If You’re Looking For:
The Young and the Restless
How wonderful the world seemed at 18, when you were loitering on the quad during the first few days of spring – the girls flitting about in floral dresses, the boys in shorts, all of them going to hell in the handbasket they made in Weaving for Credit. Ignorance is still bliss in CENTRAL PARK’S SHEEP MEADOW, where uptowners of all ages can find the things they really want out of life – a six-pack, a Frisbee, and a whole bunch of junior analysts sunbathing in their bras. Don’t forget – this is where Jerry Seinfeld picked up hot Nightingale babe Shoshanna Lonstein.
Longing for the easy odds of your high-school mixer? Then put on your tasseled loafers and Sergios and hit the the dance floor at POLLY ESTHER’S (1487 First Avenue, between 77th and 78th Streets) where you can do the Electric Slide with marketing assistants and young Republicans from Yorkville, Westchester, and New Jersey. Don’t let the velvet rope fool you; this place is all easy access.
An Island Holiday
“No woman, no cry” would seem to be the theme song of RED STRIPE’s (35 Crosby Street) mostly male, mostly dreadlocked clientele. Swaying soulfully to reggae bootlegs as they puff on sweet cigarettes, for the most part these dudes play it cooooool. But don’t be fooled, mon: They’re actually hard at work sizing up the ladies in the house. If you’re the lucky girl, you’ll be treated to as many hours as you can take of an outrageously sexy bump-and-grind – by far the best one-night-stand option around, and you don’t even need to take your clothes off.
Kosher for Passover
Say a little kiddush. Break some bread. Get a phone number. That’s just what a couple hundred Jewish gay and lesbian singles do each Shabbat at the CONGREGATION BETH SIMCHAT TORAH (57 Bethune Street) in Greenwich Village. Founded in 1973 by those seeking to “be deeply Jewish and openly gay,” or openly Jewish and deeply gay, the member-supported synagogue meets for prayer every Friday night from 8:30 to 10 p.m., followed by coffee cake and kibitzing.
“Omigawd. There are so many cute guys here tonight,” exclaims the small-of-stature, big-of-hair woman in the pew next to me. On the jam-packed second tier of the Church of Saints Paul and Andrew, which also houses the B’NAI JESHURUN SYNAGOGUE (267 West 86th Street), there is a bevy of single Semites to behold. The chances of getting lucky are pretty high. I mean, you’re basically walking into a crowd of people dying to make their mothers happy. Because of the configuration of the church, you can scope out the options pretty openly, and the temple just had its second “Singles Oneg” after the service last week. Go. Be fruitful. Multiply.
Trophy Wives or Sugar Daddies
Seeking a champagne bar where the flutes are as long as the guys’ wallets are thick? You might want to check out the BUBBLE LOUNGE (228 West Broadway). But beware. Weekends are packed with Wall Street kiddies and cigar-fellating poseurs. A more sophisticated, moneyed crowd stops by early in the week, after 8 p.m. Happy hour on a recent Friday found a disproportionate number of Salomon Smith Barney employees downing beers while cliques of Miramax execs sipped bubbly nearby, courted by smiley, black-clad girls in their twenties. “This is the pickup bar of the future,” declared one anonymous broker. “My wife doesn’t know I’m here.”
The ultimate destination for a Latin king in search of a suitable queen, THE NEW ESCUELITA (301 West 39th Street) has undergone a face-lift. The Spanish-flavored Times Square gay discotheque now features booming speakers, skin-flick videos, and a discreet side entrance. But don’t worry: The “girls” are still here, in all their hormone-enhanced, sequined splendor. Salsa, disco, and torrid ballads bring together a cross section of Latin culture, from Prada-clad Barcelona toreadors to Ecuadoran busboys. Cap-to-the-back homeboys dance with gorgeous dykes. Pneumatic she-males court beefy papis. And old-world grandmas with bottle-cap glasses sit on the side, wisely taking it all in.
Frasier in Tights
Libraries have always been hotbeds of romance, and the dance section of the NYPL’S LIBRARY FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS (40 Lincoln Center Plaza) is excellent for the lonely aesthete who can navigate conversations about Massine, Ailey, and Graham. Juilliard, ABT, and the New York City Ballet are all well represented, as are comely film buffs, buff musicians, and even the occasional literate actor.
On sunday nights, IRVING PLAZA (17 Irving Place) is thumping – not with the usual alt-rockers but with old-fashioned girl-meets-boy-style swing dancing. From 7 p.m. to midnight, members of the Swing Dance Society and pleasure seekers craving the rarefied touch of a partnered dance make up the mainly white crowd of twenty-to-eighty-somethings, dressed in swing-era getups, jeans, or coats and ties. It’s not like your high-school mixer, where girls gossip on one side of the gym while boys huddle on the other throwing spitballs. The free-for-all grinding begins as soon as the band starts up.
When you’re working out in a nightclub atmosphere, the dating possibilities are pretty much endless. While DAVID BARTON GYM (623 Broadway, between Bleecker and Houston Streets) – which sports a flashing neon sign, a D.J. spinning the latest dance tracks, and a huge wall projecting nightly flicks – has a reputation for being a great place for boys to meet other brawny boys, ladies won’t feel left out. They should, however, proceed with caution – sometimes hetero come-ons arrive in the form of much older men offering to give “pointers” on form. If you want to get familiar with particularly cheesy pickup lines, this is definitely the place: “I was doing a bench press,” a member confides, “and this guy came and stood over me, and said, ‘You know, that’s my favorite exercise, too.’”
Under a twirling-saddle glitter ball, couples dance to a wailing country ballad as gun-slinging divorcées try to round up willing partners at DENIM & DIAMONDS (511 Lexington Avenue, between 47th and 48th Streets), a country-western oasis in midtown. A mid-level manager shuffles over to a confident cowgirl, who turns out to be Swiss. “I came here for the line dancing,” the attractive stewardess later confides. Here, cowgirls can have the pick of the ranch when the moment’s right, though most of the men working on their dance steps are about as Texan as Jackie Mason.
On Saturdays at the UNION SQUARE GREENMARKET, pay no attention to the hand-holding couples, weighed down with string bags, consulting the recipes for their latest dinner for ten. Focus instead on the forearms of the kindly farmers replenishing the maple syrup, shallots, strawberries, or forsythia. After a couple of dates with supercilious stockbrokers, don’t you really need to come back to earth? Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help in this atmosphere of abundance: If all goes well, you’ll never go hungry again.
If you’re in the market for a nice lesbian anesthesiologist, marketing consultant, or otherwise respectable businesswoman you can bring home to your mother, a stream of good marriage prospects flows through JULIE’S (23 East 58th Street), a tiny, slightly claustrophobic watering hole with the ambience of an airport bar. The nearly invisible entrance (below ground level, adjacent to the townhouse) harks back to the days of secret passwords, but the air of propriety – a sign requests appropriate attire, and the clientele leans toward Chardonnay rather than beer – gives way to an approachable and democratically diverse collection of sapphic humanity. Think of it as a restricted country club everyone who’s been good is allowed into.
“I have to apologize that it’s so slow tonight. Everyone is in Europe for Fashion Week,” says Mark Baker, one of LIFE’s (158 Bleecker Street) promoters, at midnight on a Friday night in the Village. But by 1 a.m., the line outside is halfway down the block. “This is when the creative juggling begins,” says Dirk von Stockum, general manager of Life and host of its VIP room. “You’ve got people coming in who might be more fabulous than the last people you had to clear a table for.” By 3 a.m., a gaggle of purported Russian models have commandeered the men’s bathroom. Two ladies are getting phone numbers from a couple of the guys at the urinals. “I don’t have a pen,” says one fella holding up a free hand. “I do,” says Rachel, who holds up a Cross pen, showing off a diamond-studded Rolex. “But I’ll wait till you wash your hands.”
By David Bahr, Sarah Bernard, Ondine Cohane, Helen Eisenbach, Amy Feitelberg, Vanessa Grigoriadis, Sam Grobart, Braden Keil, Hunter Kennedy, Alexandra Lange, Stephanie Saulmon, Ethan Smith, and Mike Steele. Edited by Ariel Levy.