By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Since summertime started, several nightlife hallmarks have fallen by the wayside. First there was the demise of the techno Tronic Treatment parties; then the closing of a legendary underground club, Filter 14 (most recently at the Sullivan Room); then the shuttering of lesbian hallmark Meow Mix. And now, Flyer magazine goes under. Somebody pass me a Kleenex or 20I'm having a meltdown.
The worst news first: Filter 14 is gone and is never ever coming back. They had three years left on the lease and the landlord, Starwood Urban Retail (which owns the Sheraton hotels), bought them out last month. The clubwhich over the years hosted DANNY TENAGLIA, HECTOR ROMERO, and SATOSHI TOMIIEhad its last big party on July 20. The space on the far-west end of 14th Street first became famous as Meat, then as Mother, which was the site of many a shenanigan courtesy of CHI CHI VALENTI and other club kids. They made that area more desirable to the masses than the trannie hookers walking the streets had. (Oh wait, there were trannie hookers in the club too! Never mind.) Back in the '90s and even until a few years ago, boss man TOMMY FRAYNE says, "People came down here looking for a grungy club." But now that the meatpacking district is hot and trendy, "they are looking for highly polished lounges. The crowd is no longer looking for what we were offering."
And rock and hip-hop turning into the city's "it" sounds didn't help matters, either. "The closing speaks to the decline in house and dance music," says Frayne. While he'd like to have seen Filter 14 become a landmark for that genre like CBGB is for rock, he says that the closing is "emotionally sad, but rationally it's the right thing to do."
Flyer editor DANIEL SHUMATE can relate to Frayne's situation. The club pamphlet that fits in your pocket is disappearing from record stores, with July as the last issue. When the mag started, nearly six years ago, it was a weekend operation, with original publishers HOSI SIMON, FLORIAN PETER, and Shumate dedicating themselves to the cause.
The zine, which started out in Germany, had branched out over the last few years to include other markets like Chicago, Miami, and Seattle. But Flyer was at its best when it was a local guidebook. The parent company in Germany went under a year ago, and Shumate says that in the last few years the expansion was a "last-ditch effort to turn it around to do something different with it and make it a more national magazine."
But, he says, dance music's declining popularity hurt (as did how the music started sounding so unoriginal). "That was our bread and butter. When we first started it was 'let's make a platform for DJ culture.' At that time, every bar in New York decided it wanted to have a DJ. We helped foster that and helped people weed out the crap. Now, you can go to a bar and hear a DJ, but it's a different kind of music. Dance music isn't what it once was. There's less to write about, but club culture now is hearing FRANZ FERDINAND. To me that's cool and that's still culture. It's not dead, it's just changed. We did an OK job in changing our face. We kind of changed with it."
He added: "New York is a lot of times a precursor to a trend. Three years ago, it started going downhill, people weren't going to big clubs anymore. A lot of them closed. All the rave promoters, I don't know what the hell happened to them. On a national level that's what's happeningL.A., San Francisco, Miami, Chicago have all followed suit."
Now that everyone's totally bummed out, let's accentuate the positive. Though they lost the space at Houston and Suffolkwhich was practically an institutionin mid July, Meow Mix kitties will be sharpening their claws on a brand-new bar on the Lower East Side very soon (the location is still top secret). If all goes as planned, it'll be nicer than the original pussycat palace, but not overly swanky, says owner BROOKE WEBSTER. Also, all the Park Slope ladies can stay in strollerland and go to Webster's other new spot, the Cattyshack, which will be super-big (two floors, 4,000 square feet, with a 1,200-foot outside terrace) and will open in September. Now, that's something to purr about.