Back in the '70s, when singer Alicia Bridges was belting out her hit "I Love the Nightlife"and nightclub owner Steve Rubell had New York City trendoids on the velvet ropes outside his famous Studio 54 — a scene that forever encapsulated the night fever frenzy of the disco era — no-one could have possibly forecast that today's party animals would, in fact, be animals. Dogs to be exact.
These days, many pooches around the country lead a very active social life after dark and the trend is definitely growing. And, if Rubell is the name most associated with the nightlife of the '70s, then Los Angeles businessman Brandon Hochman must take today's credit for putting dogs in the nightlife mix.
Hochman’s personal pet peeve was that he loved the L.A. party scene, but was troubled that he couldn’t take his own pooches Mish Mash, a Maltipoo, Lucy the Labrador and Baxter the Pug with him for a drink and a good time.
Consequently, he decided to open L.A.’s first doggie night club appropriately named SkyBark on the rooftop of his downtown offices, with unique doggie restrooms as part of the master plan — Hochman invented the Pet-a-Potty, an indoor pet toilet that allows pets to take indoor bathroom breaks. This grass sod system can be installed anywhere — nightclubs, theatres, hotels — wherever dogs are.
When SkyBark's doors opened in 2005, California’s canines were howling to rock and roll on a special 3,000-square-foot lawn doggie dance floor, lap up "muttinis" and set a precedent nationwide.
The venue with a stunning 360 degree view of the city skyline has a full bar, DJ’s spinning the latest music and a wonderful mix of celebrities and pet lovers from all over Southern California.
“It’s not just about having a fun evening out with your dog,” says Hochman. “The covert charge from every event is donated to an animal charity and different rescue groups benefit from each event. This way we are sharing the wealth amongst all those in need.”
To get on the guest list is simple; anyone with a well-trained pooch can attend. Concierges at pet-friendly hotels are alerted in advance of parties so that travelers with dogs can plan ahead. Alternatively, anyone can sign up for the SkyBark newsletter on SkyBark.com which provides information on forthcoming events.
SkyBark has become a fixture on the Los Angeles social scene, last year winning awards for the best pet service in L.A., and was named “the hottest new club in Los Angeles in 2007” by the National Enquirer.
Bruce Haas, co-owner of the trendy Tails in the City pet boutique off stylish Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago, says anyone can stage a doggie event if you have proper canine bathroom facilities.
Recently, Haas and his partner Phillip Emigh threw a bash called "Dance with the Dogs" at the very trendy Level nightclub on Rush Street. The Pupperazzi were camped outside focused on the red carpet as stylishly dressed owners and their pooches made their way into the two-level club to meet, mingle and dance to the latest hits. Pet parents sipped Arnold Pawmers, the club’s signature vodka, cranberry juice and lemonade drink; while doggie party animals munched on treats shaped like martinis.
“We also had a beauty lounge so that dogs cold have pawidures and hair touch-ups,” says Haas. “We had quite an international mix of people, as a lot of foreign guests staying at nearby pet-friendly hotels took advantage of a social event that included their pooches.”
Scott Rinehart of Wiskers Pet Beastro in Belmont Shore, Long Beach, Calif., says if you want to give your dog an active social life after dark, a good place to look for events is on pet boutique notice boards.
“We host cheese and wine parties in store every month, serving wines with pet-related labels with names such as Dog House. Dogs get flavored waters in fun martini-shaped bowls along with organic gourmet treats — they are always well attended.”
“People love to attend events with their pets after hours as it gives them a chance to relax and unwind,” says Meredith Brooks of Lil’ Angel Pet Boutique and Gallery in Denver, Colo. Brooks holds regular art exhibitions in store, giving people who appreciate art an interesting venue to meet and mingle.
The Kimpton Hotel group is also getting in on the pet social scene. The Hotel Monaco in Alexandria, Va., holds a "Yappy Hour" in the hotel’s courtyard every Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 5.30 to 8.00 p.m.
Melany Mullens, public relations specialist for the group says gatherings kick-off in April and continue until the end of summer. The hotel’s Director of Pet Relations, a handsome Bichon Frise named Charlie is always on hand to greet guests.
“The biggest advantage of places that cater after dark to dogs is that it removes the guilt of having to rush home to walk and feed the dog and feeling that you should rather be home spending time with your pet,” says Hochman.
Sniffing on the heels of SkyBark L.A.'s success, Hochman is now looking to expand the concept to other cities famous for their nightlife such as Las Vegas, New York and Boston.