I grew up in this town. I venture out of it to go to NYC, Miami, Vegas, and other destinations of interest and entertainment, but it was always great to return home. Over the past few years I have had this burning desire to leave this town for greener pastures, but have always found a reason to stay or give it another chance. However, I must say I have finally given up on Albany and the Capital Region as a whole. This area just doesn’t get it. Forget the obvious stuff that has been creeping up lately such as high gas prices, unemployment, and other issues that make life hard to deal with. That is a shared inconvenience of everyone both locally and nationally. Forget issues like road deterioration, and poor public transportation (try getting a cab on a weekend night anywhere, and you will either wait on a corner for 30 minutes or you will get hung up on by some ignorant miserable person with no common sense to realize that every person he hangs up on is less money for the organization he works for….bet his bosses would love that). Forget the fact that Albany’s biggest entertainment yearly is centered around getting drunk and marching in a parade for a Holiday that doesn’t exist in this country, or a concert series in the summer with acts that haven’t had a hit song in 20 years. Forget all that. My beef in this regard is the poor excuse for nightlife in the Capital Region.
I think it is obviously well known that I am a DJ, if you don’t know that where have you been, I remind you four times a day at least. I also believe that with 16 years of experience in the industry and having partied at some of the biggest clubs in this country, I might have the authority to speak on this matter.
I will start off by saying we have some wonderful bars and venues to eat, drink & be merry in this region. However, we do not have one true nightclub. We don’t. Name me one true nightclub. But before you start ripping off what you think qualifies let me first give you the qualifications for what a nightclub makes.
1. A cool name (sorry but its true, you have to have a cool name to be a nightclub…even if what is cool is objective.)
2. A guy at the door collecting a cover charge. (Sorry Capital Region, but real nightclubs collect cover charges, it’s how they help pay for the entertainment they let you enjoy on a given night…stop being cheap and fork over $5)
3. A designated dance floor (this is a must…if people don’t know where to dance, they feel awkward and sometimes won’t.)
4. A great lighting system (a disco ball, and some lazers do not a lighting system make…you don’t need to spend a $20K but intelligent lighting is a must.)
5. A great sound system (You can not install couple of 15″ speakers and a retail grade subwoofer and call that a soundsystem…spend some money and shake the walls with your speakers…it’s worth it trust me.)
6. A Dress Code (I am not saying you have to wear suits and dresses. But your Nightclub Venue should have some pride. Sorry no hats. No sleeves, no entrance. Jeans are fine in some instances, that is the style now…as long as they are clean and crisp. Ladies have some class, wear heels, you can’t wear flip flops to a nightclub. And don’t wear anything you saw a dancer wear in a rap video on MTV2 (I would say MTV but they don’t show videos anymore). If you force people to dress nice…they act more mature!)
7. Hire Professionals. (Stop hiring girls to bartend just cuz they are pretty. First off their personality makes them less pretty, and secondly when I pay $8 for a drink I want it made by someone who actually knows what they are doing. Not to mention half of them just wanna bartend to make money from dumb guys who tip cuz they show their cleavage and flirt with them. Newsflash that doesn’t help your bars bottom line. Not to mention they are not doing their job b/c they are too busy socializing. I am not paying another $8 for a drink that tastes like liquid incompetence at your establishment, I can go anywhere for that. Hire people with no drama…men or women. You have a crazy ex who comes to the bar…you have no job…you don’t have reliable transportation or you can’t get to work on time…I can’t have you working here. You have a problem with someone in my establishment…tough, they are my customer..act like an adult.)
8, And this is most important of all in my opinion…HIRE A GOOD DJ! (stop paying some kid who just got Serato and a Laptop $50-$100 to play music all night long. Professional DJ’s are more valuable then you obviously realize…why do you think major nightclubs throughout the world pay thousands of $$$ to have DJ’s come into their venue to play? A good DJ not only knows what songs to play and when to play them, but he/she knows how to read the crowd and transition to keep the crowd into it. A good DJ also keeps people in your bar spending money at your establishment, because they are enjoying their time. The average person goes to 2-3 bars a night…but they spend the most time at the venue they are having the most fun at…a combination of atmosphere, service, music, or as otherwise put, all the things I stated above. However, a good DJ is so much more important then anything, which is why back alley bars are sometimes the most fun b/c the music is awesome. So if you don’t have a good DJ, and I mean someone who has years of experience, playing to large audiences and has a vast knowledge of music, then you are failing. Oh and your DJ must play “Dance” Music…no rap, no trendy group dances, straight “Dance” Music. Old School Party Hip Hop counts and so does some latin or reggaetone songs…but if it isn’t able to actually dance to and not grind to or sway to then it doesn’t qualify. So sorry DJ’s, if you play “Black & Yellow”, “Teach Me How To Dougie”, or any Lil Wayne song, you are not a Nightclub DJ.
So with that being said, if you don’t have all of those qualifications, then you are not a nightclub! Sorry but fact is fact.
The Capital Region does not have 1 nightclub…not even 1. We have great bars, some good lounges, and a few cool venues, but no nightclubs…Vapor in Saratoga might be the only legitimate nightclub, but I am not sure if they pass the Dress Code Challege. They do not have a DJ more often then not, mostly bands but those bands are the best of the best in this area and Vapor really does get it. They also are what they are, they cater to a more mature crowd and do very well with that demographic.
And if you are an upscale lounge, then the two things you need the most is an experienced professional staff and a DJ spinning the right type of music to maintain the ambience of what a lounge is. MEANING NO RAP!!!
The biggest problem is that now-a-days every new venue that opens, promises to be the place where mature people can go and dance and be with like minded people and just enjoy their weekend. Then guess what. they start to loosen the dress code, or they start to let in underage people, or they let artists or DJ’s perform at their venue that does not fit their brand identity. They hire bad or inexperienced staff or they as management or ownership start to screw with what is working. Again this is not a shot to those establishments that know what they are and are happy with it, this is to those delusional establishments that don’t realize they aren’t nightclubs.
I love Savannah’s in downtown Albany b/c it knows what it is…a great place to drink great beer, eat great food and listen to a great DJ and some really cool bands…they also do a great graphics show as well thanks to their resident VJ. Graney’s is probably the best sports bar in the area, b/c it knows what it is. It provides a great atmosphere to watch sports, eat some wings, burgers and wraps, and drink some beer served by pretty girls. I love Juniors b/c it is the perfect neighboorhood bar, where everyone can come and enjoy a fun night.
This town desperately needs a upscale venue. We need a place where professional and mature people can go and eat, drink, and dance in a nice enviornment, with professional, polite staff, with great music provided by a good DJ ,while dressed up to a level of more then going to a pub or a baseball game
Capital Region have some class. Capital Region venue owners have pride. I am sick of hearing owners of venues that think they are nightlcubs, tell me how they party at the best nightclubs in the world and then open a place that doesn’t have even 3 or 4 of the qualifications of a nightclub and after a short span lose those too due to apathy or lack of class.
The Capital Region has a general lack of vision, brains, and quality people behind our nightlife. Maybe someone will come along and prove me wrong…until then there is some hope in sight at least for this summer. Some of us DJ’s have decided if venues won’t do it…we will do it for them. So keep on the look out this summer for some really great events put on by this area’s actual real DJ talent. (Myself included of course) And sorry local area owner of Serato and a Laptop who thinks you are a DJ, I am not talking about you…cuz you are not a real DJ…
But that is another story!