This is exactly why NY Nightlife is on a steady decline with no end in sight. I remember a time when New Yorkers hated the French and were ordering “Freedom Fries.” Now it seems we have been innundated with all things French and not only do we like it, we’re having orgasms just thinking about Paris.
Instead of catching up with friends on a Saturday afternoon drinking mimosas/bloody marys and listening to jukebox tunes, we’re trying to spend more than the next table while shouting over house music and glaring at anyone who isn’t drinking rosé. When our friends ask if we want to meet for happy hour, we roll our eyes and say “you mean L’Apero?” In an industry where the back of house staff is notorious for speaking Spanish, the front of house staff is now solely speaking French and anyone who speaks English is left searching for something more authentic – like fast food. Now I’m not saying I don’t like a good St. Tropez inspired brunch/happy hour, we all know I do. I just don’t think we need a faux-French import telling us how to run our industry.
Enter André Saraiva, a petite man born in Sweden to Portuguese parents who moved to Paris. You may know him as the guy who was supposed to reopen the Beatrice Inn by doing “all this legal stuff, like add[ing] new exits.” He is also the owner of the internationally-acclaimed-still-officially-unopened-in-New-York Le Baron that is supposedly going to save NY Nightlife.
In a Blackbook feature we learn all about his friends (André Balazs and Paul Sevigny) his theory that without nightlife there wouldn’t be “freedom, creation, ideas [and], poetry” and his propensity to have alligator strangling sounding sex in the shower with socialite girlfriend Annabelle Dexter-Jones (half-sister to the Ronson clan of Mark, Samantha and Charlotte.)
We find out that graffiti is how Saraiva found his way into nightlife entrepreneurship and that any place without a graffiti scene and nightlife is usually a fascist country. We also learn his tag is “Mr. A” and he would run about the streets of NY tagging everything in site except, he might go to jail. And it’s not that he’s afraid of jail, he’s been before, but jail would keep him away from his beloved Annabelle.
While this was all very sweet and vomit inducing, I was really waiting for him to start naming names on the NY nightlife circuit and Mr. A did not disappoint. Since he was involved with the Beatrice Inn and opened Le Bain with Balazs, he may know more than the average French import about the MPD/Chelsea scene, but that doesn’t give his team the credibility to hint at things like Le Baron will fill the void left by the Bea. They should know that comparing yourself to the Bea is like tying a noose around your neck and waiting for someone, anyone at all, to come by and kick the chair.
But he does one better. He says:
“I don’t know the people I want.” “I know the people I don’t want. I don’t want any people who do TV. I don’t want any people who have cars. I don’t want any people who go to Marquee or 1Oak. If you go to 1Oak, never come to Le Baron.”
Now we may turn our nose up at Marquee in favor of Avenue and/or Lavo. And we may even complain about having to go to 1Oak every other night, but we can do that because those are our clubs. Strategic Group, Butter Group and EMM Group are like the McDonalds, Burger King and Wendy’s of nightlife. Sure we’re tired of eating at them and they’re on every damn block, but the minute some little French cafe comes along and starts insulting our beloved quarter-pounder with cheese, we rally. Our pallets may mature and we may feel above a complimentary Finlandia and vodka, but there are thousands of people who just want to meet their friends at the mall and supersize their value meal. This is why YEARS later, Marquee, Butter and Tenjune are still standing and I will not let some little “French” man come and usurp the nightlife throne.
What Mr. Saraiva needs to understand is that this French obsession is a phase and when his club gets shut down, which, now that it has the Beatrice curse, it will – whether it takes 6 months or 2 years – the Parisian obsession will end just like the hipster obsession died with the Bea.
Right now NY Nightlife is binging. It’s had about 5 courses of bottle service, 4 servings of skinny jeans and is now on its third helping of escargot. Only a serious purge will save it before it blows up and we’re left picking up the pieces from Midtown all the way to Chinatown wishing we had been satisfied by a #1 with cheese.