CP Spotlight: Webster Hall Redux NYC

by Ian Shapiro
01.27.2009

For a complete listing of Webster Hall, plus a complete gallery of the renovated space, click here


While all New Yorkers are guilty of pooh-poohing the megaclubs here in town–crowing about the latest in trendy lounges or cool bars—somewhere deep down we all feel a twinge of resentment when towns like Vegas and Miami get more credit these days for the massive nightspots that our city pioneered.
 
Of course, that's also in part due to the fact that Palladium is now a dormitory, while Limelight, Tunnel and the like haven't even been that lucky. However, one monster-size venue has survived the Giuliani purge: Webster Hall, the room acclaimed by many to be the first modern nightclub in history.
 
Clubplanet was privy to a tour of the Hall recently, and it's safe to say that the idea that this giant space has undergone quite the metamorphosis. 
 
It starts as soon as one treks down 11th, heading toward the main doors, where you'll see the deep stairwell-to-nowhere is now an entry point, dressed with a nifty neon sign directing you to "The Studio.” Cityboys and girls who used to cringe at the unbelievably cramped and hot reggae room will pop out of their socks to find that a performance space has replaced the bass-thumping and leg-humping. (History buffs take note: that reggae room stood fast for 18 years.) It's now an intimate area, designed to hold about 300 while bands and DJs play a buffer of alt rock/ electronic that does justice to the modern sound of New York rock, with weekly parties like the Thursday night “Dance Class” or the Friday night “Trash” affair (that has shifted from its former encampment at 40C). While the bathrooms remain intact, construction has expanded the sidebar leading from the Marlin Room to the Grand Ballroom upstairs. A DJ firmly spins a pop-whatever vibe while now the bar is more accessible, offering a brief respite from the eardrum-exploding beats below.
 
However, the Marlin Room is still only a few steps away, and here you find even more updated fun–like new furniture and a new bar that has shifted toward the rear. Where once turntablists were forced to spin from that tiny raised space in the wall, now those who man the Mac are set up near the doorway that accesses the main entrance. Furthermore, that hole-in-the-wall booth nook has also been transformed – ripped out completely to create a wondrous curtain-like, seashell-shaped door that opens for performers who take the now-extended stage area.
 
But what about the balloons?
 
Head up the stairs (with the stairwell now encompassed by plasma screens featuring cool deco-visions) and pass through the still-undefined lounge/ bar area to the Grand Ballroom that still looks...familiar. However, the backwall DJ booth has also been ripped out as the selector now permanently holds fort on the large stage, with that gigantic movie/TV screen still in place. The couches and seats have been updated too, and they will take turns either adorning the floor for calmer occasions or resting under the stage for blowouts. And yes, the balloons will still fly, the aerialists and trapeze artists will still swing and the stilt walkers will still mingle. However, there's no need to scurry down the back stairs anymore to get on the once-ridiculous bathroom lines: now the back of the lounge space offers a lovely unisex restroom area with stalls that not only houses toilets but some of the original Hall fixtures that once hung on the walls of the Marlin.
 
Finally, the upstairs balcony still offers all the trappings of a VIP area–sweeping view, a separate room–but the story will remain the same, as this upper deck will remain mostly open to all, with little velvet-rope pretention. Table service will stay on the equitable side, with champagne like Moet starting at $175, while higher price bots of Cristal hover around a very un-Meatpacking District price of $600. However, that side room has evolved into a lounge-like area dressed in trendy fixtures, comfy seating, soft lighting and world music playing that will be classy enough for chilling, but still groovy enough to inspire dancing.
 
On top of everything, expect a stricter but still reasonable door policy, so be sure and dress it up a bit more than you may have in the recent past...yet the admission should stay flat at $20. All in all, after all these years, the time has come where we can again finally ask, “Let's see what you got, Webster Hall.”


Useful Links

Webster Hall NYC | Webster Hall New York | Webster Hall New York City | Webster Hall Events | Webster Hall Tickets | Webster Hall New Years Eve

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