Main | Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Nightclubbing: Will New York City Finally Get Another Gay Mega Dance Spot?

Currently only three* gay nightclubs in NYC have the necessary cabaret license that allows dancing: Chelsea's medium-sized Splash, the basement room of the Monster in the West Village, and Escuelita, the Hell's Kitchen drag and Latin club. This week, the highly anticipated reopening of the legendary Roxy was finally (and probably, permanently) shot down when the backers of a new venture for the property retreated after facing fierce opposition from the venue's West Chelsea neighbors.

But via Paul Schindler at Gay City News, we learn of a massive project proposed for West 42nd Street that, should it come to fruition, would be the largest and most elaborate gay entertainment complex in the city.
At a time when city officials nervously double-check and then triple-check their once confident projections about tourism growth and more than a few gay locals grumble about the dearth of fresh nightlife choices, a $20 million project could bring nearly 80,000 square feet in tourism and dance club space to West 42nd Street — in the form of New York’s first full-service gay hotel and the first new nightclub serving the LGBT community in more than five years to have a cabaret license, needed if patrons wish to dance. Officially described as “The Out NYC: a hospitality and entertainment destination geared to the gay community,” the project, due to be completed by early next year, is informally dubbed “a hetero-friendly urban resort” by its developers. In addition to 123 guest rooms and a 10,000-square-foot dance club capable of serving 750 patrons, the project — which will renovate a three-story building originally developed as a Travel Inn in 1960 to accommodate the crowds expected at the 1964 World’s Fair and later used by the Red Cross, before it was abandoned several years ago — will also include a gym, spa, restaurant, and 24/7 café, making it the most ambitious commercial development ever to court New York’s gay community.
It should be said that a dance club that holds 750 people strains the definition of what we've known as a "megaclub," but in these days of dwindling and smaller gay dance clubs, that's pretty good. According to Schindler's exhaustive article, seasoned NYC promoter John Blair, the man behind the demised Roxy, will be resurrecting his late Chelsea club XL at the new complex on W.42nd.

*The NYC Eagle may have a cabaret license for its relatively small ground floor, but I've only seen dancing there on the day of the Folsom East Street Fair.

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