July 2019 - ciaooo!

Jordan Scott is the 24-year-old founder of idk tonight, NYC’s trusted resource for couples. For nearly two years, she has helped to curate unique, fun dates all around NYC for over 30,000 couples. We asked Jordan for her favorite date in the West Village. You can read our full bio with her HERE.

Jordan Scott – Founder of IDK Tonight
https://idktonight.com/otto-zinc-bar/
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Zinc Bar

Start with a set at Zinc Bar (where Nick took me on our very first date). The underground jazz lounge has slinky, sexy vibes and a rotating cast of incredible musicians. You can pay extra to see the show behind the red curtains, or simply sit by the bar and listen in.

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/31243791138267854/
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The Olive Tree Cafe

The Olive Tree Cafe is located directly above the Comedy Cellar. The food is surprisingly good, and you can draw on the tables in chalk. The best part is you’ll usually find the comics hanging out here before and after their sets. One of the tables in the back is known as the comics table! Come here for a drink before a show at the Comedy Cellar!

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Comedy Cellar

See the best comedy show in New York, hands down, at Comedy Cellar (be sure to make a reservation at least a week in advance). Comedy Cellar is New York’s most classic comedy club. You will never have a bad time here. Weekend shows tend to sell out, but celebrity comics tend to drop in during the weekdays to practice their sets.

https://www.zomato.com/new-york-city/sevilla-restaurant-greenwich-village
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Sevilla

Split the seafood paella at Sevilla. The restaurant has been around for over 61 years and the place has an incredible, homey, West Village feel to it.

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Cafe Reggio

Talk until it’s late over cappuccinos and profiteroles surrounded by stunningly gloomy and very old artwork at Caffe Reggio.

Chau Mui

Chau is the original New York City stoop kid who cut her teeth hanging out in Union Square, ate soup dumplings in Chinatown and explored this great city by train, foot and everything in between.

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Made for born and bred locals and tourists visiting NYC for the first time, our Epic Dumpling Tour Ever will show you a side of Chinatown that you’ve never seen before! Join our dope guides on a super fun two-hour tasting tour of Chinatown’s best, local dumpling spots as you learn the crazy history of Chinatown’s triad wars, Five Points and how it became the home of tap dancing!

What Makes Our Tours Awesome?

Our guides are REAL New Yorkers

We host dumpling tours twice a month. Keep a lookout for upcoming tours HERE!

As a born and bred New Yorker whose father was a chef in Chinatown for 30+ years, I became the go-to Chinatown expert and since then I’ve worked with a team of homegrown local talent to curate the most authentic & fun experience!

Overall,  great food, knowledgeable and friendly host, fun tour route, and good vibes. I would 100% recommend this dumpling tour if you’re a tourist or even a local.  Come hungry!

– Nickey L, Yelp Review

The Anti – Tour, Tour

Don’t you hate seeing a tour group with 30+ people, host shouting into a loudspeaker carrying a flag and just blocking the whole street? Our tours are NOT like that!

THE MOST EPIC DUMPLING TOUR

When are the dumpling tours?

Our tours typically run for 2 hours, but sometimes, when we’re having too much fun they can run a tiny smidge longer. Either way – we are super conscientious of everyone’s time so we only run longer if everyone is down to stay!

I can just go online and find a list of dumpling places. Why should I pay to come to yours?

You totally can! There are a few spots on our list that don’t even have a Yelp or website. We support local mom and pop businesses that are beloved by locals and often miss the Top 10 lists because they’re not as social media savvy. A lot of the businesses we visit are run by hard-working families who work 6-7 days a week and are almost always behind the counter whenever we visit. We have built up relationships with them and are super proud to be able to bring them business and awareness they may not have otherwise.

Also, the whole experience is more than dumplings! The whole tour is to showcase the beauty and culture behind Chinatown! We share everything from the wild history of when Native Americans first held down the land to gang warfare of the 1900’s to the current cultural situation. We share parts of Chinese culture that go beyond just food. Our goal is to share the Chinese culture and to make Chinatown a place that you can visit and take your friends/family when they come to visit! Many of our previous fans message us when they show their friends around.

What makes you the expert of dumplings?

Our tours are curated by me, Chau, the founder of ciaooo! I’m a native New Yorker who grew up on Canal Street in Chinatown. My dad was a chef in the Chinese restaurants for 30+ years so I would consider myself an expert in these parts.

There’s my dad (center) in front of the first Chinatown restaurant he worked in.

What should we expect on the tour?

We like to keep our groups small + intimate so that it’s not impersonal. On average, our groups run between 8-10 people. For special occasions like birthdays, group events we’ve done this with groups of 20! Our tours are meant to get you FULL on food + knowledge (mic drop).

You can expect a walking Tour of Chinatown including checking out favorite local hotspots that I grew up going to including Singaporean Beef Jerky, Sponge Cakes, Milk + Bubble Tea, super hidden markets + old school gold shops.

Dumplings at over 3 different locations of the steamed, fried, and soup variety!

Crazy history of Chinatown from the bloody gang fights to the most recent years of speakeasies.

Just the most lit tour ever. Like, how often are you gonna get a real New Yorker who grew up there actually take you?

Who goes on the tours?

Most of our guests have been 20 – 30 something locals. We’ve had people who grew up on Mulberry Street or were immense dumpling fans and still told us they were in shock at all that they discovered! We like to separate ourselves from traditional tours cause we’re not traditonal people. Ummm have you seen how many “Os” are in “ciaooo!”?

In that case – we like to make the tours a fun place for you to meet other cool, like-minded people. People have come alone, with their significant others, and with friends. At the end of the day, it’s a low key + fun experience that anyone can enjoy 🙂

Someone please come dressed like this one day

How should I dress?

Do wear comfy shoes and stretchy pants ’cause it’s gonna be lit. If you roll up in a full-blown dumpling costume and wear it for the whole tour, we’ll comp your ticket!!!

Chau Mui

Chau is the original New York City stoop kid who cut her teeth hanging out in Union Square, ate soup dumplings in Chinatown and explored this great city by train, foot and everything in between.

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Jordan Scott, 24, is the founder of idk tonight, a site that helps over 30,000 couples across NYC plan fun dates. Ciaooo! infiltrated the world of coupledom, and we got tips for some of the best advice for couples and how to navigate life after the swipe. 

“There are a million apps and articles for single people. What about us couples?!”

Jordan Scott is fervent when she asks the question.

She’s a petite, cute, blonde with wide blue eyes and a massive Colgate smile reminiscent of a Southern beauty queen (ironically, she is from upstate New York which, some may say, is like the south of NY state). Her whole 5-foot frame shakes with passion, and she tells me the concept had been boggling her for so long that she wound up building a site entirely for couples to reinvigorate their dating lives. Today, idk tonight helps over 30,000 couples in NYC find fun, unique dates across all five boroughs, and this Fall, the team is gearing up to launch the first date discovery app for matching unique dates and events with couples. 

The first time I meet Jordan, I write “warm like she grew up in a cul de sac with a dad who took the whole team for ice cream after Softball practice” in my notes. Admittedly, I wasn’t sure what to expect. We had only exchanged a few brief messages from the wildly popular @idktonight Instagram page. “A lot of people automatically assume I’m a man when they see the name Jordan”,  she tells me. “I love to surprise them and go, Here I am! Why can’t the founder be a woman?!”

idk tonight is impressive. For a site that has only existed just under 2 years, its got a powerful following that has a niche hold on over 30,000 couples in NYC. The weekly newsletter (Tuesdays at 10 AM) is more than just a guide to fun dates, but a living, breathing document with a finger on the pulse of New York City. It also includes upcoming events, restaurant openings, and closings across all five boroughs. The site also features hundreds of curated guides, tried and tested by actual couples, like Tacos and Tequila, What to Do When You Have No Idea What to Do, and The Best Date Nights Incredibly Close to Subway Lines

More than anything, idk tonight is a love story to New York City. 

For Jordan, the original iteration of idk tonight was an itinerary generator. An app would allow you to text a local expert for suggestions of where to go and what to see, and you’d get a plan of your own. “Within two months though, we learned very quickly it wasn’t going to work…but you live and you learn”, she says nonchalantly.  “One night I made a Trello board of all the things I learned that went wrong, and I realized the one thing that made sense was that people wanted date ideas. We took off with idk tonight”.

Launched in September of 2017, Jordan started the company fresh off a position at CBS This Morning, “I realized while I was working that I didn’t want to be the producer behind the show, I wanted to be ON the show”. Armed with $20k in life savings and an idea, Jordan left her job and went on to launch what would become the first iteration of idk tonight. It wasn’t the first time she had pursued the idea of being a content mogul though, while just a journalism major from NYU, Jordan had already interned at all of the greatest news and publication sites — Refinery29, NBC Nightly News, CBS This Morning, Cosmopolitan Magazine, NY1, and Yahoo! 

Since then, the site has grown organically as a resource for couples on the lookout for a fun date, though anyone could use the site. Single people should use this for fun ideas as well. All across NYC, contributors write about their favorite dates in any given neighborhood – reaching broadly, from Bay Ridge to Washington Heights. 

“We wanted to showcase all that is amazing in NYC, as well. Everyone’s looking for the hidden gem. How about going 2 extra stops on the subway and finding it?”

We asked Jordan for some advice on dating. If you want to see her favorite date in the West Village, click HERE.

Q. What’s the Best Advice for a Couple to Keep Things Interesting?

A. Surprise each other. It shows you’re trying. And it feels really good to be with someone who tries. Nick (Jordan’s fiancĂ©) and I do this thing called “Wednesday Surprise” where one of us texts the other in the middle of the day a location, or subway stop, to meet after work. You just have to go. Could be a cupcake shop, could be a Broadway show. We hope to have a feature in the app that mimics this exact phenomenon. 

Q. Ok, what about the single people?

A. So clichè, but the universe will throw someone at you when you’re feeling best about yourself and couldn’t be less interested in finding a romantic partner. When Nick and I met at Exchange Bar in Gramercy (now diseased for probably 100 reasons) we were both blissfully happy in our singledom. Another thing—as soon as you go on another date with someone else and realize you would 100% rather be with whoever your version of Nick is, and everyone else is a waste of time, you’re in it. 

Q. How does idk tonight work differently?

A. I think where we’re different is we’re about keeping couples good. Keeping them satisfied and helping them enjoy each other in ways they maybe wouldn’t otherwise discover. Helping them rediscover and remember why they’re together. It’s not as newsworthy, but most of life is what happens after you find the right person. We’re here for that main part.

You can follow Jordan at idk tonight to see more of her story and stay tuned for the new project.  If you’d like to test out our beta this fall, do it at idktonight.com/future

Chau Mui

Chau is the original New York City stoop kid who cut her teeth hanging out in Union Square, ate soup dumplings in Chinatown and explored this great city by train, foot and everything in between.

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So there’s this a magic trick called “card divination”.

It involves a magician selecting an audience member at random and having them imagine a card, “any card” in their head. Conventionally speaking, the magician shuffles the cards and magically pulls out the exact card out of their deck, to deafening applause. If they’re extra playful, they’ll pull out the card from some nefarious location, like rolled up inside of a lemon or inside the coat pocket of an audience member’s unsuspecting husband’s wallet.

But Ben Nemzer, who currently headlines at Monday Night Magic – the longest running off-Broadway Magic Show in NYC likes to step it up a notch.

The first time I saw Ben perform, he was on stage performing card divination. Just as I thought he was going to pull out the card from thin air, he pulled out a jumbo drawing pad and started scribbling furiously on the pad. When the audience member declared his card, Ben turned the pad around to see a hand-drawn card, that then… rose off the paper like Jesus when he rose from the crypt.

The trick, I promise, was certifiably a Grade A mind fuck.

Ben hosting at Club Cumming

Ben’s trick is the magic equivalent of Beyonce pulling Destiny’s Child out of the ground during the 2013 Superbowl.  When I ask Ben the secret to the trick, he responds with the typical magician’s mantra, “Oh, I can’t tell you”.

To which I respond sardonically…”What, is there some sort of secret magical society that keeps you guys in check or something?”

“Actually, there are several magic societies..”

And he began to rattle off several societies, including the SAM, Magic Castle, International Brotherhood of Magicians and the Magic Circle.

A quick google search reviews that ALL of these are expansive magical societies with Illuminati-Esq histories and members worldwide in the hundreds of thousands. Many had some of the world’s most influential magicians like Houdini,  Len Vintus, Gene Gordon, and Don Rogers. Ben, it turns out, is a member of not one, but TWO of the organizations and was also a guest lecturer at Princeton University on Magic and Showmanship.

A native New Yorker, Ben started performing magic at the age of 8, when he was given a magic kit from his brother. He started performing in front of his friends and family, and eventually was whisked off to magic camp at Bryn Mahr College where he worked as a counselor for years. He interned at Tannen’s Magic Shop and apprenticed under famed magician, Steve Cohen for years before embarking on his own solo journey.

Since then, Ben and his comedic magic have graced the screens of Comedy Central, live stage performances and sold out Cruise Ships and everything in between. And so, I spent the day with Ben just to see what is a day in the life of a magician.

The topic of magic tends to get a bit divisive in NYC. You either love it, hate it or think that it should be relegated to bar mitzvahs in Long Island. While yes, there are the cheesy magicians that come to mind, New York City is a hub for some of the world’s finest talent.

Ben asks me to meet him at a nondescript office building in the seventh circle of Hell that is Herald Square. Fluorescent lights and a bored doorman watching soccer on his iPhone 5 guards the door, and I make the journey upstairs.

Directly in front of the elevators is a Chinese accounting office with paper signs hawking deals taped all over the doors and windows. But my destination is further down the stock image of a hallway.

Finally, I find my destination. Tannen’s Magic Store.

Ben shuffling in Tannen’s Magic Store

It’s the oldest operating magic shop in NYC. Founded in 1925, the shop is a NY institution, serving as a meeting ground for magicians from all over the city and beyond. The shop feels more like a museum than a magic shop, with glass display cases featuring all sorts of magic paraphernalia. Shortening ropes. Glass bubbles. Bite out coins and Chinese linking rings.

Black and white portraits of Houdini and other famous magicians permeate one wall while across the room, an entire wall of magic books. Along with the third, you ask? A life-size mock elephant, of course.

When I ask about the elephant, one of the staff members, whose name I’m told is simply, “Magick” is notoriously tight-lipped.

We arrive just as the place is closing, and the shop is mainly empty, with the exception of a few magicians testing out some last minute tricks. Another magician, Noah Levine preps the space for his own personal magic show, “Magic After Hours”.

Here’s a quick little rundown on magic. It’s spirited history dives as far back to 403–221 BC in China when women were revered as shamans who could traverse the spiritual and real worlds. Their ability to speak to the spiritual world was highly regarded amongst royalty and a must for angsty Kings who needed confirmation that they were indeed, as great as they thought they were.

In Europe, the first book on magic was from 1489, called “Natural and Unnatural Magic” and explained old-time-y tricks like sawing off heads. In the US, magic got out of its infancy in the late 1800s through Vaudeville performances when Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin (the OG magician that inspired Houdini) took his performances and elevated them for rich folks. Of course, I’m skipping the whole part with witchcraft, but this article is about Ben.

Another magician performs with Alan Cumming

From there we head over to actor Alan Cumming’s appropriately NSFW named bar, Club Cumming for an intimate magic show featuring Ben, and about 6 other magicians ranging from mentalists to card tricks etc. For $20, attendees were surprised with Alan Cumming being pulled on stage and various acts throughout the audience.

When I coerce him into doing a card trick for a “cool picture” in St Marks Place, a trick involving geometric shuffling that is reminiscent of an AP Algebra problem, a small crowd of bystanders forms watching as Ben impresses the shopkeeper of a hat shop. The man, thoroughly unimpressed by our game of 52 card pick up in front of his shop peeks a smile by the end of the night.

Catch Ben Nemzer and his performances when he is in town in NYC at Monday Night Magic. You can also check out his upcoming events HERE.

Chau Mui

Chau is the original New York City stoop kid who cut her teeth hanging out in Union Square, ate soup dumplings in Chinatown and explored this great city by train, foot and everything in between.

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In a little over one year, indie R&B duo, Bluesoul has managed to form, write and complete their self-titled debut EP in NYC. With the velvety, smooth caramel vocals of Alex Brunson (L) and jazzy uptempo beats from Sid Gopinath (R), Bluesoul is on our radar of hot NYC talent you absolutely need to listen to.

Around a small candle wick at the back of The Tippler, the smell of bright citrus and scorched oak waft through the hazy lamp glow in the underground tavern. It’s a fitting place to meet the soulful & jazz-infused R&B duo that is Bluesoul. At first glance, Alex Brunson and Sid Gopinath may occur to any as normal New Yorkers. They’re well put-together, sociable, perfectly sweet twenty-something guys. But beyond their sweet demeanor, is a fierce blend of John Legend-esq vocals meets world-class strings, jazz, a little funk and, a whole lotta soul.

So, what’s your story?

They don’t know where to begin or how to sum up the whole of the experience of Bluesoul. There’s nothing romanticized or rose-tinted about them, so they start at the beginning. The two met pursuing separate degrees at Duke University, forming a bond over music before moving to New York individually. It wasn’t even until January of last year that the two came together to form Bluesoul, a collective musical endeavor rooted in expressing the colorful creative past of its respective members.

Brunson elaborates on his history, how he came up in the boisterous soul of the southeast, beginning piano lessons as a toddler before learning to train his voice. A young Gopinath wasn’t far off in his musical pursuits, who started violin lessons at the age of four in his Midwest home before translating his teachings to guitar. Citing Eric Clapton and John Mayer as influences, Gopinath’s singer/songwriter lyrics mesh seamlessly with Brunson’s Jazz influences to create the unique sound that is Bluesoul.

The two laugh together as they recall how Gopinath, in turn, got into accompanying Brunson as the secondary vocalist in the first place. They tell the fateful story of a singer, fallen ill, the scramble to make ends meet, and finally, the one who stepped up to the plate, Sid himself. Each story produces another until the tangents begin to form a complete picture. These are two friends who love nothing more than being able to make their art together. They lack the pretentiousness and self-importance that can sometimes come with the level of talent they have. Regardless of what they’re doing as Bluesoul, they do it because it’s an expression of who they are. All of these tales, whether they be of woe or triumph lead back to that understanding.

“At it’s core, music is a powerful force in bringing people together. Part of our approach to writing is to create music that is not only relatable but also authentic about our experiences”

Alex Brunson

For as intertwined as this duo’s storytelling may be, it pales in comparison to what’s revealed in their musical efforts. One listen to their debut single “No Rain In New York” speaks more to their bond than any story between the two ever could. Right off the bat, Brunson’s voice bounces with the keys as Gopinath’s strings begin to sew an elegant tightrope for the track, setting the stage for the fusion to come. The other single from their upcoming EP, “23” is a step in a different direction – the near-polar opposite. This single is full to the brim with that elusive summer energy, the kind that you want to hear as you step through a sun-soaked street in your favorite neighborhood. Yet, Alex tells me, the track is “a song about insecurity, and the path of moving to NYC, trying to pursue music while trying to balance work, passion and living life.” Between the two singles, it’s clear that these two have a stronger bond than their short history together would offer.

Back in the Tippler, Brunson and Gopinath ponder the city itself, how they fit into it both as transplants and creatives. Brunson ruminates on the energy of New York – all the different people that he and Gopinath have met who help to spurn their art forward, whether it’s the casual conversation at their various gigs at, Sofar Sounds, Mercury Lounge, Rockwood Hall or the very musicians they work with, plucked straight from the streets of New York. Gopinath discusses their recording experience with Daniel Schlett, who produced Bluesoul’s EP, how the entire process was a “creative stimulation.” The two together seem to have an endless reservoir of examples to draw forth to demonstrate the kind of enigmatic creativity that thrives within the five boroughs, something that Brunson cites as humbling time and time again.

In less than a year, the two managed to play anywhere between two and four shows a month, complete a record from scratch, and work through the grind of the week, taking it all in stride.

The bar begins to crowd, the tables filling up on either side of the duo. The end of the conversation feels near, and the two take their time to consider some final thoughts. At the end, it comes down to community. Both Brunson and Gopinath talk through the fervor and thrill of being a part of something so much larger than themselves, wrapped in the whirlwind of art on all levels. They call it inspiring – motivating, even. And it shows. Between their work that puts bread on the table (Brunson, in finance at Morgan Stanley and Gopinath, a programming engineer), the time devoted to writing and recording, and their nights spent gigging, Bluesoul is in constant motion. A spirit of production that embodies the very nature of the city it was bred in. In less than a year, the two managed to play anywhere between two and four shows a month, complete a record from scratch, and work through the grind of the week, taking it all in stride. Even remembering back on the time spent and tribulations overcome, the two can’t help but beam at the fruits of their labor. And there’s no sign of these guys slowing down anytime soon.

When it comes to New York, there are more than enough options for who to see on any given night. But when you dig just beneath the surface of the marquis that line the gilded city, you end up finding something worth writing home about. And that “something” is most definitely what Bluesoul has.

You can listen to Bluesoul’s debut EP HERE and discover upcoming shows by following them on Instagram HERE.

Delaney Clifford

Brooklyn-based writer. Fan of all things music, film, and fiction.

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