11:10 p.m. Only thirteen clubbers are lined up in front of Twilo’s velvet rope, but already one of them is trying to get in free. Wearing a white PVC jumpsuit and a white PVC cowboy hat, she clutches a clipboard and screams at the doorman, “It’s me – Kelly! Don’t you remember? We met two weeks ago; I was with Wayne and Dave.” “Nice to meet you, Kelly,” says the doorman. “Now go to the back of the line.”
11:23 p.m. D.J.’s are blasting house music, but not much else is going on. The lounges are empty. The bathrooms are empty. There’s only one person on the dance floor. “When I go to Twilo, I do it right,” he says. “I’m the first one here and the last to go.”
11:45 p.m. There are now two other people on the dance floor – a tall, thin guy in Dockers and a girl wearing a flannel shirt and shorts. “This sucks,” says a guy sitting on the stairs to the side of the dance floor. “I have friends from Boston, and they came here to dance! Does Junior come on soon? Do you sell ecstasy?”
Midnight Ten heads and two glowsticks are visible on the dance floor. A man in a black turtleneck and black slacks pirouettes and prances elegantly across the floor. Two guys in their twenties are sitting on the steps, arms crossed over their undershirts, waiting for something to happen. One of them points to the man in the turtleneck: “That guy comes here every week,” he says. “I’ve heard that he’s deaf and dances to the vibrations on the dance floor.” “That’s cool,” his friend says.
12:15 a.m. Madonna’s “Music” plays for the first time.
12:30 a.m. Black tiles glisten in both bathrooms. One is completely empty; a janitor wipes down the mirrors of the other. He washes his hands, rips out a paper towel, and throws it in the trash can. Outside the bathroom, a boy in an Abercrombie & Fitch T-shirt fills his water bottle at the fountain, but the water won’t stop flowing since the knob is busted. He shoves the water bottle into his back pocket and peels off his shirt.
1:15 a.m. A cavalcade of scenesters pours down the stairs from the entrance: two girls in purple rubber dresses; several burly muscle-heads with fake tans, gold chains, and skinny girlfriends; a man wearing a disco-ball hat; a drag queen dressed like a witch in a black gown and black eyeliner; swarms of Chelsea boys with enormous biceps, buzzed heads, and sagging pants; and a young New Jersey couple who are already fighting – “Fuck you, asshole!” “Baby, why you gotta be mean? Why you gotta be mean to me?”
1:35 a.m. On the dance floor, a distinct hissing sound comes from nowhere. Vapors of dry ice envelop the floor; people stagger about through the fog, bumping into one another. The dry ice dissipates, revealing a sizable crowd. Two hundred people? Three hundred? Thirty glowsticks?
2 a.m. A familiar bass line cues pockets of cheering as D.J. Mike Cruz’s “Movin’ Up” kicks in at a feverish tempo. The man in the black turtleneck sweeps ecstatically through the crowd. In one corner, five friends huddle, jump up and down, hug one another. Overheard: “Do you know what I love about you so much?” “What?” “You’re really, really real.”
2:50 a.m. Over the crashing disco crunch, the vocals “Ecstacy, ecstacy, ecstacy” are heard clearly. The crowd cheers, everyone smiles, someone does an impromptu high kick. But just as the crowd’s energy peaks, the song continues: “Your ecstacy is played out. Your sunglasses are played out. Your steroids are played out.” People stop dead in their tracks. Smiles turn into frowns. One of many men wearing Ray-Bans takes them off.
3:10 a.m. On the stairs, two shirtless men take a break from dancing: “I liked that one song; what’s that one song?” “That one song?” “That one that’s all dun-dun-dun-dun-dun.” “Oh, yeah, I love that song.” They look into each other’s eyes and begin to kiss. Ten minutes later, one stares transfixed at all the flashing lights; the other lights the wrong end of his cigarette. Then: “Are you sure we’re talking about the same song?” “Yeah, that dun-dun-dun-dun song.” “No – not that song. I hate that song.” After an awkward pause, they start making out again. “I love you so much …”
3:15 a.m. “Junior!” screams an Italian boy in leather. “Not yet,” his friend growls.
3:20 a.m. A toilet has overflowed in the bathroom, and soggy tissue paper, cigarette butts, and bottle caps litter the floor. Fifteen people are waiting to get into the stalls. One of the stall doors is abruptly thrown open. A jittery girl staggers out in five-inch heels. Inside the same stall, another girl is staring hypnotized into the toilet bowl.
3:22 a.m. Outside the bathroom, the girl in stilettos runs confidently into a wall and falls to the floor. She can’t get up.
3:30 a.m. A stout muscle man in nylon pants has peeled off his shirt and tucked it into his back pocket. By the stairs, off to the side of the dance floor, he begins to spin in a circle with a serene smile on his face, his arms swooping up and down in a rhythm unrelated to the music.
4:10 a.m. Enormous bowls of fruit have been laid out on the bar – oranges, bananas, peaches, grapes. On the stairs, a boy in his twenties lies in the lap of his friend, a fortysomething muscle-head who pops grapes into the boy’s mouth. They close their eyes and nap until the burly man’s Marlboro burns his friend’s forearm.
4:25 a.m. Over the loudspeakers, a loud diva anthem blasts with the lyrics “Everybody laughs / everybody cries / everybody lives / everybody dies.” A Japanese hipster wearing Mickey Mouse ears has tears in his eyes. A muscle-head stands frozen on the dance floor, gnashing his teeth, and gets his hair ruffled by a stranger. “You’re a little snugglebear!” the stranger exclaims, throwing his arms around him. A straight couple go at it with wanton abandon. A large breast pops into view.
4:45 a.m. A tiny blonde girl stands alone, clutching a pillar, mumbling to herself, and brushing hair out of her mouth. “Everybody loves me!” she trills.
5:22 a.m. The lounges are littered with bodies sleeping, snuggling, staring into space, trying to figure out how to work their lighters. The first wave of clubgoers leaves, including all the tourists, many of the straight couples, and some gay guys. The guy with friends from Boston heads out up the stairs, each step taking everyone a solid minute to work out.
6 a.m. “Are you a security guard?” asks a man in tight blue jeans and a green muscle T in the upstairs “bubble lounge.” “Are you sure you’re not a security guard?” As he rustles around in his jacket, his friend lights a cigarette and says, “I hear they’re never releasing Junior’s remix of ‘Your Child’ officially, just as a promo.” Car keys jangle. “That’s a crime! That’s the best Mary J. Blige song since …” His friend cups a hand over his mouth. He’s heard the distinct wail of a police siren. “Junior!” whispers one of them, like an awed child. “Junior! Junior!” The lounge clears out and gallops downstairs. “Junior! Junior! Junior!” The siren wails again, louder.
6:10 a.m. There is no longer a specific dance floor. The dance floor now consists of the entire place – the stairs, the bathroom, the lounge, the bar. It’s impossible to move. Partygoers stand beneath Junior’s D.J. booth looking up reverentially. A pudgy man dressed in what looks like a diaper twirls a red neon sign in his hand reading j-u-n-i-o-r-!-!-!
6:30 a.m. The hard-core crowd arrives – well-showered, well-rested, relatively well-dressed gay men who went to sleep, set their alarms, grabbed a cup of coffee, and cabbed over to the club. Almost all of them wear sunglasses. A few of them wear undershirts. Two wear Superman shirts. Most wear no shirts at all.
6:45 a.m. Madonna’s “Music” plays for the second time.
7:30 a.m. There’s a man sleeping on the dance floor. Dry ice spills fog out over the club, along with refreshing gusts of chilly air. “Throw up your hands!” a muscled guy exclaims. “Don’t be afraid! It feels great – like touching the sky!”
8 a.m. An apparently exhausted boy – early twenties, dyed-black hair, pierced eyebrow – asks a muscle guy to crack his back. In a matter of seconds, he’s folded into a 90-degree angle, feet pointed toward the ceiling. After a moment, he goes up to another muscle-head and does the same thing. Then he approaches a third.
8:15 a.m. The man in nylon pants is still spinning; in fact, he hasn’t stopped all night. The deaf man dancing to the vibrations leaps into view, does a sweeping jeté, and disappears again.
8:36 a.m. A guy in an outré fisherman’s cap climbs up onto a crate to sit with his face two inches from the speakers. His cheeks reverberate with the throbbing bass. When he takes off his cap, the bass makes his hair flutter.
9:45 a.m. A girl in flowered hot pants and a matching bikini top steals a mop from the janitor swabbing the dance floor. As he looks on, perturbed, she jubilantly begins to sweep up cigarette butts, tissue paper, and empty Red Bull bottles as disco dollies look on in bemused fascination. She giggles and points to herself to get the attention of her boyfriend. “Marty, try this!” she screams. “You gotta try this – it’s so fun!” Her boyfriend stares at his hand. “Tragic,” quips a guy on the sidelines.
10:15 a.m. A number of men arrive wearing bowler hats. The drag queen done up like a witch has somehow acquired a large black candle. She wanders up and down the hallway outside the bathroom, pressing an ear to the wall and mumbling softly to herself. Inside the bathroom, a patron stares intently at a towel dispenser, turning the handle over and over, unable to comprehend that the thing is empty.
10:30 a.m. Overheard on the stairs: “Junior’s back! For a while there, he was, like, totally fucking with our heads and just playing a lot of shit – but listen to this shit, girl. Just listen. This shit is fuckin’ fierce. Junior is fuckin’ fierce. JUNIOR!”
11:14 a.m. As Junior spins a World of Shoes song called “I Am Strong,” a shirtless man sitting with his friends on the stairs fidgets with the ring on his finger and begins to cry. His friends take turns giving him hugs, but this seems to make him cry more.
1 p.m. The party is winding down. It’s down to the fanatics – those who feel they have to stay until the end and those too amped up to go home.
1:45 p.m. A loud blast sounds as torrents of confetti rain down on the dance floor, now bathed in a soft orange glow reminiscent of daylight. A reveler who has been lying on the dance floor for twenty minutes gets up, picks a piece of confetti out of his hair, and stares at it for a while.
2 p.m. Madonna’s “Music” plays for the third time, now in a Vasquez remix. Drag queen Kevin Aviance breaks into an impromptu lip sync on the dance floor, twisting his chiffon scarf to the music. The man who was crying on the stairs dances with his friends, a beatific smile on his face.
2:30 p.m. Junior has played his last song, but the crowd stares yearningly at the D.J. booth. “Junior!” one partyer cries without hope. Someone starts tapping his boot loudly against the dance floor but stops when he realizes it’s not catching on. The party’s over.
2:34 p.m. As the last 30 or 40 people hobble down the stairs of the club, the door opens and daylight pours in. Sunglasses or no, everyone groans or whimpers. The seat of one boy’s khakis is black with soot; a cigarette butt stuck there with chewing gum. His friend is drenched in sweat. As they huddle together, sharing a crooked Camel Light, one says to the other, “So … where should we go for brunch?”