Le Reve club a nightmare: C.B. 5

BY ALEJANDRA O’CONNELL-DOMENECH Updated June 3, 3 p.m.A car speeds the wrong direction along E. 54th St., forcing two pedestrians crossing the street to jump out of the way and fall on the sidewalk.

The driver parks in front of Le Reve, a small nightclub nestled in the middle of a block of restaurants and residential buildings. The guy steps out of the car, rips off his shirt and angrily looks for someone in the crowd outside the club. Witnesses say he looked intoxicated. Eventually, two men help him back to his car.

“It’s like this most weekends,” said Jorge Colon, the doorman at 135 E. 54th St., one of the two residential buildings neighboring Le Reve. Colon has worked at the building seven years and noticed a change in the behavior of Le Reve’s patrons three summers ago.

Le Reve has an unassuming entranceway but has become a big problem on its block, according to Board 5 and neighbors. (Courtesy Google Maps)

In short, Le Reve, “the dream” in French, has become a complete nightmare, neighbors say.

According to Colon, partiers started becoming more aggressive, especially once they exited the nightclub after an afternoon and evening of drinking. During the weekends, Le Reve is open from 2 p.m. until 4 a.m. and patrons will take part in “day parties.”

But it has been within the last year that the loud music, yelling patrons, loitering, public urination and fights have become unbearable.

“It’s gotten so bad that I almost got assaulted today,” said Colon, visibly shaken, during an interview with this paper on May 12.

Earlier that afternoon, he and a resident heard shouting outside coming from the direction of Le Reve. When they stepped out of 135 E. 54th St.’s lobby to investigate, Colon said that he was approached by an intoxicated 20-something man who asked him what he was looking at and threatened to slap him.

A promo piece for a Halloween party at Le Reve partly reflects the community’s feeling about the place.

Security from Le Reve quickly came by to help Colon and eventually got the drunken man, and the group of other patrons behind him, to leave.

Soon residents might be freed from their weekend ordeal. Community Board 5 recently voted in favor of an advisory resolution denying renewal of the club’s liquor license.

According to the New York State Liquor Authority, Le Reve filed for the renewal on April 15. But the bar is currently under investigation by the S.L.A., which filed four violations against the place for noise, disorderly conduct and poor supervision. A hearing is scheduled for June 11. Only then can an official decision on the license renewal be had.

Le Reve could not be reached for comment on the status of its liquor-license renewal application.

C.B. 5 decided to recommend denial of the liquor license because of noise and assault complaints, its unorthodox security measures and the high number of police visits to the hot spot.

“The fact that the operator sees the need to dress and equip their employees in tactical gear, including bulletproof vests, and arm them with pepper spray, shoe spikes and metal batons, is clear evidence that the premises is out of control,” the resolution states.

Last year, 18 police reports were filed about incidents occurring at Le Reve. The majority of the reports were for instances of larceny and assault. One of the more violent incidents occurred on July 1, 2018, when three young women were slashed across their faces with box cutters and beaten with a belt during a fight, resulting in six arrests. In September 2018, the S.L.A. entered into a settlement agreement with Le Reve regarding “various offenses,” the resolution notes.

Nevertheless, the problems persisted, including an incident last Nov. 11, when a Le Reve employee allegedly falsely identified himself as a police officer and used pepper spray to control an unruly patron.

So far this year, there have been five police reports filed regarding incidents of harassment, assault and graffiti at Le Reve.

Cops were called to the club on Sat., May 11, and Sun., May 12, but police were unable to provide incident reports for those two dates.

The June 11 hearing is not an open hearing at which all attendees can talk. But testimony will be accepted on two specific incidents that occurred on March 3, 2019, and Nov. 11, 2018, according to Luke Szabados, the C.B. 5 community associate. Those interested in testifying at the hearing or submitting written testimony should contact office@cb5.org .

Clarification: The original version of this article said the S.L.A. hearing on Le Reve would be on June 6, but it was pushed back to June 11.