Nightlife ‘99: Wild, Wild Week

Rudy’s town is a buttoned-up, straitlaced, in-bed-by-ten kind of place, right? Actually, no. All over the city – hiding in plain sight – there’s a nonstop, multicultural house-rocking party. Better still, in most cases it’s a party at which you’d actually be welcome. You’re forgiven for not knowing about it, though. Thanks to the mayor’s full frontal assault on clubs like the Tunnel, nightlife appears to have died a thousand deaths in the past few years. The downtown celebutocracy took the fact that there are fewer velvet ropes as a sign that Mayor Giuliani had actually won his war. But out past the “Page Six”-athons at Veruka and Lot 61 are dance-purist paradises like “Body & Soul” and Sasha and Digweed’s party at Twilo, and a nighttime scene that’s more democratic and diverse than at any time in recent memory. New York D.J.’s like Armand Van Helden, Victor Calderone, and “Little” Louie Vega are the city’s hottest musical exports and the draw for a new British invasion of nightlife tourists. Prince, it turns out, was right about 1999. Just don’t tell the mayor.



“You know the best thing about this place?” asked a die-hard sports fan about the new ESPN Zone as he watched Monday Night Football. “When you’re standing up taking a piss, there’s a TV – it’s incredible!” Lucky for him, ESPN Zone also offers a television just about everywhere else, including the ground-floor Studio Grill, the second-floor banquettes (an extra $20 during football), and even the fourth-floor arcade (complete with air hockey, mini-hoops, and racing games made of replica Formula One cars). The restaurant-bar is even interactive: A few fans looked up from their monitors near the faux anchor desk to argue about the World Series. “They’d even watch high-school football,” observed a Brooklyn fan. And as ESPN’s Chris Berman prepared to broadcast his live halftime report, at least one fan finally noticed the obvious. “There are too many guys here,” he said. “But sports is a close second to women.” 1472 Broadway, at 42nd Street (212-921-3776)

LOT 61

How hard is it to get into Lot 61 on Monday nights? Around midnight, the sidewalk outside the restaurant-bar was packed eight deep with beautiful young men standing on the toes of their Gucci loafers, trying to get the attention of the doorwoman and yelling at their girlfriends to stop pulling on their bandeau tops and tiny leopard-print skirts. Their chances of getting in? Next to none. In order to glimpse Lot 61’s industrial interior or sip one of its fresh raspberry martinis, potential partygoers have to be recognized by the doorwoman. Who makes the cut? The likes of Shalom Harlow, Busta Rhymes, Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Messier, and Dr. Dre. But the room is light enough so that the fortunate few who do make it past the velvet rope can see exactly who rates the back banquette while they make their rounds, nonchalantly taking in the scene and trying, ever so politely, to become part of it. 550 West 21st Street (212-243-6555)


Most of the week, Cafe Wha? is a Bleecker Street standby where North Jersey sales reps drink to the beat of the Wha?, the hokey house group that plays a wedding-band blend of rock, reggae, and R&B. But Monday nights, it’s a regular Rio North, where Brazilian expats samba to the percussive rhythms and Portuguese lyrics of the nine-piece band Brazuca. The dance floor – really the aisles between tables – doesn’t fill up until around 11:30, but by then it’s obvious you’re not in North Jersey anymore. On a recent Monday, three off-duty strippers celebrating a co-worker’s birthday snaked past the stage, backs bare to their butts. Nearby, two Brazilian women in business suits worked up a sweat with two chinos-clad guys who tried to do twirls and hip-shakes – the kind of moves most straight American guys leave to Tony Manero. But at 1:30 a.m., the ladies explained that they had to work the next day and left the men with double-cheek kisses and broken hearts. 115 Macdougal Street (212-254-3706)


@ Cheetah

Tuesday nights, the usually dark marquee outside Cheetah glows hot pink with twelve west. And that’s not the only identity confusion: The new “Twelve West” party begins around 7 p.m. with a happy hour for cubicle-crawlers but quickly morphs into a raucous dance party when former Studio 54 D.J. Nicky Sciano turns drinkers into dancers. The mix – everything from rock to deep house – is just as extreme. “What makes a party work is a wide variety of music and people,” says Sciano. “People get stuck playing one kind of music, dancing with one kind of crowd, and that’s not what made places like Studio 54 work.” Indeed, the crowd recently included paint-splattered Levi’s and baggy club-kid pants as well as business suits. Reclining with a Staten Island paralegal, a gorgeous young guy from Hunter College clicked his tongue-piercing against his teeth as he watched a drag queen in a red wig and kabuki-style makeup preen on the dance floor. “Anything goes,” he cooed. “Fabulous.12 West 21st Street (212-206-7770)


The Greenpoint lounge Enid’s looks like “the parents went away for the weekend and the teenagers raided Dad’s liquor cabinet,” according to one regular, and the house-party vibe matches the pleather-sofa ambience. On a recent Tuesday, a nerdy-looking bartender – primped for a class photo in starched collar, heavy-framed glasses, and cowlick – boasted of his newly created “Backwards Professor,” a sinister-sounding Scotch drink with no immediate takers. The Rolling Stones’ “She’s So Cold” played (on a classic-rock jukebox that might have stood next to Dad’s liquor cabinet) as women with peroxide pigtails and Hello Kitty purses poured in to talk poststructuralist theory and temp gigs. A Texan artist squawked about gentrification – “I can’t believe they’re charging $3.50 for a Presidente!” – but even the most underemployed slackers couldn’t complain too much, as the price included a complimentary screening of Robert Altman’s cult classic Brewster McCloud. By 10:30 p.m., the hipsters were lining up by the pinball machine, and several would-be auteurs were earnestly debating the finer points of cinematography over domestic beer. 560 Manhattan Avenue, Brooklyn (718-349-3859)

@ Serena

Just like the Chelsea Hotel that hosts it, the “Velveteen” party is a “comfortable, quirky place where artists, designers, musicians, models, and actors can just relax and have a good time,” according to co-promoter Audrey Bernstein. That means the wine-red walls of the new hotel bar have been lit up by the likes of Bijou Phillips, Rufus Wainwright, and Jennifer Posner – who whoop it up to an ironic mix of hip-hop and seventies rock favorites or watch other beautiful people grope each other on comfy couches. The less-famous people who made it past the disdainful bouncers recently blended right in – as long as they were wearing Gucci or looked like they could afford to. “Last night, I came with friends from Paris, London, India, and Rio,” gushed an artist from Brazil squeezed into a skirt shorter than her wineglass. “It was a perfect New York evening.” 222 West 23rd Street (212-255-4646)

@ B Bar

“Fashion bottoms,” sniffed a black-suited movie executive, scanning the Prada’d masses at “Beige.” As the late shift of diners picked over their rigatoni in the main room, “Big Spender” floated out of the speakers by the bar as the velvet mafia and the female models who simply adore them traded air-kisses, swapped business cards, and sipped daiquiris. Sandy Gallin chatted with a smiling Jann Wenner; victorious Eagle Scout James Dale entertained a table of male-model types as nearby revelers tried to look nonchalant. By midnight, the throng was spilling out onto the patio, where a David Spade look-alike was holding court with an entourage that included a David Barton devotee wearing a leather jacket without a shirt underneath. “Dangerous,” agreed a handful of Chelsea boys sitting below a mural of a mountain lake. 40 East 4th Street (212-475-2220)


@ Baby Jupiter

The easiest way for a musician to get exposure is to perform in women’s underwear, which explains why singer-songwriters of both sexes have been stripping off their outer layers at the ascap-sponsored “Panty Party” on the third Wednesday of every month. “It’s very liberating,” said Crown Jewels bassist John Conte, looking fetching in a teal-blue Victoria’s Secret slip. “Although it is a bit annoying getting my butt pinched.” Maybe so – but if Cyndi Lauper backup vocalist Deborah Marlowe hadn’t noticed John was wearing the same slip she owns, they might not have exchanged phone numbers. “You can pretty much say anything to a guy wearing a spaghetti-strap chemise,” said Marlowe, who, like most of the creative professionals quietly schmoozing on vintage couches, was dressed in jeans, boots, and a long-sleeved T-shirt. But although the “Panty Party” is a social scene, some people, like management consultant Tom Stabb, actually listen to the music. “I’m much less likely to start talking if the person onstage is nearly naked.” 170
Orchard Street (212-982-2229)



Canteen is making a bid to become the new Moomba, the “It” boîte for “Page Six” regulars and the celebrity-watchers who live to eat at the same restaurants they do. At 10 p.m. on a recent Wednesday, Kal Ruttenstein air-kissed the hostess while Jeffrey Jah navigated through the banquettes, punching buttons on his cell phone. Spectator seating was at the elevated bar, where expensive cocktails were being spilled on equally expensive tight leather pants. Nearby, a Joe Pesci type in pressed stone-washed denim sipped single-malt Scotch and repeated his winning mantra – “A hundred shares, I tell you, a hundred shares.” Near the glass doors, a group of model-actress-whatevers huddled to themselves and cast dirty looks at their would-be suitors. Balancing a Fendi baguette, a Motorola StarTac, and a glass of Merlot, one of the women argued with the goateed manager that she and her friends were VIP enough for preferred placement on the dining-room floor. The manager gave them the standard “fifteen minutes,” then thought better of it and barked at the busboy to clear the single empty table in the corner. 42 Mercer Street (212-431-7676)


Located on Manhattan’s final frontier, just a block and a cocktail away from the Hudson River, the Ice Bar could well be the loneliest bar on earth. And on a recent Wednesday evening, the scene inside could well have been taken from a Jim Jarmusch film. The white glass and metal bar was empty save for a young bartender with spiky hair and a willful attitude and a chatty Swedish business executive who later took control of the D.J. booth tucked opposite the bar. In the back of the all-white room, a pair of European ravers and few more gregarious Swedes parked themselves on white vinyl couches, washing down pumpkin seeds with bottles of Bass. Only an American seemed snow-blinded by the igloo effect, laughing out loud that the Ice Bar serves a tepid margarita. Others didn’t even seem to notice; a neighborhood woman walked in, perched on a bar stool, and proceeded to sort through her junk mail. 528 Canal Street (212-226-2602)

@ Vinyl

Just how seriously do partygoers at “Dance Ritual” take their moves? Let’s put it this way: When a guy in a blue velour track top opened a small package of white powder, everyone knew it was talc to sprinkle on the floor and get more glide in his stride. Nearby, roving circles of Latinos in baggy jeans and Japanese B-boys with hip-hop headbands took turns showing off break-dancing tricks. Such focus is inspired by resident D.J. “Little” Louie Vega, who spins inventive house bursting with samba rhythms and gospel vocals. For the blissed-out regulars who return week after week, his music is transcendent enough to take their minds off booze (Vinyl doesn’t have a liquor license) – and even sex. By 1 a.m., a musclebound Chelsea boy was swinging around the pole in the center of the room, but most partyers were too focused on their feet to pay much attention. 6 Hubert Street (212-343-1379)



“Normally, I hang out downtown,” said Bob Casey, a New York stagehand. Like just about every other patron at the uptown Hogs & Heifers, Casey traveled from another neighborhood to hear live country music just south of Spanish Harlem. The uptown “Hogs Lite” is festooned with a colorful array of brassieres just like its downtown cousin, but the crowd actually displays some maturity. “I like it because people come here to actually listen to music and men don’t hit on me,” said the very hit-on-able Tania Drinnon, an Upper West Side paralegal in jeans and a midriff-bearing top. Several other patrons were decked out in urban cowgear (Stetson hats, pointy-toed boots, and motorcycle jackets), which only makes sense given the mounted animal heads on the wall. “I’d never know I wasn’t in Texas,” said Ken Neville, a Website developer who was raised in Austin. “There are 100 bars like this where I grew up.” 1843 First Avenue, near 95th Street (212-722-8635)

@ S.O.B.’s

The monthly “Basement Bhangra” party draws everyone from adventurous NYU students to Indian and Pakistani socialites, but turbaned Sikh men still dominate the dance floor – especially when the traditional dhol drumbeats kick in to the Bollywood disco. One recent Thursday, a muscular Sikh in a black turban and a matching Armani T-shirt even stepped onto the stage and leaped onto the broad shoulders of another. “I wear the turban all week,” said the man on the bottom, “except when I dance here.” Resident D.J.’s Rekha and Joy have cultivated that kind of dedication by spinning tracks from subcontinental stars like Bally Sagoo, who mix traditional Punjabi beats with hip-hop grooves (they also import live bands occasionally). Sometimes, the women, clad in a mix of black leather and bright saris, almost get lost in the whirlwind of break-dancing testosterone, but they never go far. “The boys always try to take over the dance floor,” said a woman who’s been a “Basement Bhangra” regular for almost two years, “but I just grab another woman and we shove them out of the way.” 204 Varick Street (212-243-4940)

@ Joe’s Pub

The “Celebrity Personalities” party puts quasi-famous Manhattanites like Ellen von Unwerth and MTV’s Ananda Lewis behind the wheels of steel as D.J.’s, but some drive better than others. “I’m glad he’s making it as an artist, because if this was my bar mitzvah, my dad would demand money back,” said a fellow artist of Tom Sachs’s musical skills on a recent night. Sachs struggled through his playlist – Enya, Tchaikovsky, Jonathan Richman’s “I’m Straight” – as he took requests from friends and technical tips from the club’s sound man. Luckily, not every customer was so picky. Over on the red-lit room’s plush banquettes, a group of Wall Street types wondered, “Is there a cocktail waitress or something?” perhaps worried that the beautiful staff would sneer at their ties and briefcases. The tourists crowding three-deep at the bar paid even less attention to the D.J. – their eyes were on the VIP booth. “Hey,” said a production assistant from Miami, “isn’t that the Victoria’s Secret model?” 425 Lafayette Street (212-539-8770)

@ Culture Club

“I like to play to all different types of people,” says Grandmaster Flash, hip-hop pioneer and, more recently, D.J. at Culture Club’s “Flashback Thursday” party. “I like to see a 21-year-old dancing next to a 42-year-old, a black next to a white next to an Asian.” On a recent week, though, he mostly saw white twentysomethings dancing next to other white twentysomethings. (The party did draw three dwarfs, but they were also white and in their twenties.) On the second floor, which hosts the weekly “Trans Am” party, about twenty other partyers were agape at four bleached blondes gyrating, unironically, it seemed, to Lita Ford and the Scorpions. Which isn’t to say Culture Club is stuck in 1983: One reveler came dressed as a platform-heeled club kid circa 1989. In a bid for diversity, Flash plans to expand his playlist and let the décor of the eighties-themed club – an actual DeLorean and murals of Madonna and Molly Ringwald – evoke the greed decade. “I refuse,” he says, “to play just old-school stuff anymore.” 179 Varick Street (212-243-1999)

@ Vanity

Just before midnight at the drum-’n’-bass party “Physics,” there was plenty of room for parking on the dance floor: A single thin man with dreadlocks stood motionless, nodding his head to the spastic beats. A sign of the times for the futuristic dance scene? Hardly. By 2 a.m., the disco-ball-illuminated dance floor was packed with agile break-dancers, hipsters waving their rum-and-Cokes to the beat, and a few music geeks craning their necks toward the D.J. booth. “We’ve got a crowd that really likes to party, but we’ve still managed to remain on the cutting edge,” says “Physics” promoter and D.J. Roy Dank. And if Vanity, with its Persian rugs and $6 gin-and-tonics, seems like an unlikely space to host drum-’n’-bass cyberfunk grooves, no one seemed to mind. The club was packed, the crowd was calling for a “rewind” (dance-floor slang for an encore), and the thin man with dreadlocks was lost amid the dancing throng. 28 East 23rd Street (212-946-1998)

@ Shine

At Shine’s “Shag” party, silk ties get loosened, leather bags get tossed on red velvet couches, and the uptowners make it worth their cab ride by taking full advantage of the dance floor – and one another. To the tune of D.J. Greg Poole’s eighties hits, the young, moneyed crowd drops hundreds of dollars on bottles of Ketel One, dances atop the banquettes, and tries to lick Armani his and hers cologne off each other’s necks. But that’s only until 2 a.m.; then the uptown girls and guys climb back into cabs, and the turntables are turned over to D.J. Mateo DiFontaine of the Fun Lovin’ Criminals and JUS-SKE from the Danücht crew for hard-core hip-hop. One week, Demi Moore and D.J. Muggs and Sen Dog of Cypress Hill were even dancing together. “It’s a last-destination spot for the downtown crowd on Thursday night,” said co-promoter Jason Strauss. “It’s a great way to prepare for the weekend.” 285 West Broadway (212-741-1700)

@ FC29

“Pussy”-party emcee Lora Marie teetered onstage in high heels, an enormous green feather headdress, and a jeweled G-string. “Viva Las Vegas!” she called, waving a milky-white arm at the sparse crowd. “I wanted to have a place to expose women’s creativity – hence the name ‘Pussy,’ ” says Mo B. Dick, host of the mostly lesbian party. “There’s a female bartender, female D.J.’s, female dancers, a female show.” There was also a partly male crowd – two fat, bald guys bouncing to the Austin Powers theme song in the corner. But everyone pushed his or her way to the bar to load up on $5 beers (Joan Jett had a Red Stripe and snagged a Heineken for her dark-haired friend). Onstage, a pubescent Liberace confessed, “I remember being sexually attracted to … men.” “Eeew!” shouted a girl from the audience. By 2 a.m., only a handful of hard-core women were left – but they weren’t going anywhere soon. “C’mon!” challenged a woman in an electric-blue I EAT ‘EM RAW T-shirt. “Dance with the dykes.” 29 Second Avenue (212-777-9660)



Times Square is now more Disney Store than decadence, but the neighborhood still holds a few clubs where you can get goofy (with a lowercase g) without tripping over the Griswolds. Friday nights at Float even offer a way to do so in high style: The club includes two VIP rooms with a $250-per-four-person-table minimum. On a recent night, though, the downstairs dance area evoked nothing so much as the old 42nd Street – only with cosmopolitans filling in for 40-ouncers. Around 1 a.m., three tough-looking guys in polo shirts charged onto the dance floor looking to push someone around – but the crowd was so busy buying one another $6 beers that few even noticed. Indeed, the only things that did take male clubgoers’ eyes off their dance partners were the two women doing a faux-lesbian grind on a translucent platform – a distinct, if unknowing, nod to the neighborhood’s past. 240 West 52nd Street (212-581-0055)

@ Cheetah

When “GBH” – the name stands for “Great British House” – moved from the cavelike Vanity to the plush Cheetah, it also traded its English and Irish expats for laddish loyalists of an entirely different stripe. Heineken is still the drug of choice, but the shiny-shirted weekend warriors buying drinks for ladies in black miniskirts and go-go boots are now from the West Side instead of from Western Europe. On a recent Friday, three thirtysomething women on an after-work bender danced around a buff accountant type to the house beats of “GBH” resident D.J. Anthony Maccaroni. Downstairs in the lounge, D.J. Frank Delour spun hip-hop as partyers kicked back on crowded banquettes and gave their feet a rest and their livers a workout. Co-promoter Thomas Dunkley says he has a top English D.J. from the cutting-edge Sheffield club Gatecrasher on tap for winter, but the “GBH” crowd may be more interested in what’s on tap at the bar. 12 West 21st Street (212-539-3916)

@ Twilo

Most superclubs struggle to keep their cavernous spaces filled, but Twilo has no such problems with its monthly Friday-night party featuring British D.J.’s Sasha and John Digweed. The line stretches across the block and onto Tenth Avenue; several buses come in from Boston and Washington, D.C.; and at least a few Europeans cross the pond just to check out “Sasha and Diggers” in New York. “I’ve been out here for like two hours now,” a Puma-track-suited club kid sighed one recent Friday. The right look helps: “They see the baggy pants, and then turn us away,” huffed a raver girl in absurdly wide-legged jeans. It’s just as crowded inside, where the corridor leading to the bathroom is so packed that partyers are nearly raised into the air, and the dance floor is so jammed that clubbers are forced to simply pogo in place. Just after 2 a.m., Sasha began spinning emotional, spacious trance. As if on cue, the crowd undulated ecstatically to his ambient breakdowns, too blissed out to remember how long they waited to get in. 530 West 27th Street (212-268-1600)


At the labyrinthine Queens club Krash, the considerable crowd drinks and dances with an exuberance usually reserved for low-budget coming-out flicks. Beneath a billboard that shows a red stiletto heel crushing the nightspot’s name, a crowd of gay and lesbian Latinos – young and old, big and small, Hilfigered and FUBUed – line up to merengue, salsa, and stagger around. Inside the lobby, $5 gets customers past buff bouncers who provide startlingly thorough pat-downs. The friskiness doesn’t stop there: At 2 a.m. on a recent night, a fog machine greeted transsexual chanteuse Jessica Foxx, who lip-synched to Deee-Lite’s “What Is Love?” – and the crowd didn’t miss a single “ooh-la-la lalalalalalalala.” “I love this song!” cried one Naya-wielding clubber in an undershirt and Dickies jeans. “I love you,” the little one beside him cooed. Then they hugged for a solid fifteen minutes, cuddling, snuggling, and gnashing their jaws. 34-48 Steinway Street, Astoria (718-937-2400)

@ Baktun

“People who listen to electronic music tend to take themselves a little too seriously,” says Holmar Filipsson, the D.J. at the monthly house-music party “N’Ice” at Baktun. Who could disagree? But at “N’Ice,” taking yourself too seriously is practically a violation of the door policy. Dancers unabashedly shout and bob up and down, Filipsson and partner A. Gram spin crowd-pleasing records that embrace house’s disco roots, and dress runs more to colorful tank tops than to black turtlenecks. At first glance, the crowd – spiky-haired Japanese East Villagers, disheveled Brits, and German tourists – seems globally chic, but pretensions (and inhibitions) melt away in Baktun, a narrow, overheated club where the bar is separated from the dance floor by only a film screen. The party always features a guest D.J., and a recent Roger Sanchez set was raucous enough to spill dancers’ drinks. The name as well as the atmosphere, according to Filipsson, is meant to make partygoers feel “at ease in the heat.” 418 West 14th Street (212-712-7258)



At the Old King Cole bar in the St. Regis Hotel, the bartenders have names like Wolfgang, higher IQs than your tax accountant, and the kind of mixological expertise that led to the invention of the Bloody Mary. The mix of customers is just as eclectic. The dark, clubby bar attracts – along with the expected midtown crowd of account executives and globe-trotting Arabs – a mélange of judges, society babes in stringy slips, and the occasional tab-carrying goodfella (one night, the owner of a waste-management business paid for everyone sitting to the left of the door, whether he knew him or not). Ozzy Osbourne pops in from time to time, and Elton John was seated in the tearoom on a recent Saturday night. Above the bar – and dominating the room – is the famous Maxfield Parrish mural of the court of King Cole. At first, like the bar itself, it seems a bit on the grand side. But a gin-and-tonic or two later, a closer look reveals that the courtiers and servants are all giggling or smirking, while the king himself looks oddly satisfied. And then someone lets you in on the joke: The king just farted. 2 East 55th Street (212-339-6721)


With a dance floor teeming with sweaty bodies and a sound system stacked with Whitney Houston, Club Europa seems like an average outer-borough singles joint – only “no one speaks a lick of English in this place,” according to one disappointed hipster. But the Greenpoint dance club is the ideal place to drink vodka, dance to cheesy Euro-pop, and generally experience Saturday night “Odessa-style.” Tucked in a brick building next to the 86th Precinct, Club Europa is ground zero for the neighborhood’s Polish twentysomethings and the Williamsburg hipsters who sport strikingly similar Members Only jackets and shag haircuts. But there are a few easy ways to tell the Eastern European immigrants from the East Village rent refugees: The former have real Odessa style (recently, a bouncer sent a few local artist types home for wearing suede New Balances instead of tasseled loafers), and the latter don’t dance to the extended dance mix of “Believe.” 98-104 Meserole Avenue, Brooklyn (718-383-5723)

@ Alphabet Lounge

Three years ago, the old brick building that houses the intimate Alphabet Lounge was a bodega. The new tenants have replaced the dusty shelves with minimalist red booths and a small stage, but they haven’t lost that corner-deli feeling. The “School” party is a neighborhood favorite – partly because it’s the only place to hear good house D.J.’s in Alphabet City – and it attracts the East Villagers who collect electronica records as well as those who equate dance music with gallery openings. On a recent Saturday night, young media types in designer T-shirts and elaborate Nikes moved onstage to the soulful beats of D.J.’s Neil Aline and Matthias Heilbronn as French expats sipped Cosmopolitans. The Alphabet Lounge doesn’t allow real dancing – it doesn’t have a cabaret license – but its combination of high style and low attitude have led to the kind of door lines rarely seen east of Second Avenue. To cut down on crowding, Aline recently began issuing social-club-style I.D. cards that will make even some uptowners feel right at home. 104 Avenue C (212-780-0202)

@ The Cock

At a time when Mayor Giuliani is trying to banish sleaze from New York nightlife, the “Foxy” party hasn’t just made debauchery a spectacle – it’s made it a contest. In a dark dive barely bigger than a breadbox, the mostly gay male revelers try to outshock one another to win “Foxy dollars” from the crowd; the person with the most Foxy dollars at the end of the night wins $100 and plenty of street cred. It’s hardly amateur night: One night a naked boy playing Phil Ochs songs with a guitar covering his privates was on the vanilla side of the spectrum. Meanwhile, lithe male bartenders in bikinis poured with heavy hands, D.J. Adam played the kind of eighties disco that was obscure in the eighties, and boys who just met ducked into the back area for a little privacy. Predictably, Giuliani isn’t too popular (the Cock has been raided by police several times in the past year). “Fuck Rudy!” screamed a boy at the bar. “Yeah – fuck Rudy!” screamed another from the long, slow line to the bathroom. 188 Avenue A (no phone)
D. de K.


At a time when velvet-rope fascism is on the move into previously ungentrified neighborhoods, the mostly gay, mostly African-American Bronx megaclub warehouse is so hospitable it even serves fried chicken. It’s usually quiet until about 2 a.m., when D.J.’s MK and Unknown heat up their mix of mainstream hip-hop on the downstairs dance floor and upstairs D.J. Andre Collins segues from house anthems into harder-hitting techno. As shirtless muscle boys and Latin women in Nikes focused more on their footwork than on their flirting one Saturday, a handful of British tourists in club clothes threw back pints, marveled at the energy of the crowd, and wondered why the club wasn’t listed in Let’s Go. After a few drumsticks and slices of lemon-poppy-seed cake, though, they began bobbing their heads, then pacing back and forth, and then finally moving toward the middle of the dance floor. 141 East 140th Street, Bronx (718-992-5974)

@ Vinyl

With its multiculti cast of dreadlocked break-dancers in Adidas sweat suits, Japanese club kids in designer street clothes, and Puerto Ricans wearing their flag as headgear, the “Shelter” party at Vinyl is as close as New York City gets to “One Nation Under a Groove.” And it’s not just the crowd that’s diverse: “Shelter” has hosted such performers as Femi Kuti and Mary J. Blige, and resident D.J. Timmy Regisford provides an eclectic mix of music that ranges from house to Afro-beat. “We’ve got a mosaic crowd here,” says Regisford, “but what unites us is that we love music and we love to dance.” A recent night drew everyone from dedicated dancers in Lycra to partyers who brought overnight bags to stay until morning, when the club served cake and fruit. “Sometimes people need a break from all this dancing,” Regisford said with a wry smile. “And we’ve got sustenance for them when they’re ready.” 6 Hubert Street (212-439-4141)


6:00pmBODY & SOUL
@ Vinyl

It may not look like much – a throng of especially hardy weekend warriors packed wall-to-wall in what looks like a high-school gym – but Vinyl’s “Body & Soul” party was named best club in the world by the British youth culture magazine The Face. Why? Whether they’re hard-core revelers still working off a Saturday-night buzz or early risers who just love disco-flavored house music, clubgoers at “Body & Soul” concentrate on one thing: dancing. The media attention the party has received has led to overcrowding on the dance floor, but it’s still one of the most uninhibited games in town. On a recent Sunday afternoon, break-dancers in eighties track suits and Brits in Stüssy gear grooved to D.J.’s François K and Joe Clausell as other partyers kept the beat with wooden blocks. The audience participation doesn’t end there: One regular often waves a pair of toy Star Wars light sabers onstage as though he’s conducting the action. Other weeks, he just holds aloft two “stone” tablets – the Ten Commandments of “Body & Soul.” Everyone obeys at least one: “Thou shalt jack thou body.” 6 Hubert Street (212-330-9169)

@ 2i’s

Outside 2i’s “Sticky Mike’s” party, you can smell the reggae before you hear it. On a recent Sunday, smoke obscured the visibility on the second floor, but it didn’t seem to bother the dreadlocked raggas listening, swaying, and singing to “cultural music” – traditional message-oriented reggae and dub – spun by D.J. DX. When he played Bob Marley standards and new hits from Tony Rebel, he cut the volume to reveal the mostly black, mostly male audience singing along with reverence as well as enthusiasm. Downstairs, you could hear the sappiness before you could see it – a few scattered Polo-clad couples made out on cheap black couches as R&B slow jams by R. Kelly and TLC played in the background. Still, the vibes were all good. “Love is universal,” said a reggae musician leaning against the wall upstairs. “I’ve partied in the Tunnel, in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Ohio – everywhere. I’m from Belize, but originally I’m from the universe.” 248 West 14th Street (212-807-1775)


The Townhouse may be the only bar in Manhattan with wall-to-wall carpeting – and it has the Dewar’s-and-disco atmosphere to match. “Nice cigarette case,” a goateed young guy remarked to a distinctly pear-shaped older man on a recent Sunday night. “That’s nothing,” he replied, “Take a look at this watch.” In the spacious back lounge, a gregarious maestro tinkled Noël Coward’s “I Went to a Marvelous Party” on the grand piano to misty-eyed male onlookers of every age. “This is surely one of Coward’s best,” proclaimed one devotee. His snarky companion wrinkled his nose. But they both noticed a blond-haired boy across the room. “He’s a new one,” said the Coward enthusiast. “No, he’s not,” his friend proclaimed, and they burst into laughter. Beside them hung a painting of a fox scampering away from a pack of snarling hounds. 236 East 58th Street (212-754-4649)
D. de K.

@ Drinkland

“Testpress” is where techno-club flyers go to die. Stacks of Day-Glo postcards are piled on the faux-modernist tables, on the bar – even on the floor of the bathroom. The party is home away from home for East Village drum-’n’-bass devotees, but most just use the cards as coasters. On a recent Sunday, drum-’n’-bass D.J.’s Cassien and Seoul mixed sputtering beats as three European expats debated whether “two turntables and a microphone” included one more microphone than was strictly necessary. “Why do you need a mike?” one demanded. His drinking companion averred, “The mike is my fookin’ tool – I hold it like a weapon.” As the rest of the drinkers nodded to the beats thumping in the background, a thrift-store-chic bartender explained to a newcomer that “this really isn’t a drinking crowd. Most people don’t dance, either. They just wanna listen.” 339 East 10th Street (212-774-7468)

Nightlife ‘99: Wild, Wild Week