New York Fashion Week is getting a facelift this season, and to accompany all the changes comes a new venue to shake up the party scene.
Rumpus Room — the British term for a children’s playroom — opens this week for private events during fashion week (and to the public afterward) in the former Sapphire Lounge space in the Lower East Side. It’s the first foray into nightlife from owner Gabriel Levy, who teamed up with Sapphire owner Jahan Salarimatin in 2013.
“The genesis of this for me was in spending summers as a teenager in a small town in France. There was a cool Eighties French club that had zebra and leopard print and it sort of bordered really cool and really cheesy,” he says. “And that in the back of my mind was always inspiration. Like, if I ever do a club I’d want to build something like that.”
To bring that vision to life, Levy called on the friends of his wife, Aslaug Magnusdottir, the co-founder and former chief executive of Moda Operandi and co-founder of fashion investment firm TSM Capital. Her fellow Icelandic contemporaries Gulla Jonsdottir and Edda Gudmundsdottir oversaw the design, which features a mix of new and vintage pieces. (Jonsdottir’s design firm worked on the Roxbury club and the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood; Gudmundsdottir consults for fashion brands and celebrities including Diane Von Furstenberg, Taylor Swift and Oprah).
That feminine touch turns out to be particularly helpful when rethinking the typical nightclub. Instead of black finishings and a concrete dance floor, there’s bamboo and burnt wood walls, vintage wallpaper from Second Hand Rose and a copper bar top.
“I wanted to make sure that it was still true to the neighborhood,” said Gudmundsdottir. “I myself am really tired of going to fancy places where I feel like I have to behave a certain way. So [I wanted to have] beautiful design but with the comfort level mixed into it. And having something with the history mixed into it so you can actually have a little discussion about where this and that came from.”
That little discussion will presumably be taking place over drinks. Veuve Cliquot created champagne cocktail recipes specifically for the club, including the Nearside, with grapefruit juice and Campari, and the Thai Basil with tequila and pineapple. Bartender Alex Cooper designed the rest of the menu, with an Aperol spritz, a Persian Kiss (pomegranate juice, elderflower liqueur, Prosecco), and—in honor of the venue’s history—a Ruspoli Sapphire, with gin, lemon juice and blue curacao.
“One of the most important sapphire gems in the world is the Ruspoli sapphire which comes from Louis XIV’s court,” explains Levy. And, there’s also Prosecco on tap!
During the soft launch this summer, when Rumpus Room hosted events for friends and family, the band Wolf Alice held their after party there, as did the Cedar Lake Dance Company.
“The best nightlife is one that is not so prescribed to only contain one demographic or one thing,” says Levy. “Black, white, straight, gay, rich, poor, celebrity, plebian—once you’re in the room and you’re up against each other, you’re all in and you’re all playing nice and having a great time.”
In the words of Maurice Sendak, let the wild rumpus start.
249 Eldridge Street