Even Manhattan Nightclubs Take the Pledge On New Year’s Day

tales pmday1h Even Manhattan Nightclubs Take the Pledge On New Year’s DayNew Year’s Eve was a fleetingly spirited affair at swanky PM Lounge in the meatpacking district.

Packed with revelers, the two-story, 3,900-square-foot building on Gansevoort Street heaved with thumping beats, as an advertised open bar approached its sixth consecutive booze-fueled hour at 3 a.m.

“It’s pretty happening,” said one patron, Ben, 27, standing behind the velvet rope in a shiny checkered shirt, smoking a cigarette, while a stretch limo idling out front blared “Hotel California.”

Even nonpatrons who were barred from actually entering the reputedly exclusive venue were still able to join in the raucous celebration: “You’re just a peasant working the door!” one man shouted at the club’s fashionably obstructive gatekeeper, igniting a flurry of expletive-laced exchanges.

Finally, around 4 a.m., came the moment of sobriety. Make that the month of sobriety.

“We will be closed for the month of January,” a club manager informed The Observer over the phone on Monday. “For construction,” she said.

Talk about New Year’s luck! The planned renovations also happen to coincide with a not-so-serendipitous 30-day suspension of alcohol sales imposed by the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA).

The government-ordered cessation might seem a properly punitive end to a punishing 2007 for PM proprietor Adam Hock and company, whose lawyers spent much of the year fending off all sorts of charges.

PM narrowly avoided eviction in late November, after Mr. Hock agreed to shell out $250,000 to settle a nine-month-long housing court battle with the club’s landlord over $433,284 in unpaid rent, utilities and taxes. (The outstanding balance would be waived under the deal, provided the smaller sum was paid on time.)

The club is expected to pay more than $30,000 in monthly rent for the remaining two years of its lease, according to court records. That could prove problematic if PM’s noise-rattled neighbors succeed in lobbying the SLA not to renew the club’s liquor license, a matter still pending with the agency.

Some neighbors sick of earplugs already sued over all the clamor. Citing those resounding complaints, which persist despite the club’s installation of soundproofing, local Community Board 2 unanimously voted this fall to oppose PM’s renewal.

Even the recording industry took issue with the loud sounds emanating from the popular nightspot: Broadcast Music Inc., a.k.a. “BMI,” charged Mr. Hock in U.S. District Court back in March with copyright infringement, after industry spies overheard the club’s DJ’s playing 10 separate songs, including Kanye West’s 2005 hit “Gold Digger” and the 1992 Sir Mix-A-Lot anthem “Baby Got Back,” without authorization.

Yet, reading over the SLA’s list of alleged injustices at the location, issued back on Dec. 4, the government itself seems guilty of extreme tardiness, what with all the club’s citations for noise, disorderly patrons, underage drinking and building-code issues, dating back to 2003 (none more recent than March 2004).

At least state regulators had the decency not to rush judgement and interfere with the club’s recent holiday plans.

“It is not a policy of the SLA to delay imposing penalties in December; we issue them as expeditiously as we can,” wrote agency spokesman William Crowley in an e-mail. Mr. Crowley explained the lag in PM’s penalty time as more of a “clerical” matter than any sort bureaucratic gift for the holidays. “Processing, issuing and then serving Orders of Suspension take a certain amount of time,” he said.

And what better time for folks in the hospitality industry to tweak a few things—be it making some necessary repairs or paying off one’s debts to society—than immediately after Jan. 1.

“The slow season,” said John “J.E.” Englebert, co-owner of Club Myst/Retox Rock Bar on West 28th Street.

Mr. Englebert’s club also will forgo alcohol sales for part of the month. It will be closed from Jan. 7 through Jan. 21, as part of a Dec. 5 settlement agreement with the city, which had charged both club management and its landlord with allowing the property to become a public nuisance.

On several occasions in 2007, undercover policemen bought baggies of marijuana inside the West Chelsea club. The cops even arrested one of the club’s hosts as part of the sting operation, court records show.

Under the settlement, club management agreed to shut down Club Myst/Retox for two whole weeks; fire its entire security force; upgrade its security equipment and procedures for weeding out contraband; and even consent to warrantless searches of the premises. The seedy spot also coughed up a $20,000 fine.

The city, in turn, agreed to let Club Myst/Retox carry on with its various holiday parties, including the big one.

“Yes, it was nice the city let us stay open for New Year’s Eve—the biggest night of the year,” Mr. Englebert wrote in an e-mail. “They are basically giving us a chance to tighten up. Even though we run a tight shop anyway and do the right thing sometimes it’s not tight enough and a bad seed spoils it for everyone. It’s unfortunate the clubs will close for 2 weeks but the space(s) will be back better [than] ever. We will take the time off to do some cosmetic work and reopen with guest DJ’s, special guests and great parties. In fact we plan to make the re-openings a night to remember.”