When the rest of us are heading out to party and unwind, these six night-shift regulars are just punching in.
Smooth Nights Out Yes, there is nightlife in Westchester. There are bars to
quench every thirst, restaurants to please every palate, and bands for every kind of
music fan—and that’s not counting all the rock-climbing, ice-skating, gaming, and belly
dancing that goes on after dark. And there are people—lots of people—who just love to stay
out late—here. Sounds like fun, right? On the following pages, find our guide to all the things that go bump in the night.
Photo by Darryl Estrine shot on location at BLT Steak, White Plains
Want to know what really goes on in the county
after dark? Ask the experts. When most of us are thinking about hitting the sack, these six stayouts
are just getting into work. Find out what the bartender, the shot girl, the coat-checker, the DJ, and others know about the part of the county that never sleeps.
The Shot Girl
photography by john rizzo
New Rochelle resident Lanya Vasquez works weekdays as a special-education therapist. On Friday and Saturday nights, however, you’ll find her at the City Martini Lounge in New Rochelle’s Radisson Hotel, servings shots of liquor. Come again?
“It’s a way to make extra money but also have fun,” says the 30-year-old.
So what exactly does a “shot girl” do?
“The majority of the time I tend bar or serve cocktails. But three or so times a night I make rounds with a tray of shots.”
Vasquez says she tries to approach everyone but sometimes gravitates to quieter groups.
“I want everyone to have fun.”
Most shots cost $6, while a handful, using premium liquor, costs $9.
If a customer wants to buy her a shot, Vasquez imbibes. “I won’t have more than one or two, though. It makes it hard to count money at the end of the night.”
Thirty-three-year-old Sergio Michilli, better known as DJ Serg, has been spinning professionally for half of his life, at clubs such as Mount Vernon’s Samba, White Plains’s Prophecy, and Mirage on Long Island, and on mega-watt radio stations such as WNEW and KTU. For the past seven months, the Bronx-born Dobbs Ferry resident has been keeping the party hoppin’ at the Lazy Lounge in White Plains, where he spins on Friday nights from 10 pm until 4 am. “You could definitely say I’m nocturnal,” he affirms, noting that a typical day ends at 6 in the morning.
DJ Serg, who considers himself a “true DJ with real mixing ability” as opposed to “people who rely on computer software and iPods,” plays what people “want to hear, and that’s because I know what they want to hear. I am in the clubs. I’m in the streets. People trust me ’cause they know I’m in touch.” He adds: “I’m spontaneous when it comes to mixing, matching, and scratching. I know how to fill the dance floor.” His own musical tastes are “eclectic,” ranging from dance to hip-hop to rock. He is a big fan of Alicia Keys and Kanye West.
DJing these days, he says, is more difficult largely because “music really sucks right now. There’s nothing really new.”
Tom Fleming, 32, of New Rochelle, loves to go out. And while he used to spend time partying in New Rochelle as an undergrad at Iona, these days you’ll find him in clubs and bars in White Plains and Yonkers. “Pier View is definitely my home base. They put on a great outdoor party in the summer, and, in the winter, inside, the music is just as good and the people are just as pretty.”
And how is the dating scene? “It’s definitely cliquey. If you’re not going to a certain bar all the time, there’s a very good chance you’re not going to get any action. You have to know a girl in order to say, ‘I like you’ or ‘I think you’re cute.’” But Fleming, who works as a customer-service manager for the Department of Labor in the Bronx, is up for the challenge. Scheduling at least one date a weekend, he’s met girls everywhere from Porter House in White Plains to Facebook and MySpace. “Variety is the spice of life, as they say.”
But he is hoping to find a permanent girlfriend. And she very well might be from Westchester. “Nothing beats a Westchester girl. They’re smart, educated, have the right etiquette—the kind of girl you can bring home to Mom.”
The Coat Checker
When Karen Brown of Tarrytown saw a job posting on craigslist for a coat-checking position at Red Hat on the River in Irvington, she immediately applied. “I always thought it might be something cool to do,” says the 39-year-old office manager for Barrier Motor Fuels in Tarrytown. “I wanted a part-time gig where I could meet people.” She got the job. “I’m on my feet most of the night taking armfuls of coats to the coatroom. It’s really a seven-hour workout.”
One interesting thing she’s learned about the coatroom? “When the room is full of coats, it smells like the fragrance counter at Bloomingdale’s.”
Brown has also learned that “a smile goes a long way.” She’s paid $4.60 an hour plus tips. “My biggest tip so far has been twenty dollars.” That money may soon be used for a new purchase. “I see all sorts of coat styles and lots of scarves, too. Burberry is the designer coat I see the most. I’ve been checking the labels of coats that I like.”
At night, you can find bartender Tiffany Grimes under the flat-screen TVs and exotic animal heads at Hartsdale’s Mighty Joe Young’s, mixing up for thirsty patrons its signature “Kenya, Willya, Wontcha?” But, as with other skilled bartenders, you can also picture her as Lucy from Peanuts, standing beneath a homemade cardboard sign that says “The Doctor Is In.”
“My trade is really social work,” declares the 24-year-old, who, in a complete reversal, temps at the buttoned-up Morgan Stanley during her off-hours. “I hear people’s problems all the time.” She gives the example of a time she entered the bar’s restroom to find a woman bawling. “How can you just walk away from that?” she asks.
Grimes, who’s been at Mighty Joe Young’s for three years, has used her knowledge of the human psyche to get out of a few jams. In one instance, she easily glossed over spilling a drink on a male customer. “I asked him, ‘What color panties are you wearing?’” she recalls. ‘“I’m not wearing panties,’ he replied, confused. Then I said, ‘I’m sorry but I just spilled a drink on your back,’ and he asked, ‘What drink?’ He was so thrown off guard by my question that he didn’t even notice I’d spilled a drink on him.”
What’s the secret to becoming a good bartender? Grimes answers simply: “People just want good service and a good drink.”
When Bessy Barrientos, waitstaff manager at Lazy Boy in White Plains, recently had a run-in with an aggressive man near her car, there was one man to turn to—Lazy Boy Bouncer Michael Watson.
At six-feet-four-inches tall and weighing in at 240 pounds, this by-day physical trainer, Ki Chuan Do instructor, and Friday- and Saturday-night bouncer is intimidating enough to scare away
His age? “Over twenty-one,” he says. And how long has he worked at Lazy Boy?
“Forever.” His philosophy on keeping law and order at 152 Mamaroneck Avenue?
“There’s no need to fight or show force.” Usually, all Watson needs to do his job is to give a hard stare and a stern warning. For example, he recounts: “One time a guy was giving eyes to another guy’s girlfriend. I told him to stop, but he said, ‘Don’t worry about it. I know she wants me, she knows she wants me.’” Watson “politely” asked the man to leave the bar. Not surprisingly, he did.