Rebooting the Underground: Sankeys NYC Opens Its Doors

Rebooting the Underground: Sankeys NYC Opens Its Doors

by Danielle Desmond
11.09.2013


It's been a long time coming for Sankeys NYC, the latest nightclub to make its debut in Manhattan, opening up on Halloween night last week at 29 West 36th Street, the former District 36 hotspot. The club franchise was born in 1994 in Manchester, England in a warehouse that once housed 'Sankeys Soap factory', hence the club's name. In 2011, Sankeys opened a branch in Ibiza, the club capital of the world which operates much like New York in the sense that, "if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere." The British nightlife institution shut down this past spring in order to focus on making the Sankeys Ibiza outpost the best of the best. Before closing its doors, the DJ Mag Awards voted Sankeys the ‘Best club in the world’ after attracting DJs like Pete Tong, Daft Punk and Fatboy Slim. 

The question is, will Sankeys NYC be able to live up to its iconic Ibiza-based sibling? And how will it fair to its local "competitors" like Pacha, Marquee and Lavo. While these clubs also boast incredibly stacked lineups, Sankeys hopes to introduce new underground talent to Manhattan, with bookings more on-par with Sankeys Ibiza. With stellar opening sets showcasing the spirit of the underground; Reboot, No Regular Play, My Favorite Robot, and Dave Rosario, Sankeys future in the big apple is promising.   

Other than the smell of fresh paint, the first thing you'd probably notice upon setting foot inside is the sick layout, involving three spacious floors, which in total, equate to about 14,800 square feet of space, not bad, when capacity is approx. 840 people. On the main dance floor, you can walk 360 degrees around the DJ booth, with speakers being right next to the booth at eye level, for a more intimate feel.

The club also boasts a one-of-a-kind LED Grid Matrix System, essentially a grid of LED light tubes that criss-cross applesauce across the ceiling, which will no doubt provide for phenomenal light shows. To go with their timely Halloween grand-opening, decorations including a giant spider web covered the lighting grid. There was even an automated spider creepily hovering above the dance floor. 

Then there's the basement with a totally different DJ and different music, as well as a circular lighting track on the ceiling - if you had been to the former District 36, you will notice that there are no longer any tables or seating in this area as well for extra room for dancing. And finally, the top floor overlooks the second, with lush black and red leather seating areas. On occasion, low, deep bass gyrates against you if you sit down to have a cocktail or two.   

This is because of the high-quality sound system, the Void Incubus. In Sankeys brand owner David Vincent's words, the Void in comparison to other top-of-the-line systems like Cielo's Funktion One is like comparing Maserati and a Ford. Yeah. You heard that right.

We had a chance to speak with Sankeys NYC co-owner and nightlife aficionado Antonio Piacquadio about the Void Incubus, bottle service crowds and Sankeys as the club's latest addition to the NYC nightlife scene.

On the Void Incubus Sound System: 

"I've worked very closely with the sound company Anthem SSL. I was the one who brought them to Ibiza and made them the official Sankeys sound installation company world-wide. They know exactly what I want and what I am looking for in a sound system. There are only five or six of those sound systems and Anthem is the United States' exclusive distributor for VOID products. A sound system is only as good as three things: the installers, the way the room is treated acoustically, and the person that is actually doing the controlling of the sound system. It is going to take two or three weeks for that sound system to be absolutely perfect. Sound to me is one of the most important elements and that goes hand in hand with the music. We can't be about the music if the sound isn't 100%." 

Concerns about bottle service and the "bottles and models" crowd: 

"Bottle service is always a really touchy subject in the so-called 'underground' world. A lot of the bottle service people that used to go and listen to Avicii and Tiesto and a lot of the mainstream type of DJs now want to come and listen to cool music, it's a natural progression, it always has been. To be honest, you really cannot survive in Manhattan without that bottle-type clientele. It's just not possible. We said okay, we have to do it. So we took the VIP tables off of the main floor. There are no tables or bottle service on the main floor. We put them up into their own little section into their own little world. It's far enough away from the dance floor that it won't be a distraction. If you want to come to the club and buy a bottle, cool, you are going to be in a designated area, but not sitting on my dance floor. It's a business at the end of the day. We don't mind people that want to do that. But we are not a club that forces you to do so. 'You can't come into our club without buying a bottle' - that's not our motto." 

On NYC's clubbing renaissance and how Sankeys fits into the picture: 

"New York City is always going to be New York City. When you have more options, people tend to go out more. People don't want to go to the same place every single week. We don't mind competition, we welcome it. Our take on nightlife is a little bit of an old-school type of approach. We also cater a lot to the DJs. People are coming to see them first and foremost. At Sankeys, the DJs come first and the club comes second."

"My hat is off to Output for building a nightclub in Brooklyn that's so successful. Brooklyn is Brooklyn and Manhattan is Manhattan, and I think we can both co-exist. There's going to be potentially some DJs that like the Output space more than Sankeys, but we would like to see everyone co-exist in the market. If we can bring more people out because there is more excitement in the marketplace, then that's what is important to us. What's important is to have a healthy nightlife, electronic/underground music scene in Manhattan right now." 


To keep up with the latest on Sankeys and upcoming events, go to their website at www.sankeysnyc.com
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antonio piacquadio     club openings     clubs     david vincent     dj sneak     halloween     ibiza     manchester     my favorite robot     nightlife     no regular play     nyc     reboot     sankeys     tech-house     tiefschwarz     underground

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