On any given night, Jay-Z’s upscale sports-themed lounge 40/40 boasts an attractive, often famous crowd. The club, nestled on the corner of 25th Street and Broadway, has played host to some of the day’s most ogled celebrities: Beyoncé Knowles (Jay-Z’s girlfriend), the New Jersey Net Vince Carter, the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez, and pop star Nick Lachey.
And last Thursday night, it opened its VIP "Rémy Lounge" to Maggie Gallant, Robert Segal, and Melissa Swiss, among others.
Who’re they, you ask? Only a couple of organizers (Gallant and Segal) and a participant (Swiss) in UJA-Federation of New York’s upcoming Israel trip for young professionals, marking the charity’s 90th anniversary.
“We work with a lot of these venues for my publicity firm,” said Gallant, with a glass of pinot grigio in hand. “Plus, my office is right upstairs.”
Turns out Gallant, the founder of the boutique Spotlight Communications firm, had an in with Jim Buslik, the landlord for the building that houses both the 40/40 club and Gallant’s office space. Buslik had paved the way for the 40/40 club’s donation of the VIP room, which usually goes for around $1,500, by introducing the management to other Jewish charities.
“Jay and the club feels [sic] responsible to participate in Jewish charitable organizations as this is a great part of 40/40’s success,” wrote Desiree Gonzalez, a spokesperson for the club, in an e-mail.
Two large, suited bodyguards stood outside the Remy Lounge, on the club’s second floor, beginning around 7 p.m. to let in UJA-Fed. guests. Of the 50 or so who showed up, some had either already signed up for the charity’s late-April weeklong trip to Israel, or were interested in doing so. No speeches were given, however, only a promotional video showing clips of a sunrise over Masada, a woman rock-climbing, and a panoramic view of Jerusalem kept repeating itself on the room’s large flat-screen TV.
“I drank the Kool-Aid,” said Stewart Jankoff, a lobbyist in his 30s, referring to his decision to sign onto the trip. He had previously gone to another information-cum-cocktail hour session a few weeks back held at Honey, another fashionable downtown club.
But the well-heeled, party-going crowd wasn’t the only incentive for Jankoff. “My mother pushed me into going,” he said. “It’s like going to camp for adults.”
At the event, a rumor circulated that Jay-Z might make a guest appearance. When asked if he would, Gallant, the event’s organizer, smiled and shrugged coyly.
Segal, a 36-year-old cardiologist and co-chair of the trip, played along. “Maybe we’ll ask him to go on the trip.”
But to no avail. By 9 p.m., the Remy Lounge was clearing out, and Jay-Z was nowhere to be found.
That’s no reason to be disappointed, Gonzalez noted. “Jay performed in Israel recently,” she said.