but it's the last vestige of the neighborhood's grittier days. Plus: cheap drinks.
Don't: Expect to pay less than $15 for a shot and two ice cubes once you're in the club.
Beware: On weekends, this part of town turns into a den of screaming, drunken hyenas. Keep your finger on your Uber app and make your getaway quick.
After ten years of throwing parties all over New York City, promoting outfit Verboten buckled down and found itself a permanent home in a 10,000-square-foot former metal shop near the river. Today, it represents the second pillar of clubbing in Williamsburg-along with Output around the corner. Monthly parties come by way of Brooklyn stalwarts Trouble & Bass, Matthew Dear's Subversions, and Susanne Bartsch's Kunst. A remarkably clear Martin Audio system presides over the main Control Room, where VIP tables discreetly line the walls. We suggest taking your stepping needs to the sprung wood dance floor, allegedly rescued from Thomas Edison's factory. The club also hosts extracurriculars like trivia nights and a weekly Deep House yoga party in the early evening.
Food & Drink:
Do: If you like your eggs benedict with a side of Lee Foss, don't miss their daytime rave-brunch on Sundays.
Don't: Invest in a table unless you want hoards of tech-house-loving alt-bros stepping on your toes while you try to pop bottles.
Fashion: Wear your best club kid costume to Kunst, Susanne Batsch's eye-opening gay soiree where magnificently regal club queens like Amanda Lepore reign.
Its hordes of shirtless juiceheads and ladies in gynecologically problematic dresses can sometimes make this place feel like an episode of Jersey Shore, but if you're looking for a no-holds-barred adult playground, nothing beats Pacha. The worldwide clubbing brand opened its New York outpost in 2005, and still draws some of the biggest DJs in the world, including Laidback Luke, R3HAB, Paul Oakenfold, and Danny Tenaglia. With about as many levels as an IKEA and more sweat than a SoulCycle studio, this is where you go to fist pump till 8AM.
Food & Drink:
Do: Pregame, hard. Bar lines are frequently longer than the DMV in Hoboken.
Don't: Show up with an empty wallet. The ATM fees are more than some of us have in our bank accounts.
Beware: The roaming Pacha bros (you'll recognize them by their Pacha-branded headbands) and under-21 parties with Pauly D are not for you.
Le Bain (Meatpacking District)
Le Bain sits atop the Standard Hotel in the Meatpacking District, which makes it the kind of place celebrities like to show up-and often do. There's rarely a cover, but an impossibly chic (and impossibly sassy) maître d' stands guard over the door. Get on the guestlist and you're golden.The club's programmers, Neil and Jerome, have deep roots in New York's club and label history, which results in a tasteful spread of DJs laying it down in a room full of floor-to-ceiling windows. Go up to the astroturfed roof for delicious crepes and a hard-to-beat view. Join the topless French expats in the hot tub at your own risk. BYO swimsuit.
Bossa Nova Civic Club (Bushwick)
Bossa Nova Civic Club is a terrible techno bar tucked away in Bushwick that you should never go to. You should not enjoy their supply of Berlin-exported Club Mate. Don't bother checking out the residencies from techno heartthrobs Ital and Volvox (sorry, both taken), or the icy goodness from Confused House, Lauren Flax, Gavin Russom, Long Count, and Industry of Machines. If you high-five the owner John Barclay from his perch behind the bar, he'll probably spit in your face. The house supply orange and cucumber-flavored water is horrible. The Cuban cart across the street is definitely not delicious. We can't fathom why people think Bossa Nova is the Cheers of Brooklyn.
Baby's All Right (Williamsburg)
Baby's All Right in South Williamsburg is barely a year old, but it's already the most popular kid on the block. Likely aided by the recent shuttering of nearby DIY venue 285 Kent, the electronic talent at this bar/restaurant/live venue is as bountiful as your Friendsgiving table. From the late juke maestro DJ Rashad, to DMC champion Cashmere Cat and UK techno baron Tessela, Baby's bookings frequently pack out the intimate, 280-capacity environment. It's also been host to a number of special label nights, including Donky Pitch's 5th anniversary and Trouble & Bass parties. With its eye-popping decor (that wallpaper tho) and departure from the club-oriented atmosphere of, well, clubs, Baby's All Right is pretty all right. The Thai fried chicken is excellent, too.
Roving Parties (city-wide)
This city's DIY party scene has been hit by police crackdowns on unlicensed parties and the closures of famed-shitshows like 285 Kentand Steel Drumz. There's still a laundry list of options outside the boxes of nightclubs and music venues. Unpretentious party vibes approved by former Twilo regulars go off at the roaming Mister Saturday Night. The Bunker and Blkmarket Membership prove that familial feelings aren't exclusive to feel-good disco. The Burner crowd mixes with tech bros at BangOn! while ultimate boutique rave Cityfox goes till 10AM (it's like Robot Heart without the dust). For queens, twirls, and baby powder, go to Danny Krivit's longstanding Sunday evening soirée 718 Sessions, for queer club kids and random celebrity sightings go to Shade, and for something dirty and grimey, Reconstrvt is where ketamine drips from the walls. Finally, if you're looking to dance under chandeliers made of live crickets, there's no better party than Rinsed.
Pro-Tips: RSVP for location, and keep a low profile. Sometimes illegal venues aren't exactly the safest, so be aware of where your exits are. Don't make noise outside, don't pee on the street, and most of all, don't be a dick.
Check out our interactive map:
Photo credits: Williamsburg Blogs, Marquee New York, Resident Advisor, Oliver Correa for VerbotenNewYork.com, DJoy Beat, Standard Hotels, Jorge Day for Bossanovacivicclub.com, Brooklynvegan.com, Brooklyn Electronic Music Festival
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