Club Hopping: 7 Hot Spots Defining NYC Nightlife

By Lindsay Silberman  |  January 3, 2014

The nightlife business in New York is fickle, to say the least. One day you’re in, and the next day - as soon as a newer club opens its doors - you’re out. Despite the enormous odds, the city is in the midst of a mini nightlife boom - we're seeing everything from new small intimate lounges to warehouse-sized megaclubs. Below, we highlight seven of the most promising and got tips on getting past the door - because even though there might be glut of new clubs, those doors are as tough as ever. Read on for the new hot spots you should check out in 2014. 

  • Sankey’s

    The Story: This mega club comes to Midown via Manchester, England (there's also an Ibiza brand). It debuted in the former District 36 space on Halloween and is leading the return of the megaclub to Manhattan, though a little north of the West Chelsea zone that used to house clubland in the Aughts.

    How to Get in: As per Antonio Piacquadio, Sankey’s Owner: “Please come to the club with a forward-thinking attitude towards music. Learn about the artists that are playing that night, educate yourselves. Positive attitudes are welcomed, negative attitudes are not.” The club also does a ticket pre-sale to many of its parties, so if you buy in advance, you should be good to go.

    29 W. 36th St.; 212-764-0157

  • The Raven

    The Story: This midsize haunt opened during Fashion Week in the subterranean space that used to house tattoo-themed Gunbar. The venue, which has the upscale, loungey feel that is common at Meatpacking District spots, takes its name from the Edgar Allen Poe poem, is decked out in red velvet and features a DJ booth that looks like a fireplace.

    How to Get in: As per Henry Stimler, Creative Director: “As with most places it's fairly simple: be polite, well-dressed, and also be in a mixed group rather a group of five guys; show up on the early side because by around midnight, you better know someone to get in.”

    55 Gansevoort St.; 646-561-3931

  • Output

    In a Nutshell: When it comes to opening a large-scale nightclub, Williamsburg doesn’t exactly seem like the first place that would come to mind. But ever since Output opened its doors this year, crowds have been showing up in droves. The space holds 450 people and doesn’t offer the kind of luxury-bottle-service Manhattan experience. Per their website, “Output is open to anyone, but is not for everyone. Output welcomes individuals who value the communal experience of music over cameras and bottle service."

    How to Get in: Come one, come all. This venue, which is bringing rave culture back to NYC, has the most democratic door policy of the bunch. They sell tickets on their website, and you should be welcome as long as you don’t whip that smartphone out and start Instagramming (cell phones are "discouraged," photography is prohibited). Oh, and if you come too late, you may have to wait in an epic line.

    74 Wythe Ave.

  • Bar Nana

    The Story: “I think our area was lacking a great cocktail lounge with some vibe and energy,” said David Rabin, partner at the Meatpacking District’s new Bar Nana, pointing out that the fun restaurants and bars that already exist in the area lack quality food and drink. “We felt there was room for a great-looking cocktail bar with some delicious light bites.  We recently started opening at 6 PM so shoppers and people who work in the area can grab an early drink.” The lounge takes its name from Emile Zola’s famous novel, and the drink selection is heavy on the pisco and cachaca.

    How to Get in: Rabin points out that there are really two different times, with two different strategies: “There is no 'door scene' for the after-work crowd. Later at night, we have to watch our capacity because there are a bunch of partners with a lot of friends who come down quite often. Earlier in the week is simpler, but I'd say on Thursday to Saturday, the best recipe is to dress nicely, come with only a friend or two or with as diverse a group as possible, and above all, be polite, whether we have room or not that evening. Door people have a tough job, and I think we have some of the nicest people in the biz out front. They respond well to people who are not throwing attitude from a block away.”

    63 Gansevoort St.; 646-964-4357

  • Baby Grand

    The Story: DJ and nightlife guru Paul Sevigny opened Baby Grand - his first post-Beatrice Inn solo project - in the Tribeca Grand Hotel this past October. With space for just 120 people and ultrafeminine decor, the venue is decidedly more lounge than club, which was exactly Sevigny’s intention.

    How to Get in: Pray. With a small capacity and super high-end clientele, this is by far the toughest nut to crack on the list. Your best bet (if you’re not one of the fancy few who knows someone) is to wait a few months until it dies down and then go on an off night. Until then, enjoy the stories about Baby Grand in Page Six.

    2 Ave. of the Americas; 212-519-6681

  • Bossa Nova Civic Club

    The Story: It’s almost easier to define this tropical-themed Bushwick bar and dance club by what they’re not doing, says co-owner John Barclay: “Right now we are experiencing a harsh blowback to what many scholars are calling the ‘Cracker-Barrelization’ of North Brooklyn nightlife. In the past decade we have seen a tremendous oversaturation of the old-timey, reclaimed wood-y, grandparent-themed cocktail bar business model. It could be said that much of our ‘success’ is not based on what we are doing, but rather what we are not doing. What we are not doing is hanging vintage barn tools and Great Depression photographs on our walls, and to many that is perceived as refreshing.” Expect house and electro music, affordable drinks and a sweaty dance floor.

    How to Get in: As per Barclay, “We would love to let everyone in the world inside our beautiful establishment, but unfortunately the place routinely hits capacity somewhere around midnight every weekend. My only advice - and it is sincere advice - is to come early if you would like to enter Bossa Nova Civic Club.” 

    1271 Myrtle Ave.; 718-443-1271

  • Tao Downtown

    The Story: The sprawling 22,000-sq.-ft. restaurant is the third outpost of Tao, which also has branches in Midtown Manhattan and Las Vegas. The 400-person capacity and bi-level location beneath the Maritime Hotel might lead you to believe it’s the next fist-pumping, bottle-serving nightspot, but Tao’s team has made it apparent that their primary focus here is on the food. Still, while the main dining room is all about the dim sum, there is a stand-alone lounge with its own entrance on 16th Street that caters to the late-night set.

    How to Get in: It's tough. Right now, the team is really focusing on the main dining room, so access to the party at this just-opened venue is truly for the clubby set. Take your chances at the door, but if you're not successful, Amy Sacco's Bungalow 8 follow-up No. 8 is nearby.

    92 9th Ave.; 212-888-2724