Updated at 1 pm on 11/14/08
"I'm not going to wait any more in this ridiculous line just to stand on bamboo floors!" A frustrated would-be clubgoer exclaimed as she gave up trying to get in the door at Greenhouse, the hot new "green nightclub" that opened last night in lower New York City (150 Varick Street).
It's exciting that Greenhouse is finally coming to life, since we've been hearing about it for more than a year. In the Soho address that long played home to underground house Saturday-night event Club Shelter (and may still play host, when Shelter reopens soon), Greenhouse is a bilevel, 6,000-square-foot space that is the first New York nightlife destination seeking LEED certification for green.
As the New York Post puts it, "That means that everything from building materials and garbage disposal, energy and water usage, has to be regulated and reduced. With walls made of sustainable bamboo instead of wood and LED lightbulbs that use just one-thirtieth of the energy of regular incandescent bulbs, the space cost 40 percent more to build than a traditional club."
Greenhouse is also said to buy wind power credits worth 100% of its energy needs, and has waterless urinals and low-flow toilets to save an estimated 15,000 gallons annually. Uniforms are made by the stylish, eco- and socially responsible Edun, of Bono's wife (Ali Hewson) fame. (I showed up wearing my new Edun shirt, picked out by my friendly green fashion advisor [and TDG blogger] the Eco-Chick.)
Greenhouse will offer $375 bottles of yummy green 360 Vodka (to those of you not from New York, bottle service is a fixture on the nightlife scene, just watch out for bouncers like this. Get 360 and other green booze for normal prices at your local store). Not surprisingly the club will also offer a wide range of conventional beverages, and for high rollers there's said to be a $70,000 Perrier Jouet Fleur de Champagne from France. I'll take two.
According to the Post, the goal of Greenhouse is to encourage peeps to party in a sustainable way, without them necessarily thinking about green issues, at least on the surface. The Rupert Murdoch-owned rag tried to get a few knocks in against green (waterless toilets might smell? Bamboo and beverages have to be shipped?), but to be fair they do have a pretty nice slideshow of the space.
Greenhouse owner Jon B. told E Magazine that he had looked at installing a floor to harvest the energy of moving feet, as other clubs have done around the world, but that he didn't think it made sense for the space.
Greenhouse reps have occasionally been calling their space the first eco-club in the city, which irritates Larry Bloch, founder of the long-shuttered Wetlands Preserve. Opened in the late 80s in New York's Tribeca, Wetlands was a popular rock club that boasted energy efficiency and other green features, and which inspired many through it's integrated activism center. Bloch told URTH Guy over the phone that he appreciates the enthusiasm behind Greenhouse, and wishes them well. He cautioned people to remember that there have been other eco-clubs before however, including Wetlands but also in Europe. "It's better to present who you are and what you're doing without having to add some inaccurate and misleading hyperbole," he said.
Outside Greenhouse last night was assembled the city's regular nightlife crowd, including European and Middle Eastern pretty boys, girls wearing undergarments on top of outergarments, kids in ironic spiked hair and side-cocked ball caps, a woman or two in fur and some dude who looked like Ali G. Pro promoters sweet talked and hustled their way inside, various "clients" in tow. A couple of guys who looked very LA refused to back away from the velvet ropes, and had to be pushed aside by a beefy bouncer.
Going in and out of the club was a steady stream of construction workers carrying drills, toolboxes and other gear, as the space was obviously not yet finished (this was truly a soft launch). The word on the street, literally, was that workers had finished installing the glass in the front windows just minutes before VIPs started showing up (and not in green cars, from what I could tell).
It seems the club's goal of being green without being crunchy or preachy was met last night. The crowd was completely different from the usual suspects that show up at NYC green events (including at green drinks). It's possible the club's eco-friendly trappings may seep into clubgoer's sweaty pores over time, especially as successful clubs are known to influence the influencers. Greenhouse is, after all, literally covered with real leaves (treated with flame retardants -- not sure if they offgas or not).
If things go well there are supposed to be more Greenhouse spots opening around the country, and there are already a number of other green clubs, from Temple in San Fran to Beta in Denver and Butterfly Social Club in Chicago.
Why didn't I actually go inside the club? Guess URTH Guy doesn't have enough respek. Due to the ongoing construction, according to the muscle outside, the number of people let in was limited. Soft launch indeed.
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