There are certain places I avoid in New York. Any place near Times Square, the three feet of space around food carts and–most importantly–shitty Meatpacking clubs.
It started back in the first summer I moved to New York. My German friend was visiting me in New York and I knew nothing. Seriously, all my knowledge of the “scene” was sourced exclusively from the internet. In fact, I think I chose our destination off a Refinery29 roundup or something. (I was so cute back in 2009, no?) So off we went, him and me and his Belgium friend, to the Gansevoort. What I experienced next was humiliating. We stood in line while taller, skinnier ladies and hair-gelled dudes traipsed in. The bouncers looked us up and down. The message was clear. You are neither cool nor attractive enough for this venue. The memory of that still makes me cringe.
Plus those clubs are ripe for terrible people. Setting aside the bridge-and-tunnel factor, after I got roofied in Paris, my friend Facebook messaged me to tell me about her experience getting roofied at–where else–a Meatpacking club called Marquee.
And those bouncers and dudes with clipboards will use all sorts of excuses to keep ugly, fat, unconnected, accent-less, unfashionable and prude people like you and I outside. Like a couple weekends ago, when a couple girlfriends were in town. I was planning on taking them to Le Bain (more info below), but a DJ friend of mine was adamant that a new club called Le Baron would be amazing. I texted him several times to verify. Would there be a cover? What’s the scene like? I’m responsible for making sure my visiting girlfriends have an amazing time. Was he SURE that this was fun?
He responded saying, “No cover. Fancy door, but just say you’re there for Jacques Renault and it’ll be fine. Should be awesome!”
Well, we showed up. The girl in front of us in line and her friend were already in an argument. “Listen. We just flew in from Dubai and we are so incredibly jet lagged so can we please just go in?” While we gagged behind her, the guy with the clip board nodded, the rope was unclipped and they went inside. The bouncer looked at us and said, “Are you on the list?”
“Uh, no,” I said. “We weren’t told there was a list. I’m here for Jacques Renault.” I made sure my pronunciation sounded extra French. He was unswayed. “You have to be on the list.”
We looked at each other. Awesome. I shook my head. We stood there. Finally the bouncer said, “Ladies, could you please just move out of line so others can move up?” Yes, we were being booted out of line completely. I texted my DJ friend who sent me some drunken replies about the bouncer being a complete asshole. My friend leaned in and told me that his “list” was a blank piece of paper. We left, went to Le Bain and had a kickass time.
But last night was the worst. I had sworn off completely clubs like that. I prefer places where you go because you love music–venues mostly in Brooklyn. You can wear and be whoever you want, the crowd is fascinating and open to new experiences, and it’s always a great time.
This is the kind of music I’m looking for:
But last weekend my friend A. told me that her new gorgeous Brazilian model
boyfriend interest had a promoter friend and we could go to this club called Pink Elephant and get everything for free. So fun! She was so enthusiastic and I love her, so of course I said yes.
I dragged myself away from after-work margaritas at 11 so I could go home and change. I chose a loose, coral-pink silk shift dress that lightly skimmed my curves. I smeared dark eye makeup on my eyes and coral lipstick on my lips, shoved bangles on my wrists and slipped into high heels. I thought I looked hot. Or, at least attractive.
A. left the inside of the club–randomly located between 5th and 6th on 8th Street– to meet me and her model friend outdoors. Her little sister was still downstairs inside the club. The bouncer directed us to stand in line. A small man walked out of the door with a clipboard. A. showed him the stamp on her wrist. He looked at her, me and her hot date and leaned into the bouncer. “She and he can come in but”–here he pointed at me–”but not her.”
A. was horrified. She grabbed my arm and refused to move. We stood there. The guy with the clipboard came back five minutes later. The bouncer gestured to the three of us. Again, snotty clipboard dude (who I’m sure has a small penis) pointed to A. and friend. “They can come in, but not her.” This happened once more, again.
It of course was humiliating. He might as well have said, “Your friend is ugly, sorry.” A. tried begging him to allow us to go in together but he wouldn’t budge. I watched a line of girls walk in. One had on a red satin, ruched, body-conscious dress from what looked like Caché. Another had on a satin leopard print cropped bustier with a black mini skirt.
I realized my dress was all wrong. Gotta be honest: My three best features are my eyes, boobs and butt. My high-necked silk dress that hit mid-thigh and barely skimmed my butt was just not cutting it. And this was the kind of place that doesn’t care about pretty blue eyes. They want long legs and nice assets displayed. If there’s one place where misogyny will never die, it’s shitty NYC clubs.
At that moment I realized I didn’t want to go in there anyway. What would I find there? Probably men who were the kind of guys who like girls who wear satin leopard-print cropped bustiers. Men whose eyes would glaze over if I mentioned what I do for a living. Women (besides A. of course, who is a smart, capable lawyer who happens to be gorgeous) who couldn’t name the current president. Gross vodka tonics that would make me throw up after I was done desperately throwing them back to make things seem better.
I threw my arms around A.’s neck and told her, “Go! Go! Go find your sister. I can do something else.” She protested, but I held strong. “Don’t wait for me. Have a wonderful time. We’ll hang out next weekend, OK?”
I thought of my friend D. as I walked off down the street. She called me early this year at 3 am her time, saying how her blond friend had tried to take her to a fancy Parisian night club and she had been rejected by the bouncer, even as he bantered familiarly with her friend. Of course D.’s feelings were hurt. I felt for her. “You said yourself it’s one of the most exclusive clubs in Paris. I wouldn’t be able to get in there. Don’t worry about it!”
I told myself these same things as I paid for a cab, again, to take me home. “I don’t want to go anyway. Those girls are stupid slutty people who just want a rich douche to take care of them. I know boys think I’m attractive! I’m smart! I have a fun personality! It probably sucked inside!”
But it was still a blow to my self esteem. And really, that is not necessary in a place like New York. So let’s go someplace else instead, shall we?
Below are two places that are much, much better. They both have doors, but only nominally. The crowds are great at both, the music amazing. You’re pretty much guaranteed a good time without having to parade your boobs around in line to get in.
This oddball little club is located on one of the top floors of The Standard Hotel, which straddles the High Line. Walk to the north side of the hotel, and a vintage neon sign directs you to the entrance. The line is long, but moves fast. Perhaps some skinny chicks will butt you, but you’ll get in. Once inside, take the elevator to the top, and pop in one of the trippy, all-glass bathrooms, with huge windows looking over the city. You can tell yourself it’s a one way mirror–I’m not sure that’s true, but you have to believe it to get over the fact that anyone with binoculars can watch you peeing. Oh well.
Leave the house of mirrors and hit the dance floor, where notable DJs pound the bass. If you’re feeling frisky, strip down to your undies and pop in the pool that’s a few feet from the dance floor. I’ve never done it (and don’t plan to), but I’ve definitely seen girls dressed in tanks and black lacy underwear standing by the pool. Gaze out the windows across the Hudson to New Jersey. Then walk up the stairs to the roof, buy a Nutella crepe from the crepe shack, sit down in a chaise lounge, kick your heels off to dig your toes into the astroturf and chat with your friends while you watch the city lit up like Christmas below.
There’s was actually a great act there last night, but of course I skipped to try this terrible Pink Elephant place. So listen to this DJ duo from Brooklyn and imagine yourself listening to this while on top of the world:
This isn’t actually a hotel. It’s just a tri-level restaurant that turns into a club on weekends. Once you get inside after a supremely short wait in line, stop at the ground floor bar to grab drinks, where DJ Mesh throws down real vinyl tunes. Then head upstairs to the tile-clad rooftop bar where the DJ spins mash-ups of current indie hits and eligible men look for eligible ladies. (I’ve personally been picked up by
two three as of June 10th really nice, smart guys while I’ve been there.)
When you’re nice and sauced, head to the basement, where the DJ will recreate the best part of college for you. Oh yes: The frat basement. The music is almost exclusively 90′s and aughts Mariah Carey, Bone Thugs and Harmony, Kanye and other music that will make you and your friends practically shriek with exuberant recognition. And, of course, a little Call Me Maybe thrown in. It’s sweaty and crowded and awesome.
When I convinced my college girlfriends to go there with me, one was yawning and saying she would stop in but would probably go home in a little bit. Three hours later she was on the dance floor with me, lip syncing and telling me she hadn’t had this much fun since college.
A little post-script: I found out that A. left Pink Elephant a half hour later, and some female friends of her friend that happened to be models couldn’t even get in. So I’m feeling a little bit better about being the ugly friend. But I’m still not going back.
A more little post-script: The night after I wrote this, my friends and I went to Hotel Chantelle. When we got out of the cab, we groaned at the huge line. But before I could even cross the street, my friends were already talking with a clipboard guy, who escorted us around the side, unclipped the rope and let us in. So there you have it: Chantelle has taste, and Pink Elephant doesn’t. I think the words, “This is the BEST PLACE EVER,” were spoken at least twice that night!