Cielo Celebrates Its 9th Anniversary: An Interview With Owner Nicolas Matar

by Haute Nights · January 26, 2012

    Consistency is the name of the game in this business, as nightclubs are a dime a dozen in New York City. Once you find your crowd you need to continuously deliver what they want, or another venue will be more than happy to fill that void. Cielo celebrates its 9th anniversary this Saturday. One of the pioneering venues in Meat Packing District, its longevity is a rare feat. In a city in which nightclubs tend to have a short shelf life, nine years is an eternity.

    Its unwavering dedication to providing an environment focused on quality house music and dancing has proven to be a successful formula. The area has become overgrown with bottle service centric venues, catering to the same crowd of scenesters, models, and socialites, but Cielo has never waivered from it’s initial vision and provides a refuge for those looking for a less pretentious, music driven experience.

    The heart and soul of the venue might just be its co-owner and resident DJ Nicolas Matar. Raised by parents heavily involved in the 70’s club scene (his father was an original Studio 54 member). He was exposed to a wide variety of dance music at an early age, and was already a DJ by the time he was 15 years old. Nicolas went on to spin at venues around the world. He was the resident DJ of the legendary venue Pacha in Ibiza from 1993-2001. In 2003, Nicolas opened Cielo and it was an outlet for his passion for deep soulful house music.

    I caught up with Nicolas this week and he answered a few questions.

    HN: Being open for nine years is an incredible accomplishment for a nightclub. What are you doing that your competitors aren't?

    NM: It's all about consistency, sticking to your formula or niche, never deviating even when times are tough, and having one voice.

    HN: Most of the popular nightclubs build their reputation off of being the "hip" place to be, that business model seems to have a rapidly accelerating expiration date and most of these venues only last a couple of years, if that. Your focus on the quality of music seems to be key to your success, why aren't more people adopting this model?

    NM: The reason is that most people in the business are driven by short-term profits instead of having a long-term vision.

    Over the years, numerous people all around the World have tried to "open a Cielo" in various markets. What happens invariably is that they have a lot of investors and owners involved who expect short-term results, and put pressure on the business, which results in deviating from the original plan. Let's face it, sadly enough most people open a club to make money, get laid, get high etc.

    HN: Before Cielo you were the resident DJ at Pacha in Ibiza, which many consider the mecca of EDM-centric nightclubs. What did you learn from your experiences there, and how did that influence the way you run Cielo?

    NM: I was fortunate to be involved at Pacha in Ibiza during the heyday of house music in the 90s. I learned a great deal as a DJ, but also by spending time in the marketing/bookings office and observing how the largest club brand in the world was run… It was a truly invaluable experience on every level that inspired me to open Cielo.

    HN: You've been DJing since you were 15 years old. You've spun at venues all over the world. You've been involved in the EDM scene for a long time. With the growing global culture due to the internet and social media, electronic music is moving into the mainstream in America in a big way. How do you think this will impact the quality of electronic music moving forward?

    NM: We have been waiting for this day in America for 15 years. I am truly elated that this has finally happened. If a small percentage off these kids evolve their tastes over time and start embracing more underground sounds then this will positively affect Cielo long term.

    HN: Nine years is a huge milestone for your venue, how much longer do you think you can keep the place going? What plans, if any, do you have for the future of your brand of nightlife?

    NM: I just renewed my lease last year and got 10 more years… Historically clubs close in NYC because they loose their lease and are forced out. So to answer your question, at least 10 more years. Just look at the jazz club Blue Note, they have been there since 1981 and still going strong. Music aficionados are loyal.

    Cielo celebrates its ninth anniversary this Saturday with a main set by Cassy resident DJ of one of Berlin’s premiere venues Panorama Bar.

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    Sean is a blogger and nightlife promoter at various venues throughout the city. Check out more of his articles and stories at Email Sean: Follow him on twitter @hautenights