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Welcome to the Underground World of Healthy Clubbing

At Public Records, a new “listening bar” in Brooklyn’s Gowanus neighborhood, the owners are so nerdy about sound that many advertisements for the space feature glamour shots of its speakers. But while the main room is set to host an impressive lineup of DJs, the bright, airy cafe and bar attached is just as much of a destination. The beverage menu offers an array of housemade non-alcoholic tonics like blood orange celery soda and coconut water chamomile. And with food options like “no bone” mushroom broth and spelt with summer squash debuting this week, a night out at Public Records feels legitimately healthy.

Public Records’ blood orange celery soda.

Photo by Emma Fishman

For many, going out and dancing have always been forms of stress release, ways to escape the anxieties of everyday life. But now more and more clubs are intentionally incorporating wellness practices—like deep listening, adaptogenic cocktails, and plant-based cuisine—to give partiers even more ways to find self-care after dark.

At Nowadays, a sprawling nightclub complex in Ridgewood, Queens, you can lie on a woven blanket and listen to ambient music during their Thursday night Planetarium, dance until dawn on the same wood floor on Friday and Saturday, then bring your kid or your dog to the outdoor space on Sunday afternoon. The whole venue feels nearly spa-like, with salt lamps, kombucha on tap, and even, this past winter, a mobile outdoor sauna.

Vibamins’s lineup of rave-friendly smoothies.

Photo by Laura Murray

Both Nowadays and Public Records’ food and beverage program is helmed by Henry Rich, who also owns several Brooklyn restaurants, including Metta and Rucola. For him, health and wellness are especially important in a club: “You’re up until eight in the morning, so caffeine is great, but it’s great if you can also have nutrients that will allow you to enjoy yourself all night and make you not feel terrible the next day,” he said. “Just living in New York, it’s so important to refill the well that’s constantly being drawn down.”

For Nowadays co-founder Eamon Harkin, design elements like natural light were integral to the way he and his partner, Justin Carter, thought about the eclectic clubbing experiences they wanted to offer. “When we went looking for a place to build Nowadays, we wanted a place that had outdoor space and indoor space, and we wanted the indoor space to have some natural light. Those characteristics afforded us the greatest flexibility to create different experiences,” he said. “People are really craving an environment where they can switch off and just lower the noise levels in their lives.”

Remedi Foods founder Marie Bedross.

Photo by Emma Fishman

The beverage offerings at Nowadays include “Vibamins,” non-alcoholic drinks with flavors like “Pre-rave” (featuring raw cacao and maca root for energy) and “Post-rave” (with 5-HTP and milky oat straw for winding down). Vibamins are the brainchild of Marie Bedross, whose catering company, Remedi Foods, supplies plant-based foods like tempeh BLTs to all-night raves and venues around the city. Bedross’s goal is to introduce ravers to healthy eating when they need it most. “The only option [dancers] had was to dull themselves,” she said. “Let me make [them] sparkle a little bit.”

For stud1nt, a DJ and producer who often performs at Nowadays’ Thursday night Planetarium, giving up alcohol redefined their relationship to clubbing. Planetarium is appealing to them because unlike the drinking-heavy culture of so many club nights around New York, “you don’t have to be in this super party mode.” They compared these newer venues to the underground warehouse parties that used to be much more common in the city, where drinking was often much less of a focus.

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