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#FMFeline: Nyeelah Lewis is the face of New York nightlife

#FMFeline: Nyeelah Lewis is the face of New York nightlife

Nyeelah Lewis

NYC promoter Nyeelah Lewis stands the test of time

Nightlife connoisseur Nyeelah Lewis came to New York from Miami when she was just 10 years old, but has an intimate knowledge of the city that surpasses many native New Yorkers. She has enjoyed the most luxurious, exclusive, and notorious venues NYC has to offer, and has watched the rise and fall of many nightclubs and former hotspots. What hasn’t changed is her passion for the industry, and commitment to enriching people’s lives by providing unforgettable experiences. Lewis is also a talented wardrobe and hair stylist, making her the most fashionable promoter you can choose to host your night out. In an exclusive interview with FM Hip Hop, #FMFeline Nyeelah Lewis discusses how partying in NYC has evolved over the years, and what the future holds for Big Apple nightlife.


FM HIP HOP: As a long-time New Yorker, you know how the club scene and partying in New York used to be. Do you attribute the change to 9/11, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, or a combination of factors?

NYEELAH LEWIS: It changed due to Mayor Giuliani. He started to make these laws in the nightclubs where you had to have a cabaret license in order to have a nightclub– in order to dance. You had to have a liquor license, you had to have all this licensing and all this stuff, and it was a just a way of [the city] making more money. It’s almost impossible to get a liquor license, and it’s probably one of the most expensive licenses to get in NYC.

When that happened, the nightclubs took a different route. As opposed to just letting everyone in, or letting in a select few and paying cover to get in, now they do something called “bottle service.” I feel like Giuliani and bottle service kind of killed NY nightlife. Before, you had to be cool– you had to fit a certain demographic to get in certain nightclubs. Now, any fool who can buy two bottles or spend a thousand dollars in a nightclub can pretty much get in, act a fool, and can pretty much control the room.

We have these corporate types from JP Morgan who come into these cool nightclubs where there’s trap music and hip-hop and house music, and if they want to hear Justin Bieber, that’s what the DJ has to play because the guy’s spending money and that’s what he wants to hear. All of this together kind of killed nightlife. It killed the vibe. You have these cool hipster kids who want to go and listen to a certain type of music, and create a certain energy in the room, and then this idiot from JP Morgan or CitiBank or CitiGroup wants to come in and listen to Justin Bieber.

FM: How have you adapted as a promoter because of these changes?

NL: When I first started, it was more about the volume of people I would bring. It was about the quantity, not the quality of people I was bringing. As I got more experienced in this nightclub scene, I realized that for the same amount of money that you get for bringing 50 people… if you bring the right 15 people, and you bring bottle clients, you can get the same amount of money. But the reason that I did nightlife: I’m really into travel and tourism. I love NYC, I want people to come here and have a great experience and love NY. All of that is part of nightlife. Everybody who comes here wants to go to a nightclub, lounge, or restaurant. That’s always what it’s been about for me.

FM: What unique challenges do female promoters face?

NL: They’re not taken seriously. They’re not respected; they’re considered a huge joke. But the biggest promoter in NYC is a woman, and has always been a woman: Susanne Bartsch.

FM: What keeps you motivated?

NL: When people message me from Paris, from Madrid, from Dubai, and tell me they had the most amazing experience in NY and I had a part in it. Three years ago, this gentleman from the Dominican Republic came to me and said, “I went out with you when my dad passed away, and you were my angel. You showed me such a good time and you made me feel like I was 21 again.” For me, that’s what it’s about. People are always escaping something. They go to bars and restaurants so they can get away. It’s about creating an experience for them.

FM: What’s next in NY nightlife?

NL: I think it’s going to go back to what it used to be. There’s nowhere else to go. Most of the people now going out in the nightclubs are not native New Yorkers. They’re from New Jersey and Staten Island– it’s all bridge and tunnel. The New Yorkers are kind of over it. They’re hanging local, they’re going to underground spots that people don’t know about. That’s affecting the nightclub scene and the restaurant scene. I feel, like with all things, it’s going to track back.

FM: You’re also a hairstylist and a wardrobe stylist. Tell me about that aspect of your life.

NL: I was a stylish girl who wasn’t able to go out. I just hung out in the beauty salons with my grandmother and my mom on Saturdays and Sundays until I was like, 18. So hair and styling was part of my life; it’s always been a passion of mine. I went to college for fashion.

I started modeling and assisting my friend, his name is Erickson Wilcox and he does parties throughout the city. He wanted to do a fashion brunch where we featured new designers and stylists, and had regular models and plus-size models. It was called “Runway the Real Way.” As I was helping him organize this, I got into helping the stylists style, and modeling some of the dresses for the designers while they were working on it for the models. I got into modeling, and it just kind of fell into my lap. I did it for like, three years, and I started styling. I realized that just because you’re a designer, it doesn’t mean you can style.

My sister is a model and a photographer, and she taught me how to take pictures. There was one photoshoot that she was doing for a pretty well-known photographer named Cavier Coleman. When he would take breaks, I would take my phone and take pictures of her. He saw [the pictures on] my phone and said, “Why aren’t you styling?” He helped me style my very first photoshoot– which was featured on his website and in a magazine– and it just kind of went from there.

FM: What nightlife venues are you currently working?

NL: All the venues. I’ve been in this business so long, all I have to do is make a phone call and say, “Listen, I have a group of people that want to go here. Can I host tonight?” And they’re like, “Sure, let’s go.” My motto has always been: Your network is your net worth.

FM: How can people get in contact with you for hair and wardrobe styling or club entry?

NL: They can reach me by email or Instagram at @NyeelahLewis and @NYCMassiveParties. My email address is [email protected]


Brownie Marie | IG: @browniemarie| Twitter: @mz_brownie

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Brownie Marie

June 14th, 2017

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