Love is the best club in NYC. Hands down. The jaded bastard that I am, I wouldn’t say something like that unless I was really impressed. Last Friday, when most of us checked out the venue for the first time, I was beyond impressed. I was flat-out shocked. I was shocked at just how good this place is. For years I had been one of the countless people bitching on various message boards about everything that is wrong with NYC clubs and what the ideal club should be like. It was as if Love management had been taking careful notes and finally given us exactly what we have been demanding!
Like many industry peeps, I had been hearing that Love is a great venue. The had been open for a while already, primarily as a Soulful House spot. Since I’m more into other types of EDM and since any time one hears of a “great new venue” around here, the cynicism takes over, I hadn’t gone out of my way to check it out until last Friday. When Jason Jollins called me a few weeks ago and said he was doing bookings for Friday nights as well as spinning at Love, I started researching the place. I figured he wouldn’t be wasting his time committing to a venue unless maybe it really was all that! I saw some pictures posted somewhere online of a dark, austere room with big-ass speakers and a disco ball. I was ecstatic! Finally, a club centered around music, not the bottle crowd.
When I asked other people about Love, I’d been receiving rather odd descriptions. Some said “oh, is that the place with the waterfall?” Others, “oh, the place with the backlights and fluorescent 70’s rock posters all over the walls?” The oddest must have been “Oh, the place with the Fraggle Rock room?” Huh, I didn’t see any of that in the photos. I always replied, “I don’t think so. You must be thinking of some other Club Love. This one looks kinda like a Filter-14 sort of place.” Considering that the now-defunct Filter was one of my favorites, I was fairly confident that I’d like Love from the moment I’d set foot in it about what I expected it to be like.
Given that this was the first night open to regular House/Tech music, just about every local DJ, producer, promoter and jaded clubber showed up to check the place out. A bunch of our DJs were spinning and of course, I was there for the moral support. When I first walked into Love, I was surprised. Here was what appeared to be a lounge with a bar to the side and indeed, a waterfall in the back. Although technically, it wasn’t as much a waterfall as a curtain of water sprayed down from the ceiling with lights projected onto it. Hardly Filter-14. Looks like the “waterfall” people were right after all. Love was just another over-hyped lounge.
Before the cynicism traipsing around inside my head had a chance to utter an “I told you so,” Jason pointed towards a back hallway I hadn’t noticed and told me to check out the main room. Thank God! I thought this first room was the entire club. As I walked towards the back through the dark hallway, I noticed a huge concave window in one of the walls. I peered in and couldn’t quite make any sense out of what I saw. I gave up trying to wrap my head around it and kept walking. Turns out that the entrance into the room the window peered into was just a few steps forward and around the corner. I walked in. Holy shit! I hadn’t seen anything this wacky outside of a children’s TV show…in fact, Fraggle Fucking Rock!
The Fraggle Rock room, as just about everyone who first saw it that night immediately referred to it as, consisted of a bunch of abstract caves and perches big enough for people to lounge on or under, all covered in pink shag carpeting. A big mirrored dome hung from the ceiling, as well as some bad-ass speakers. The room looked like it was decorated by Dr. Seuss on an acid trip. Right up my alley. After enough time crawling around all the nooks and crannies like some retarded hamster, it occurred to me that this couldn’t possibly be the main room that Jason was talking about and I should probably check out the rest of the club.
The next room down the hallway turned out to be exactly what some of those other people were talking about when trying to describe Love. There were indeed backlights, fluorescent rock posters and psychedelic art all over the room, including the ceiling. There were beanbag chairs strewn about the place to boot. I was having flashbacks to my misspent youth. All that was missing was AC/DC blaring out of the speakers to top off the effect. Before I whipped out the air guitar and pulled an Angus Young to the music in my head, I noticed what was obviously the main room through the crack in the double doors. It looked dark and austere.
I opened the doors to clubbing heaven. This was a no-nonsense, old-school dance club. No glitz. No tables with ice buckets waiting to be filled with sucker-priced bottles and placeholders with “reserved” written on them. The room was more like a smaller Vinyl, a bigger Filter-14. Black walls, low ceilings huge speakers and a disco ball. Perfect. That’s all I needed after all these years of sleep-dancing through NYC mega-clubs and lounge-du jours. The DJ booth was nice and low, just like at Filter. The sound was unbelievably clean. You don’t get fidelity like that in most of the clubs around the world, never mind in some small club that almost no one in the industry had even heard of. In fact, the sound was apparently designed by Gary Stewart Audio, maker of legendary sound systems at clubs like Sound Factory, Vinyl, Centro Fly and Palladium, to name a few. Inside the booth, the setup was equally impressive. with three turntables, CDJ’s and no less than two Urei mixers.
Dany Veltri and Zach Roth opened the night by making good use of all that expensive audio gear. Chunky, funky electroish goodness. For a couple of neophyte DJs, these guys are quickly proving that they can hang with the big boys every time they spin. Stadenco took over as the club started to fill up. Every person who walked through those double doors had the same dumbstruck expression on their faces. No one expected Love to be THIS good. Joel had the place grooving and all the newcomers soon joined in, shit-eating grins and all. Love’s dance floor is the kind of place where you just let loose and dance like no one is watching.
Eventually Elon from EJC, Michael Hime from Unknown People and Jason Jollins all had their turn in the booth. Each threw down in their own respect. Jollins definitely stole the show though. He reminded us just how great dark, twisted Prog is when everyone around here had long been proclaiming its death and Minimal-Electro-Techy-Blip House the new king.
The night flew by. People reluctantly left little by little. Before long, my liver was telling me it was time to go home. I would have rather preferred to move in to one of the caves in the Fraggle Rock room and take a nap till the next party. I don’t think I was alone on that one. Perhaps Love could rent the caves out like a timeshare condo. If only I could fit my large screen TV in there! Since there was probably no chance in hell of me living at Love, I had to get the flock outta there and hit the road. At least this wouldn’t be the last time I’d enjoy a night at Love. I’m certain it wouldn’t be the last time for anyone who was there. After just one night at Love, I am convinced that it’s the best club in the city. Given enough time with the sort of talent lined up to spin there, Love just might become one of the best clubs in the world.
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