NYU’s Modern Clubkid: Nicky Ottav
Half-jet black, half-fuschia hair shaved into a precise yet chaotic bowlcut, Nicky Ottav hadn’t slept from Friday to Saturday when we met at his Lower East Side apartment. Catching cat naps at early hours is pretty standard for the 21-year-old party host and Tisch photography junior, but you’d hardly say he’s a drag unless, of course, you’re referring to cigarettes.
“My 6 to 9 a.m. is like other people’s 3 to 6 p.m.” said Ottav while applying wicked, pink lipstick in the mirror.
Friends enter the Lower East Side apartment in head-to-toe looks, rainbow shades and performances of visual body art. Every attendee is dressed for a night like no other and Ottav’s cheeky apartment — complete with self-painted pop art murals — provides the perfect backdrop in which 20 rhinestones are better than one and love is always present.
“I’m just really honored to be able to be at the center of this,” Ottav said. “Something that’s so positive for so many people,” Ottav said.
With almost 30,000 Instagram followers, the Los Angeles native has established himself as the face of the reemerging New York Clubkid scene since moving to the city in 2013. That candy-colored, alien image that is so enticing on his social media platforms is one Ottav masterfully crafts and constantly embodies. Every look the young artist births captures his unique and unapologetic essence, and it’s this contagious celebration of individuality that is the true cornerstone of any Clubkid event. Even as guest lists climb to 170 people or more, Ottav ensures the soul of the Clubkid community remains.
“I’ve had the privilege to meet people from the original movement that have been around doing this forever,” Ottav said. “When they come out to see me and my friends in the club they tell me, ‘Wow! Watching you guys, that spirit and that atmosphere is stillalive today!’”
Following in the footsteps of this iconic Clubkid culture of the 1980s and 1990s, Ottav is both inspired and supported by his partying predecessors — who include one of the founders of the scene, James St. James. Ottav has bonded with St. James over everything from drugs to Founders Hall, appearing twice on St. James’ cult YouTube video series, Transformations.
“I get giddy every time he likes my stuff online or we text or call,” Ottav said. “On top of everything, we’ve become friends. I really like when people who are originals have respect for the ones that come after them.”
Indeed, an evening at a Nicky Ottav party is a night brimming with the energy of a not-so-distant past time. That spirit is alive in the pulsing lights of venues like Bushwick’s new Flash Factory, communal cigarettes, alcohol and even in the process getting to the club. The hot hellions even hit the party via the subway, providing a relentlessly fun spectacle for bitter locals lost in their headphones.
“One of the things I really like doing that harkens back to the bygone era is taking the train instead of everyone splitting off taking Ubers,” Ottav said. “I feel like every time we do that it feels like we’re in a different time.”
Tradition certainly inspired today’s kids, and that reverence is evident even in the new wave of Clubkid culture. While he draws from fashion icons like Grace Jones and Leigh Bowery and frequently blasts his favorite ‘90s pop band Deee-Lite, Ottav recognizes that his outfits are more than just a look.
Having modeled at New York Fashion Week and even collaborated with the legendary Patricia Field, Ottav’s creativity knows no boundaries and neither does his contagious spirit. Be warned that the glitter cannons will sound on the day of Ottav’s graduation, signaling the beginning of a long and literally bright journey for the soon-to-be superstar and those lucky enough to be on his guest list.
“For us, this is a really genuine outlet for our creativity, for our energy, for our art,” Ottav said. “Whereas certain people will go to the club for a photo or to be seen, for us it’s really a platform to feel comfortable. We’re there
to have fun.”
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Feb. 16 print edition. Email David Bologna at [email protected].
Your Guide to Partying in Brooklyn
Those of you who live in Manhattan may never have to venture across that small, alienating bridge to Brooklyn. You have your go-to pregame spot just down the street, clubs in every direction and corner bodega after a long night out. But there is still a certain staleness and desperation in Manhattan, like the four-block Uber ride or the sight of freshly-mopped bathroom puke under pretentious lighting. Of course, not all places in Manhattan have this air, but if I want to dance — I’m going to Brooklyn. If you’ve never gone to Brooklyn on a weekend night, begin your journey by checking out one of these places.
Aviv — 496 Morgan Ave
Although it’s easy to breeze past this gem located behind an unmarked door among blocks of warehouses, Aviv is worth the hunt. All events at Aviv are either all ages or 18+, and several NYU bands have performed there — so you may even run into someone you know. The music performances vary greatly in genre, from the neo-soul jams of OSHUN and Mal Devisa to the club beats of Juliana Huxtable. Aesthetically, Aviv resembles a smoky house party basement with surreal, dim lighting. But despite the familiar, homey setting, Aviv hosts a full bar, serviced by some who actually live in the venue in exchange for working there.
Silent Barn — 603 Bushwick Ave
Venue, gallery, marketplace and radical education center, Silent Barn constantly hosts events to either enlighten the masses or get them dancing. Some nights, bands like Krill and LVL UP perform at Silent Barn, while other nights, reading discussion groups gather to discuss topics like policy brutality and intersectional feminism. If you’re lucky, you may even be able to snag a haircut from a hair dresser who makes occasional appearances and offers quick trims.
Baby’s All Right — 146 Broadway
Attracting possibly some of the most well-known bands in the Brooklyn music scene, Baby’s All Right always promises good jams and a danceable environment. Not to mention their full bar and cocktail assortment. They even have a drink called the Ai Weiwei, which of course gets its name from the political Chinese artist, and supposedly emulates his outspoken spirit with tequila, jalapeño, lime and agave. Baby’s All Right also offers brunch on the weekends, so if dancing isn’t your thing, you can explore the venue during daytime with a side of eggs and a mimosa.
Bossa Nova Civic Club — 1271 Myrtle Ave
My first drink in New York City was here, Bossa Nova Civic Club. Although the club’s popularity has increased substantially in the past three years, it still retains some of the same charms I fell in love with when I visited the first time: the electric green wallpaper resembling the Windows 95 pasture landscape and the small crowd rolling blunts in the small backyard of the venue. Be sure to catch their Tropical Goth DJ sets, and give a shout out to the bouncer — Jay was bestowed the title of “Best Bouncer in Brooklyn” by Brooklyn Magazine.
The Gutter — 200 N.14th St.
Save yourself from the crowds and an empty wallet by skipping Brooklyn Bowl and heading to The Gutter. The bowling alley and bar boasts a large variety of beer, a pool table and live music performances in the bar’s Spare Room. Nothing says fun like drunk people with bowling balls in their hands, so swing through with a friend for the two-for-one bowling deal on Fridays 2 p.m. to 6 p.m or Sunday through Thursday from 1 to 3:15 a.m.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Feb. 16 print edition. Email Hannah Treasure at [email protected].
Late Night Munchies And Hangover Remedies
Late Night Bites:
After an eventful night of letting loose, you’re left with a hollow abyss pitted dead center in your stomach. The hunger must be satisfied but luckily the city has plenty of spots for a round of munchies.
Sidewalk Tacos $
Corner of Bleecker and Thompson St.
Wait time: 5-10 minutes
If you’re craving a hearty burrito, some soft tacos or fajitas, check out Sidewalk Tacos, located conveniently at the corner of Bleecker and Thompson. The service at this Mexican food truck is quick and efficient, so you’ll have your food in no time. Remember to have some cash on hand because they don’t take cards.
238 E 14th St
Wait time: 10-15 minutes
If fried meat sprinkled with crushed peanuts, drizzled with a tangy sauce and all enveloped by a soft white bun is what you crave, Baohaus is the spot to check out. Founded by Eddie Huang of Vice Video, this Asian spot emanates cool with its friendly staff and sticker- and graffiti-decked walls. The Birdhaus Bao and Chairman Bao are the go-to’s.
I CE NY $
101 MacDougal St
Wait time: 10-15 minutes
For those who crave ice cream but in a unique form, try the Thai rolled ice cream on MacDougal St. Not only will you get to watch your ice cream transform from liquid to rolls, but the ice cream is as good as the visual experience. Popular flavors are the Thai Tea, Matcha Madness and Strawberry I CE U.
201 1st Ave
Wait time: 15-20 minutes
A gastropub that serves delicious home-style Filipino, Jeepney is nestled in the East Village. Traditional Filipino dishes but with a modern flair, the place has a great atmosphere with just as colorful art décor. Dishes that are highly recommended are the Lumpiang Shanghai, pork buns, Bicol Express and the Chori burger.
For cheap pizza:
Joe’s Pizza (Union Square, Carmine St)
2 Bros (East Village)
For fancier pizza:
Artichoke (MacDougal, East Village)
For non-fussy burgers under $10:
Corner Bistro (West Village)
Mamoun’s (MacDougal St)
Halal Guys (East Village)
To avoid the crowd:
Punjabi Deli (East Village): known for its $3 rice bowls with two choices of vegetables
For the Day After:
What seemed like an epically successful night can turn into the biggest mind-throbbing and exhausting next morning. Dehydrated and in desperate need of something to ease the headache and queasy stomach, seek out these hangover cures that will help you regain life.
Saigon Shack $
114 MacDougal St
Wait time: 10-15 minutes
Arguably the best pho house in Greenwich Village, Saigon Shack may be the remedy to all hangovers. The warm, flavored yet simple broth paired with light rice noodles and vegetables makes their delectable pho dishes effective for a groggy morning. Or try the simple yet solid banh mi sandwich.
If you’re seeking a more traditional morning-after meal, here are some of your best bagel and coffee shops.
Bagels on the Square $
7 Carmine St
Wait time: 5 minutes
Best known for: quick service, impressive selection of bagels and cream cheese spreads
Russ and Daughters $$
179 E Houston St
Wait time: 5-10 minutes
Best known for: bagel & lox combination
307 E St
Wait time: 15-20 minutes
With a brunch special on the weekends, you can enjoy a solid meal at this popular East Village spot. The wait time may be a bit longer, but the food and cozy décor is worth the wait. The huevos rancheros or pressed sandwiches like the avocado sandwich are some good choices.
Tompkins Square Bagels $
165 Ave A
Wait time: 15-20 minutes
Best known for: interesting cream cheese spreads like chipotle avocado or jalapeño cheese
For soup dumplings:
The Bao (St Mark’s)
Vanessa’s Dumplings (14th St.)
Café Mogador (East Village)
Grey Dog Cafe (Union Square)
For fresh smoothies:
Your local bodega for $5-6 smoothies that will still be cheaper than getting it at a smoothie branch
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Feb. 16 print edition. Email Nina Jang at [email protected].
How To Not Be Awkward At Parties
College parties can be awkward, but they don’t need to be. We have it pretty good here at NYU — we’re not limited to frats or dorms. But sometimes, you may find yourself at a party with a bunch of people you don’t know. Worried about being too awkward the whole time? No problem! Here is a simple list of do’s and don’ts to to make the most of your next party.
Come with at least one friend. Even the most extroverted person doesn’t want to show up without backup if a party, bar or club is lame. Don’t be afraid to meet new people. Asking people what school they’re in is the easiest and possibly the best conversation starter. Gallatin kids keep it interesting, CAS kids love to talk politics, and Stern kids…well if you run into a Stern kid, maybe just walk away.
Believe in the power of liquid courage. Even if you’re not a huge drinker it gives you something to hold onto which is for some reason comforting. Alcohol is a great social lubricant—just don’t be that kid throwing up in the bathroom.
Wear what makes you feel most comfortable. Look good, feel good, right? If you’re dressed in something uncomfortable (like that bodysuit where you can’t go to the bathroom) you’re going to look uncomfortable.
Just have fun with it! No one is paying attention to the way you’re standing or if you’ve emptied your solo cup yet. Relax and enjoy yourself. Trust me, most people at the party are probably overthinking it as much as you are.
Aggressively add your new party BFFs on all forms of social media. It’s weird. Get their number or add them on FB and leave it at that until you’ve interacted at least more than once.
Be that kid who’s taking an incessant amount of photos and blinding everyone with the flash. Your time should be spent on meeting new people and engaging in conversations, not stalking the person’s Instagram who’s standing right in front of you. Our phones have turned into our social crutch but if you’re constantly on your phone you will come off as unavailable and distant.
Kill the vibe by being that person who changes the music at someone else’s party. The host of the party or pre-party generally has a mood in mind so feel free to suggest music, but definitely keep in mind the mood that has already been set. That said, music is always a great conversation starter — so go ahead and share your thoughts on the new Kanye album and get people talking.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Feb. 16 print edition. Email Gabriella Bower at email@example.com.