It's midnight on a Tuesday, and the valet parking at Chateau Briand in Carle Place is full. As is the lot at the retail strip next door -- and the parking area clear across Old Country Road.
The occasion is "Body English Tuesdays," the catering hall's weeknight answer to the South Beach-inspired lounge parties that are rampant in the Hamptons on summer weekends.
"We had our biggest opening ever," says party co-producer Richard Bedrosian, estimating the turnout at more than 2,500 people for the event's third season kickoff last week. VIP tables, which go for several hundred dollars, were sold out a week in advance. "That's never happened before," he says.
SETTING THE SCENE
A long line of well-dressed people -- from 20-somethings to middle-agers -- wait to enter. Inside, there's a large club space with a bar and dance floor that's packed. A DJ spins pop remixes at a pounding volume. But the real appeal is outdoors, where hundreds of people are socializing over drinks in a large brick courtyard that's been remade to feel like a tropical pool party -- minus the pool.
White lounge chairs and low tables are clustered into seating areas under tall palm trees, trunks wrapped with strings of white lights. Other patrons are holding court in lush cabanas (restricted to VIPs) or ordering sushi ($12-$22), personal pizzas ($15-$16) and other bites at a food counter. Specialty cocktails such as the "Pinnacle Brooklyn Egg Cream" (whipped cream- and vanilla-flavored vodka, club soda and a dash of chocolate syrup) average $15.
Views and noise from the neighboring strip malls and parkways are blocked out by 12-foot walls.
WORKING THE CROWD
Patrons say it's hardly what you'd expect at a venue that primarily hosts weddings and bar mitzvahs.
"It's one of those places you can escape to during the week," says Jerry Stathopoulos, 29, a restaurant owner from Blue Point. "The atmosphere is beautiful."
Adam Ascher, a ticket broker from Cove Neck, has been a regular at the Tuesday night parties since they started in 2009. He says he likes upscale vibe and the diversity of the crowd.
"This is a great place to meet people," says Ascher, 40. "It appeals to everybody."
BODY ENGLISH TUESDAYS
WHEN | WHERE 9 p.m. Tuesdays through summer, Chateau Briand, 440 Old Country Rd., Carle Place
INFO 516-334-6125, bodyenglishtuesdays.com