Perhaps to many, this might seem a bit hyperbolic. To others, just another example of someone past their prime whining and bitching about how things aren’t what they used to be. For those that were there from the beginning, those that got into dance music before some idiot in a rat costume started making millions, the closing of Sullivan Room is the end of what made Manhattan what it was. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still plenty of fun and dancing to be had in this town; it’s just that it’s nothing more than just fun and dancing. There’s no more sense of meaning nor belongingness to it, you no longer feel like you’re part of anything special. While there are a number of great new clubs in Manhattan, with more on the way, the entire experience is different. Clubbing in Manhattan is just another commodity now, with Wall Street investors seeing EDM as the next big trend to make money on.
To those that haven’t been around long enough to understand why this is upsetting, let me explain it in terms of burritos. Chipotle runs a tight ship, with relatively good burritos, professional staff and an overall great customer experience. It’s hard not to enjoy Chipotle. Imagine that before one of their chain restaurants moved in to a new corner space, there was a locally run, hole in the wall Mexican place there. No one knew about it except people like you, that stumbled in one night and right away, felt at home because they instantly made the place theirs. What made you fall in love at first sight, made you feel like you’ve always been a regular is that the owner and the staff treated you like that from the first time you set foot inside.
Before long, you were there every weekend, bringing all your friends and making new ones while there. Eventually, it seemed as if every customer there knew everyone else. Like Cheers (yes, I know some of you are probably too young to even get that reference), this was a place where everyone knew your name. This was a place with a bunch of back rooms where you could sneak off to and do naughty things, this was a place where you didn’t get hassled and could just let go and have fun.
After over a decade of hanging out at your favorite place with your closest friends, you suddenly find out that it’s getting replaced with a Chipotle. Sure, their burritos are great. However, it’s just another Chipotle. There’s no sneaking off to a back room to do naughty things. Nobody at Chipotle knows your name. You no longer make plans to meet up with all of your friends at Chipotle on Friday night because it’s just another cookie-cutter chain restaurant with a cookie-cutter experience. While it’s perfectly good, it has no soul.
Enough about burritos though, if you can’t tell by this point, I’m writing this on an empty stomach. The reason why the closure of Sullivan Room is the nail in the proverbial coffin of Manhattan as it was is because it is the very last in a legacy of venues that represented a lifestyle that made Manhattan special. There was a rawness to this city, an energy that made every night you stepped out the door an adventure. You used to get butterflies in your stomach before a night out because you never knew what might happen. There was a certain grittiness to it that paradoxically, somehow managed to be glamorous at the same time. A large part of Manhattan was not unlike what is Flatbush in Brooklyn today, except better. It was young, it was diverse, it was dangerous, it was full of life.
Then, a bunch of old rich people started hearing about how there’s this hip, cool place where everything is damn cheap, great place to buy real estate. They move there and perhaps unwittingly, eventually try to forbid everything that made the place hip and cool and full of life, the very reason why they thought they’d enjoy living there in the first place. All they see is a bunch of people younger than them doing things they grew out of and most annoyingly, appearing to be enjoying their lives way more than them. Someone should do something about that! It might decrease the real estate value of the whole block, what with all those damn kids carousing at all hours of the night...Mayor Rudy Giuliani to the rescue, a guy so shortsighted that he placed the Office of Emergency Management inside the World Trade Center after the first time it got attacked in 1993. Rudy didn’t realize how much revenue the club scene was bringing to Manhattan, with patrons travelling from outside every weekend, spending money at local restaurants, hotels and other businesses, nevermind the money they brought in as tax revenue from the clubs themselves. He saw a short-term problem that needed to be dealt with in order to attract rich people to the city....