Nightlife ‘99: Where To Go In New York

A long time ago, in a decade that seems far, far away, New York’s club bathrooms were filled with more decadence than the clubs themselves. But Rudolph is no fan of reindeer games, so most of our city’s finest dance spots have cracked down on drugs and debauchery in not-so-public places. The Tunnel put in bright lights, Life times bathroom-users with a stopwatch, and Twilo has even added a potty patrol complete with flashlights and radio earpieces. But not every club is closing its stall doors to strangeness.

Limelight On the outside, the stalls in the Limelight’s unisex johns are covered with elaborate murals. But to make the bridge-and-tunnel crowd feel at home, the view from the inside is like looking through a one-way suburban screen door. Constructed during last year’s million-dollar makeover, the new doors are obviously part of Peter Gatien’s vision of bringing people together through art, music, and funky toilet fixtures. 47 West 20th Street (212-807-7780)

Mother Mother’s Saturday-night “Click + Drag” party is so cyber-chic it sometimes even has a camera in the can. The bathroom broadcasts thrill exhibitionists and voyeurs alike: The queue for the loo is almost as big as the audience. “It gives everyone a chance to show off their fetish,” says party producer Rob Roth, who wired the club in 1996 with $200 worth of used bank-security equipment. The bath-cam recently delighted the visiting Spice Girls, although the group themselves stayed out of the stalls. 432 West 14th Street (212-366-5680)

Madame X Something funny is going on in the Madame X toilets – and it has nothing to do with the comic-strip wallpaper. (It might have something to do with the club’s chocolate martini, Sex in the Bathroom.) “If everything is consensual and it’s not too crowded, we usually look the other way,” says manager Karen Kramer. Which isn’t to say the downtown bar hasn’t taken precautions. In one bathroom, two strip-club-style poles brace the toilet. “There’s nothing aesthetic about them,” says bartender Chris Massiah. “The poles are there to keep people from knocking the bowl around.” So far, leaving the seat up hasn’t been a problem. 94 West Houston Street; (212-539-0808)

Splash If Splash’s bathroom – bigger than most Manhattan one-bedrooms – seems as clean and quiet as a screening room, there’s a good reason: Small monitors above the five urinals show man-on-man safe-sex videos in perfect synchronicity. “There’s no hard-core sex in the videos,” a club staff member says defensively. “Actually, we’d prefer not to be listed in your story. We don’t want the type of crowd that reads your magazine coming in to see them.” 50 West 17th Street (212-691-0073)

Nightlife ‘99: Where To Go In New York