New York, the city that never sleeps.
Whatever you want to do when ever you want to do it . New York is the city to do it in.
The cliché, ‘the city that never sleeps’, really rings true in New York and especially in Manhattan. This small island buzzes with nocturnal activity, from bustling neighbourhood bars, swank cocktail lounges and ultra hip nightclubs, where some of the world’s best DJs entertain the city’s ‘beautiful people’.
Home to Broadway, the once louche Times Square is enjoying a renaissance, with American theme restaurants, bars and cinemas attracting a huge tourist crowd. The EastVillage, from 14th Street to Houston (pronounced howston), east of Broadway, is famous for its local bars that stay open late and its small live music clubs, such as the renowned CBGB, a live music venue frequented by a young rock-and-roll set. The Lower East Side, an up-and-coming neighbourhood that borders the EastVillage at Houston and stretches south to Chinatown at Canal, offers a similar nightlife scene and vibe.
SoHo is the hip capital, with its chic nightclubs attracting artists, models and media types. The gay scene is centred around the bars of the WestVillage, which also offers a lively mix of jazz clubs. Gramercy, in the 20s on the east side, is the ‘new SoHo’ with velvet-rope cocktail lounges. Upmarket tastes are also catered for in the sophisticated lounges, clubs and cocktail bars in Midtown and the Upper East and Upper West Sides.
Entrance fees to some of the smarter nightclubs can be pricey and is cash only. The hippest clubs employ strict dress codes, only allowing the cool and the beautiful to break through the velvet ropes. The normal club closing time is 0400, although many are open all night. An ever-changing crop of ‘after-hours’ places offer entertainment until sunrise, however, alcohol cannot legally be served between 0400 and 0800 or after 2400 on Sunday. The minimum drinking age is 21 and checking of photo ID is mandatory. The average price of a beer is US$5–7, while the average price of a cocktail is US$10. A tip of US$1–2 is expected per drink.
Time Out New York (website: www.timeoutny.com) is a very good source of nightlife event information, published weekly and sold at newsagents and kiosks for US$2.99.
Bars: New York has a massive range of bars, with everything from neighbourhood dives and lively Irish pubs to slick jet-set haunts with DJs and dimly lit, cocktail lounges. Hip bars include the airline-theme bar Idlewild, 145 East Houston Street, East Village, Max Fish, 178 Ludlow Street, Lower East Side, which fills with a young, T-shirt-and-jeans crowd, Serena, 222 West 23rd Street, Chelsea, a subterranean lounge in the cool and legendary Chelsea Hotel, as well as favourite of the ‘beautiful people’ Lotus, 409 West 14th Street, West Village. Double Happiness, 173 Mott Street, Chinatown, draws a funky 20-something clientele. At Hogs & Heifers, 859 Washington Street, West Village, on which the mediocre film Coyote Ugly (2000) was based, patrons toss their bra on the wall with all the others.
A more sophisticated lounge, the Campbell Apartment, Grand Central Station, Midtown, is hidden away in this busy rail terminal, serving top-class cocktails and first-rate Martinis. The refined, clubby bar in the Algonquin Hotel, 59 West 44th Street, Midtown West, is known for its literary origins. For old-time New York, there is Chumley’s, 86 Bedford Street, West Village, or the White Horse Tavern, 567 Hudson Street, West Village.
Casinos: Gambling is illegal in New YorkState.
Clubs: The New York clubbing scene is notoriously fickle and difficult to pin down, especially after former mayor Giuliani shoved many of the best promoters underground. Away from the cheesy mainstream venues, two consistently good spots are Centro-Fly, 45 West 21st Street, with its big-deal DJs, and Filter 14, 432 West 14th Street, at Washington Street, a newcomer that is successfully competing with the tried-and-true spots. Roxy, 515 West 18th Street, and Spa, 76 East 13th Street, get an appreciative gay and lesbian crowd. Luxx, 256 Grand Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is the centre of the city’s electroclash scene, which looks back to the electric 80s for contemporary inspiration.
Comedy: New York’s leading comedy venues, featuring top-line comedians, include Carolines on Broadway, 1626 Broadway, The Comedy Cellar, 117 McDougal Street, and Gotham Comedy Club, 34 West 22nd Street – dubbed the ‘best comedy club in Manhattan’. More off-kilter comedy is on offer at Surf Reality, 172 Allen Street, while new faces often appear at Stand Up NY, 236 West 78th Street.
Live music: The famous MadisonSquareGarden, Seventh Avenue between 31st Street and 33rd Street, Manhattan (website: www.thegarden.com), plays host to a number of rock and pop heavies, from Britney Spears to U2. CBGBs, 315 Bowery, between First Street and Second Street (website: www.cbgb.com), the king of American underground rock venues, was there to provide the stage for new bands such as the Ramones and Blondie during the 1970s. It does the same for similar acts today. The Bottom Line, 15 West Fourth Street, which showcases softer folk and blues acts, is another long-standing venue that saw the rise to fame of many of its musicians.
New York is also home to numerous jazz clubs, including The Blue Note, 131 West Third Street, and the Iridium, 1650 Broadway, which both reel in the best American and international jazz musicians.
New places open and others close all the time. Something hip today is gone tomorrow.