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Verboten’s Assent: A first look at New York’s Verboten nightspot


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Last year New York sadly saw some legendary Manhattan venues close with Sullivan Room and National Underground  shutting their doors to the dismay of many involved in the scene here in New York. There was hope for the future however as the year also saw the opening of Sankeys, Output, and Marquee which all have been featuring massive lineups that never seem to disappoint. There aren’t too many elite underground artists that have not played one of these venues at least once in the past year.

The New York City underground dance music scene has always been known for featuring great artists known throughout the world solely for their music. As soon as the finicky New York clubgoers start to become bored and vie for bigger and better, a new venue and new promoter comes into town and astonishes and amazes.

Many venues, many promoters, many artists have come to New York and tried to last in the continuously growing and insanely competitive club scene but rarely continue to hustle past a few years. John Perez, Jen Schiffer, and The Verboten Team have seemed to be able to find a formula that works and week after week has managed to pack out the top venues in NYC. That formula seems to be not just one or two headliners that might be seen headlining in Ibiza, but sometimes three or four. This year he decided to make his Verboten brand a permanent fixture in New York by opening a nightclub of the same name.

Located literally right around the corner from Output, Verboten has no signage and you might have trouble finding the actual entrance at first but after asking one of the bouncers outside, you know you are at the right place. The staff are very welcoming and friendly which can sometimes be all too rare to find at a New York nightclub. Once you get inside, you immediately feel the underground vibe with the tall long doors and the remnants of an old warehouse. Turn around and look up and you could be in an old train station or a German airport with a digital screen that constantly flips squares announcing the upcoming lineups.

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When first arriving, the main floor was closed due to the hosting of a burlesque show prior to the main nighttime event which forced me into the side room. It was then that I noticed the extensive detail and fine touches that have been considered in regards to each and every aspect of Verboten. From the lightning bolt light fixture hanging above the bar to the Verboten logos strategically placed throughout the venue, Verboten have spent their time putting minute touches into the entire club including the high narrow bathroom doors towards the back of the side room. The bar is located on the right hand side and on the left you find an elevated walkway donned with tables and seats along the wall that fill up quickly as patrons enter the nightclub. Look up and you’ll see some oddly placed disco balls that strategically reflect light onto the fairly spacious wooden dance-floor.

Enter into the main room and you notice that this club was meant for nothing but dancing. There are no obstacles in the way and you have a clear view straight to the DJ booth. Located on the far left is a relatively long bar serving average priced drinks and located to the far right are the restrooms. Walk forward towards the DJ booth and you’ll notice another elevated walkway shaped like a horseshoe that reaches behind the DJ booth and allows the staff to move quickly back and forth from their quarters to the tables and caters towards VIP and bottle service clients.

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At the start of the night as the crowd increasingly grew, the side room played host to some melodic Deep House that was the perfect way to open a room. The crowd were as friendly and forgiving as the staff  were prompt and attentive. Eventually the main room opened its doors and the crowd fluctuated back and forth to the groovy beats of Manik. Manik started off with some deeper stuff and then transistioned into some heavier techy beats with an old school Hip Hop flair. Noticeable above the DJ booth and on the side of the walls were 3 single screen projectors projecting the notable Verboten symbol that was ubiquitous throughout the venue  and I was informed will soon be combined with additional projectors to create a 3D mapping effect.

Following Manik’s opening set was TEED otherwise known as Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs who played a phenomenal set. By this time of the night the crowd was very dense but not to the point where you couldn’t still get your groove on and dance to the phenomenal music. TEED played some familiar tracks such as his remix of Disclosure’s F For You which had the crowd vibing as if they were together as one.

To top off the night, Josh Wink came on and rocked the early morning playing rare Tech House gems that only Josh Wink would play. His defined sound produced sensations that caused everyone to subconsciously move their bodies and feet and overcome their minds with a multitude of emotions. The music from start to finish was non-relenting and the crowd was full of Brooklynites, Europeans, South Americans, Asians, for a cosmopolitan mix of people with an international edge.

Never failing to disappoint, the widely acclaimed Verboten brand did not fall short of satisfaction in all aspects with their brand new nightclub. With lineups featuring Justin Martin, Catz N Dogz, Ida Engberg, Agoria, Chromeo, Andhim, Speedy J, Matthias Tanzmann, and countless others booked in to play the club soon I highly doubt they will fail to deliver auditory vindication anytime for the foreseeable future. We Love NYC!

Photos: Alex Bershaw

Grahame Farmer

Grahame Farmer’s love affair with electronic music goes back to the mid-90s when he first began to venture into the UK’s beloved rave culture, finding himself interlaced with some of the country’s most seminal club spaces. A trip to dance music’s anointed holy ground of Ibiza in 1997 then cemented his sense of purpose and laid the foundations for what was to come over the next few decades of his marriage to the music industry.

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