New York City nightlife would not be what it is without Nur Khan, the man behind A-list destinations over the years like Sway, Hiro and Rose Bar. Khan revamped the short-lived rock club Don Hill's. It was hot--and filled with hot Manhattan elite--while it lasted. With Paul Sevigny, Khan opened the trendy Kenmare last year. And now, he's at it again with Electric Room, the new cozy basement lounge at the Dream Downtown. We talked to the nightlife impresario about his new anglophile-esque hangout spot, his hidden talents and what he likes to eat late night.
Tell us about your hot new place The Electric Room. What is the concept and what kind of atmosphere have you created?
I was thinking "Cool Brittania" vibe. UK circa mid-nineties when the art scene was really breaking and so was the music scene (ie. Oasis, Blur, Radiohead, Pulp, Elastica. All this great music and art! I wanted to recreate the vibe of the time visually and with the art and furniture, a reminder of great times I can barely remember when we were all hanging out back then [Laughs]. It's kind of a mixed atmosphere of several of my previous venues. High end, but edgy high end, that can start as a sexy cool lounge and turn into a fun rocking night as the evening shapes on. Great music with a british twist as I have always had in all my bars--It's a great lounge and let down your hair and have fun type of place.
What are some of the details and personal touches that create the vibe at Electric Room?
I created these back-painted mirrors with British images. The mirrors are between the banquette columns. British girls kissing with bobbie cop hats on, a Buckingham palace guard with anarchy symbol on his back, Sid Vicious, sexy girl on vespa with a union jack helmet--those are the mirrors/art I had custom made. I have a neon sign that says "all evil things." It was actually handwritten by Rene Ricard on artist Francesco Clemete's studio wall in the eighties.
You are also an owner of Kenmare Restaurant which also has a downstairs lounge. How do your nightlife and restauranteur experiences compare?
I take great pride in both. we have a fantastic restaurant with great food. My chef Gilbert Delgado has worked side by side with 4-star Mark Ladner and Michelin-rated April Bloomfield amongst others. He's really got a great style and great food! I eat there every night. Then you can go downstairs and have a completely different vibe. It really feels downtown and everyone loves it!
How do you want your guests to leave feeling after a night at one of your places?
Satisfied, stimulated, blown away!
What is something our viewers and readers would be surprised to know about you?
That I left everything behind to train martial arts for a year with the Shaolin warrior Kung Fu monks at the legendary Shaolin temple on top of Song Mountain. It was extremely rigorous training 10 hours a day married to Chan Buddhism. The best experience of my life by far!
What is your favorite late-night bite?
An amazing Avocado salad at Kenmare. Sliders and great calamari at Electric Room.
What are your favorite late-night pairings?
Sake and beer! Thats what I drink all night!
Where do you like to hang out at night outside of your own places?
I really only go to my own places. I get too neurotic when I'm away from them and I always want to make sure the vibe is perfect. I like my music the best, so I prefer to stay where I love the music.
What is your favorite thing between two buns? Serge Becker had a very funny answer, by the way.
Hmmm, there are a lot of great things that could go between two buns. I better not go there for fear of censorship! I have a dirty mind...