It's cool to have a party on the Lower East Side for your birthday. I did it myself and had a great time, and I think pretty much everyone else did too.
It's not cool, however, to have a birthday party on the Lower East Side in a super hip club/hotel thing that charges over $10 for drinks. I mean, I don't mind the practice per se. If people like swankiness that's great...but not for college students. I mean, I went all the way downtown and could only pay for two drinks (one for me, one for my friend for her bday), and I figure - if I'm going to spend so much time on the subway I should be able to actually get drunk for my troubles, or at least afford a couple of drinks. Leave the hip bars to the i-bankers.