Culture Club, The Nightlife Cycle
A bead of sweat drips off your face and makes a singular splash against the rumbling floor. Beams of light flicker against your body in a multitude of waves and patterns. Your body surges against the undulating crowd as you scan the room for a glimpse of the latest cultural icon du jour momentary fame personified, ensconced in a dark bottle-serviced booth.
Text by Jeff Vicente | Illustration by Laz Marquez
Artists flock to forge their mark at these events in grandiloquent ways. It is here where they can be accepted and ultimately shape the minds of their potential audiences. We’ve all seen it on the faces of the DJ -fanatics, trembling with delight for every build-up and breakbeat. And we’ve witnessed the struts of the fierce drag queens that have made their living pretending to be and hoping to become celebrities. But nightlife is the one place where we partygoers have most of the power. We are the chosen ones who help create these entities. It is our responsibility to sculpt the Pop landscape upon which our feet tread. Taking a look at the life cycle of the party, we see the boys and girls pulling all the strings and controlling these fixtures of the night.
Building the Buzz
Every party inevitably starts off with some initial planning. It has become the responsibility of party promoters and hosts to garner attention for their respective events with all of the connections and energy they can muster. In the current climate of an over-saturated market, what makes a party stand out? What draws an influx of creative artists who keep an evening pumping with vitality?
Building and maintaining buzz is a constant in Freedom’s life. As the host of New York City parties like Room Service, Kush and the soon-to-be Shayz, Freedom has spent the better part of his adult life figuring out the formula for a successful night on the town. More of a concierge of culture than your everyday party promoter, he has been responsible for nurturing the necessary elements of excitement. I’m always looking to find the perfect paint strokes for the night, he says, and so far, I’ve been pretty successful. I love being able to create an atmosphere where individuals from all walks of life can come together, and I’m able to watch that development of people.
Obviously, all of us are going out to see and be seen and escape the mundane cycle of our everyday lives, and a substantial percentage of partygoers strive to make their artistic mark on the world. The nightlife has always been a place where, no matter how rich or poor you are, the pulse of the city is always within your reach. Nevertheless, it is the responsibility of the best party promoters to grant us access to the hottest venues.
More than ever, says Freedom, money is the grease that keeps the wheels turning. The influx of bottle service and VIP packages can be a hindrance to attracting the artistic influences so crucial to the success of a party. Now it seems anybody can pay to play. If you have the money, you’re in which in turn makes the people who really create the vibe not into it. But now may be the time where we, the people, fight back against the tyranny of the nouveau riche. The exclusive lounges that have popped up across the urban landscape over this past decade have started to witness a sharp decline in attendance and profit. The time is ripe for a nighttime renaissance that can bring culture back to the clubs.
A Star is Born
In our world of instant fame on YouTube and MySpace, we forget that nightlife has been churning out stars for decades with the snap of a laced-up finger. In the world of Steve Rubell’s Studio 54 disco heaven, the household names in our pop culture vocabulary were the people who partied for a living. Would Grace Jones or Bianca Jagger still remain in our collective memories if it weren’t for their over-the-top and outlandish appearances on 54th Street? Or Klaus Nomi, performance artist extraordinaire, who cultivated his craft and his otherworldly persona in the pressure cooker of 1980s club culture? These were all stars in their own mind, but now they finally had an outlet to show the world their true colors a platform to create their own alter egos. Even today, despite our celebrity addictions, we still have the power to morph and project our image into the night. Entertainers and artists over the last decade, including Amanda Lepore, the fashion design team Heatherette, and all manner of DJs and musicians have utilized the allure of the night to create and maintain their careers. And it has been our responsibility, the men and women who attend these parties, to either nurse them or kick them off their pedestal a mess of glitter under the strobe lights.
The Party’s Over
Despite our uncontrollable urges to keep the party alive, all good things must come to an end. We’ve seen the inevitable decline of every so-called messiah of nightlife. Peter Gatien’s idea of a disco utopia at Limelight faded away as blown-up egos and plates full of blow became too much for anyone to handle. But again, the downfall of these parties is almost fully our responsibility. Just our presence (never mind our liquor consumption) brings cash flow and cache to any scene. We are the ones creating and sustaining the night. And as long as we keep our dancing shoes on, throw on the latest designer bag, and let our inhibitions slip away, there will always be another fierce party churning out future celebrities and culture- makers. And who knows? This time it may be you.
First published in movmnt magazine “Got Fame? Fall 2007 issue