The Nightlife Culture Review
Talent Over Table Service...
Entries in fashion week (3)
By Gamal Hennessy
One of the recurring issues that nightlife faces in New York is the negative perception held by the public. A better image for the industry can change the way we are treated by City Hall, the police, the courts and even the press. There is an event going on right now in Midtown that offers a good model of how we can improve our image.
New York is already host to several events designed to raise the prominence of specific industries. The garment industry has Fashion Week, film has the Tribeca Film Festival, eateries have Restaurant Week, independent music has CMJ, the wellness industry has Spa Week and so on. All of these events garner major media coverage and (ironically) many of them use bars, lounges and nightclubs as venues for their events. If the nightlife industry took a cue from these groups, they could create a special marketing period to put themselves in the limelight (no pun intended).
There are a variety events that can occur during Nightlife Week to make it successful:
• Participating venues can have drink specials (similar to happy hour prices) and special menus to draw in both the casual drinker and the cocktail enthusiast.
• Music venues can have special performances from prominent bands and DJ's.
• New albums could be timed to drop during Nightlife Week.
• Flair bartenders and mixologists can make special appearances and participate in competitions.
• Dancers of all types can be brought in to perform and interact with the crowds.
• Art displays can be commissioned and unveiled in lounges.
• Tours of our various nightlife areas can be organized as package deals, giving visitors a chance to sample several venues every night.
• If possible, new venues can have their grand opening during this period to generate more prominence for the new club.
• Panels from prominent operators can discuss relevant political, economic and cultural issues in an open forum.
• An awards ceremony can be organized to recognize the best venues, operators and performers in a variety of categories.
• Liquor distributors, music companies, fashion companies and even car companies can promote goods and services that appeal to the patrons.
The number of possible events is endless but the underlying message would be constant; nightlife is important to the city for a variety of reasons that are just as important, if not more important than fashion or movies.
Nightlife Week wouldn’t simply help the nightlife industry. All the related industries that benefit from nightlife would get a boost as well. Airlines and hotels would get more bookings as people came in from out of town to be a part of it. Boutiques and clothing stores would sell the things patrons would wear. More people would ride in cabs, eat as restaurants and spend money in various ways because they were out in the clubs. Nightlife Week can create an economic ripple effect stronger than Fashion Week because so many more people can participate when they go out.
It might seem counter intuitive for nightlife operators to seek a partnership with other club owners who they compete against every night. The New York market has one of the most competitive nightlife industries in the world. Spending time and money on efforts that can assist others might feel like working with the enemy. But keep in mind that on this level we are talking about leveraging strength in numbers to improve the condition of all venues. Professional athletes compete with each other for spots on a team, and compete against other teams to win games, but they all come together as a labor union when it is time for collective bargaining with the owners of the teams. Designers compete against each other for sales, but few of them will turn down a chance to participate in Fashion Week. In the same way, clubs and lounges can compete with each other for talent, patrons and money, but come together in an effort to improve their image overall.
Nightlife Week isn’t an endeavor that can happen overnight and it might be several years before it gains the prominence of a Winter Music Conference, Fashion Week or Sundance. But the benefits that nightlife can gain in terms of improved image, increased social influence and higher revenues make the concept worthwhile. If fashion can do it, why can’t we?
I only know of only two ways to get into the tents at Fashion Week in New York. You can be in the fashion industry or you can be part of the press. I don’t have the stamina to be in the fashion industry, but in 2008 it doesn’t take much to call yourself a press person. So there I was with my best friend T to experience our first fashion show. Here’s what I learned:
1) Fashion shows are like mega clubs. There are VIP people and there’s everyone else. If you’re a VIP person, you walk right in and you get to sit. If you’re everyone else, you stand on line and then (if you get in and this is a big if) you stand up unless of course you weasel your way into a seat.
2) There are only really two things inside the tents: runways and bars. If you can’t get into a show don’t worry. Just get off line and go back to the bar. Or skip the show altogether and just stay at the bar (see item 6).
3) The best dressed people and the worst dressed people in New York somehow co-exist inside the tents, but the contrast is almost nauseating.
4) It is easy for a straight guy to figure out fashion. Just apply this simple test to any outfit you see. If you imagine your girlfriend in an outfit and you get excited, then it’s a great outfit. If the outfit makes you giggle uncontrollably, then you make fun of it. You can’t lose, unless your girlfriend is actually wearing it when you start laughing.
5) Gay guys and cougars hit on anything that moves inside the tents, even each other. Look out.
6) Getting a seat in a fashion show takes two hours. The show will start forty minutes late and it will last for no more than ten minutes. Then the process starts all over again. The bar takes thirty seconds to get to. The bartender can get you a drink in two minutes. You can stay there for hours and see every show on a huge flat screen TV. You get one guess on where the better spot is.
7) The more drunk, obnoxious and annoying you are, the more likely you’ll be to get in every show and have other people to buy you drinks.