The Roots of House Music Are Alive at Cielo

Wednesday has been considered “hump day” ever since the 40 hour work week was invented.  But for those of us who live to rejoice under strobe lights while the sounds of House music filters from the speakers and fills the atmosphere, Wednesday has taken on another moniker.  Wednesday is a night that is all about Roots.

One of my greatest moments while working as the Entertainment and Lifestyle editor at Caribbean Posh Magazine was interviewing Louie Vega and his wife Anane.  Louie is one of the architects of House music and a living legend.  His DJing and mixes have provided the soundtrack to my life and many other house heads’ lives around the world, and have been responsible for baby powder residue littering the floors of many venues. 

For those of us who live and breathe this music and culture, it is more of a creed than a lifestyle choice.  When I wrote my article about the Grammy winning DJ/producer, I dubbed him an archbishop because that is simply what he is.  Every leader must have a home base and in New York City Louie’s resident house is Cielo, located on 18 Little West 12th Street in the Meatpacking District.  The weekly Wednesday night party known as Roots is the seed of Louie Vega and Kevin Hedge of Blaze, another House music legend and high priest in his own right.  During its six years, quite an epic feat for an underground party, the stems of Roots have grown to become one of New York City’s staple parties.

Because House music is so engrained in the fiber of their beings, Louie Vega and Kevin Hedge provide the patrons of Cielo with sermons that are sure to guarantee a perspiration drenched t-shirt, aching bodies and refreshed souls.  When Louie is traveling, Kevin holds the party down solo.  Even Anane and Antonello Coghe (Nulu Music) spin on occasion. 

House music is not a genre readily found on top 40 FM.  It does not sell out arena sized venues and because it does not appeal to the masses, the future of my culture and its music is always in a precarious state.  Parties like Roots ensure that New York City, the cradle of House Music, will continue to have a voice as the underground dance scene moves into the next decade of the new millennium.

 Photos:  F.A.M.E NYC Editor

Prom 2010

Josh Madden

Soon after the cherry blossoms arrive and spring fever fills the atmosphere, another fever quickly approaches.  This fever usually is accompanied with the desire to don formal attire, order corsages, take a hundred pictures and ride in rented limos and town cars.  That’s right; I’m talking about the prom.

 

 

Paul Iacono

For teenagers across the United States, the junior and senior proms are a rite of passage that culminates the high school experience.  It is a moment that resides in the memory bank and is carried throughout the rest of our lives.  On May 8, the fashionable of New York City came together to create new, fabulous prom memories.

Claudine De Sola and Joonbug.com’s CEO Jon Gabel

Joonbug.com and FashionIndie.com presented Prom Class 2010.  Fashion’s dandies and dandettes braved cyclone winds to Wang Chung at Espace, located on W. 42nd St.   The venue with its chic décor provided the perfect setting for the razzle-dazzle and bumping and grinding found inside.  Drinks were flowing and a good time was definitely had by all. 

 

Shontelle

DJs Josh Madden, Steve Powers, Manero and Claudine De Sola spinned a mix of 80s and 90s hits as well as future dance classics.   And as expected at any prom the dance floor was filled with fashion.  I shook a tail feather with Glam God and designer Indashio who wore an Asian-inspired prom kimono.  Songstress Shontelle looked sexy in a black and taupe geometric print dress.  And what would a prom be without a king and queen; Prom 2010 provided royalty as well.

Rebecca Minkoff

The hosts for this extravaganza were designer Rebecca Minkoff, Paul Iacono from The Hard Times of RJ Berger and Gurj Bassi from Downtown Girls, Rescue Me’s Callie Thorne and Micah Jesse of Micah Jesse.com.  Half the proceeds collected from ticket sales went to benefit The Society of Independent Fashion Journalists.   I never had the opportunity to attend my prom when I was a teenager, but the longer I live the more I realize that it is never too late to do anything.  My prom memories may have come 17 years later, but I now can say that I have had my night of spree and style.  Too bad I did not get elected queen.

 

Photos courtesy of Joonbug.com

A Village in The Village

When it comes to Caribbean culture in New York, the planet (yes, I said planet) of Brooklyn is hands down the place to go.  Countless Caribbean clubs, restaurants and the annual West Indian Day Parade down Eastern Parkway on Labor Day prove why the borough of Brooklyn is the Caribbean capital of the northeast.  But on W. 3rd Street sits a venue that rivals any restaurant experience that can be found in Brooklyn. 

Negril Village is located in the heart of Chelsea and has brought the flavors of the Caribbean to the island of Manhattan. Husband and wife team Marva Layne and Carlton Hayle along with Peter Best and Sim Walker pride themselves in producing the best quality Caribbean cuisine and strive to be an accurate representation of Caribbean food and culture.

Negril Village boasts a style of cuisine that is referred to as “New York Savvy Caribbean.”   The menu combines myriad dishes, cooking styles and techniques of different Caribbean islands such as Trinidad and Jamaica.  The Roti dishes from the island of Trinidad have an extremely authentic taste and the Oxtail Stew is cooked to perfection and is served with savory brown sauce and rice and peas.  The soup of the day makes awesome appetizer; this warm treat overflows with flavor.  Their tropical drinks are a tasty bonus to an already delectable menu.  Whether sipping on a cocktail or non-alcoholic fruit punch, you will taste all the beautiful flavors of the Caribbean captured in a glass.

The décor of Negril Village is the first thing you notice when walking pass the threshold.   Set on two levels, the restaurant’s’ décor is fashionable and enchanting.  The spacious dining room on the upper level has bamboo floors and contemporary furniture.  After dinner, the Rhum Lounge on the lower level provides its patrons with the opportunity to work off their meals.  The raisin interior gives this basement level spot a sultry atmosphere.  The DJs spin the best in reggae, calypso, R&B and hip hop that will keep your body moving for hours.  A trip to one of the islands of the Caribbean may not be feasible in this economy, but Negril Village offers the best solution to bring the Caribbean to your lips and hips.  Guess you will have to settle for Coney Island if you want to go to the beach.  

Cielo Opens Its Doors To Help Haiti

As stated in my previous post Help for Haiti, I will report about events going on in the city that are helping raise much needed aid for the Haitian earthquake relief.  Today one of the Meat Packing District’s hottest clubs is opening its doors for an event that is any dancer’s wet t-shirt dream.  Club Cielo, located on 18 Little West 12th Street, is hosting Song, Dance & Love for Haiti.

This event is organized by Joann Jimenez, Jephté Guillaume and Antonio Ocasio and features some of the most legendary DJs and Producers of house music as well as some of NYC’s most talented underground DJs.  Each hour the audience will move, shake, gyrate and produce its best baby powdered foot work to sets spinned by Jellybean Benetiz, Louie Vega, Danny Krivit, Joaquin “Joe” Claussell, Francois K, Josh Milan and Sabine Blazin.

The event is from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. with proceeds being donated to Doctors without Borders in Haiti, $20 is the suggested donation.  The combination of Club Cielo and the line up of DJs signifies an event of epic proportions.  Dance…dance…dance is the theme for this gloomy Sunday.  Before manic Monday morning comes, I suggest all FAMERS get out the house and shake a tail feather for a good cause.

To learn more about Doctors without Borders please visit www.doctorswithoutborders.org.

Barbara Tucker: 25 Years In House Top Event for 2009

To me, house music is not just a genre of music; it is my religion, my culture – essentially a way of life.  House music and the culture it inspires is one of the last underground cultures to be born out of NYC.  Unfortunately the decline of parties and venues that truly support my culture have forced us to revolve in lounges that focus more on what your bar tab is at the end of the night than the vibe, the music and the amount of sweat that is dripped on the dance floor. 

It seems funny to think that the city that spawned my culture is now placing a stranglehold on us – forcing us to adapt or to fade to black.  It is a conversation I have had with many househeads – the chase for the experience we once had that seems to be beyond the grasp of our fingertips, but one we get to touch once in a while.   On March 19th, four decades worth of househeads made the pilgrimage to Webster Hall for Barbara Tucker: 25 Years In House. 

If house music is a religion, then Barbara Tucker would be a saint.  She is definitely one of the divas of our scene.  Her track record of 25 years in house music shows that she is one of the hardest working singers in the business.  Songs like “Beautiful People”, “I Get Lifted”, “Most Precious Love” and “Stop Playing with My Mind” are classics that every househead knows.

The room was filled and space was limited, yet it didn’t seem to matter.  Wherever there was space, househeads were getting it in, contributing to the beautiful vibe that was in Webster Hall that evening.   Seeing Saint Barbara on stage singing her classics made me feel as if I was 17 again, when I was first started venturing into different clubs in Jersey.   The incomparable Louie Vega, David Morales and Tony Humphries fed us the energy to dance well into the next morning and provided a memory that will be looked upon with fondness as we party into the next decade.  Besides the music, the highlight of the evening for me was watching La India and Barbara on stage with Louie Vega behind the DJ booth.  Watching the players behind “Beautiful People” on stage exceeded all my expectations for an evening that will be talked about for years to come.  In fact, people that attended the event were still talking about March 19th well into the summer of 2009.

Barbara Tucker: 25 Years In House offered memories for us to cradle in our hands, keeping us loyal to this culture.  Paradise Garage, Sound Factory Bar, Afterlife, Zanzibar, Club Shelter – all the major clubs that reigned in the NYC area was represented.  We danced and shared experiences with househeads that haven’t been seen in years.  It was a long overdue family reunion filled with love, music, dance and good energy – it was a househead’s dream.

Moscow Invades the Eastside

One of my mom’s favorite movies is Dr. Zhivago.  As a little girl I would crawl up under her and we would watch Omar Sharif steal Julie Christie’s heart while my dad watched sheep jumping over fences.  Over the years the movie grew on me just as my affinity for Russian culture.  

As much as I do like Russian culture and food I had never tried authentic Russian cuisine until recently.  On East 20th Street is a quaint Russian restaurant named Mari Vanna.  The restaurant is named for a mythical woman, who welcomed diners into her home with open arms, feeding them traditional Russian food on her best china and linens and the restaurant certainly lives up to the legend.

Upon stepping inside I felt as if I had been whisked away from Manhattan and dropped into a home in Moscow where Yuri was waiting to recite one of his bittersweet “Lara” poems.  The décor, courtesy of designer Vera Tatarinova, is a Russian enthusiast’s dream filled with crystal bowls, picture frames, fine china, porcelain dolls, coasters, glasses and other precious collectibles.  The cozy furnishings and friendly staff made me feel like I was visiting my comrades instead of going out to eat. 

 For appetizers I had Soleniya, homemade pickled vegetables, and homemade blinis with red caviar sour cream, diced red onion and crumbled egg yolk.  I also had the opportunity to finally taste borsch with pampushka a soup consisting of beets, broth, beef, cabbage, carrots and potatoes.  It is served with sour cream and is beyond delicious.  Note to self:  winter is around the corner, stock up on borsch.  The only beef stroganoff I had tasted until recently was made by Stouffer’s, but after sampling the real McCoy, I could never go back to pseudo stroganoff again.  The beef was tender, the sauce delectable and my mouth was watering for more.

Another great feature of Mari Vanna is vodka.  The restaurant offers a diverse selection of house-infused vodkas.  My favorite was the beet flavored vodka.  The beet’s essence complimented the vodka well and masked some of the harshness.  Talk about a way to get your vegetables, if V8 tasted like that I would buy stock in the company. 

Mari Vanna is an unexpected surprise for any New Yorker that enters their doors.  Even if they may not have been exposed to traditional Russian cuisine before, I have no doubt they will walk out a fan.  The prices are fair and it is worth it.  There is no better dining experience then when the atmosphere, décor and food combine in symbiotic harmony and create a wonderful dining experience.  Nostrovia!

Meat Anyone?

Sometimes when I look around at the city I can hardly recognize it.  Really, this city has seen more facelifts than Zsa Zsa Gabor.  One upgrade in particular that still makes me shake my head in amazement is the Meatpacking District. 

When I was a girl the Meatpacking District was known for large slaughterhouses, tranny hookers, the Mafia, drugs and sex clubs.  The vices in the meatpacking district almost overshadowed the meat and was one of the best places to find sin in New York City, outside Times Square of course.

Now Gansevoort Market is a far cry from the days when transsexual prostitute skulked around corners and the mafia ruled the slaughterhouses with an iron, Black Hand.  The Meatpacking District is one of the chicest areas in the city with restaurants, bars and clubs that play host to the fierce and fabulous as well as some of the best designer boutiques.  Some feel that the Meatpacking District has become too chic for real New Yorkers and is nothing more than a tourist haven like Times Square.  Maybe they are right, but something I learned from the tragedy of 911 is that you don’t take any part of this city for granted.  So without further adieu, here are my choices for the best that the Meatpacking District has to offer.

DINING

RdV                                 RDV Image

409 W. 13th Street New York, NY 10014    

212-675-3300

After stepping down a dimly lit stairway, you arrive in a sexy subterranean chill zone.  RdV takes elegance underground with its plush Baroque style furniture and potted banana trees that add a tropical feel.  The candlelit private dining room is a hideaway within a hideaway and provides its diners with an intimate experience.  The cuisine definitely lives up to the opulent French setting.  I recommend Foie Gras Terrine for an appetizer and Truffled Chicken or Pan Seared Wild Stripped Bass for a main course.  RdV holds 150 guests and is the perfect lounge to drink and dine when planning a grown and sexy gathering with friends.

Bagatelle                       Bagatelle%20Interior                       

409 W 13th St, New York 10014

212-675-2400

Above ground designer David Graziano, designer of RDV, created a posh French bistro.  Bagatelle has been dubbed the place to eat for the rich and trendy and is also known for their brunch.  I recommend Dimanche – Poule-au-Pot and the Potato Puree.  And if you are going to the Caribbean check out Bagatelle’s sister restaurant in Turks and Caicos.  Great food + great atmosphere = a complete dining experience.

 PARTY

Cielo                        ceilo                      

18 Little West 12th Street New York, NY 10014
212 242-8537

Besides the great décor, which resembles a log cabin, the sunken dance floor, and outdoor back yard that has heated lamps in the winter, this club plays host to some of the legends of dance music.  Francois K., Marques Wyatt, Jojo Flores, Junior Vasquez, and Roger Sanchez have all spinned in their DJ booth.  Louie Vega and Kevin Hedge hold their Roots party every week on Wednesday.  Cielo is an absolute must for anyone who seriously loves dance music.

Kiss & Fly                              Temple Perimeter View in Purple Light

409 W. 13th Street New York, NY 10014

212-255-1933

With the opening of Kiss and Fly lavishness has been brought back to NYC nightlife.  This club caters to the sophisticated and fabulous.  Kiss & Fly is Dom Perignon’s flagship club in the United States. Fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld designed a mural for the club that is the backdrop to the $18,000 bottles of Dom Perignon that are on display and on the wine list.  Kiss & Fly also boasts 28 VIP areas with their own “private” dance floor that is raised behind the table.  Fire acts, aerial shows, stilted performances, fire throwers turn this nightclub experience into an extravaganza.

STAY 

Hotel Gansevoort             hotel-gansevoort_3

18 9th Avenue New York, NY 10014

212-206-6700

Just because you live in the city doesn’t mean you have to stay at home, the Hotel Gansevoort offers awe-inspiring 360 degree panoramic views of New York City and is the only luxury, full service resort in the Meatpacking District.  Hotel Gansevoort offers an elegant get away to its patrons.  The hotel has 187 guestrooms and 23 suites.  The rooms are lavish, but with a minimalist aesthetic. The duplex penthouse houses a Jacuzzi and fireplace.  Hotel Gansevoort also has 45-foot heated outdoor rooftop pool with underwater lights and music everyday as well as a swanky rooftop loft and spa. Designer David Graziano also places his stamp on the Hotel Gansevoort making the hotel the fourth business in the Meatpacking District that has been touched by his chic  style.  Upon walking out of the Hotel Gansevoort, be prepared to take on the cobbled-stone splendor of the new Meatpacking District.