Uncensored, Unbridled and
Unleashed in New York City
by Matt Kalkhoff

My first visit to New York City was back in June of 1995 during Gay Pride. I was convinced by friends beforehand that people either love the City or they hate it, and I honestly had no idea at the time under which category I would fall. I arrived with an open mind and no expectations, but when the lights of Manhattan first became visible during my cab ride from the airport, a euphoric feeling consumed me that would only intensify exponentially as the weekend progressed. Something inside me said, Welcome home.

I felt totally empowered by the City’s intense vitality, and I was in absolute awe of its sheer magnitude and scope. Spectacular parties shared with close friends on the Intrepid Aircraft Carrier and at Palladium and Twilo left me with an overwhelming sense that this is where it all begins – everything that I had known and experienced up until that point seemed to all come together and, for the first time, made perfect sense. Even if I didn’t yet have a mailing address in New York, I was indeed home.

I left New York knowing that I would eventually return for good. After a few more years in Miami and a brief stopover in Washington, DC, I finally realized my dream in April. In some ways, I can’t believe it’s already been seven weeks, but when I stop to reflect on all that has already happened since I moved here, and think about what the future holds in store for me, I realize my journey has only just begun.

Surprise, Surprise!

A funny thing happened during my first week in New York. You see, on Saturday, May 5th, Victor Calderone played his last record on the Roxy turntables (he left the club to pursue other as-of-yet undetermined opportunities). On the very same night, the infamous nightclub Twilo (my absolute favorite dance space) was shut down by the City on some inane technicalities, leaving the legendary Junior Vasquez also temporarily displaced. I couldn’t help but think, Was it something I said?

Despite these unfortunate developments, I am confident that once Giuliani steps down from his throne, New York nightlife will once again find its groove and be quickly restored to its former glory. Both Victor and Junior will surely find new, more fabulous residencies (what’s that rumour about two massive clubs ready to open their doors the very same day our new mayor takes office?), and everybody will live happily ever after in clubland. But what in the hell am I going to do in the meantime?

Culture and Other New Experiences

Obviously New York has much more to offer than just nightclubs, so I decided to begin my cultural exploration last Friday night by taking in my first Broadway production – The Rocky Horror Show. Granted, I was a Broadway virgin and didn’t really have anything to compare it to, but my friend Dale is a Broadway veteran, and we both agreed wholeheartedly that this was a stunning and remarkably entertaining musical that everyone should experience for themselves.

Cocktails at the midtown bar Barrage followed, and later that evening I was coerced by some new friends to visit Vinyl for Danny Tenaglia’s weekly Be Yourself party. I had sort of been avoiding Vinyl since moving here based on a couple past experiences that were rather disappointing, but something was very different (and much better) this time around. The place was packed and full of energy when we arrived around 4:00 a.m. We barely had time to grab a drink (non-alcoholic, unfortunately – Vinyl does not have a liquor license) before we were sucked onto the dance floor by the hard and mesmerizing beats Danny was throwing our way.

When I finally got around to exploring the club, I was pleasantly surprised to find an extremely diverse and intriguing mix of people. Packs of beautiful, strategically enhanced women roamed the premises flaunting their femininity and enticing their equally gorgeous, shirtless male counterparts, while the mostly attractive gay contingent seemed more at home on the dance floor. Now I know where all the displaced Twilo regulars have been going.

I left the club shortly after 6:00 a.m., and despite reeking like an ashtray (the cigarette smoke in the club is a bit overpowering, to say the least), my fears had been put to rest – I may now confidently report that, despite Giuliani’s relentless and ridiculous attempts to quash our fun, damnit, nightlife in New York City is indeed alive and well.


© 2001 Matt Kalkhoff

This report was featured at www.dancemusic.about.com on June 27, 2001