Sometimes you want to go where everybody
knows your name, as the song says, but did you ever think that
place would be a nightclub?
That’s just what managing partners Troy Carson and Garry Hannon are planning for the Williamsburg dance club currently known as Luxx: a kind of gay Cheers with dancing and DJs. As of Oct. 25, Luxx will close its doors, and two weeks later Grand Central, a gay dance club, will blossom in its place.
Luxx opened two years ago, developing a loyal following among neighborhood residents and Manhattan visitors alike.
"There was nothing there then, nothing geared toward upper middle class hipsters," says club designer Eben Luxx. "It was a music and dance venue open to all kinds of underground music. Anything that was non-mainstream, as weird and interesting as possible."
The club was home to DJ Larry Tee’s dance parties that helped launch the new music/fashion/art movement known as electroclash. Electroclash’s label became so popular that Larry Tee was often pulled away, but he supports this next phase.
"I think it’s incredibly positive," he says. "Williamsburg is a melting pot of different kinds of people and it’s important for our community that there be somewhere to go for gay people."
The new venue, Grand Central, named for Grand Street, its central Williamsburg location, and because they hope to be as busy as the venerable Manhattan terminal, will continue to cater to electroclash fans, but at the same time, they’ll be reaching out to the ever-growing gay population in Williamsburg, and redefining the club’s mission. The plan is to create a neighborhood atmosphere inside.
"It can be a nightmare ordering a drink at Luxx," says Troy. "We want people to come in and have the bartenders know who they are."
Not everything will change at the new club. Some of that weird and interesting decor will stay. Eben Luxx describes the look as "tripped out ’60s space strip club." With glitter bars that alight in different colors, a disco jail, crown-shaped DJ booth and mirror balls that undulate along the wall and ceiling seams, Eben had everything custom made - even the vinyl wallpaper in orange and silver zigzags.
"The concept behind the design is altered perception. I want to feel like I left reality even while I’m drinking club soda."
"We’re getting rid of the wallpaper," admits Troy. "It gives you a headache." But he points out that the club was smartly designed for easy makeovers: the wallpaper is removable. Club crowds grow restless easily, and variety - both cosmetically and musically - is key to running a successful club.
Word of the impending change is out in the neighborhood, and Troy and Garry say the buzz is mostly positive. But they’ve heard a few unkind rumors lurking about, that the club-to-be will displace longtime Luxx patrons, and that a gay nightclub will alienate newcomers.
"Part of the problem is that some people think gay means only one thing, one kind of place," says Garry. Williamsburg is a diverse neighborhood, mixing Polish families with stockbrokers, industrial workers and artists, and the new club, they say, will be open to all.
"The only people displaced will be people who want straight rock and roll bands," says Troy. But that doesn’t mean the new club won’t have rock. Like its predecessor, the new club will offer a wide array of musical entertainment. They’ll host live bands three to four nights a week, along with dance parties that combine rock, electroclash, ’80s music and more.
"It could go from Madonna to Jane’s Addiction to the Chili Peppers to Donna Summer in a row," says Troy.
"We want to make Williamsburg a destination," says Garry. "We’re going to support local artists, put on fashion shows, installations, keep it in the neighborhood." They point out that there are plenty of great places to see live music in Williamsburg, but none of them have a cabaret license.
If some residents are skeptical, it doesn’t bother Troy. He received the same reaction when he decided to start a neighborhood gay bar.
"When I opened Metropolitan, everybody said you couldn’t do it. And now we’re about to celebrate our one-year anniversary."
Metropolitan is in part the model for this next phase of Luxx. The bar, situated on Lorimer Street between Metropolitan Avenue and Devoe Street, feels both like an Elks lodge with its cozy fireplaces and an East Village hangout with its jukebox and funky light fixtures. Patronage is split down the middle, between men and women, and you can find gay and straight bar-goers alike inside.
"We want it to have the atmosphere of Metropolitan, but in a nightclub," says Troy. "We say it’s a bar for gays, lesbians and their straight friends."
Larry Tee says, "I think it will be a smash hit."
Performers interested in Grand Central should contact Garry and Troy at Metropolitan, 559 Lorimer St. between Metropolitan Avenue and Devoe Street in Williamsburg, at (718) 599-4444 or at Luxx, 256 Grand St. between Roebling Street and Driggs Avenue in Williamsburg, at (718) 599-1000. For more information, go to www.clubluxx.net. Luxx will shut down Oct. 25 and reopen as Grand Central around Nov. 8.