What's the 311?:
NY Press Nightclubbing Column #5 with Comm Board 4

by Tony Phillips

Sure, I’d like to get out and protest the felonious hiring practices at SoHo hang The Falls as they trade in their velvet rope for yellow police tape. Or give the black power salute in front of LES hot spot Pianos as they swap their Friday night hip-hop party for a soiree showcasing bands proud to fly the Confederate flag. Or auto-fellatiate myself in front of Scenic, the East Village venue that previously housed both Sophia Lamar’s Hot Fucking Pink bash and Michael T’s tranny friendly panty party, before closing their doors for a “renovation.”

But I live within the confines of one of the crankiest community boards on the planet. If I wanted to protest anything after-dark, why would ever leave my own backyard? With this in mind, I attended Manhattan Community Board Four’s recent forum on West Chelsea nightlife. Sanitation problems, drug dealing, public urination: hell, who needs the East Village? It’s all happening in the Chelsea.

Board chair Lee Compton opened by summing up WeChe’s problem as “too many people, too many cars,” but he was soon bested by an alliterative member of the citizenry who called out, “A constant cacophony of car horns!” Mr. Compton got things back on track with a PowerPoint slide illustrating the tiny expanse of 27th Street stretching from 10th Avenue to the river swelling from a 1,000 head nightclub capacity in 2001 to over 10,000 currently with no signs of slowing.

Once the meeting officially opened to the public, residents complained bitterly about traffic control squad cars and something known as the “disco unit” tow truck using bullhorns and sirens and raising more hell than they were enlisted to quell, a slide in a local day care center playground functioning as after-hours urinal, making for wet toddlers come Monday morning, one woman even claimed she, her husband, even her dog were accosted by a drug dealer who lurks in the doorway of Bungalow 8.

An interesting case study in bars and community boards is the new lounge Embassy. Originally slated for a residential Turtle Bay neighborhood, this establishment’s liquor license came under heavy fire from Assembly Member Jonathan Bing and New York State Senator Liz Krueger. These Upper East Siders led a year-long protest against the State Liquor Authority (SLA) culminating in an early 2006 demo in front of the proposed site of the bar.

The solution? Embassy opened its doors, but on West 20th Street in Chelsea. Only time will tell if this swank, bottle-serviced boite will turn out patrons tipsy atop their Manolos to terrorize the neighborhood, but if they do, they certainly won’t be alone. Spy, Cheetah, Red, Slate and Duvet are all within spitting distance. So much for the SLA’s 500-foot rule.

If bars behaving badly makes you want to raise your own hell, this would certainly be your week. Tuesday night, siren Julie Atlas Muz navigates the steepest rake in town as she takes the stage at Susanne Bartsch’s Happy Valley. Ms. Muz last performance had her 30-something troupe — think Rockettes on Thorazine — dressed as giant tampons hoofing their way through Frank Sinatra’s “I’ve Got The World On A String” and, er, pulling out all the stops for a big finish.

Wednesday night, everyone’s favorite potty-mouthed DJ, Princess Superstar, takes over the wheels at Opus 22 to celebrate her gatefold cover turn on the 15th anniversary issue of dance bible Urb Magazine. From Glam Rock to shamrock, Thursday night brings the magically delicious Patrick McMullan enlisting everyone from Robin Byrd to Anita Sarko and getting the party started right — and early — at his annual Saint Patrick’s Day party and indoor parade at Pacha.