LONG ISLAND CITY, NY – Kefi with a capital “K” christened the widely anticipated grand opening of the Melrose Ballroom, New York’s newest entertainment venue on December 20. Nikos Makropoulos joined by talented singers and a fine orchestra thrilled fans old and new of every generation with recent hits and musical classics.
Just off 36th Avenue, not far from the border of Long Island City and Astoria, Greeks and lovers of their music who have been mourning the death of the great nightclubs of bygone eras adn have been waiting decades for a revival now have something to cheer about and bring their families and friends to.
Makropoulos welcomed the guests and immediately got them up dancing. They pelted him with flowers for his trouble, and his smiles got even more people to rise and celebrate the Greek spirit.
The ebullient singe, who is passionate about Thessaloniki where he was born and raised, loves New York and paused to welcome its residents to the show. He said he was impressed with the new venue: “I think this space will make history in New York.”
The singers, including the popular Eleni Alexander, more than warmed up the crowd of almost 400 people for Makropoulos, the first of many scheduled top Greek entertainers.
The website announces upcoming featured artists, including Anna Vissi, Antonis Remos, Stamatis Gonidis, Peggy Zina and Nikos Dikonomopoulos.
The audience enjoyed the sounds of an excellent orchestra which included three keyboardists, a violinist, two percussionists – the beloved lyra and dumbek drum also made appearances – and two bouzouki players.
Greek-Americans will warm up to the chance to enjoy their favorite singers in concert while being able to buy drinks and meals. TNH observed that the service was very good.
The dinner menu has light fare that guests seemed to be enjoying: dolmades, souvlaki, assorted spreads and fried calamari. The breakfast menu kicks in at 3 AM.
There was no designated dance floor – a simple rearrangement of the tables can take care of that for other events, but every spot – including chairs of course – became a dance floor.
Rob Delgiorno, the food and beverage director, marveled at the dancing that broke out everywhere and never ceases to be amazed at how Greeks can turn any time and place into a party. “There are two shows, on the stage and in the audience,” he said, and he anticipates the pattern will be Greeks down below and Americans enjoying both shows from the mezzanine.
The setting is modern, state-of-the-art, but comfortable. The sound and lighting systems are excellent but not overwhelming. Their technical details are available on the website.
There is an ample stage and a large space for the audience, flanked by two long bars. Behind the main area there is also a slightly elevated space and the hall is ringed by a mezzanine with its own bar on three sides.
An exciting feature is the LCD video wall which is billed as “one of the largest on the east coast” and will display sports extravaganzas from the Super Bowl to the World Series to the World Cup. Indeed sports – including live boxing matches – is the strong entertainment complement to the music, which so far has generated most of the excitement.
It is also a catering hall that will host weddings, bar mitzvahs, etc.
Versatility is an important quality in the design. Not only is the main space able to be transformed into a variety of settingd, there is also an indoor/outdoor roof garden with a view of the Manhattan skyline.
According to its website, the design team of the Archipelagos architectural firm felt that in order to accommodate that breadth of events, “a Simple utilitarian design was the key” for the 15,000 sq. foot facility. “To achieve this we left most of the concrete surfaces exposed or covered with functional acoustical panels or structural systems for equipment. The only really ‘designed’ space will be the VIP lounge on the terrace.”
TNH was informed that the surfaces also reflect the special care that was taken regarding the acoustics – both to insure high musical quality for listeners, and to isolate the multiple spaces and to insulate the neighbors.
Gus Prentzas, local businessman and community leader was there with friends and family and told The National Herald he was glad for the music and the business the new venue will bring to Astoria.