Darkened dance floor. Smoke machine. Throbbing music. Colorful laser lights. This is one of the newest dance clubs on Long Island — and you can’t get in if you’re older than 18.
Club LOL NY is a Friday-night gathering place for middle and high school students. The middle schoolers gather from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., and the high schoolers take over from 9 to midnight.
“Everybody at school is talking about it,” says Katherine Jimenez, a 15-year-old ninth-grader from Floral Park Memorial High School, who attended a recent session. “It’s like a big party.”
THE BIG IDEA
Wendy Cassell has been running Progressive Gymnastics for decades. After she hired Travis Kipp, a 24-year-old DJ who had worked in nightclubs in Florida, they decided to transform what is by day their preschool and gymnastics studio into a teen-style club one night a week.
It takes a crew of 10 two to three hours to transform the gymnasium into Club LOL. There are three rooms — a lounge where kids get free soda, chips and pizza; a dance floor with a DJ, a motivational dancer and light-up cubes people can dance on; and a VIP room of white couches that only a limited number of people are invited into each week and that can be rented out for parties.
The gymnastics equipment is stored behind a black curtain; murals on the wall of children playing are replaced with huge signs of text messages such as “OMG” and backlit with red or blue lighting. “It’s a huge transformation,” Cassell says. Club LOL opened July 31.
Girls aren’t allowed to bring in more than a wristlet purse, which is searched. Boys can’t bring in anything. Bouncers pat down pockets to avoid potential problems with alcohol or drugs, says Cassell. Eight professional security guards with headphones are on site. Children are allowed entry only once and through the main entrance; if they leave, they can’t re-enter, she says. Up to about 85 middle schoolers and 250 high schoolers attend.
HOW IT WORKS
The club employs “promoters” at schools who earn $2 for each person who mentions the promoter invited him or her; promoters also designate guests for the VIP room. Students also can attend without mentioning a name.
WHY KIDS LIKE IT
“Obviously we’re too young to go to real clubs, so there’s nothing to do on weekends,” says Angela Shapiro, 14, a Manhasset High School freshman. Teens meet new friends from other high schools, she says. Alex Okin, 16, a junior at Herricks High School, says he comes to meet girls. “It’s a great place to get social,” he says.
SOME PARENTAL CONCERNS
It’s dark in there. During the high school session, dancing can be suggestive. “We’re teaching them to start partying at an early age. This isn’t a school dance,” says George Bassias of Garden City, whose daughter Lily, 13, was at the club during the high school session one recent Friday. Club LOL’s response: “They’re at an age when they’re exploring partying, anyway; we’d rather have them do it in a safe environment under supervision than sneaking over to a friend’s house whose parents are out of town,” Kipp says.
Exits outside the main entrance weren’t clearly marked, and one parent was concerned about exiting during a fire or emergency. “We realized that, and we’ve since put another exit sign out into the room,” Kipp says. “We’re in complete compliance with the fire marshal.”
The club asks for ID only if the student looks too old, to keep out people older than 18; if parents don’t want their middle schoolers at the high school session, they must just say no. “How many middle schoolers have IDs? They just don’t have them,” Kipp says. “We really rely on the parents to make sure they drop their children off at the right times.”
Club LOL is planning to institute an ID and membership system, Cassell says. No problems have been reported, according to Nassau County police.
WHAT Club LOL NY
WHEN | WHERE 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Fridays for middle schoolers and 9 to midnight for high schoolers at 2200 Marcus Ave., Lake Success
INFO $15 a person for middle schoolers, $20 for high schoolers; 516-233-2532, clublolny.com