96 Lafayette St
New York, NY 10013
Written by: Nick D’Amore
Santos Party House was created to be the place where anyone can let it all hang out, where anyone can “Feel Free to Feel Free”— as a notice posted in the club suggests. Santos rolls with the collective unconscious; think Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters. Santos taps into the collective unconscious of what people want and what they’re doing, and has turned that openness to discovery into an environment. It’s a self-defining, self-rejuvenating art that keeps hundreds of NYC’s hippest partiers coming through the doors every night.
Translation: Santos Party House is part rock venue, part dance club and part trippy house party—all at the same time. Blacklight illuminates the venue’s dark walls while silvery sparkling disco balls of varying size create their own planetary skyscape overhead. The heart’s pulse adjusts to the boom boom boom of the custom-made, full surround-sound speakers housed in massive cabinets suspended from the ceiling on either side of the dance floor. The common vibe is at times trance inducing, yet the flow is good. The custom-built dance floor is supported by spring-loaded shocks; when people jump and dance on the floor, it’s like being on a trampoline. “Santos just feels good when you walk out onto that floor,” co-owner Andrew W.K. states. Simply printed signs abound, with lighthearted sentiments like, “Party is our middle name,” “Music is a Joy to Behold” and “Let Me Do the Talking.”
Deriving its name from Santa Santos, an imagined spirit of nightlife, Santos’ owners have successfully transferred their love of music and passion for fun into the venue since its opening in June 2008. The historic factory building was formerly a retail clothing outlet. Owners Ron Castellano, Larry Golden, Spencer Sweeney, Derek Ferguson, and the inimitable Andrew W.K. built the club from scratch, creating a two-level, 8,000-square-foot entertainment space. Andrew proudly says, “A virgin nightclub seldom opens in Manhattan!”
Located between Chinatown and Tribeca, the club’s two levels can operate separately or together, as concert venues or as dance clubs. The owners focused on offering performers and audiences quality sound, lights, stages and dance floors. The ground-floor stage area provides copious amounts of dancing space on the floor. The downstairs stage is for smaller acts and is a cozier version of the upstairs area. Both levels include a large bar area. An evening’s events can be live bands, DJs, comedy, film screenings and even weddings—Andrew was married there in October 2008. With so many venues catering to certain styles and scenes, Santos strives to be all-inclusive and unpredictable: on any given night, you can see anyone or hear anything. Approaching its third year of existence, Santos Party House remains committed to evolving the venue experience—by staying tapped into the collective unconscious. The venue’s atmosphere is as integral to the show experience as the performers themselves.
Some of the more well-known acts that have played Santos include: the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Q-Tip, Busta Rhymes, Moby, The Sounds, Meshell Ndegeocello, N.E.R.D., Cro-Mags, The Black Dahlia Murder, KRS-One, Kool Herc, ESG, John Zorn, Thurston Moore, Ash, and Amanda Blank.
The allure of Santos Party House has spread to the famous, as well; Jay-Z has counted the club as one of his favorite spots in the city and Diddy held his Obama election party there. Other notable guests spotted at the club have been Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Mick Jagger, Jack Nicholson, Lindsay Lohan, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Steve Buscemi, Kirsten Dunst, Björk and Lou Reed.