The history of Webster Hall is extraordinary.
In 1886, Webster Hall began its journey with the help of Charles Goldstein who commissioned the construction of the historic NYC building in Greenwich Village. Goldstein, a Polish cigar maker, enlisted the help of architect Charles Rentz who provided the design services. Over the past 130 years, Webster Hall has hosted everything from live bands and DJ’s to society dinners, dress balls, political rallies, union meetings, and even wrestling matches. It was even rumored that Al Capone was the silent owner of Webster Hall when it turned into a speakeasy during the prohibition during the 1920’s.
Webster Hall’s played an extraordinary role in the cultural development of the Village from the start. The labor leaders, activists, intellectuals, musicians, artists, and bohemians that danced, cheered, argued, and reveled under its roof and in front of its facade all added to and in some ways created the notion of the Village as a place on the forefront of social issues and of entertainment. The intact, elegantly detailed facade of Webster Hall has sheltered some of the Village’s most infamous moments. –GVSHP
During the 50’s and 60’s, RCA Records purchased and renovated the venue with a state-of-the-art acoustically treated ballroom. Webster Hall became RCA’s East Coast recording studio where musicians like Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra recorded albums. In the early 80’s, Webster Hall was renamed to The Ritz nightclub, and became the leading rock venue in NYC for full-time live music from artists like Aerosmith, BB King, Eric Clapton, Guns n’ Roses, KISS, Metallica, Prince, and Tina Turner. U2 played their first show in the United States during the winter of 1980.
For the past 25 years, Webster Hall has been the biggest and longest running NYC nightclub.
The Ballinger Brothers (Lon, Steve, and Doug) from Toronto Canada took over the nightclub in 1989 and re-birthed Webster Hall back to it’s original name in 1992 after extensive renovations. In late the 2000’s, Webster Hall opened The Studio and The Marlin Room to expand the building’s capacity and created 3 separate stages for multiple performances in the same night.
Located between 4th & 3rd Ave. near Union Square, the four-story Webster Hall is one of the biggest independent venues in New York City. The venue has a capacity of over 2,500 people and features 40,000 square feet of space between its 3 ballrooms (Grand Ballroom, the Marlin Room, and The Studio). Despite several renovations over the years, Webster Hall still maintained its intimate and rickety charm.
Webster Hall is New York City’s #1 club venue by ticket sales, and the 3rd best selling club venue in the world. –Pollstar Magazine
What’s really cool about Webster Hall is that each floor has a different feel to it. The 1st floor, aka The Studio, typically features reggae while the 2nd floor has mostly Latin and hip-hop, and the 3rd floor mainly focuses on EDM. Each floor’s stage gets progressively larger as you work your way up the 4 flights of stairs. The VIP mezzanine is located on the 4th floor, which is where you can look down onto the Grand Ballroom floor and stage.
Announced on August 1st, the headliner for the last club night at Webster Hall was none other than Sonny Moore (aka Skrillex) with support from Ekali, Deux Twins, Alex English, Dali, Hiyawatha, and Dischetto. Three days later, Skrillex had tweeted about bringing Boys Noize with him for a rare Dog Blood set. For those who don’t know, Dog Blood is a side project between Skrillex and Boys Noize, which was created in 2012. Known for popular songs like “Next Order”, “Middle Finger”, “Chella Ride”, and “Shred or Die”, Dog Blood hasn’t played together since the Detroit festival “Movement” in 2015. Dog Blood’s return originally was scheduled for HARD Summer Music Festival on Aug 6th, 2017, but no one expected a surprise Dog Blood set the night before HARD at Webster Hall’s last club night.
Skrillex played such a mind blowing set by taking everyone through a journey of EDM over the course of a four and half hour set. Towards the beginning of his set, Skrillex took the time to stop for a few moments so everyone could take their photos and then detach from social media for the rest of the night. While throwing in old fan favorites like “Scary Monsters And Nice Sprites”, “The Devil’s Den”, “Levels” (his remix of course), and “Purple Lamborghini”, Skrillex smoothly brought together tracks from all the various time periods in EDM.
Even newer music like “Would You Ever” and “Chicken Soup” made an appearance in his set, but the crowd absolutely went ballistic when “Harder Better Faster Stronger (Acappella)” by Daft Punk was dropped. Later on, Boys Noize appeared on stage with Skrillex for a unforgettable set by Dog Blood. However, Skrillex and Dog Blood weren’t the only ones melting minds and bumping the bass all night. The Studio on the 1st floor featured its own lineup of bass artists for ‘BASSment Sundays’, including: Blankface, MAZE, Definitive Dubstep, Evac Protocol, Laetus, and Cache Bunny.
Some closing thoughts from local DJ’s about Webster Hall.
Let’s talk a bit about your history with Webster Hall, when did you start attending and what does the venue mean to you?
“Well, when I started picking up more shows and momentum, I saw a lot of buddies of mine playing at Webster, also a lot of big names have rolling through. So it was somewhere I needed to check off my bucket list. Lucky enough I played there earlier this year for the first time in March with my label buddies BloodThinnerz & MAZE. We had the place so rowdy it went til 5am that time. Fortunate enough for us they wanted to bring us for the last show ever there. It was truly an honor!” –Blankface
“Well I had definitely snuck into Webster Hall a few times in high school, but the night that really made a difference & made that place so amazing to me was May 6th, 2014. That night, I snuck in because I was still 18 but was turning 19 at midnight. RL Grime was playing, and seeing what he was doing was a turning point that showed me what was possible. After that, I started taking music production seriously. Webster was a huge staple to NYC & the industry. Every time I’d be there, I’d always meet fans & always see other producer homies. It was a home to a lot of people & really inspired so many people to really work their ass off to play one day. Webster meant a lot to me, despite the politics behind the scenes, it was still an amazing place that is the reason I am where i am today. Even though I never got the chance to play the mainstage, the bassment guys always treated me like family & were always open to letting me play. They helped me connect with artists who played there & helped me make some good friends so i’ll always appreciate them for that.” –Blvksheep
“July 30th 2010…..the night (Nero) that my life changed forever. Sounds I had never heard gave me feelings I had never felt. Part of me was lost in the moment while the other part examined every detail of my surroundings. Although it looked chaotic, the crowd was a vibrant, organized ecosystem. The visual performance was so synchronous with the music that I quickly gained trust in whatever strangers were creating this experience. I fell in love.” –Cache Bunny
“I first attended Webster Hall for Girls and Boys with Mr Oizo in 2009 I think. It blew my mind, I love Mr Oizo, also never really went to anything like that before; first of all crazy to think then that I would have been playing on that stage less then ten years later and also such an honor.” –Mark the Beast
“Truthfully, I’m only 19 so I was only ever introduced to Webster Hall a little over 2 years ago when I first seen Madeon. Over the past couple years, Webster Hall became a second home and allowed to meet and make new friends and connections that allow me to continue what I’m doing.” –Ruvlo
How does Webster Hall closing down affect you and also the local EDM scene in NYC?
“Well that was the first venue I ever played in NY, I don’t know where else they through shows out there to be honest. I’m sure something new will pop up! Webster memories will always remain close to me.” –Blankface
“Webster closing definitely sucks for everyone & makes us all wonder what’s next, but all I’m gonna say is – the Visions team has A LOT coming up & we’re about to really take a HUGE step forward with the events we’re planning these next few months…” –Blvksheep
“When I was there for the closing night I was overwhelmed with love and gratitude. So many people told me how BASSment changed their lives and thanked me for making it happen. I want to continue giving people a place where they can make friends and feel accepted and lose themselves in the music just like I did on that first night. Also, the closure of Webster Hall will give everyone a reason to spread their wings and work / collaborate with new people! Webster Hall did things differently, and it’s employees have an opportunity to carry the WH mentality to their new endeavors (whatever they may be!).” –Cache Bunny
“It’s really sad man. I’m sure there will be other parties and we will all see each other in different spots but it was kind of a hub for everyone to come out to on the weekends and share their love for dance music together. I think we lost something really special, but I’m sure something else will take its place.” –Mark the Beast
“Overall, it sucks. Webster Hall was the last of a dying breed in New York City. The bass music scene and edm scene in general is going to be pretty harsh without Webster but in the meanwhile, brands like VISIONS will help keep the underground alive.” –Ruvlo
The End of an Era…
After closing down for renovations, the venue will take on new ownership by AEG Presents and Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment. Before closing the deal, AEG Presents acquired Bowery Presents, which used to exclusively book the entertainment at Webster Hall up until March 2014. AEG Presents chairman, Jay Marciano, who explained that the company and Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment plan to spend about $10 million renovating the world-famous Grand Ballroom (1500 capacity), the Marlin Room (600 capacity) and The Studio (400 capacity) “to bring them up to contemporary standards and add a few more customer features”. The planned renovations will take 2 years before the venue will reopen its doors again, possibly with a new name.