To borrow the well-known words of one Buffalo Springfield: There’s something happening here. One year into Make Believe, a transportive social club on the roof of SIXTY LES, venerated nightlife duo Jack Mulqueen and Thatcher Shultz continue to produce a kind of indescribable magic on a weekly basis. Maybe it’s the outrageous pink flora. Maybe it’s the back-to-back-to-back lineup of unbelievably tasty DJs. Maybe it’s the cocktails, the people, the sprawling views of Manhattan. It’s hard to say what, exactly, makes Make Believe Make Believe. But that’s the thing about the best spaces in New York, isn’t it? A great room is always more than the sum of its parts. It’s electricity, feeling, transcendence.
At least that’s how we over here at SIXTY HQ feel. If you want to get a more in-depth, behind-the-scenes view into Lower Manhattan’s hottest rooftop scene (that’s Make Believe, in case you haven’t been following), it’s probably wise to hand the mic to the people running the show. So, a little over a year after Make Believe opened its doors and we published this informative little piece introducing it (which you should read), we wanted to reconvene with Mulqueen and Shultz. Below, two pair shines a light on what makes Make Believe one of the best nights in town—without giving too much away, of course. What’s a little magic, after all, without some mystery.
So how’s it feel just over one year into Make Believe?
Clubs are measured in New York minutes, so Make Believe would typically be considered “Old enough to Party” by this point. Jokes aside, the last year has been immensely rewarding and gratifying for us. Pre-opening, you have all the jitters: Will it take? Will the general public respond well to our offering? All of those questions have been answered with a resounding “yes,” which has allowed us to focus on how we can expand our brand ideologies in thoughtful and meaningful ways. Our goal has always been to send home as many smiling faces as possible, so that remains a constant.
Is there anything that’s surprised you?
JM: I was surprised at how quickly the general public caught on, and how quickly the brand transcended our personal spheres of influence. Make Believe has taken on this quirky life of its own, and manifested something of a cult following in the process. Nobody could have ever foreseen our Saturday day party gaining such notoriety as well, but here we are.
TS: All of our bartenders, servers, door staff, and support staff are so proud to work at Make Believe—they love working for us and they care about the brand. Customers can sense that, and it makes them want to be a part of it even more. There is a real family dynamic in play. We have very little turnover and our staff truly enjoys coming to work.
Make Believe today in three words:
Whimsical, lively, jovial.
Let’s play a little visual game. Describe the scene for our reader:
Make Believe at 8 p.m: A playful, slow-build. Eclectic music from around the world. During summer months, our sunset party is in full swing. Summers tend to get lively right after work, and we’ve programmed those hours with DJs who can set the vibes accordingly.
Make Believe at 12 a.m: The club is full of life. High-energy. Great people-watching.
Make Believe at 3 a.m: Mischief managed. Smiling faces. A lot of dance floor action.
Make Believe guest of note:
DJ Khaled throwing an impromptu listening party for his new album immediately comes to mind. We had no idea it was going to happen until about 30 minutes prior. A lot of celebrities and public figures stay at the hotel, so they tend to just walk in unannounced. In just under a year, we’ve had hall-of-fame athletes, superheroes, top models, and disgruntled former-Disney stars partake in the action. That’s always an exciting feeling.
Song you think best encapsulates the vibe of Make Believe so far:
“Body Funk” by Purple Disco Machine. A tune that is universally loved. It bridges the gap between typical club fare and groovy house and disco. How can you be accessible, while still being different? It’s a challenge I’ve posited myself with the music supervision. People go out with expectations. Many want to hear the same songs every night, everywhere they go. Unfortunately we can’t accommodate, but we can elevate. The biggest challenge for our DJs is to capture imaginations and lead people out of their comfort zone.
Is there one night in particular that stands out to you?
TS: Our one-year anniversary party in mid-April was excellent. All of our closest friends showed up and the room came to life. I’ll also never forget my birthday at Make Believe last summer. The cake was sublime.
JM: For me, it was my engagement party in January. Many of our family members were visiting Make Believe for the first time, so to see them enjoying themselves carried a lot of personal significance. That was also one of those nights where the room was filled with friends. Those tend to be our favorite nights. We built Make Believe with our friends in mind.
How do you feel Make Believe continues to stand out in the nightlife landscape?
Make Believe will always stand out because of its unique design—it’s an enclosed rooftop club in an excellent location. We want to continue forging new brand partnerships, new DJ talent, and continue to employ/retain the best staff in New York. Our Saturday day party has become an absolute monster of a party, and our sunset sessions have caught on in recent months. It turns out people really like drinking and music. We also want to double down on our commitment to turning our friends’ philanthropic dreams into realities. Why can’t a club be a force for good? We love hosting charity events, and oftentimes leverage our relationships to get beverage sponsors for our friends for their charitable endeavors. If it is a cause we truly believe in, we’re always willing to find creative ways to host, so if you’re reading this, get in touch.
DJs you’d like to get in the mix going forward:
As a small nightclub, we’re reliant on our friends with deep ties to the music industry to get big musical talent. Every so often, a night will come together where you have premier musical talent coming in for a surprise unannounced play. Our party with Bob Moses a few months ago comes to mind—it’s always a treat seeing a touring act of that caliber in such an intimate setting. Interestingly enough, we saw them at Coachella a few months later and they were still buzzing about that night. For these artists, playing a small room and an amazing party can be a real treat as well, so it goes both ways.
What’s your hope for the year ahead?
Continuing to improve the space in meaningful ways, both cosmetic things you can see and the invisible intangibles that lead to a better experience for our patrons. Bringing pop-ups to different cities, that’s another. And our panther logo has become synonymous with the brand, so we want to continue making our limited runs of apparel that we gift to our closest friends and most devout patrons—it’s a fun way of saying thank you.
Photos courtesy of Maxime Comtois for Make Believe