Dave Delzio has been a part of the NYC nightlife scene for over 25 years, here's what he's learned

How did you get your start in nightlife?

I started working at the Limelight, I want to say that was 1993. I started promoting parties and doing things over there.

How would you describe New York City nightlife?

It’s definitely changed over the years. When I started, it was definitely more big-club oriented. You had clubs like Club USA, the Limelight, Palladium — people were going for that. I feel that now, nightlife is more promoter-driven and about table service. It’s getting back to a club level with the EDM movement, but the whole scene has changed. New York went from big-club level stuff to more bottle service, loungey experiences. Now nightlife is moving into luxury hotels with rooftops and clubs that are really putting in an effort to make a nice environment for clients.

What do you think caused the change in NYC nightlife?

Back then, it was Giuliani and a lot of these clubs that were doing things that weren’t necessarily legal, that pretty much ruined everything. So people started moving away from that and into smaller venues.

Photo by Peter Roessler

Photo by Peter Roessler

What’s the recipe for a great bar or club and why do so many businesses fail in NYC?

Decor, talent and a good crowd. And if it’s a restaurant, obviously you have to have a beautiful environment, but also exquisite food. New York is a very hard market to break into because there’s so much competition and there are so many good chefs. It’s so hard to stand out when there are so many good offerings.

What’s surprised you the most about working in nightlife and what are some of the most common misconceptions about this industry?

That it was more corporate than you might think. When I first started, I was young and thought, ‘Oh, I just get to go out and drink free booze.’ Then I learned what actually goes into the process and how much it takes to run a business. As far as misconceptions, people think that I have the best job and all I do is go out and party. Instead, I get to my office at eight o’clock and stay until seven o’clock and I don’t really go out that much.What do you wish you’d known about this industry before becoming involved and what’s the best advice you can give to aspiring professionals? How to trust people. I was too trusting in the beginning and there are a lot of snakes in this business. So being able to read people now is one thing that I’ve learned very well in this business. 

We’ve talked about how the nightlife industry has changed since the start of your career, but where do you see it heading?

I’m not sure where it’s going, to be honest with you. I can see a lot of things happening, and right now, there’s a certain model that’s working for a lot of people — which is a little mix of everything and a full entertainment experience. There are some really beautiful night clubs out there offering a full-level experience.