During fall fashion week, everyone seemed to start at one event then end up at Up&Down. The club has seen crowds into the thousands swarm 14th Street, so many people that the NYPD were seen clearing the sidewalk. On Saturday, BULLETT joined the Up&Down crew for another party after the previous night’s Lil Kim soiree.
By 2am the VIP section behind the DJ booth was slammed with Travi$ Scott’s crew of precious ladies and dapper gentlemen. DJs Jus Ske and Daniel Chetrit traded rap beats while a hype man worked the crowd. Designer Heron Preston passed by headed to the elevated VIP area, but was pulled up to the performance perch by Scott himself, before the young Houston rapper grabbed the mic.
Scott bantered with the crowd. He jumped up on top of the DJ booth. He started performing, and the center of the dance floor quickly became fashion week’s wildest mosh pit. At times he seemed precariously close to jumping in the crowd à la Iggy Pop, grabbing the ceiling to stable his balance.
“I don’t do club shows! But I’ll fuck with Michael Goldberg any day!” Scott yelled.
Goldberg is the director of marketing at Butter Group, the $50 million-a-year hospitality machine that runs the 1OAK and Butter franchises. Many know Butter Group as Richie Akiva, Ronnie Madra, and Scott Sartiano’s empire. The duo started in the ’90s promoting at Club Life. This 1997 New York Magazine profile “Caution: These Kids are About to Blow Up” has one of the best opening scenes ever:
Puffy swings into the VIP room of Life around 2 A.M., looking very Fantasy Island. He and Andre Harrell and their bodyguards are decked out in glowing white suits; the girl they’ve brought along to dance at their table wears white leather.
Puffy looks around for a table, but there aren’t any available. The VIP room’s crammed with kids, all moving to his music: “What you wanna do?” Puffy’s asking them. “Wanna be brawlers, shot-callers, ballers — ?”
Just then, out of the crowd comes a short, wiry young man with glasses. His name’s Richie Akiva; he’s just 21, but he’s the host of this party, along with his partners, Justin Salguero and Shawn Regruto. They’re the hosts every Friday at Life…Their parties are the ones winding up in the gossip columns (“they never say our names,” they complain), always full of people like Puffy and Mariah and Mark Wahlberg and Jennifer Lopez and Wesley and Leo.
We all know Puffy is now Diddy, Leo still Leo, but who the fuck is Wesley? Richie and Scott opened their own club, Butter, a few years later. For the next half decade, Butter Mondays was the best club party in New York, where Jigga, Leo and whoever else was famous back then (Wesley?) held court ’til dawn.
Richie and Scott may hold the lease, but Florida native Michael Goldberg, 26, has become the face of Up&Down. The club does New York diversity better than any other venue on downtown’s West Side. And fashion week has proved to be the club’s moment to remind the city why.
“Each night has had its own truly special energy,” Goldberg said. “Every event this week so far has felt very different–each performance has created a special vibe with artists like Kiesza, Lil’ Kim, and Mark Ronson. But I would have to say that the craziest I have seen the club all week was during Travi$ Scott’s performance.”
Last February, Up&Down opened with ragers for Jeremy Scott, Prabal, Rag and Bone, and Galore magazine. Usually, after one season, the fashion scene heads to the next cool club. This year, no fancy new clubs opened and Up&Down was a clear beneficiary. If an informal eye-ball survey of the room is any indicator, there were no less than twenty paying tables in effect. Grosses on a big night at clubs like this can approach the $100,000 range.
“On any given night you never know what to expect,” Goldberg explained with the old night club cliche. But Scott’s was an energetic and raucous performance, the type of set that even made the older crowd turn up. Earlier in the night, fashion dandy and NBA super fan James Goldstein milled about the room. Hotelier Andre Balazs was bouncing around with Die Antwood’s Yo-Landi Vi$$er, leaving kids from Parsons to ask, “Who are those old guys?”
Honestly, BULLETT did not expect Andre Balazs and Jim Goldstein to come see Travi$ Scott and share drinks at our table. But hey, one never knows what will happen at Up&Down, where even club cliches are defied.
Photos by Elliott Brown Jr. Additional reporting by Matthew Grumbach.