Dom Joly: New York, New York, so trendy it hurts

Click to follow
The Independent Online

I love meetings – free coffee, lots of talk about potential projects without actually having to do anything there and then. When the meeting in question is in New York and you have been flown there for that sole purpose, it doesn't get much better.

I love New York. It's a city that positively buzzes with excitement and is achingly hip. In a way, that is also the problem with the place. Sometimes, I have longed to wander into just one establishment that is a little ... ordinary. This genuinely doesn't seem to exist. Leave the city for a day and you return to find that everywhere you liked has become untrendy and everyone has gone somewhere else. This applies not only to individual bars and restaurants but to entire areas.

Last I knew, Tribeca was the in-place, but it turned out that everyone had decamped to the Meatpacking District (although word on the street was that the real hip crowd was in Williamsburg). Luckily, I didn't have to make any decisions, I just followed the people I was with – a mixture of locals and expats. My meeting was at Soho House, in said Meatpacking District.

When I was stuck in LA during the volcano crisis, I was taken to the new Soho House there, which was the current "hot" destination for the networking crowd. The New York club was very different. It had a roof terrace complete with tiny swimming pool. This was surrounded by rows of huge "day beds" upon which seemingly endless amounts of beautiful people lounged all day. Quite what these people did for a living was beyond me. All I knew was that to swim here, you had to be fantastically body confident. It was the living embodiment of my worst anxiety dream – to be dropped in the middle of all this naked. Hilariously, there was a lifeguard in the corner, replete with mini lifeguard tower. The pool was about five feet deep and you would have to be dimmer than Jordan to drown yourself in it.

I sidled up to the lifeguard, the man with the cushiest job in New York, and asked him whether they got many drownings here? He looked at me quizzically: "Of course not, that's why I'm here." I gave up and decided to move elsewhere.

One of the trendy expats had urged me to meet him in a faux German beer garden not too far away. I decamped and wandered over to the place. It was packed, but I soon found my new friend. Before we could get a drink, however, he announced that the place was "too intense" so we had to move again. We ended up in a pub round the corner that was full of Brits and waitressed by women who wouldn't have looked out of place in Hooters.

This is the problem with the whole expat thing. The last thing I wanted to do in New York was to hang out in a faux British pub. Sadly, though, if you actually do move somewhere, this is invariably what happens. However fabulous and exotic the destination, British expats eventually end up watching football in bars that the locals think are roughly what the Old Kent Road looks like. I don't want to go to the Old Kent Road in England let alone some rough Disney version of it.

I expressed my dislike of where we were. My new friend thought for a second. "There's a new bar round the corner. It's so cool you won't get in with what you're wearing, but I know someone. It has a urinal that is a solid glass wall overlooking the city..." I sank my pint, made my excuses and slipped away back to unfashionable Tribeca, my bed and my white noise curtain which, in Guantanamo, they use for torture but, in New York, just drowns out the traffic.