I go out on certain nights and can't help but feel that the ghost of Andy Warhol and The Factory superstars are watching us, they're sitting in the corner, either mesmerized by nightlife's similar nature, or mortified by how commercial and ubiquitous the perpetual party has become.
I was at the closing and bon voyage party (earlier in May) for Area 51, a nighttime shindig that's expired, after running seven years, Michael/ Mistress Formica has always tried to bring life back to the night. In the few years that the party's been going, it's been shuttered and moved, accused of serving underage boys, accepting fake IDs, charged with rampant drug and cocaine use. In other words; assailed by the authorities of having all the things that make a great party.
As I was hanging out with friends, watching the mix of pretty boys, drag queens and assorted club kids in loud shirts and high deserving attitude. They bounced around in elaborate attire, hoop skirts, pink tutus (quite large) and lots of bouffant wig action. The go-go boys shimmied and strutted - they work hard for their dollar bills. Then there were the photographers to chronicle the nightlife moment. Everyone posed - fab or not, leg forward, back arched in skin tight pattern tees waiting for the shutter to snap. I noticed Shayne from the Patrick McMullan outfit and a bunch of other people with big lens on short cameras.
I look at the pictures from people partying during Studio 54, surrounded by Warhol's ethos. I can't help feeling as though the pictures are much the same. With matching back-story, of going to bed after a long high and doing it all over again.
There weren't that many people at the last hurrah of Area 51. I'd been to the party many times during its run, yet was unimpressed by the long line for cocktails and homogenous boys. It was also difficult to get there, being an uptown boy. I wonder if I'll read an article in 10 or 30 years, about a party I was at, shrug like I'm doing now and think it was overrated and quite dull - except for the constant eye candy, of course. The personal experience always seems to matter when identifying hot.
Face it: we in the moment have created the myth of The Factory and the perpetual party initiated by Studio 54 and the birth of the modern event scene. For some reason I simply picture people sipping tea and swirling their brandy while never even pondering coke and vodka before that club shaped nightlife (even though coke was considered medicine).
So consequently, to keep up with the myth of the amazing past, revelers want to party harder and longer and take greater risks for the greater high and falsely happy moment. Paradoxically, this experimenting has led to meth, which has killed a large part of nightlife. I know it's a large leap, but when the old high wears off people stumble onto new ones. There are lots of reasons for this, given by better experts then I ever could be. I'm more of a cultural observer and trend watcher.
Since meth is not a social drug, something hidden and dark, it encourages people to stay at home and lurk in the corridors of online space. It doesn't allow people anything but the hyper-sexual and self-involved experience. I've never done it myself and refuse to. It's something that scares me, simply because the pocked face and the empty look has been reflected on many a person I've known, including a former roommate. My hair stylist, being honest and forthright, mentioned that the body dimorphic concept that many gay men seem to have simply dissolves and is no longer relevant.
We search to interpret the future through the past. We seem to be a bit lost right now, I find that I've meet the best people at cocktail parties and small diners. Yet clubs have a place and often contain the most unexpected and wondrous moments.
As Avalon has remnants of the diehard party boys, those comfortable with clinging onto the past good times will do so in the future. There will always be a party where people can find themselves wrapped in a different character (or drug). Different is good. But what struck me, is the lack of interaction and talking - either I've gotten much older or the music is even louder. (I suspect it's the former.)
Of course, nightlife has suffered and even though people sometimes look like they once did in old photos, the party isn't the same. Since Giuliani cracked down and Bloomberg followed suit, I'm just saying there will (thank goodness) always be outposts of rebel culture looking to move us forward into the next scene.
The avant garde art scene is alive and well in the form of off-off Broadway theater. Because of rising rents, experimental theater has now moved to Hell's Kitchen, some events are far of the beaten path, small black boxes can be found everywhere; promotion is now done by email, not by showing up in a certain neighborhood.
Then again, haute culture is always affected by the price of rent, because new and daring artists that are trying to be different, well, can't really afford Manhattan rents and as the city spreads and forces gentrification. Its artists are also trying to adapt in this super-saturated market trying to grab everyone's attention.
It's impossible to be different anymore. I often feel like I've seen it all, been to almost every type of party, it's hard to be excited. So what's left, is simply the art, the party, the experience and the people.
As old parties and movements wither, so will new ones come forward, we just have to be able to watch. Once we finally let go of the once gilded and seemingly amazing past, will we be able to move into something new. Once we've made peace with the ghosts, will something exciting find us. Art and theater have moved on - nightlife hasn't.