London is calling
New York’s scene is on life support, but clubs thrive on the other side of the pond. Here, the news is — who else? — Junior.
by Matt Kalkhoff
 

New York takes pride of place among Pride celebrations, but it’s interesting to compare various cities. Naturally, New York’s has always ranked among the biggest and best, and this year was no different.

Yet despite such occasional stellar weekends, our overall nightlife options continue to dwindle here, leaving the once-thriving scene to struggle as if on life support. So at the urging of a couple friends living abroad, I finally decided to cross the Atlantic for London’s recent Gay Pride festival to see what all the hype was about.

I was utterly blown away by the sheer magnitude and superiority of London’s dynamic club scene. Of course, clubbing in the U.K. is generally more accepted by society (and the government) as a respectable form of entertainment, unburdened by the stigma and moralistic and legal crusades so popular here.

Amazingly, on any given night — Pride weekend or otherwise — there are probably half-a-dozen major events from which to choose, some accommodating thousands of revelers.

Saturday’s colossal Pride in the Park festival in Hyde Park (their Central Park) left this conceptually brilliant production a muddy mess. Ironically, that was the only day of hideous weather; my only true regret was missing Bananarama’s performance on the main stage.

That was just one of many parties I attended throughout the week under the expert guidance of my gracious hosts, Chris & David. Three ranked among the best I’ve ever experienced, all within a single 24-hour period no less.

This transcendent triple-header began early Sunday morning when I finally got to witness firsthand one of the world’s most notorious after-hours soirees, Trade. Held beneath a restaurant in a cavernous subterranean club called Turnmills, Trade was an intense exercise in sensory overload that pushed even this seasoned veteran’s endurance to the limits. With two separate dance floors, a stunning central bar area aptly referred to as “Muscle Alley,” and copious little alcoves to explore, I was mesmerized on every level.

The underlying sound was definitely as distinct as it was vigorous. With a relentless, driving energy that never really slipped into the monotony I had feared beforehand, each song offered multiple layers of complex instrumentation that rarely gave way to those dreaded drop-outs.

Much like the music, the vibe of the crowd always seemed perpetually peppy, refreshingly vibrant, and oh-so chaotic, yet in an oddly organize and controlled way. Friendly smiles and Old World politeness permeated every dance floor.

Later that evening we made our way to the Salvation party at Café de Paris. Held monthly in an opulent two-story restaurant complete with dramatic chandelier and ornate décor, every aspect of this event was top-notch. After working the room and grooving to some serious sounds on the dance floor, we finally departed after enjoying an elaborate Vegas-style show that culminated in an orgy of sequins, headdresses, feathers and flesh. Quite a spectacle, indeed.

Our next stop was DTPM at the renowned Fabric nightclub. This remarkable industrial-styled space was clearly designed and custom built to provide the ultimate nocturnally charged experience. Even the unisex restroom labyrinth was more lavish (and larger) than many clubs I’ve been in.

A wall of enormous video screens projected trippy images to form an innovative backdrop in the main room while a mélange of musical styles cascaded over the club’s other two mid-sized dance floors.

N.Y. clubs could borrow a page from London promoters’ marketing methods. Take, for example, these walking billboards at the city’s Pride celebration. (Photo courtesy chrisgeary.com)


With the comfortable seating and chill-out areas, I was truly impressed by the appointment of comfy beds accentuating the rear lounge area. Imagine lying down, closing your eyes, and surrendering your senses as you embark on a seductively hypnotic journey.

To see pictures of London’s Pride and party scene, check out TradeUK.net; Salvation-London.com; DTPM.net; PrideInThePark.com; Skrufff.com; ChrisGeary.com; and SeenQueen.com.

While I am optimistic that New York City will one day reclaim its status as Nightclub Capital of the World, I can’t help but feel somewhat cheated by the current state of nightlife. I’m hopeful it’s just part of the cyclical and temperamental nature of the “hotspot” phenomenon, and that whatever catalyst is required to help usher in Manhattan’s next era of legendary nightlife is just around the corner. (Spirit? Crobar??)

Meanwhile, back in New York
J Records managed to squeeze out one last record before parting ways with Deborah Cox. The “Remixed” album features fresh interpretations of all her hits continuously mixed in reverse chronological order. Check out FlyLifeMusic.com.

Unfortunately, the CD begins with her cheesy cover single of Phil Collins’ “Something Happened on the Way to Heaven.” The other songs are far more palatable, even if Al B. Rich (a.k.a. WKTU’s “DJ Riddler”) doesn’t put forth much effort in his mixing.

The prolific Peter Rauhofer continues to pump out a plethora of new music via his Star 69 Records label. “Peter Rauhofer: Live @ Roxy Vol. 2” miraculously manages to outshine his first effort in the series, while Saeed & Palash share mixing duties on the label’s latest compilation, “Addictive Beats.” Please visit Star69Records.com.

Last but not least, ex-Exit DJ Junior Vasquez will celebrate his birthday on Sunday morning, August 24, at what is apparently our community’s sole remaining large dance venue, Roxy. Ticket info at JuniorVasquezMusic.com.

Until next time — Be Smart. Be Safe. Be Yourself.


© 2003 Matt Kalkhoff

These articles appeared in NY Blade on August 8, 2003

http://www.nyblade.com/2003/8-8/locallife/nitelife/london.cfm