NYCas Mega-Clubs are Fighting for Survival

The electronic dance music (EDM) explosion requires the presence of mega-clubs, but most mega-clubs have disappeared. Over the last decade, New York City venues have gotten smaller and smaller; micro-clubs, such as Stash and Bantam, are packed with only 100 people inside. Gone are the 3,000-person-capacity joints, like Crobar/Mansion, Roxy, Palladium, Tunnel and Limelight. The Big Apple now houses only a couple of truly large clubs that can come close to showcasing the superstar DJs of today’s EDM circuit. Large venues rarely feel like clubs; they feel like concert halls. Clubs come with "vibe" — at least they're supposed to.

Pacha and Webster Hall are the last of the city's real mega-clubs, and it doesn't look like more will be built anytime soon — in Manhattan, anyway. Bars, restaurants, lounges and small clubs are blooming like spring flowers; nightlife is thriving, but only in venues that hold less than 1,000 people.

Pacha NYC
Pacha New York is one of the city's last real mega-clubs.

Mega-clubs must supplement their normal revenue streams to survive. Corporate events and concerts from Live Nation support the likes of Pacha and Webster Hall. Pacha even gets involved with events outside of its confines. I sat down to ask Pacha Owner Eddie Dean about his baby.

Nightclub Confidential (NCC): On the eve of the Electric Daisy Carnival in New York, it seems that Pacha is no longer a nightclub but a concept that can be exported to other locations. When did the concept outgrow the nightclub?

Eddie Dean: We've always produced events outside of Pacha (even before there was a Pacha New York). Only now, thanks to the current EDM explosion, these shows are getting bigger and more people are starting to take notice.

NCC: After parties, direct ticket sales, a festival partnership: This seems like a cash cow. Is this sort of revenue stream the answer to increasing operational costs?

Dean: The costs of operating a big nightclub have grown exponentially over the years, but the cover charge that people are willing to pay hasn't increased at the same rate. That’s why there are only two big clubs left in this town. As a stand-alone nightclub, it's getting harder to compete ... we can't pay as high of a fee as these clubs backed by casinos. We can't afford some of the stadium-size DJs that used to play at Pacha, but thanks to our involvement in the [Electric Daisy Carnival], we can still get them for the after party. Afrojack is playing Pacha this Sunday night because he's headlining [the Electric Daisy Carnival].

NCC: You are the brand owner of Pacha North America. I’ve heard you have been given opportunities to expand. Why haven’t you?

Dean: We are not in a rush to expand. New York is a challenging enough market.

We get offers all the time, but the Pacha brand has a 40-year history, which we are very protective of. It has to be the right situation. When it comes along, I think we will know it.

NCC: What is next? Where can this go?

Dean: This is not a bubble; as big as it has grown, we are only beginning to scratch the surface. I believe that eventually DJs will take their place amongst the top celebrities and entertainers in the world. Already, DJs are outdrawing some of the more established bands and musical acts on tour, and this, my friends, is only the beginning.

NCC: Which DJs are flying under the radar, almost ready to break on through to the other side?

Dean: I love Shermanology. R3hab is a beast. Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano are two of my favorites, and Thomas Gold is another who comes to mind as the next big thing.

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