January 24, 2006

Note

I am here, and working very hard at the preparation of some very important and meaningful content.

This will be original, based on my own life experience.

I thank you for your patience, and I promise that I will dedicate all my capability to making what is here worth your effort to acces this site.

Sincerely,

Michael

 

 

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Starter Clubs

 

Hiroko Masuike for The New York Times

Lexi Lehman, 17, third from left, a promoter for Crush, dances with the girls at the

January 15, 2006
Starter Clubs
By MELENA RYZIK

ZACH MURPHY first heard about Crush, a new club for teenagers in Chelsea, on a Thursday, when a comely young female bartender stood outside his school, York Prep on the Upper West Side, handing out promotional flyers.

The next day, Zach, 15, went to check it out. Not wanting to miss anything, he arrived 15 minutes before the club opened at 9 p.m. Inside the bar was stocked with $6 cans of Red Bull and $5 bottles of water, including five flavors of Smart Water. Crush does not serve alcohol, though it does offer candy – tubs of it.

Zach grinned as he helped himself to some lollipops. "This is my first time at any club," he said. "Ever."

For teenagers New York City can be a frustrating experience: the nightlife is legendary, but aside from the occasional poetry slam or under-18 show at a rock club, they can’t legally enjoy any of it. Over the last few years adult nightclubs around the country have introduced teenager-only nights, giving young people an alternative to the fake ID route to fun. Some clubs in New York have followed suit. On Fridays in Manhattan, Spirit, in Chelsea, has an under-21 night, and Exit in Midtown is 18 and over; Avalon, in the former Limelight space, is 18 and over Thursday through Sunday. But Crush is among the first nightclubs created solely for teenagers.

"Teens really don’t have a place to go in the city," said Lexi Lehman, 17, a junior at the Professional Children’s School who works as a part-time unpaid promoter for Crush. She is also an intern at Lizzie Grubman Public Relations, where she was recruited to consult on the club. Describing the migratory hangout pattern of her peers, she said: "We go to a friend’s house. Or you see groups of kids wandering up and down Park Avenue at night."

Like the adult nightclubs that surround it in west Chelsea, Crush, which opened in December, comes with a bouncer and a velvet rope, a V.I.P. room and go-go girls writhing in bikini tops. The underused corners seem made for teenage canoodlers, and there is no monitor checking if a shirt is midriff baring or not. Miles away from the brightly lighted, chaperoned girls-on-one-side, boys-on-the-other functions of everyone’s youth, Crush is Bungalow 8 without the $250 Champagne.

Still, in a town where the lure of authentic celebrity-studded nightlife shouts out from every gossip column, and teenagers have a long history of sneaking into clubs from Studio 54 to Marquee, will they accept a watered-down substitute?

And now that there’s a club just for them, will their parents – many of whom remember the drug-fueled club scene of the 1980’s – feel comfortable letting them go?

So far Crush hasn’t had to turn too many people away. In the handful of weekends the club has been open, it has attracted a sizable crowd on only a few occasions, most of them sponsored nights like homecoming for the Trinity School or a walk-off, at which clubgoers strike runway poses. The club has rarely reached its capacity of 250. One night was so quiet that even the bathroom attendant hit the dance floor. "We’re still working out the kinks," said Grant Shapolsky, Crush’s owner.

To supplement the lackluster door (the cover charge is $20), he plans to market the club for sweet 16’s and bar mitzvahs, as well as youth-oriented rock and hip-hop shows. (Crush has both a liquor and a cabaret license.)

Creating a successful kids’ nightclub in New York turns out to have its challenges, not least of them the nature of city teenagers. Notoriously precocious about social life, they are able to sense all too quickly the difference between the real thing and a fake, especially those who have partied at adult clubs and sipped illicit cocktails with A-listers or their children. And Crush’s relatively early hours – from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and some Sundays – and lack of alcohol may seem to some, well, juvenile.

"Teenagers are extremely aspirational," said Michael Wood, the vice president of Teenage Research Unlimited, a market research firm. "They don’t want anything that is in any way teenified. So if they’re going to the club scene or the music scene, they want it to be the real McCoy."

Mo Pitkin’s, a performance space and restaurant on Avenue A that has a variety show featuring comedy and musical acts by teenagers on the first Friday of every month, also tries to avoid kid-sounding stuff.

"A lot of kids’ events feel like imitations of grown-up events, and the trick is to make it feel authentic," said Phil Hartman, an owner of Mo Pitkin’s.

For Mr. Hartman authenticity came in the form of his daughter Odetta, 16, who dreamed up First Fridays, as the show is called. "It’s frustrating that people don’t trust us enough to see a band that we’re crazy about," Ms. Hartman said, explaining what inspired the idea. "You’re being patronized and looked down to just because you’re a kid."

But since November, Ms. Hartman, a Dalton student and musician with long dark hair and Meg White bangs, has had a very unkidlike role, booking, promoting, managing and playing host of her own show, for which she earns a salary that’s about the same as an after-school job.

She advertises the shows by e-mail barrage and at school assemblies, and deals with tricky negotiations like the price of tickets ($10 each), artist fees (at least $100) and the legalities of working with under-age performers, not to mention music industry veterans.

"It’s intimidating having to e-mail and have phone conversations with people who, this is what they do for a living, and for me it’s just sort of a hobby that I decided to do in high school," Ms. Hartman said.

THOUGH he was supportive as a father, as a club owner Mr. Hartman had some trepidation about his daughter’s plan. "I was a little concerned about how the business model would work for it," he said. To his surprise some teenagers came with their parents, who bought drinks, which helped the evening pay off.

"I think it’s great," said Danny Pellegrini, 16, who performed at First Fridays in December in a band called DV8, adding that it provides a much-needed alternative to his friends’ usual activities. "A lot of times people just stand on the street corner thinking about what to do, like whose house to go to," he said. "There’s not one big activity that people partake in other than, like, drinking and stuff."

And the drinking and stuff is exactly why some parents are eager for events like First Fridays. "If you’re locked out of doing everything because you’re under-age, the logical thing for you to do is go get into trouble, said Claire Pellegrini Cloud, Danny’s mother. "To be able to hear music and disconnect it from alcohol is a wonderful thing."

Crush too is hoping to advertise itself as the answer to nights at home watching TV or huddled over French fries with friends at a diner. "There was a lot of stress," Ms. Lehman said about the club’s opening on Dec. 2. "I didn’t know how people would react, or what they would think of it, or if they would come back."

With a velvet rope and a dress code (no pajamas, boys) she worried that it might seem intimidating. "People think this is a cool club, so automatically it’s exclusive and mean, and it’s not at all," Ms. Lehman said. "It’s been difficult communicating that."

In one effort to draw more people in, she went out of state, inviting Jack Lepiarz, a New Jersey student with a blog, to come to Crush. "It would be very easy to mistake Crush for a real nightclub," he wrote, adding that it could be "an excellent way for New York (and New Jersey, in my case) teens to have fun without going to a high school dance."

But the truly cool always have other options.

On a Friday night last month, D.J. Seduce – also known as David Foulquier, 16 – was spinning hip-hop and dance music. After his set, David, a Dalton sophomore, left to go to Lotus, a late-night club in the meatpacking district. Asked how he would get in, Mr. Foulquier shrugged. "I know people."

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