The facts about nightlife on a Wednesday in September should make it seem like no problem. Yet on this night I pass through eight clubs in the city, with a blank wall on the way out of every one.

What’s happening? The East Village, a neighborhood that has drawn its fair share of disparate residents — in particular, young people on the path to success — was a little slower than usual on a Wednesday night. The streets were filled with quiet people in their pajamas. The bars, many of which were reopened after the Labor Day holiday, were booked solid. It felt like a normal Wednesday night.

But it’s not normal for nightlife anywhere. New York City, with its diverse nightlife, has been around for centuries. And this September, the age-old tradition of nightlife in the city has been reborn, but perhaps not in the way the city or the tourism industry was expecting.

“The city looks great from the air but what’s happening is that no one’s in their clubs,” said Rob Lytle, a writer and editor in Midtown. “They say there’s a renaissance happening, but really it’s dead … This has been happening for so long, it’s like no one is anticipating it.”

It feels like part of the city’s own, internal revolution.

“We used to have this nice saying: When you get drunk in New York, you wake up in another place,” Mr. Lytle said. “It’s unfortunate because you have a lot of money and freedom to go out, but you don’t have that freedom anymore.

“We know what’s going on. We feel like we’re losing something that is fundamental to who we are. It feels like no one cares.”

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