Nightlife

FV Events :: Rockit(ing) Nightlife!

by JC Alvarez
Monday May 2, 2011

When Rockit moved to its new Midtown location at District 36, after having established a well-attended residency at Quo off the beaten path in downtown Chelsea, it blew the doors off everyone's expectations! The line was literally down the block and around the corner onto 6th Avenue. That hasn't been seen in New York City well...since the big club days of Roxy - which some of us miss terribly and hopelessly cling onto. "I don't think we'll ever recreate those days," said Tony Fornabaio, one-half of the creative team of FV Events - that's Fornabaio Voss Events for the uninitiated, the producers behind some of NYC most relevant and mightily well-attended club nights. "You can't recapture what the Roxy did - that was classic...and why would you want to?" I had sat with Tony about a year ago, over drinks and nibbles at Elmo, the popular 7th Avenue eatery, to go in depth and chat with the nightlife impresario about the then almost dismal state of club culture in our sprawling metropolis.

Almost a year later...it's incredible just how much things have dramatically improved! It could be the shifting economy - although we're still facing an embattled state with the recession, the palatable optimism among the LGBT community to stay visible amid the shifting tides of social change, or that New York City just got sick and tired of being sick and tired and not culturally contributing to the glamorously center of the party universe! The city that never sleeps was in a perpetual dream state. Not anymore!

At Rockit, the dance floor was pounding wall-to-wall to the latest Top 40 hits (yes...I said Top 40) while Lady Bunny spun to her flock in the downstairs space adjacent to the coat room - the lounge space was as aptly attended as the main floor, but there weren't the exotic go-go antics in effect that were busily wowing the crowd upstairs, or the aerialist that hovered wildly over the haunts of club life. The intense party atmosphere was signed-sealed-delivered by an appearance and performance from the most outstanding of this year's "RuPaul's Drag Race" winner Raja delivering a sexed up gender-bending gospel on the stage that had the masses preaching to the choir! Raja is a nasty girl - in the best possible way.


Rockit To The Stars!

And within Rockit’s then newly christened walls at District 36 noted club socialites hovered abound: Amanda LePore and entourage literally brought spring to life with their ensembles, Michael Musto was present (as expected) to capture the late-night revelry, but mostly it was all about the boys - all one hundred-and-some sweaty of them! New York was ready to reclaim its position as the club land leader! This is the vision that Brandon Voss, the other half of FV Events - the half with the "V" - always had in mind when he and co-conspirator Fornabaio went about this mad venture - literally pump-up the oxygen levels of clubland.

"We were out to create a party that our friends would want to come to," Voss offers immediately about his and Fornabaio strategy for reinvigorating the scene. Brandon Voss is disarmingly good looking with a somewhat bashful disposition. He warms up quickly, though and melts your inhibitions with his rakish smile. It’s easy to imagine how he could charm his way into the center of the club scene. "There was nothing really happening," he continues to share elaborating on the desolate state of nightlife. "When John Blair and Beto (Sutter) ended the days of the Roxy, no one really jumped in to take the reins." FV Events has often partnered with the legendary team - Blair and Sutter still have a great vision on the horizon for New York City - but FV Events maintains a very distinct approach to creating a party atmosphere that is built on how the club life crowd has evolved.

"There was a level of exclusivity at the first Rockit; it was more of a lounge space." Although they didn’t intend to enforce a velvet rope, for the sake of maintaining fire safety measures, they just couldn’t let everybody in - which created among party-goers that inherit desire to belong and be a part of the in-crowd. "Now we have moved the party to bigger spaces, with multiple rooms," Voss describes, "so we can accommodate a larger crowd." But let’s be clear, it’s still a scene and everyone is expected access into the VIP areas.


Get On The List!

You can expect a lot of the A-List to be in attendance on a Friday and Saturday night. Their events do not disappoint and bring together and interesting assortment of characters. Janice Dickinson, the original supermodel of the world has hosted their party, Lil’ Kim has revived her career on the Rockit stage, and Ke$ha has been spotted getting krunk from time to time. But Voss freely admits, "It’s not like we have a rolodex of all the right people...we’ve built up an identity and that’s why people want to come to our parties."

It doesn’t hurt that at any given FV Event you can rub shoulders with the crème de la crème of the disco ball community, and share table service with high society for the dedicated nightcrawlers, but you will also get the top of the line DJ’s and headlining performers. Marking every weekend a remarkable special event.

In this post-Internet age it’s no small feat that Brandon and Tony have successfully propelled a momentum and have the most well attended events in NYC. At just a click of a "send" key or a catty tweet your party status can go from "FIERCE!" to a "FLOP!" "All of our parties are in nice [read: upscale] venues." Not that Voss has an aversion to a decadent, seedy scene. "Sure there’s a niche for that, but it’s just not ours." And as for the the oft-eluded exclusivity of the velvet rope, inclusivity is something that Voss greatly believes in - he strives to perpetuate an experience everyone can be a part of. "You can expect a lot of diversity at our events." At their Saturday night at Club 57 the downstairs space hosts a Latin night to switch things up from the standard heavy-hitting club thumping music. "It’s important that we try to appeal to everybody - but keep you guessing." He flashes that grin again - the one that doesn’t beg to reveal too much of what they have in store for the coming months. After all like every good wizard, Voss has to keep some secrets but I know that they’ll keep raising the bar.


Love the Nightlife...

If you’re lucky you’ll find yourself on the other end of the velvet rope and ushered into the VIP room.

I mentioned to Voss just how difficult it had been for me to gain access to one of their biggest parties of the year - a New Year’s event that included the Perry Twins spinning and Kelly Rowland who snuck in to perform her then current big hit! For weeks after the party it was all I heard about. Sure I was disappointed not to have been there myself, and I suffered having to hear how great an event it was second hand, but Brandon assures me that next time I should just give him a ring. And I might just do that, especially as he and Tony continue to push the envelope of New York City’s club life and re-inspire this city that never sleeps that it now has a reason to look forward to the weekend.


To stay on top of what FV Events has on the calendar especially as the season kicks into high gear goto FV Events website. Fridays belong to Rockit @ District 36, located at 29 West 36th Street b/t 5th and 6th Ave. and Saturdays escape to Club 57 @ Providence, located at 311 West 57th Street.

Stay tuned for details to come on FV Events Gay Pride 2011 on Governors Island!

Native New Yorker JC Alvarez is a pop-culture enthusiast and the nightlife chronicler of the club scene and its celebrity denizens from coast-to-coast. He is the on-air host of the nationally syndicated radio show "Out Loud & Live!" and is also on the panel of the local-access talk show "Talking About".


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