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District 36

District 36

The New York Times 12/15/2010


IS the democratic dance warehouse of the 1980s and ’90s back? That’s the bold ambition behind District 36, a new 14,800-square-foot dance club in the garment district that’s trying to recall the days when Paradise Garage and the Sound Factory dominated New York night life.

On a recent Saturday night — or early Sunday morning — a long line of shivering clubgoers in pea coats stretched down the block, past rows of darkened aluminum shutters. Downstairs, on the throbbing dance floor bombarded by 12-foot-high speakers, hordes of house and electronica music heads danced, each in his own fashion. Arms flailed, fists were pumped and old-school moves — house stepping, liquid movement and glow-sticking (sans glow stick) — were busted. In the center hung a disco ball so large it would make Ian Schrager blush.

THE PLACE The club occupies a former garment warehouse on an inglorious stretch of West 36th Street near Herald Square. The two floors have been carved into various circles of exclusivity, but everything revolves around the dance floor, which is bathed in red, blue and green lights. Even if you don’t want to dance, the wattage forces you to tremble like a divining rod.

THE CROWD Clubgoers fall broadly into two camps: those looking to get their dance on (T-shirts, light jeans and trainers) and those looking for a mate (open collar, open sleeves, stripes). The serious club dancers, the kind you find in discos all over Europe, seem to be making up for lost time. Maybe 75 percent are men, and they are intent on losing themselves in the never-ending beats.

PLAYLIST Strictly dance music. The current D.J. lineup features some of the brightest names in house music today, including Nick Warren and Dave Seaman from England, and Magda and Marc Houle, the minimalist techno demigods from Berlin.

GETTING IN After a disastrous opening night in late November when many were denied entry, the door has become more egalitarian. Pretty much anyone who braves the long line and the airport-worthy frisk is welcomed.

DRINKS Cocktails are for lounge lizards. The drinks of choice are Red Bull ($6) and Poland Spring bottled water ($5). Still, there is a full bar, though everything is served in plastic cups.

District 36, 29 West 36th Street; (212) 244-3636; Open Friday and Saturday nights (doors open at 10). The entry fee ranges from $20 to $40; it’s usually cheaper before midnight.