Global Nightlife: New York vs Madrid
by José María Álvarez Ortego
Having travelled all over the world, my perception of reality has changed and I have become more open-minded. Exploring different cultures also gave me the chance to enjoy and strengthen my own identity.
In New York City, all the nationalities of the world converge at the same time. As a guy from Madrid who lives in New York, I contribute to this miscellany. Here one can do whatever is wanted, whenever, and however. The convenience offered by this city is simply incredible (ease of moving, meeting people, discovering new territories). New York never stops.
The differences between my city, Madrid, and New York are not as big as one might expect. It isn't too difficult to acclimate to the rhythm of New York for someone who comes from the capital of Spain. Madrid is the third largest capital of the European Union in terms of population within city limits, right after London and Berlin. It is not a big change, but there are several aspects that should be pointed out.
There is one major feature that both Madrid and New York City share: clubbing and nightlife. The main difference between nightlife in Madrid is that Spaniards usually go out at around 11pm, after having dinner. Then we have a drink with our friends. And afterward, at 2am, we usually go to clubs, which stay open until early morning. In New York, everything is done earlier. Instead of having dinner at 10pm, I eat at 8pm. The "pregame" with my friends here starts earlier than I am used to, and the clubs close at 4am. However, what New York lacks in time, it compensates in variety. Not only because the choices are almost endless, but also because it isn't too difficult to adapt to this sort of different "schedule".
So, if you come from Spain and you want to enjoy the city to the max, here is my recommended "route" that you should follow:
During the week there are thousands of places to go. My personal suggestion is to take a look around Greenwich Village. On Mondays, Wicked Willies (149 Bleeker St, 212-254-8592) is one of the best choices: Cheap drinks, happy hour and a 100% American atmosphere. On Tuesdays, The Red Lion (151 Bleeker St, 212-260-9797) is a great option for those who love live blues music. In Spain you can't find places with such an original American flavor.
On Wednesdays, the selections increase. If you are interested in something more "relaxing" and typically American again, your place is Off the Wagon (109 Mcdougal St, 212-353-4487), also located in Greenwich Village. However, if you’re homesick for clubs, Home (532 W 27th St, 212-273-3700) in Chelsea , which features hip-hop and R&B music and beautiful girls, is where you should hang your hat. You will enjoy it more after 1:00 am, but it gets very crowded at that time. Arrive there at least one hour before and wait peacefully for a while. It is worth it. Cielo (18 Little West 12th Street 212-645-5700), is also a very interesting possibility for Wednesdays. The local's style and the music reminds me very much of one of my favorite clubs in Madrid, Mondo (Calle Arlabán, 7. Madrid. Spain).
My last proposal is the Lower East Side, a very cool area which is very similar to the area around Fuencarral Street, in Madrid (Subway: Metro Línea 1 and 10 - Tribunal). It has an “underground” Berlin style: very laid-back, but fashionable at the same time. If you enjoy the Lower East Side, especially in terms of music, then you should visit my favorite club in Madrid: Taboo (Calle San Vicente Ferrer 23. Madrid. Spain). Don't even consider missing it.
Things get more interesting during the weekends. If you are Spanish, three places are essential to go out on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. All of them are New York City nightlife classics and are located in the Chelsea district, too.
On Thursdays, the only club you should think about is called Pink Elephant (527 W 27 St, 212-463-0000). This club is not too big inside, but promotes an obvious European aesthetic. The old Chesterfield Café, now Starcafé (Calle Serrano Jover 5. Madrid. Spain), a couple of years ago offered what Pink Elephant is doing now. Bisú (Calle José Abascal 8. Madrid. Spain) has commercial (but decent) music , but the real Spanish gem is Palacio de Gaviria (C/ Arenal 9. Madrid. Spain). El Palacio is an Old Spanish palace which has been converted into a club, like the places that can be found in the Upper East Side. Foreigners love it.
We’re already at Friday, a day that for the Spanish people means Marquee (289 10th Av, 646-473-0202). This is one of the best known clubs in the city, and on Fridays it is filled with Spaniards. It is literally like being in a micro-Madrid inside New York. The music is some of the best in New York. They play house combined with percussion performances on the dance floor, while the upstairs is dedicated to hip-hip and R&B freaks. Among the many Marquee equivalents in Madrid are, the two best are Joy Eslava (better on Thursdays) (C/ Arenal 11. Madrid. Spain and La Posada de las Ánimas (Calle Lagasca 31, Madrid).
And finally, we have Saturdays, destined for Mansion New York (530 W 28 St, 212-629-9000). Right now, this is one of the biggest clubs in the city, and a recent transplant from Miami. The space inside is huge, especially for a club in New York, and the performances are simply shocking: opera sopranos sing in the middle of the party, acrobats dance while risking their lives. Mansion’s advantage over Marquee lies in its more international atmosphere.
Mansion’s closest Madrid counterpart is Pachá Madrid, a club that has little in common with Pachá NY (618 W 46th St, 212-757-9743) . Pachá Madrid patrons are sophisticated and know how to finesse their way into a posh club, much like Mansion’s crowd.
Another classic Madrid club (and one of the top five clubs in the world) that shares a similar vibe with Mansion is Kapital (Calle Atocha 125. Madrid. Spain). Towering at seven floors, the "Megatrón" dwarfs all of its competitors.
Whether you’re a New Yorker in Spain or a Spaniard in the Big Apple, it’s impossible to stay homesick for long when so many nightlife options abound. The night is yours!