New Venues Breathe Life into Hamptons Club SceneMay 12, 2011 By: Sean Evans
The Hamptons nightlife scene always has been likened to musical chairs. A set number of workable venues with a finite number of operators — all hailing from New York City — has been the norm, each merely rotating through seasonally. Slight changes are welcome, but by the end of the summer, everyone’s been everywhere, seen everything and is ready for something fresh and new. This summer, they’ll finally get it: There are some legitimately new faces and spaces in the Eastern end of New York State.
Nightlife veteran Mark Baker’s new spot, The Elm, is located in South Hampton where the Polish Social House was situated previously.
“This is the UN of nightclubs,” Baker laughs as he outlines his partners. “On board are Daniel and Derek Koch of MPD and Day and Night Party fame, Rocco Ancorla from LAVO, and David Sherman and Jenni Norberg from Bunker Club. That nightlife-savvy group looked at the landscape and tried to give the Hamptons what they thought was missing: a super sexy New York-style lounge. Something beautiful and classy which has a nightclub feel, but will cater to upscale professionals within the arts and entertainment crowd, as opposed to the scores of sharehouse kids that were frequenting the clubs.”
Included in that lounge-y vision is a 5,000-square-foot restaurant upstairs — helmed by the Koch brothers (who we hear will be featuring their Champagne-drenched brunch bashes on the weekends (see my article "Soaking the Oak Room") — and a 4,000-square-foot retreat downstairs, where well-heeled guests will find a gaming room with a pool table and the feel of an English gentleman’s club or study.
“We wanted a mature feel,” Baker says, “But we also put in a stage for live entertainment and will be mixing up the tone of the room.”
This means revelers will be treated to burlesque dancers, among other performances. The bacchanalian feel is something Baker, et al., are purposely striving for.
“We’re putting sexy back in the Hamptons,” he laughs.
Also opening its doors in South Hampton is South Pointe, formerly known as The Tavern. While the building may not be new — it’s been purposed for nightlife for years — the interior is, thanks to a $600K facelift. And the people manning the South Pointe ship are new to ownership. Party-promoting gurus Jon Schwartz and Ben Grieff are stepping beyond their previous roles to take over a venue all their own.
“A majority of going out in the Hamptons was a tug of war. It was always a competitive business thing,” Grieff explains, adding that he was running one top hot spot last year while Schwartz had an integral hand in a competing establishment. “Now we’re coming together.”
As for the space itself, it’s the only place in the Hamptons that resembles a bona fide nightclub. Geared toward bottle service for high-end clientele, the club now features an expanded dance floor conducive for getting wild to mashups and electronica musical formats.
“Our goal is to be music-forward,” Schwartz says. “We’ll have a veteran DJ, someone who’s big around the world — think Calvin Harris or Avicii — and then followed by the next big thing.”
With an indoor section comprised of 33 tables and an outdoor, cabana-based space meant to evoke a vacation feel, the layout is spacious.
“We didn’t want any tables on top of each other,” Schwartz says. “We’re geared toward an older clientele, aged 27 to 60, who’ll be more likely to spend more if they’re happier and comfortable.”
“This is not a place where you can buy your way in,” Grieff adds. “We’re aiming for a great-looking smaller group vs. a ton of people who’re scrounging and scrimping money to put enough money together for a table. We want that elite crowd.”
Ask the duo about their competition across the town (The Elm) and their response is quick and complimentary.
“We truthfully hope everyone does well,” Schwartz says. “We just want to do well too. There’s enough pie to go around.”