Elektro Exclusive Q&A with NYC’s Legendary Promoter Rob Fernandez: “Ass has universal appeal and attracts every demographic”
Elektro sits down with Rob Fernandez, the legendary, award-winning promoter from NYC to get some insider information from the ultimate insider.
How did you get your start in the industry?
I love the nightlife, so I started working in nightclubs because it sounded better than spending all my money in clubs and losing my job because I was showing up late to work all the time. I have held alomst every position possible in the nightlife industry-- from barback, until I finally settled on the best job you can have in a nightclub, being a promoter! It's just as much luxury as being an owner or a DJ when you think about it, only in this job you have the freedom to produce events whenever and wherever you want. Be your own boss. GET PAID TO SOCIALIZE! (I once put that in an ad to hire promoters and two escorts showed up).
You were a doorman for fice years before promotions, what was the craziest thing someone did to get into the legendary Sound Factory?
That's just it. This was a pure dance club. You didn't have to do anything crazy to get in, and you couldn't buy your way in. Just come with the right attitude and for the right reasons. We had the same crowd come week-in-week out (almost like a membership club). We knew everyone there, so if we didn't know you, I would ask a question or two and many of them would unravel. bI had a partner at the door who was sort of a prick to people. One time, I went to the bathroom and when I came back he told me he didn't let Kate Moss in. This was when Kate Moss was Kate Moss! That Monday, the newspapers pretty much said "the arrogant idiot doorman rejected Kate Moss," and everyone assumed it was me! (I'm not arrogant) After that I never left the door for one second (even when the temperature was twenty below).
Tell us the meaning behind some of your party name like, Asseteria, Dance.Here.Now, Be Yourself and so on.
Be Yourself is the night featuring Danny Tenaglia . The name says it all. It's like the anti-bottle service party (It was held at a club with no liquor). No frills, no VIP, no go-go dancers, no dress code, no people standing in front of the DJ taking pictures. Just great music, great sound system, dancefloor, and a great vibe. A REAL party. (Find out why Elektro agrees!)
Dance.Here.Now. is the Thursday night party at Cielo where you get to experience big room DJs in an intimate setting. Previous talent bookings include David Guetta, Carl Cox, Benny Benassi and Danny Tenaglia.
Asseteria came about because American society is is very focused on breasts, and we felt very often the ass was neglected. Ass has universal appeal and attracts every demographic. As a matter of fact, we give our flyer distributors two different sets of flyers: one with a picture of a girl's ass and one with a guy's ass. The distributors are instructed if a guy leaves the club: hand him the flyer with the girls ass, girl leaves the club: hand her the flyer with guy's ass, lesbian-girl's ass....you get the idea.
Can you DJ?
My promotion partner at Dance.Here.Now., Benny Soto has DJ’d a few parties. He had asked me a few times to spin a night with him, however, I’m apprehensive. I have a cool DJ name though- "Nubby G," named after this toy I saw at the sex store.
How DJ-oriented are you when it comes to selecting an evening's headliner? Is it talent vs marketability? Can the two coexist? How?
One of the keys to longevity is to realize this is the nightlife BUSINESS (the word business is in caps for a reason). To exist as a big club in NYC we need to book events that are going to generate a lot of revenue, so unfortunately we sometimes have to choose marketability over talent; but, they can coexist. At Pacha NYC, for example, we can experiment more on Fridays with bookings. The younger crowd on Fridays are more open to new music and we can book someone just because they're good. On Saturdays, if you try that with a lesser name headliner, it could cost the club $50K! There have been times in the past when we've tried to educate the crowd and they've educated us. We try to use opening slots in the Pachita room and smaller parties to cultivate new talent and bring them to main floor when they (and the crowd) are ready.
How has the nightlife scene changed in NYC from the promoter's perspective in the past decade (from the Peter Gatien days to the bottle popping B&T scene)?
It's a different game now and it's much more lucrative. Back in the day, people would never spend thousands of bucks in a nightclub. Nowadays rents are much higher, there's more venues, and more desperate clubs, which gives the promoter an edge. However, even with all the emphasis on money and less on creativity and music, the parties are snot any less fun.
What is your favorite genre of electronic music to hear at a club? Or better yet, as a promoter, is there any artist you'd (gasp!) shell $30+ to see perform?
Ricardo Villalobos. I've never heard him spin live. I went to DC10 in Ibiza to catch him play, unfortunately, I missed him. He never comes to NY. I'm not even sure he exists.
Besides Pacha where do you go to hear amazing music--can be any city, any club or lounge, anywhere in the world?
Sadly, I don't get to go out that often at all to other parties when I'm not working. On Monday and Tuesday nights I like to rest and re-charge. So I really look forward to it when I can. This year I was soooo looking forward to the closing party at Space Ibiza with Carl Cox and Loco Dice but we booked the wrong date (I didn't realize Carl’s night closes a week earlier than others).
If you could pick one city to work in besides New York, what city would it be?
People always say Vegas or Miami but I would say Toronto. It's a beautiful city where the crowd is very musically educated (I think more so than NYC). At the BPM Festival in Mexico, there's a big Toronto contingent and you can sort of tell who is from Toronto and who's from New York (That's all I'm saying).
What are your thoughts on the emergence of EDM this year?
For years I've been telling people "Dance music is going to conquer America," but I felt people looking at it as bullshit. It was my job to say it. In my heart I really believed this would happen like it has. Now I get to say "I told you so," and make more money... so, Wow!
Buy ticket for the event HERE.
Main image (3 Robs) Jason Howard
Rob and Benny Soto with Anthony Lamont