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Venue for 35-and-Up Crowd to Play '70s, '80s and '90s Jams — but no 'Noise'

By Maya Rajamani | January 9, 2017 8:40am
 The space at 161 W. 23rd St., where Wittels hopes to open his venue.
The space at 161 W. 23rd St., where Wittels hopes to open his venue.
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DNAinfo/Maya Rajamani

CHELSEA — When Jeff Wittels hears house music blaring at many of the city’s popular nightlife venues, all he hears is “noise.”

“I’m in the city all the time, I go out, you go into a space, you have music, everyone’s 20 to 25 years old," he said. “Where are the places where everyone 35-plus is going?”

A yet-to-be-named venture he hopes to open at 161 W. 23rd St., between Sixth and Seventh avenues, will cater to just that demographic.

The venue will offer a mix of live and recorded music from the '70s, '80s and '90s, in addition to Broadway tunes and some modern songs, he said.

“This has been a lifelong dream for me, to open a place like this,” said Wittels, who declined to give his age, but acknowledged that he is over 35.

“Since the days of the '70s, and '80s, and '90s are gone, all that’s left in the city are 20- to 25-year-old-[centric] hip-hop clubs, which no one my age is interested in going to,” he added.

Wittels, who has been in the wine business for more than two decades, owned a music entertainment company in the '70s and '80s that provided DJ services for private parties throughout the city, he said.

He and his son, a Los Angeles-based musician, have been scouring for new talent to bring into the 23rd Street venue.

Recently, Wittels has been working with a few '70s and '80s cover bands that “are just amazing,” he said.

“I’m just excited about bringing back some of the music from the '70s, '80s and '90s and having people go out and be able to enjoy it again… instead of going out and hearing house music where you don’t know what’s going on,” he said.

“I personally like to hear vocals — people actually singing something."

Two Instagram pages he runs — RetroClubNYC and VocalClubNYC — give future patrons a sense of what they can expect from the venue, he noted.

The space, which was previously home to Meridian 23, will serve wine, beer, “creative-type drinks” and small plates, pending liquor license approval, he said.

While Wittels doesn’t plan to turn away 20-something patrons, the venue will cater to “people who might be interested in having a nice glass of wine, [or] a martini, versus sitting there and drinking 100 shots out of a bottle,” he said.

It won’t be a “stand-at-the-door-and-wait-to-get-picked type club,” nor a “celebrity hip-hop club where you wait outside the door with 100 people,” he added.

“It’s not the boisterous, 25-year-olds drinking shots and throwing up outside,” he said. “It’s the furthest thing away from that that you can imagine.”