The nightclub industry essentially sells air and booze. Spaces have "normal" operating hours that begin around 10PM and, depending on local law, end in the wee hours of the following day. Spaces sit dormant for more hours than they are operating in most cases which is why the restaurant/club hybrid is so attractive. Clubs seek revenues from off hour events such as photo shoots, film shoots, meetings and the all-important corporate events. A club may spend money on design features which are hidden during the crowded night but very visible when party planners tour the room. Floors rarely seen when people are dancing must glisten during a daytime tour. The November/December holiday season is crucial to the yearly bottom line. Some places do well with after work parties while some are able to host brunches where bottle service rivals night time sales.
Jesse Sprague, co-owner and founder, has developed a party called Fuzipop which is for kids and their parents. A DJ is present and everybody dances to electronic music and the latest pop hits. The events typically run from 5 to 7PM allowing clubs to make some money without delaying their evening routine. An added attraction to these events is that they reintroduce young parents into the culture of nightlife which many abandoned to raise their kids. Whether introducing children to that culture is a good, a bad or an ugly idea is surely to be debated. Will this become a national phenomenon, a new and welcome revenue stream?
“We provide a real NYC nightclub experience to families, but during the daytime. Currently, the clubs makes enough to cover their overhead, pay the staff and a little extra from our events,” Sprague explains. “When my son Alden was born we had his first birthday party at Cielo, where I was the GM. It was a party for our "non-parent" friends who we hadn't seen much. As a nightclub veteran & hospitality professional, I was amazed at what a hit the party was from infant, to toddler, to hipster, to fashion industry professional, gay, straight etc. We had 300 people there and the vibe was incredible! It sparked an idea in my head.”
“So, every year we had Alden's birthday in a different club, designed equally for kids as well as parents. It was a way for kids to celebrate with kids, for adults to mingle and socialize with each other, and, for families to share an experience together,” continues Sprague.
Parallel to this, Sprague’s nephew DJ Kai Song was developing his skills and persona as a DJ. He began playing at various events and Alden’s birthday parties. His father, Lars Schlichting (Schlichting and Sprague both married to the Song sisters), is also well connected to NYC nightlife and EDM. Therefore, on many levels it made sense for the four of them to partner on Fuzipop.
On a personal level Sprague and his wife wanted to inspire kids to incorporate music, dance and art into their lives through these birthday parties. Then, one day Sprague was told, “you should do this professionally,” and the rest was history.
One may wonder how clubs are convinced to allow such a party. “With our backgrounds we are able to put together proposals that make sense to club owners,” Sprague says as he addresses this concern. “And yes, event insurance is a must.”
“We are not competing for prime hours since our events are during the day. Why not earn additional revenue during non-traditional hours?” They also, introduce a new clientele to the venue and generate good PR in the community. We provide some additional activities for the kids like performances by professional dancers.”
While this is a place for families and children, it would seem that Fuzipop is a great place for single moms and dads to interact and possibly start relationships. While Sprague agrees that it is a great place for single moms and dads to meet each other, that was not in the original thought process when Fuzipop was created. “Our parties are designed equally for adults and children. Parents deserve to go out and have a good time, parenting is a tough job.”
As Fuzipop’s concept develops, needs change which also means venue capacity changes as well. “There are a small handful of clubs that are ideal for us and we will be reaching out to them as we take these events to the next level in 2014.” Sprague explains that New York has great venues with incredible design, sound and lighting that work perfectly with Fuzipop. Due to production requirements for different events, it is necessary to find an accommodating club that will fit the concept for that particular party.
Along with their developing concept, the team at Fuzipop takes great measures to make sure the space is ready and safe for children. The club is cleaned top to bottom, inside and out and a thorough inspection is done before the kid’s arrival. All children that enter the club must be companied by an adult and vice versa. “In addition to our large staff there are security guards at every entrance/exit. We look for partners who understand our need to create a safe, clean environment for the kids.”