Carlos Quirarte and Matt Kliegman, the men behind The Jane Ballroom and The Smile, are poised to launch Westway, their new hipster strip joint. Check out how the bearded kings of nightlife reinvent cool.
Quirarte, 34, and Kliegman, 27, have carved out an exclusive niche in nightlife dominance. From holding court at The Smile (where they regularly host the likes of Terry Richardson and Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte), to throwing tattoo parties in the Hamptons, they hold a warm vibe of hip friendship as tantamount to their success story.
Not too shabby for out-of-towners (Quirarte is from San Francisco, and Kliegman hails from Long Island).
[Their party out east this summer brought out a hip crowd.]
Their grasp on the pulse of nightlife is even more impressive considering that Quirarte started marketing a denim brand and Kliegman began by investing in real estate at J.P. Morgan. The two managed to alchemize that business and marketing acumen into a recipe for cool-in whatever definition they naturally invented.
In the recent WWD Men's Week Issue, that inherent charisma comes with an easy explanation: Quirarte provides an elucidating anecdote about the club Spa, which he loved to frequent just over a decade ago.
"Owning a bunch of destination nightclubs and having magazines ask for your top picks of cool things to do is one of the holy grails of Manhattan manhood. It's the stuff egos and power trips are made of. One of Carlos Quirarte's favorite parties in the late Nineties was at Spa, where the door was guarded by Steve Lewis.'He would point to people and say, 'If you had his head and his body, maybe you could come in,' says Quirarte, who possessed neither ideal but was let in anyway."
Their start: Carlos hosted parties at the Pussycat Lounge, and Kliegman put together bar parties while still an undergrad at NYU.
Their look: Lots of plaid, military boots, vintage cable-knit sweaters, and beards.
These guys may not be your Platonic ideal of nightlife machers when you conjure such an image in your mind, but it might just take that barbate nonchalance and bear-huggy vibe to make these guys the best.
The Future of Cool Strip Joints: New York Gets Gritty Again
All the rage of late has been their hipster stripster joint, Westway--billed as sort of non plus ultra of swank. In short, the improbable hybrid manages to make the whole Bada Bing T&A a bit ironic (or, at least, somewhat tangential) to the drinks and bavardage element of the club dwelling. They're inventing sex and the gritty.
"'The fact that it is a topless, go-go dance place is secondary,' Quirarte told WWD. 'It's the same way that music is sort of in the background. That's how we think of it.'"
They are giving somewhat of a face-lift to the former Westside Gentleman's Club at 75 Clarkson Street: a derelict building on an industrial smattering on West Street. The joint will feature Lucite walls and leather banquettes.
As its official opening approaches, Westway has been a magnet for press attention; T posted an article about Quirarte and Kliegman in which the two listed their favorite strippers (Angelina Jolie for Kliegman and Michelle Monaghan for Quirate). As we noted in December, the name of the club itself comes from an abortive project some 30 years ago that would turn the West Side Highway into a park with an underground highway ensconced beneath. This allusive connection makes Westway a sort of garden of earthly delights.
The New Club Kids
In many ways, Quirarte and Kliegman are a condensation of what the new nightlife entrepreneur should be: agente-provocateurs with business savvy.
This November, the Times included Quirarte and Kliegman in its list of the new club kids; of course, as we analyzed, that description is a complicated one given that the new club kids are less about the drugs and edginess of the raging Michael Aligs. Quirate, Kliegmen, and their generation of nightlife leaders are more polished impresarios- even when they do it dirty as with Westway.
They are inspired by Glamorama, the Bret Easton Ellis novel about '90s club life in the city.
Their Posse And Philosophy
Tight friends include:
Kimball Hastings (of Ralph Lauren)
Chiara Clemente (filmmaker)
Omar Gonzalez (of Focus Features)
Heidi Bivens (stylist)
Nate Lowman (who once dated an Olsen twin),
DJ Matt Creed (who dated Kirsten Dunst),
Justin Theroux (actor-screenwriter)
Scott Campbell (tattoo artist)
"He got Carlos to start a savings account."
But Kliegman may not be the only right-hand guy in Quirarte's coterie; when talking to WWD, Kliegman said,
"Theroux and Quirarte's relationship as a typical bromance. They take long motorcycle rides together and have matching tattoos of the man on Zig-Zag rolling papers, which they show off with pride."
Quirate is dating Mariko Munro, co-director of 303 Gallery:
How Friendship Plays Into Their Philosophy:
Oakazine recently stopped by The Smile, and Quirate explained his vision for the place:
"It's changed. We knew that we wanted to someday have a bar, but for this space we were thinking about a place for our friends. Kind of a home base. We weren't sure how that was gonna function though. I ran retail stores (Earnest Sewn) where people just would come and hang out, but we both knew we wanted to get into the restaurant business. So we decided to combine them both with a tattoo shop. But then we kind of slowly realized that retail and restaurants are two very very separate businesses--it's hard to do both effectively in the same location. Now we are definitely more restaurant."
What's their mission as restaurateurs? To create a warm environment they themselves feel fun and welcoming to friends. That's enough to smile about:
"I think that if we continue to create spaces where we really want to spend our time other people will want to spend time there too. I just want to keep having fun--this is fun for me--and I'll continue to do it till it's not fun anymore. Then we'll figure out what's fun after."
Quirarte lives with Munro in a one-bedroom in the East Village.
Kliegman kicks it in a one-bedroom walk-up in NoLita.
The keepers of hip and innovators of nightlife chic have brewed their own elixir of what it takes to make it in New York City. Their quirky ideas and commitment to service and accommodating environments perfect for their friends make them the get among the so-called 'new club kids.'
We greatly anticipate Westway's official opening.