Corrections or additions?

This article by Diana Wolf

was prepared for the December 19, 2001 edition

of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Banking on Trenton’s Newfound Nightlife

Simply put, Trenton’s newest nightclub Envy is a place

to be envious of. Ample thought has been put into every last detail,

and the crowd is not what you’d expect from Trenton’s

rough-around-the-edges

reputation. I knew none of this at 10 p.m. when the valets wished

me a good time on a recent Friday night when I entered this

bank-turned-club.

Valet service is free for the month of December, and the $5 to $10

cover is waived for ladies the entire month as well. My dancing night

definitely started off on the right foot.

Trenton’s classic old bank building is back in action following its

short life as the South Bank Restaurant and Nightclub. Envy is a

spinoff

of a successful club of the same name in Philadelphia, and owners

Ian Pollock, Kevin Duffy (who also created Philly’s long-running Fizz

nightclub), plus newcomer Allen Cohen, say they are looking for a

more "stylish and sophisticated crowd" to make tracks to

Trenton.

With its 750-person capacity, Envy also plans to also target banquets,

corporate, and private events.

On this Friday, despite the hype about Trenton’s new "First

Friday"

evening events, Envy at 10 p.m. is a morgue. Thumping music echoes

in the chamber as colorful lights swoosh across the vast, empty dance

floor up to the high ceiling. Even the all-female bartender staff

is too bored to chitchat. I sip a drink at the first of three bars

on this level, one for whatever your mood. The first two bars hug

the dance floor, this one with sleek wooden bar chairs with backs

to lean against, while the second has no seats for those too hip to

sit. A third bar is tucked off the dance floor in a spacious alcove

for more private, quiet socializing. When there are others present

to socialize with, that is.

The best night for socializing depends on whom you ask. A security

guy says the night to be here is Wednesdays, WPST night, with $1 and

$1.75 drink specials and DJ Michael Polvere spinning tunes to the

live radio broadcast. A bartender insists that Thursday "college

nights" are the busiest, with DJs Robbie Tronco and Chuck Addis

from Philadelphia pounding the bass to the $1 bottle specials. Her

co-worker says I came on the best night, with custom shot and $1

bottle

and mixed drink specials and DJ Moe Green. Management regards

Saturdays

with DJ Jimmy Mac as its best night, the only night Envy opens at

9 p.m. instead of the customary 8 p.m. But everyone agrees that the

biggest single night so far has been their splashy grand opening night

that took place Wednesday, November 21.

I soon learn that life begins to breathe into the club

after 10:30 p.m., as groups of twos and threes enter together.

"Anything

goes" is the dress code — I see sweaters and khakis, trench

coats and leather jackets, dress shirts and mini-skirts. Even jeans

are welcome for now. One woman sports a leopard-print cowboy hat.

One guy wears a tuxedo vest, and women in glittery tank tops pop up

throughout the night.

The bass picks up about the same time the crowd does. I recognize

mixes of Madonna and an unexpected Eurythmics, but the thudding music

does nothing for the crowd clustering along the fringes of the floor

in the manner of a high school dance. Two stick-thin young women,

Envy employees barely old enough to drink, bump and gyrate on a small

stage to entice patrons to dance. This gimmick does not intrigue the

crowd. They’ll dance when they want to. And they do.

This is not your typical crowd. These are working people looking for

something to do on a Friday night, and most here for the first time.

I found no losers in this professional crowd of marketing personnel,

financial consultants, office managers, and teachers, where

28-years-old

is on the young side. Some older marrieds mingle with the singles.

They’ve all driven in from Princeton and Plainsboro and Philadelphia

to be here tonight. Some spend their time guessing the ages of women

walking by and conjecturing if they’ve ever been married. No one is

unfriendly, and the singles are downright approachable. I chat with

a guy at the bar, and a woman later bounces over to talk to me. Be

adventurous and you’ll meet someone.

Now that I’m no longer a spectre in a ghost town, I prowl this cave,

an image encouraged by the thick black curtains draping over the

windows.

The walls are stark with only ceiling-high columns adorning them,

but this place doesn’t feel empty. Decorations are so tasteful and

minimal that even the classic disco ball above the front bar seems

a little out of place. The gargoyle is appropriate, and I haven’t

figured out the "prone grasping man" statue. The original

bank vault door rules one corner of the dance floor with no added

gimmickry, just a row of chairs in front. This is a place to explore.

Plush chairs and sectional couches offer a place to catch your breath

on the second floor. The coziness here seems ideal to get better

acquainted

with someone you have just met. You will want to watch the nightly

laser show from here. The fog machine puffs blasts of smoke into the

atmosphere, rolling the lasers into you, as if you’ll fall into it

all. Video screens show computer animation during the laser show no

one pays attention to, all controlled by the DJ, who reigns high above

the crowd on the wall opposite wall the VIP room.

The Gothic VIP lounge on the third floor mezzanine overlooks the club

domain from a metal balcony. A "Mona Lisa" hangs next to the

fireplace lit by six candles. Large, empty Dom Perignon bottles are

perched on the mantle, while wall mirrors reflect light from the

hanging

chandeliers. Pillows accompany the chairs and sectional couches.

Complete

with a private staircase, I recommend experiencing this room before

those private parties snatch it away.

Attention has been paid to every detail. Two unexpected sitting areas

on the dance floor offer casual, comfortable respite, without

interfering

with the dancing. Trash cans, ashtrays, and matches are in abundance

everywhere. The bars offer bottled water. Table candles create

atmosphere.

Kitchen service is planned in the next few months, but the current

lack of bar munchies rates two big thumbs down. The coat check won’t

block the entranceway situated in the back of the club. Cash

convenience

is available from the ATM next to the bathrooms and cigarette vending

machine. The second floor railing offers the perfect vantage point

to scope out guys or check out the cleavage on the women below.

When I leave at 1 a.m., the crowd is still dancing. Waiting outside

for my car is safe but cold, and a valet offers me his coat while

my car is brought around. He gets a big tip for his thoughtfulness,

as does this sultry, stylish, comfortable club. Don’t fall victim

to one of the seven deadly sins over ENVY. Get on the guest list now.

— Diana Wolf

Envy, 730 South Broad, Trenton, 609-278-3500.

College Night features DJ Robbie Tronco with DJ Chuck

Addis. $1 bottle beer special. Thursday, December 20, 8 p.m.

Dance Party. No cover for ladies. $1 bottle beer till

11 p.m. Friday, December 21, 8 p.m.

Dance Party with DJ Jimmy Mac. No cover for ladies. $1

bottle beer till 11 p.m. Saturday, December 22, 8:00 pm .

New Year’s Eve Special, Envy, 730 South Broad,

Trenton,

609-278-3500. Guest DJs, appetizers and open bar to 1 a.m. Champagne

toast, Continental breakfast till 5 a.m. $30 per person. Monday,

December 31, 9 p.m.


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