Manhattan's Club Kids Are All Dressed Up with No Place to Go

It's Saturday night in New York. You want to put on a cute outfit, fierce shoes, and maybe some glitter and go out for a night of dancing and carousing. The crowd's ready but it's got no place to go.

Saturday night The F Word, a weekly Saturday party which has had only had moderate success since reopening in May at downtown hot spot Santos Party House, was filled with the flamboyant folks that have become synonymous with New York nightlife. Too bad it was the party's closing night, and it was the last of the dying breed of big weekend clubs that would give you the kind of night you couldn't find anywhere else in the world—and even that didn't hold a candle to The Roxy, Limelight, or Element that withered on the vine earlier this decade.

At 1am, the line at Santos stretched down the block, and like Irishmen at a wake, the crowd turned out for a fabulous funeral and they weren't disappointed. Herra-C in a silver lamé jumpsuit, pink wig, and a face of makeup that was between the Joker and V for Vendetta sashayed across the stage in the main room, leading a group of outlandishly dressed kids—one sporting a tinsel wig, one in a mask of a swan with a huge floppy black bow-tie and suspenders—with protest signs reading the drag personalities in the audience. The basement of the club hosted Choice Cunts, a lesbian party that packed the room, while their gay brethren churned to house music upstairs, with a smattering of straight people all around. This is what the "new" nightlife is supposed to be: mixed, crazy, creative.

Drag personality Acid Betty (a friend of mine), her glittery lips looking like she took a big swig off a disco ball, looked at the kids on the stage and said, "They are living the New York fantasy. I love it!" But this was the last night for the fantasy, at least at The F Word. It's first incarnation celebrated only 3 fantastic weeks this winter before closing due to issues with its Flatiron venue. And that has been the story for the past several years, even at such hipster staples as The Beatrice Inn. Either the city, the neighbors, or shady venue owner make it impossible for anything new to gain traction, and even stricter liquor license requirements make it nearly impossible for anything new to open in a neighborhood anywhere close to civilization.

Now the problem is there are more club kids—and partiers wanting to hang out with them—than places to go. There's no large weekend venue that seems willing or able to welcome this flamboyant demographic. During the week, smaller parties, like Lee Chappell's Wednesday night pool party Dr!p, Suzanne Bartsch's Sunday nights at Greenhouse in SoHo, still attract the glitterati in costume, but can't hold a candle to the capacity that Santos boasts. Now, the only places for nightlife on a Saturday are the bars and lounges more fit for drinking than dancing, and the few remaining nightclubs—like Pacha and it's Meatpacking likenesses—that cater more and more to the bridge-and-tunnel.

Right now we have a vacuum, with demand for a Saturday night out far outstripping supply. Who is going to step up to throw the next legendary party? Right now, we don't know. But with all the pent up energy on the scene, it's bound to be explosive.

Photo by Gerry Visco