Redeye - Karma, karma, karma, karma, karma chameleon December 23 2004

On Dec. 18, I bundled myself up and faced the Midtown bustle to check out Sutra Lounge, the new venture in the former Crescent Room space. Cautiously ambling down the stairs, I didn't know what to expect, let alone what to feel.

I've spent plenty of nights at the Crescent Room; it almost served the purpose of a neighborhood bar for me, a little reprieve from all the inflated egos that seem to plaster the sidewalks like soggy cardstock advertising yet another party. (Bazzaar is now my eddy from insanity.)

So, admittedly, I was a little hesitant to face the fray on a block I barely recognize anymore. The best way I can describe Sutra Lounge, physically, is like a condensed Vision, with a dash of the Mark. From the white curtains and leather to the gleaming white bar basked in the glow of green underlighting, and from the prominently displayed tiers of luxury-brand vodka poured into $8 cocktails to the bottle-service daybed nooks — this is an environment that seeks to take anonymity out of the focus. You are the "star," forced to provide your own gravitational pull, and whether you shine or fall depends on your sass. There's no lowlight shroud to aid in the seduction. Sutra comes across like an extended VIP, though there is, of course, a separate, glassed-in VIP "fishbowl" where the DJ booth once was. (Another leather-wrapped VIP bar now sits in the small backroom that once held a pool table). Sutra's DJ booth is nestled against the wall closest to the stairs, and will play more mainstream dance selections instead of hip-hop or the rarefied selections the Crescent Room became known for. Thursday nights will be open to outside promoters such as Liquified.

Rez, a managing partner, took me on my tour. He began to explain Sutra's desired (and increasingly familiar-sounding) niche. The club's goal seems to be to provide a place for a late-20s/early 30s crowd that's grown beyond the mega-club hustle, but still enjoys the taste of pampering and glitz. To further the inclusive stay-and-play atmosphere, tapas selections from Fuego, located on ground level, can be ordered, delivered and added to the Sutra bill.

Was the experience bittersweet? Personally, sure. It was like running into someone you know but haven't seen in a while, then realizing from the clothes up you don't have the same things in common anymore. Does that mean people in different phases of their lives can't get to know each other again? No, it just means you have to feel each other out. But isn't that nightlife — seeing where you can get it and seeing where you can fit in.

Soon, very soon, we'll also report on the season's other club openings: Underground's New Year's Eve unveiling. Is it the arctic snap or do I see you shiver, with antici ... pation?Keep one RedEye open. And send all comments, questions, observations and invitations to redeye@creativeloafing.com.