Until its closing in 2001, Twilo was the most beloved and, its critics charged, most played-out nightclub to grace the streets of New York City since the seminal Studio 54. The gigantic "superclub" in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan regularly attracted a crowd of thousands to its warehouse-like dancefloor. Playing host to dozens of legendary DJs from around the world, the club was instrumental in popularizing international styles of house and trance music within the United States. Before it was Twilo, back in the early 90's the space was known as "The Sound Factory" which in those days, it was Junior Vasquez's house. The likes of Madonna were often seen there.
Twilo usually kept at least one small room open most nights of the week--it is said that in New York, the weekend begins at the close of business Tuesday--but Saturday nights, hosted by resident DJ Junior Vasquez, were by far the nightclub's busiest. In line with other superclubs like Tunnel and the Roxy, Twilo's Saturday nights were ostensibly gay-oriented but seemed to attract at least as many straight partygoers. Friday nights, by contrast, usually saw a slightly younger and more "alternative" crowd.
The clientele at Twilo was likely the most eclectic of New York's large clubs. On any given night, one could lose oneself in a sea of college students, office workers, men, women, whites, blacks, Hispanics, Asians, ravers, punks and even an occasional clump of goths, contributing to a frenetic energy and harmonious vibe the likes of which, according to nostalgic fans, has yet to be duplicated by any nightspot in the city. Celebrity sightings seemed to be less frequent here than at other Manhattan clubs, a fact that many Twilo regulars considered a plus.
By the end of the '90s, Twilo had become known as New York's number one nightclub, boasting a friendly atmosphere and a steady lineup of top talent. Besides Junior Vasquez, other internationally renowned DJs to spin at Twilo over the years included Richie Hawtin (Plastikman), Carl Cox, Danny Tenaglia, Jeff Mills, Sasha, John Digweed, Paul van Dyk and Sven Väth. Many of these artists made appearances at Twilo before hitting the mainstream.
While few would dispute Twilo's "king" status among New York nightclubs of the time, readers would do well to note that Twilo and its multi-floored brethren represented only a small part of the city's universe of nightclubs. Many partygoers eschewed (and continue to eschew) such gigantic clubs, preferring smaller, less crowded venues where one can hear relatively unknown artists and DJs.
Twilo had been under pressure to close from then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani ever since the launch of his controversial quality-of-life campaign. Still, the club managed to hold onto its cabaret license until early 2001, when a spate of allegations surfaced that the club's manager had misused private ambulances to hide victims of drug overdoses. That May, after a high-profile undercover drug bust, Twilo padlocked its side street entrance for the last time.
The space formerly occupied by Twilo (27th St. west of Tenth Ave.) has recently reopened as a new club called Spirit.