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The Short, Drunken Life of Club Row


“It’s a good block,” says Jon B. “Some people like to be in the middle of the craziness.” He plans to expand into the old Spirit space, taking over another floor in the old Twilo building. “This should be the club district.”

The police and barricades and blinding lights shifted the makeup of 27th Street. It’s now a stressful place for celebrities who seek a modicum of privacy. Shaq, who not long ago agreed to attend a party at B.E.D., gamely removed himself from his car at the Tenth Avenue barricade and tried to walk down the street. By the time he reached the club, several hundred revelers had surrounded him and he almost seemed to be dragging the crowd along. Bono, who recently planned to attend a Massive Attack party at B.E.D., reached the barricades, saw the crowds, and decided not to get out of his car. But for every celebrity or scenester who has abandoned the street, there is someone like Scott Jones, a plastics salesman from Hoboken, who comes to take it all in. “The cops got it blocked off,” he says of the block, “so it must be something, right?”

A few dozen feet away, two police officers man a metal barricade. Several more sit on horseback. The animals snort as if with boredom or disdain and stamp their hooves on the cold concrete. Klieg lights give the street an eerie sheen. Four freezing souls in leather jackets and T-shirts and sneakers—refugees from the Lower East Side, where the underage drinker can still find service—push through the wind toward a red-lit doorway on the north side of the street manned by heavyset men swaddled in coats. “Hi, Disco,” they say. The rope goes up, and the four step inside Bungalow 8.

It’s 2 a.m., and the place is half-full. The breathless rush of people that used to sweep down the middle has yet to arrive, and on this night, anyway, it will never come. Sacco is sticking to her tight door policy—even though her club is making half as much money as it used to. Models who obviously haven’t taken note of the trend toward healthy plumpness sip champagne, simper, and slide into their seats. “It’s not about who you know, it’s how you carry yourself,” says one visibly excited man, tonguing his teeth and working his jaw as he strides with his friend toward the bar in back. “I’m the guy that walked in, said ‘hi,’ paid for my drinks, did my blow in the bathroom, and came out smiling. They respect me for it.”

Nearby, a woman in a decorative dress discusses Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain. “When you’re an artist, you’re just fucked up,” she says. “You see life like it really is—and that’s why they all die. They’re unable to bear what they see. But sometimes I get a glimpse of it. It’s like I walk out in the morning and I really see it!” The D.J. switches from “Summer of ’69” to “Beat It.” “Like Michael Jackson,” she says to her friend. “Perfect example. He really saw it.”

Sipping vodka and cranberry on the balcony is Nevan Donahue, a 24-year-old Upper East Sider who has partied in New York since his teens. He surveys the room with a mixture of sadness and nostalgia. For a time, before the deaths of Moore and Valle—and, more important, before anyone with money could pay to play—he had come to Bungalow 8 almost every night. It was fun.


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