In the past decade, we saw major growth and changes in the New York City nightlife landscape, with the mega-club coming and going and coming again, bottle service becoming a Saturday night must, and the reincarnation of the speakeasy, to name just a few of the most prominent changes. However, one genre of nightlife that remained quite stagnant was the gay club scene. Once a Mecca for some of the best gay venues in the world, New York City saw the death of mainstays such as The Roxy and Limelight, and an overall stand-still of development in the aught’s.
However, the culmination of the last decade begins the second-coming of the gay nightlife scene; 2010 is kicking off with a huge development for New York City, namely The Out NYC. Currently in the initial stages of approval and planning, The Out NYC is a $20 million project that will open Manhattan’s first hospitality arena targeted to the gay community. Parkview Developers, which has developed and managed residential and hotel properties in Manhattan for years, plans on building The Out NYC on West 42nd Street, a major tourism hub of New York City. With plans for the hotel to have 123 rooms and a 10,000-square-foot dance club, The Out NYC will be able to accommodate hundreds of guests and patrons.
The feature of The Out NYC that is getting the most attention – and that is facing the biggest hurdles – is the dance club. This mega-club will be able to host 750 club-goers, and will be open to hotel guests as well as the public. In addition to seeking a liquor license, The Out NYC will also need to acquire a cabaret license for their planned dance club, a difficult feat in today’s nightlife scene.
You may be asking, “What is a cabaret license?” Basically, if a club, restaurant, bar, etc., wants to have live entertainment in their establishment (anything from dancers to bands to DJs), they must obtain a cabaret license. While the State Liquor Authority hands out liquor licenses, a cabaret license can only be obtained upon the approval of New York City’s Department of Consumer Affairs, as well as a community board. And, if the recent closings of Aspen and The Jane are any indication, community boards in New York City are hard to appease when it comes to the discussion of nightclubs.
A major silver lining in all of this, and perhaps The Out NYC’s greatest chance of approval and success, is the involvement of John Blair. A major gay nightlife fixture of New York City, Blair was a major force in The Roxy’s gay Saturday night scene and is certainly a big name among nightlife elite. Blair has teamed up with Parkview Developers, which was founded by gay couple Ian Reisner and Mati Weiderpass, in order to develop The Out NYC’s planned nightclub. In fact, Blair plans on reopening his now defunct xL in the uber-large space.
The Out NYC has already experienced its first marginal success, with the Business Licenses and Permits Committee of Community Board 4 approving the development. Now, Reisner, Weiderpass, and Blair need to keep their fingers crossed that the complete community board approves as well when they vote in two weeks. If all goes as planned, Hell's Kitchen, and the rest of Manhattan, will certainly be in the midst of a major revival in the gay nightlife scene – a much needed one, at that. Hopefully, New York City is on the brink of a major nightlife Renaissance, and The Out NYC will only be the catalyst for even more growth, development, and of course, world-class partying.