The thing that always shocks and surprises me about New York is the sheer volume of life. No matter how many times I go to the gorgeous and seemingly insurmountable Big Apple, I’m always in awe of the energy and breadth of things to do and see, so I make a point of going somewhere completely different everytime I go so that I don’t feel like I’m retracing my steps and wasting my time.

On a recent trip to the east coast, Donovan, Brian, and myself hit up some night life, something I’ve failed to do to the full degree in NYC. The trip took us to areas off the beaten tourist path, staying at the wonderful Hotel on Rivington in the Lower East Side, and avoiding Times Square for once, except to run (nearly late), into one of the last performances of Priscilla, we poked our heads into neighbourhoods of Chelsea and Hells Kitchen for spots to eat and drink and dance.

Bob Pontarelli now owns not just one, but three of the biggest hot spots for gay night life in NYC, and it didn’t take long to figure out why his two bars, Barracuda and Industry, and his restaurant Elmo, were so popular.

We stepped smack dab into the middle of a full out Diva show at Industry. With some fierce, disgustingly gorgeous chicas on stage, including famed singer Kelly King (shown in header photo), anything from Mariah and Whitney, to Britney and Christina can be heard being belted out live depending on the night. We just happened to be there for Country night, and a little Carey, Reba, and Martina knocked the roof down. The space itself, an old renovated parking garage, is reason enough to go for a drink. But the staff and entertainment are the reasons to keep you there.

The next night we did a bit of a hop, making Elmo our meeting place. The gorgeous space has a trendy style supper club feel with a lot of modern twists, and after having amazing dinner and drinks, and also drooling over a brunch menu that had me wishing I had more time to spend just eating, we understood why this acclaimed restaurant had won so many awards.

After finishing up, we, once again, walked right into a show, this time at Barracuda, and this time of the karaoke variety. Host Marti Cummings rangled me into entering a contest that ended with an off key version of Macarthur Park, second place, and me full of bourbon. The “faux dive bar” style at Barracuda was right up my alley, and the eye candy, from guests to bartending staff alike, was right up everyone’s alley.

After just having a talk about always doing something different in New York, I can’t not retrace my steps back to, most likely, all three places on my next visit. I know Dono and Brian and all our friends that came with us felt the exact same way. I had a great talk with one of my best friends who now lives in NYC about how in a city that can seem so large and lonely, the greatest thing you could want is a good group of friends. And with miles of easy going, down to earth and friendly staff, and the comfortable atmospheres of all three places in their own unique ways, having familiar places to go to and feel at home with, can give you the same comfort in a new city.

Thanks to Chris, Ian, Cristine, and especially Bob, for giving us a glimpse of the top of the food chain for night life in New York.