NYC’s New XL: Can All-Gay, 7-Night Superclubs Still Pack Crowds?
Apparently size does matter. After taking a subtly quiet leave of absence from the club scene, super-producers John Blair and Beto Sutter have returned ready to reinvigorate -and redesign - the landscape of New York City nightlife. The two don't do anything small. Introducing XL at The Out NYC - 42nd Street's new urban resort and playground. Times Square just got a boost of 5-Hour energy!
The men behind the legendary nights that catapulted The Roxy to near mythic levels were promising a clubland revolution unlike anything that had been seen in the new millennium. When word began circulating that they had settled on a Midtown location that would bridge Chelsea with its more hotly evolving northern zip code, Hell's Kitchen, everyone waited with baited breath for the opening of The Out NYC - a combination gay resort, featuring ample opportunity to dine, dish and party.
For a brief period many suspected Blair and Sutter could have bitten off more than they could chew with such an ambitious endeavor, especially in the midst of this doubly challenging economy. Enter the boys at FV Events, who eagerly merged their brands with The Out rocketing the launch of the new "NYC nightlife experience" - just in time for the cataclysm to come.
But XL is more than just a local club. If it succeeds, its influence will be far reaching. The age of the dedicated gay mega-club began with Paradise Garage and the Saint in New York and then spread to clubs such as Nation (Washington, D.C.), the Probe (Los Angeles) and Salvation in Miami.
But changing tastes in music, the larger culture, gay men's lifestyle and especially real estate eventually doomed such space-hungry spaces. That's why XL presents both risk and opportunity. Is there a need for a large dance club that's gay seven nights a week? Will the crowds return? Have people been waiting for a big space that "everyone" goes to? Or have we become more comfortable sitting in front of our electronic devices?
Whatever the answer, Beto Sutter and John Blair deserve praise for dismissing the naysayers. A year or so ago, Blair compared this project to the film "Field of Dreams" in a conversation with my editor-in-chief. "If you build it, they will come." Maybe. But first, let's see what makes this such a spectacular return to the Studio 54 days.
"RockIt" Docks on Friday Nights
XL finally opened with all the pomp and circumstance you would expect from a the city that ignited the club crawler culture with Studio 54 and everything that came after. Brandon Voss and Tony Fornabaio bid farewell to their former residency at Crimson in the Flatiron District and brought the distinctive Friday night party "RockIt" into XL. Appropriately the gathered menagerie that came out to represent the elite of NYC’s nightlife added to XL’s interplanetary modern design.
With its multiple decks and neon laser-like monitoring systems the starkly lit maze-like interior of XL feels like you’ve come aboard an orbiting space station with a promenade where revelers gather before deciding to grab a drink at the front lounge bar or beeline for the massive interior dance floor.
The main dance floor which will host the signature Saturday nights we’ve come to revel and expect from Blair is afforded every big-room state-of-the-art feature you can ask - top-of-the-line lighting system syncopated to the beats of the city’s grandest sound experience, and an expansive hi-def video monitor that lines and highlights the back wall. It could well be the envy of Gotham City’s Caped Crusader. Batman’s got nothing on this visual extravagance that will be the center of it all at XL for many Saturday nights to come.
It’s All About the Music...
If you’re looking for a new place to kick up your heels, XL has arrived, and except for astronomically expensive drinks offered at each filling station, affordable only to privileged trust fund babies, New York’s heart will be beating with new life at 512 West 42nd Street for a long time. XL’s allure will have little to do with wetting the whistle when its purpose is to quench the thirst of the dehydrated dance floor circuit - it’s all about the music.
There’s something inexplicably nostalgic and comforting at seeing John Blair taking his laps around the new floor plan, similarly to how the producer/promoter used to mind and mingle among the masses at The Roxy. It’s an encouraging reflection of what’s been the primary missing ingredient in club culture. The decadence and over-indulgence of the past couldn’t be brushed away, painted over or boarded up - it just needed to be super-sized. In this age of mass-consumption, XL is just the right fit.
XL at The Out NYC is located at 512 West 42 Street, New York City, NY (between 10th and 11th Avenues). (212) 239-2999. Goto www.xlnightclub.com to qualify for your XL Club Card and enjoy the privileges membership has to offer.