Spy Bar, The NYC '90s Trailblazer, Throws A 15 Year Family Reunion Tonight

by BILLY GRAY · February 18, 2010

[Jack Nicholson with Kelly Cole] As clubland takes some overdue steps forward, a crew of nightlife powerhouses will gather at Avenue tonight to take a look back and celebrate the "15 Year Family Reunion" of '90s classic Spy Bar.

Spy Bar was a trailblazer in the nightlife shift from the democratic, but still star-studded megaclubs of the '80s and early '90s to the sleek lounges (hello, Moomba) that defined the Giuliani years.

Although its intimate confines necessitated exclusivity, making it through the door depended not just on deep pockets or model looks, but individuality and that intangible "cool" factor.  In a 2007 Times article trumpeting the arrival of 1 Oak, co-owners Scott Sartiano, Richie Akiva, Jeffrey Jah and Ronnie Madra cited Spy Bar as an inspiration, with the piece noting that:

"They all think there is an energy missing from after-hours New York, that it has gone astray from the days of Spy Bar and Moomba, where transvestites, starving artists and celebrities could rub elbows with a measure of privacy."

Sartiano added that when you ran into someone at Spy Bar during its mid-'90s peak, “you knew they were cool because they got in.”

Starving artists aside, Spy Bar ushered in the era of bottle service, whose clutches the local scene has yet to entirely escape. But Kelly Cole (pictured), co-owner of the 101 Greene Street boîte (now a furniture store) had the good sense to limit the "bottles and models" approach to a VIP room (remember those?).

Funny, considering Spy Bar was one of the few places white hot enough to make a VIP room redundant.

This 15 year family renunion held at Avenue will be hosted by Noah Tepperberg, Mike Williams, Jason Strauss, Danny A, Wass Steven, King, Chris Barish, Dustin Yellin, Cort Felske, Kelly Cole, Donovan Leitch, and Lizzie Grubman.