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
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
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
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
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
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
and mixed drink specials and DJ Moe Green. Management regards
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.
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
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
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
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
chandeliers. Pillows accompany the chairs and sectional couches.
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
with the dancing. Trash cans, ashtrays, and matches are in abundance
everywhere. The bars offer bottled water. Table candles create
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
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
Addis. $1 bottle beer special. Thursday, December 20, 8 p.m.
11 p.m. Friday, December 21, 8 p.m.
bottle beer till 11 p.m. Saturday, December 22, 8:00 pm .
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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