“WTF is a music connoisseur,” you may ask, and if you’re living in NYC, then your answer is clear: pretty much anyone. If you have ears and a mouth to brag about who was spinning where, you are fully apt to don your crown and hold the title of a self-proclaimed music know-it-all. But while some continue to venture on that never-ending dig for the least known warehouse party with the best digs and the hippest beats, the less pretentious head to these spots week after week for some good sounds and a packed dance floor – even if they’ve already been colonized by some other music-driven Daniel Boone.
1 Cleveland Place
“We’re focused on bringing the old-school underground New York City basement party back to Soho,” claims the dance club’s minimalist website, and while the venue is equally simple (black and white checkered floors, palm trees, a disco ball) the music is given room to shine. The DJ booth attracts a clan of foreign turntablists and local music celebs (Sam French swears by this spot), churning out a mix of hip-hop oldies, indie rock and a lot of underground dance remixes. The line at the door can be a bitch unless you’ve got a table or a lot of girls in your gang, but take it as a quick rest for your feet before they the main event: the dance party that awaits inside.
Santos Party House
96 Lafayette Street
The best part about Santos Party House is that it is nothing, but somehow everything all at the same time. The space is literally just a big room, you don’t have to know anyone famous to get inside and drinks are moderately priced – so what’s the big draw? Well, probably the fact that it’s just a big room, you don’t have to know anyone to get in and drinks are a fair price. Finally, a place where lovers of drunken debauchery and good music can convene, but that’s to be expected at a place run by THE Andrew W.K. Head there on a Friday night and you may stumble into Just Blaze’s b-day with an earful of of ‘90s hip hop (Jan 9th) or head there a couple weeks later and see Amanda Blank tear it up with Maluca and Anton Glamb (Jan 29th). In the world of Santos, anything is possible.
Le Poisson Rouge
158 Bleecker Street
Maybe it’s a venue, maybe it’s a nightclub – I’m not really sure and I don’t really care. With everything from dub, hip-hop, jazz and folk this place is bound to astound even the most pop-resistant music lover. Just because this place has become more well-known recently doesn’t mean it’s a sellout. Artists like The Rapture, Shinobi Ninja and a ton of stuff I’ve never even heard of (but want to) still play there nightly and that’s what has maintained Le Poisson Rouge’s good rep. Plus, a red velvet throne, a photo booth and a monster fish tank hanging from the ceiling of the foyer hasn’t ever hurt.
The Bell House
149 7th Street
There’s no way to sidestep Brooklyn when you’re talking about places to go to hear good music, and the Bell House is where those who know what’s up go to get their fix. Once a warehouse, now “a welcome oasis” (according to TimeOut), The Bell House is a two-room party space for concerts, events and any old Saturday night. The club’s DJ dance parties get the crowd going, and the pairing of nationally known spinsters with MySpace unknowns meet the Brooklyn standards. And if you’d rather stray from the sweaty mosh pit of a dance floor, there’s always the toned-down front lounge just a room away.
125 E 11th Street
Last but not least (it was bound to happen), we land upon the infamous NYC staple: Webster Hall. Since the East Village spot opened its doors in 1886, it has seen the likes of every sort of music junkie around – the moshers, the hipsters, the pop tarts and the urban delights – this place truly does it all. The space is huge (40,000-square-feet huge) including a stage fit for the likes of Green Day, The Killers, Prince, NIN and more – and no music connoisseur, no matter how snobby they may be, can hate on that. On New Year’s Eve, MSTRKRFT brought a gaggle of music lovers ranging from grungy teen to middle aged out-of-towner to this notorious space, securing 2010 as another solid year for Webster Hall.