Like conducting an orchestra, giving a spotlight to each instrument, the partners at the new Chelsea Music Hall are planning to give the neighborhood an “underground” space where it can see comedy, live bands, DJs, immersive theater and more once it opens in October.
The venue, which is located in Chelsea Market’s basement with big red pipes and old brick that peeks through the flooring, is a venture among familiar names from the city’s nightlife and music scenes: Michael Ginsberg (former director of Chelsea Market, The Tippler, El Original), Sergei “Serge” Sklyarenko (The Sullivan Room), Chip Quigley (Kingdom Entertainment) and Michael Barrett (The Tippler and China Club). Israeli celebrity chef, Eyal Shani, of Miznon has just signed on to provide the venue’s menu, which will be announced at a later date, Ginsberg said.
Because of who’s involved, the space won’t be tied to one genre of entertainment and it will be a space for musicians, comedians and troupes to try new things, according to Ginsberg.
“There are a lot of surprises to come,” he told amNewYork inside the space, as glowing blue bulbs lit the ceiling in patterns. “We have a million ideas for how we want to use this space. We plan on giving room to one immersive theater show that will hopefully enlighten people and give a peek into a debaucherous party. We want to bring in emerging talent and maybe find the next big comedian. We want to be the soap box for that.”
Ginsberg said they plan for musicians and DJs, both emerging and famous, and even live podcast recordings and TV show tapings to grace the intimate space, as well.
“An orchestration is really the best way to put it,” he said. “Our vision of the music hall is one that lives beyond its four walls.”
Just about nothing inside the painted cinder block-lined basement is fixed and can be moved at a moment’s notice, placing the entertainment above the actual space in terms of importance. If a certain theater experience, like “Cleopatra,” needs a runway, it can be done by removing the seating (all of which accommodate 244 people).
“It’s raw, underground,” Ginsberg said, pointing out the antique tubas and sousaphones hanging from the restroom ceiling.
Skinny copper pipes custom-made for the space line the ceiling and become part of the bar’s shelving and the stackable chairs are actually antique school chairs. The 540 bulbs that line the center of the ceiling are all individually programmed to change to any color and turn on and off in a multitude of designs all with the touch of a screen.
All of this is done to make the space feel “unpretentious and welcome,” Ginsberg said. “We want you to see something different for every show you’re here for.”
Ginsberg ran Chelsea Market’s events and marketing, which required him to book and organize thousands of events to get people into the market over the years since 2002.
When he met Barrett, Quigley and Serge, the four of them decided to get together to create a space that they felt Chelsea lacked.
The block around the music hall, which is located at 407 W. 15th St., between 9th and 10th avenues, is home to Anthropologie, Sarabeth’s and other higher-end businesses, and has lost the “underground” night scene that it used to have, where the person you might see on stage is the future Conan O’Brien or someone like David Bowie surprising the audience, he said.
“We want to bring back what’s missing from Chelsea and from this block,” he said.
The venue is in its soft opening phase but will be open to the public officially come the end of October. Check out its Facebook page for more details.