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Tonight marks the closing of Elements Food & Spirits in White Plains. Venues come and go over time, but this one holds a special place in my heart because of all the memories and friendships that are connected to Elements.
I moved from Orange County to Westchester County in early 2006, and spent the first couple years getting to know the area and building new friendships. It was during that period in early 2008 that Elements claimed its spot along Mamaroneck Avenue and it boasted instant success. Elements was different from the other bars along the strip at the time, most notably for its modern design and open air rooftop area. Electronic music was growing in popularity in the area. Pulse 87 was on the air and Elements was quick to establish itself as the destination for hearing the latest up-and-coming dance music tracks. Friday and Saturday nights were packed wall-to-wall with people dancing until sweat was dripping out of every pore.
My friends and I quickly became regulars, sometimes spending two nights a week there. In the winter months, we'd typically head over for dinner after work and stay until the wee hours of the night, watching the room slowly fill with people and the music get louder. In the summer months, many times we'd get out of work early on a Friday afternoon and head over at 3pm to enjoy the fresh air on the rooftop or the sights on street-level patio. As the sun started setting, we'd head inside and dance for hours straight.
Since we were a constant presence, we all got to know the wait staff, bartenders, and owners. They would sometimes party with us after their shift or on their day off. It really was the kind of place where we would walk in, know everyone, be greeted with hearty smiles, and have our favorite drinks delivered without even asking. One of the owners, Brian, took a special interest in getting to know us and ensuring we always left satisfied. We had birthday parties there ... we brought our out-of-town friends there ... it truly was our home away from home.
Not only did Elements help me grow my base of personal friends, it also helped me grow my network of nightlife contacts -- including DJs, promoters, and other party-goers. I learned who the major players were and had my finger on the pulse of nightlife in Westchester because of the connections that started at Elements.
After a few years, our regular visits slowly started declining as people in the group moved away, got married and had kids, or changed jobs. We were "growing up" as some would say. While we all visited occasionally, it was no where near the same frequency.
Fast forward to Saturday, February 27th, 2016 at 10pm. I was planning to have a quiet night at home in order to catch up on some client work. I broke out my "Elements Mix" playlist, which includes songs that were popular during the early days of Elements -- artists like Enur, Bellatrax, Ida Corr, Ercola, Sunfreakz, Kelly Rowland, Evermore, Guru Josh, and more. I was in a good mood and thinking back to those times from 2008 through 2010 when I would have been spending my night dancing to the very music I queued up. I posted on Facebook that I was missing the old Elements music and vibe, and joked about having a reunion party.
A minute later, I received a comment on my post that Elements would be permanently closing tomorrow. WHAT?!? I was in shock because that was the first I had heard of it. I immediately started searching Facebook and confirmed that it was true. Now what? I was planning to stay in, but given the news, I felt like I needed to get my last Elements fix in before they closed. Plus, I wanted to say goodbye to a few of the staff members that were still there. I sent a text message to Brian, the owner we had gotten to know over the years. He was working, so even more reason for me to head over. I quickly changed and hopped in a cab. As fate would have it, my cab driver happened to be a DJ that was scheduled to perform at the closing party on Sunday. What are the chances?
The place was packed with supporters looking to party one last time. As soon as I got there, Brian greeted me and took me down to his office. We spent close to an hour talking about everything that had transpired over the past few years. I'm not going to break Brian's confidence and reveal all the details here, but it's a disheartening story of politics, corruption, and strained business relationships. I could feel the passion and sadness in his voice as he laid things out for me. Good things must sadly come to an end sometimes.
I'd like to give a huge thank you to all of the staff, past and present, at Elements who waited on my friends and I with smiles and laughs, even when we became loud, obnoxious, drunk, and stupid. You are what made Elements so great for the past 8 years!
I've pulled together a few of the photos of our times at Elements ...