Tuesday, August 29, 2006


For the uninitiated, Manhattan's West Chelsea district -- at least in nightlife parlance -- can be defined as the cluster of so-called megaclubs lining 27th and 28th Streets between 10th and 11th Avenues on the West Side. For the initiated, by contrast, Chelsea can be defined -- at least when one finds oneself in Chelsea between the hours of 11 PM and 5 AM -- as the section of Gotham most resembling the outer ring of the Seventh Circle of Hell.

Spirit has been a Chelsea mainstay since replacing Twilo on 27th St. in 2004. Among bouncers in the area, it's best known for attracting inexplicably large numbers of "fat chicks." It's also one of the three names most commonly floated in my email inbox when readers attempt to ascertain where I work.

For the record, I don't work at Spirit, and never have, but it's a very good guess. Spirit's evolution has, in many ways, paralleled the development -- or descent into oblivion, as the case may be -- of my own club: starting out with grand ambitions, hitting a peak, then accepting increasingly high percentages of B&T locals -- read: Guidos and other assorted trash -- in order to keep "making their number" at the door.

Last Friday, the NYPD padlocked Spirit's doors for the second time this year, citing the city's underutilized -- as far as I'm concerned -- Nuisance Abatement Law. Contrary to what you might be thinking, I have nothing against Spirit personally. I've never set foot inside the place, and have no connection with anyone who works there other than running into some of their bouncers at a nearby deli on occasion when stopping for pre or post-shift coffee.

As I've outlined here previously, the downward spiral of any Manhattan nightclub -- especially in ultra-competitive environs like West Chelsea -- eventually devolves into something akin to desperation on the part of clubs' management and ownership. Door policies loosen and everyone coming up the line -- provided they can "hit us up" sufficiently -- is permitted entry. Again, I'm not at Spirit's door, but it's all the same everywhere. Out of necessity, I'm certainly nowhere near as fastidious with licenses as I was at this time last year. Neither are/were they, I'm sure -- searchlights, signs and police presence notwithstanding.

When clubs "let in the locals," a Faustian bargain is struck in the process. Cover charge quotas are achieved, liquor sales receive a much-needed boost and your establishment returns to the map. Problem is, it's the wrong map. The B&T map is not a desirable one to be on for long, because any influx of locals is inevitably fraught with all the problems associated with the lower strata of New York outerborough and suburban society: violence, drug sales, and a marked increase in incidents involving underaged drinkers. And, as always, the people getting the shaft as a result are Chelsea's bouncers, the NYPD, and the taxpayers of New York City.

Mind you, I'm not even mentioning the tackiness.

By law here in New York, a public nuisance is defined as follows:

"The word 'Nuisance' shall be held to embrace public nuisance, as known at common law or in equity jurisprudence; whatever is dangerous to human life or detrimental to health; whatever building or erection or part or cellar thereof, is overcrowded with occupants, or is not provided with adequate ingress and egress to and from the same or the apartments thereof, or is not sufficiently supported, ventilated, severed, drained, cleaned or lighted in reference to its intended or actual use; and whatever renders the air or human food or drink, unwholesome. All such nuisances are hereby declared illegal."

Now, as someone who has thrust himself into the middle of all of this in order to pay his bills, I can tell you firsthand that the entirety of West Chelsea is a public fucking nuisance, even if it can't be declared so by the strict legal definition of the term. The nightclub concept alone is enough to give one pause when trying to decide what should be legal and what shouldn't. On any given night, the clubs of West Chelsea admit literally thousands of subhuman degenerates of well-below-average intelligence -- lacking any degree of common sense whatsoever, even when sober -- liquor and drug them up until they're incoherent, then let them all out into the streets of Manhattan to fend for themselves and be hemorrhoids up the ass of every decent human being within a twenty block radius.

So yeah, Spirit closed down. Like any club worth a shit, they hire "spotters" to spy on their employees. They likely also hire spotters to watch the spotters, and still they can't stay clean. This, however, isn't the point. The point is West Chelsea itself, and what it's turned into.

The formula goes like this: start with a collection of two-year-old, past-their-prime nightclubs, all located within a stone's throw of each other. Cram in several thousand pieces of shit from Long Island, Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and New Jersey, douse the entire miasmic aggregation full of as much liquor, coke and God-knows-what-all they can hold for several hours, then send them off into the night for the police and the citizenry of New York to deal with. That's Chelsea. That's what it's all about down there, and it's a goddamned fucking joke.

If that's not the very definition of a public nuisance, I honestly don't know what is.