Friday, August 24, 2007
My last days of disco
Y recently asked me if I'd ever gone to Twilo during my crazy New York club days, before I became an old boring suburban lady. It got me thinking back on those days a bit, which perhaps I never talked about much here.
There was one night that the Cokehead Alcoholic took me to either Twilo or Tunnel, which were near each other on West 27th Street in Chelsea, so I honestly can't remember which one it was. It was fun, but it was also kind of strange for me, because I was more used to the fetish/goth scene of the meatpacking district, which was a much different kind of club scene. The clubs I most often went to, Mother and True were smaller, with a tight community of regular attendees. They definitely did not have a metal detector or pat-down at the door, like Twilo/Tunnel did.
Anyway, the night we went to the T club in Chelsea (whichever one it was) we were dressed in Edwardian fetish/goth attire, having stopped at Hellfire first (an underground sex club in the meatpacking district that was closed down when they built the hotels and gentrified the place). All our velvet and corsetry didn't exactly fit in with the ecstasy-fueled club-kid vibe of the place, so we did get searched upon entry, which was strange. Lots of raver kids, lots of drugs, we didn't stay very long. But I did think that, had I gone with someone else, and were I dressed appropriately and in a different mindset, it would have probably been fun. Sadly, I never made it back to check it out again before it closed.
I'd clubbed in Boston, LA, DC, Spain and Italy before I moved to New York, so I had a pretty good sample for comparison, and I think I caught the New York scene at a perfect moment. Before I got there things were nuts, with Michael Alig killing his drug dealer and club kids appearing on Oprah. By the time I got there, things had mellowed a bit so that it was a nice creative community without too much evil craziness.
To be fair, I didn't just sit on a balcony and watch, I threw myself into it pretty deep, so maybe I had a better experience because of that. I was friends with organizers, I danced in a cage (god I wish I'd saved that picture; they used it for promotion), I worked the door and decided who could and could not come in. I was going out four nights a week, doormen recognized me and I rarely paid to get in. I was fully invested, until I retired from the scene. (And it took a few tries, like Michael Jordan, before I really did retire.)
A few years later, clubs started to fall prey to the triple-whammy of Giuliani's quality-of-life/cabaret law crackdown; the inflated rents of the real estate boom; and the sobering climate of post-9/11 New York. Most of the clubs and parties I went to closed down around 2000-2001, and were replaced by gentrification and high-priced bottle service.
Which is now itself dying, so maybe we're on the edge of another golden age of clubbing. These things do tend to come in cycles. Of course, I'm also pretty old now, so maybe my opinion is for shit.