THE FEW, THE FABULOUS
By JULIA CHAPLIN
The New York Times
April 20, 2003
NEW YORK CITY may have only 300 people left who want to get dressed up and dance to house music all night. But that is exactly the point at Cielo, a dance club that opened in the meatpacking district in the West Village in January "” especially when a portion of the clientele appears to be South American models.
Unlike so many of the big clubs that have closed down recently, Cielo seems more tailored to the times, like a private party hidden from the uninvited. On a recent Saturday evening, men lined up outside Cielo under an old sign that said: "Nyack Meat Co. Turkeys any size." There was no cover charge or guest list.
The only way in: be "friends" with one of the owners or be selected by the doorman as an "interesting character." Inside, it felt like the private disco of a 1970's international playboy. The walls and ceilings were covered with biomorphic foam tubes upholstered with retro brown ultrasuede, interspersed with plexiglass tubes of amber light. Patrons had little choice but to interact with strangers; besides a sunken dance floor in the middle of the room with a disco ball and a small smoking area in the garden outside, there was nowhere to go.
"I wanted the space to feel safe and cozy to counteract all the anxiety in the world," said the designer, Stephane Dupoux, who also did Pearl and Nikki Beach Club in Miami Beach.
In keeping with its private party ambience, the owners of Cielo don't seem to care about pleasing anyone besides their friends. The D.J.'s don't spin any Top 40 hip-hop or rock, only house music with a Latin twist. (Cielo frequently brings in big-name D.J.'s like Tony Humphries and Brian Tappert but doesn't advertise.) "Because we're so small, we don't have to let anyone in who might ruin the vibe," said Nicholas Matar, an owner and D.J.
At 2 on a recent Sunday morning, D.J. Pippi, of the nightclub Pacha in Ibiza, Spain, was spinning. Models in the latest designer gear were dancing alongside a crowd decked out in fedoras and cowboy hats with suits.
Claudia Oyanedel, 26, a model from Chile who is with the Elite agency, had just arrived. "New York really needed a place like this," she said. Nearby, Fabian Basabe, 25, and Cynthia Moureto, 25, were salsa dancing as if they were contestants on "Dance Fever."
"My only complaint," said Mr. Basabe, who grew up in Ecuador, "there's no podium for me to get up and dance on."
Wasn't sure where to post this as it doesn't exactly qualify under the "nightclub crackdown" forum. This little club sounds intriquing ....