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Upper West Side's Only Nightclub Dances Alone

By Leslie Albrecht | November 11, 2011 6:46am

UPPER WEST SIDE — Life can be lonely when you own the Upper West Side's only nightclub.

There are no other club owners to swap ideas with, no one who can commiserate about the challenges of running a nightlife venue in a neighborhood that increasingly values stroller parking over a hot dance scene.

"It's lonely," says Marc Glazer, owner of Columbus 72 dance club. "I really wish there were more lounges up here. Right now the hot nightlife neighborhoods are the Meatpacking District and the Lower East Side."

Aside from providing more peers for Glazer, a bustling nightlife scene would also boost business for Columbus 72, because clubgoers generally like to hop from venue to venue, he said. Despite its isolation, Columbus 72, named for its location on Columbus Avenue and West 72nd Street, has managed to survive since its 2006 opening.

But only a small percentage of Columbus 72's clientele comes from the Upper West Side; most customers travel from other parts of Manhattan and as far away as the Bronx and Queens. Glazer's is the only cabaret license on the Upper West Side, according to the city's Department of Consumer Affairs. 

"Unfortunately most of the Upper West Side doesn't know we're here," Glazer said.

The club has DJs in two dance rooms, bottle service, and a "casual but neat" dress code. On Friday nights it hosts an after-work Latin Fusion dance party from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. with live Latin bands and DJs playing bachata, merengue, Brazilian, reggaeton, R&B, hip-hop, salsa, Top 40 and classic dance tunes.

The club has also found a niche hosting bar and bat mitzvah parties.

Those kid-friendly events are a far cry from what was happening in the Columbus 72 space back in the 1980s. Back then it was the nightclub Trax, where Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall were once photographed by pioneering paparazzo Ron Galella.

Just a few blocks away was the swingers' club Plato's Retreat in the basement of the Ansonia on West 73rd Street and Broadway, which was preceded by the gay disco the Continental Baths.

But times have changed and so have zoning laws. Cabaret licenses are now only granted in major commercial areas, says Glazer, which effectively makes opening a new dance club in residential areas like the Upper West Side impossible. Columbus 72's license was grandfathered in years ago.

Glazer, a 56-year-old nightlife veteran, got his first night club job in the early 1980s at Bond International Casino, a Times Square club that's a movie theater today. He later worked at the Palladium, the club Steve Rubell opened after Studio 54.

When the opportunity to take over Columbus 72 came up, Glazer seized the chance to open a business he could walk to from his West 83rd Street home. Today his two sons, Paul and Jason, work at the club with him.

Glazer, who's a member of Community Board 7, calls himself an advocate for nightlife. He says it's an economic booster that often gets a bum rap. Neighbors gave him a "hostile reception" when he first opened the club, Glazer said, but he says things have gone smoothly since. Police at the 20th Precinct say they've responded to one major crime at the club in the last year — a stolen handbag.

"People like to dance," Glazer said. "It has a stigma right now that a dance club is a den of iniquity. But it doesn’t have to be. Responsible operators can run very responsible clubs."

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