The Decline Of Gay Nightlife, CTD

Steve Weinstein delves further into the demise of gay dance palaces for the Village Voice.

Today, there’s only one dedicated big room, Pacha, by the Hudson River. The turnkey for a giant space like Chinatown’s Capitale starts in the $50,000 range—prohibitive for a promoter who still has to set up a sound-and-light system. That’s why Rica Sena, whose Alegria parties still pack in the hottest men, looks to the few remaining dedicated dance spaces. And it’s getting more and more difficult. It’s significant that successful start-up parties like Matinee look to smaller (but still respectably sized) venues like District 36. “It’s incredibly challenging to find a big room home in New York,” Resnicow says.

And that space had better not be geographically undesirable. Guys “won’t go above 57th Street or below Canal Street,” promoter Josh Woods says. “People here aren’t adventurists compared to Rio or Berlin.” Woods, one of the most successful younger promoters in town, keeps his regular events in smaller spaces like Hudson Terrace. “Real estate interests have closed big clubs for sure,” Woods says. “So it tends to be a bottle service.” For many, “bottle service” represents everything gone wrong with New York’s gayclub culture. “You were picked because you looked great,” says Christina Visca, a longtime fixture behind the velvet ropes at legendary clubs like Sound Factory and Palladium, “not because you could buy a bottle of Gray Goose for $250. Bottle service has ruined clubs; you’re a VIP if you order expensive alcohol.”

Regarding “adventurists,” when I attended Folsom Europe a few years ago, we all had to ride a chartered bus about 40 miles east of Berlin to attend the main Saturday party. There had to have been 5000 men there and we were practically in Poland!

UPDATE: Steve Weinstein writes with a clarification.

Thanks so much for posting my story, but I think you should clarify for your readers something. Some of the comments were highly critical of Christina Visca’s saying people used to get past the rope because they looked great. I had to cut out the full quote, which explained that it didn’t mean they were physically attractive; rather, that they brought a sense of personal style. It was about the way they dressed.