The best kind of club, in my opinion, is one where I can boogie to awesome tunes for absolutely free, next to nothing, or a cover charge that’s totally worth it. I like bars with dancing, I like a club you don’t have to wear heels or a dress in, I like a club where there are no guys in tattoo-printed t-shirts or have so much gel in their hair I can see my reflection in it.
Going out this past Friday in the Meatpacking District, I expected to find the usual assortment of tall, skinny girls in high heels being followed desperately by the men in suits who paid for them (the heels, I mean). The ladies would tiptoe across the black cobbled streets, searching for the next big party. Tonight I too was one of these ladies, decked out in heels, a fur, and a cleavage-tastic ensemble my roommate deemed “delicious.” We trotted from bar to club to bar and eventually settled on a venue none of us had been to before. Little did we know that it would be ferociously “bridge and tunnel” as it’s known in New York—very “Jersey Shore.” Very not-at-all chic or cool. Lots of hair gel. Lots of dumb, young twenty-something dudes probably still in college screaming “BALL SO HARD” and “THAT SHIT CRAY” along with Jay and Yeezy while I thought to myself, “Let’s leave it to the masters, shall we?” They sprayed champagne in the air and it’s got in my hair. I’m sure at some point in my life this could be amusing, but this was not that moment. What a waste of perfectly good bubbly. We left shortly after.
It made me nostalgic for some of my favorite clubs and dance spots in the city, which are for the most part hair gel- and champagne spray-free. You have to search for clubs like these anywhere, but it’s possible to find them, even here in New York. Places I find myself frequenting are (and I will try not to sound too much like Stefon as I write this):
Fat Baby—on the Lower East Side, there’s no cover charge and they play Top 40, which, though maybe not the world’s greatest music, is fun to dance to. The first level is super crowded and filled with people’s wiggling bodies covered in the club’s red light, but once you push past them you can head downstairs where it’s less crowded, there’s more places to sit, and it’s easier to get to the bar.
The “Shaking All Over Sideways and Down” Party at Home Sweet Home—DJ Jonathan Toubin’s weekly New York Night Train party for uber-cheap (sometimes free if you know the password) at Home Sweet Home in Chinatown. Down the stairs you’ll find a narrow brick room with a dance floor in the back, young punks and older funky folks jamming to 1960s garage rock, Motown, and R&B. More here.
The Village Underground on Saturday Nights—in the West Village, it’s by far my favorite place to go out dancing that I’ve found so far. Though the cover charge is a bit steep for a starving artist like myself ($15), when I do go once in a while I always have a blast. The club has a house band that plays an amazing amalgamation of hip-hop (old school and new school), soul, funk, rap and R&B. I always, ALWAYS bring people here to show them a good time and they leave asking to come back again.
The Back Room at Beauty Bar—one of my favorite haunts, sparkly Beauty Bar has inexpensive drinks (one of their house drinks is a Platinum Blonde, a martini flavored with pineapple—YUM—for only $8) and a back room where a DJ plays good ol’ rock and roll from the ‘60s to today, sprinkled with pop confections that everyone knows the words to and actually sings along. You don’t have to worry about dudes grinding on you here because everyone’s just there to have a good time and dance it out. Don’t make me quote Dane Cook. More here.
District 36—The first time I was at District 36 was for a gay night called Rockit Fridays, which is now hosted elsewhere. Even so, District 36 hosts a great party. It’s super fun, super big (lots of room to dance), and plays super great music. It’s one place I know where I can definitely get my Gaga on and giggle at the sight of some ripped go-go boys shaking their stuff. It’s fun for people from all walks of life, and is not too expensive a cover ($10 before midnight, $20 after).
The Vandam Party Sundays at Greenhouse—This party was established by uber-fabulous downtown legend Susanne Bartsch, who is known for her elaborate wigs and stiletto boots. At the Vandam Party, there’s no cover and there’s a one-hour open bar when the club is more empty (beware: bring cash! There’s a $50 credit card minimum and the ATM downstairs costs $5) at the beginning of the night. Later, though, it fills to the brim with fabulous people from all walks of life, from drag queens to fashion boys to glamour girls. It’s one of my favorite places to get my Gaga on. Last time I was there with TDS and TBW, a fashion boy in leggings and combat boots dragged me up on the couch and grinded with me to “Born This Way,” hugging me and saying “I LOVE GIRLS!” It was adorable and I’d go back in a heartbeat.
Again, this is but a mere sampling! But these are the first that pop into my head when I think about places I’d rather be than anywhere populated by Bridge and Tunnel folks. What are some of your favorite clubs in the city? I’m always looking for new places to go!