The NYC Parties to Remember
With end-of-year celebrations just around the corner, we take a look back at some of New York’s most legendary parties. We’re talking opulence, indulgence, free-flowing champagne, and dance floors filled with celebrities, jet-setters, and downtown artists. Let the good times roll!
Soul Night at The Mudd Club, February 17, 1980
Mudd Club’s former doorman and author of The Mudd Club book, Richard Boch revisits Soul Night at the club. “The night was far out and right-on with more than a hint of political incorrectness: pimps and hookers or anyone dressed like either species was admitted free. Blaxploitation black light posters set the mood. The Ohio Players and Parliament-Funkadelic kept the dance floor moving until Clarence Carter and eventually Percy Sledge took the stage. A round king size fur-covered bed was set for the perfect photo-op. Fried chicken from Sylvia’s Harlem restaurant was served. That was the Mudd Club Soul Party.”
Paradise Garage Closing Party, 1987
End of an era; as disco gave way to hip-hop and house music, Paradise Garage—the fabled downtown discotheque located in a garage on King Street—threw one last bash to celebrate the nightclub that played a major part in the development of modern dance and pop music. While the club served neither food nor liquor, it was one of the hottest dance spots in the world during its prime. The farewell party for this iconic dance factory lasted five days and saw the likes of Diana Ross, Madonna and Keith Haring, while DJ Larry Levan kept the dancefloor moving with back-to-back grooves.
Studio 54 Opening Night, 1977
“All of us knew that night that we weren’t at the opening of a discotheque but the opening of something historical, that was going to change the shape of the way people lived or played… There were no rules. Sodom and Gomorrah met the High Street that night,” remembers reporter and socialite Anthony Haden Guest. The opening party was hedonism at its most potent. With a high-profile guest list including Cher, Dolly Parton, Diana Vreeland, Halston—this was the hottest ticket in town and will be talked about for decades to come.
For the past decade, Jonathan Toubin has been keeping the party going with his all-vinyl dance parties with a tracklist of rare 45s from the 1950s and ’60s. What started as an underground party for those in the know has become a staple of New York’s nightlife scene. The 10th anniversary brought together all the usual elements and included an all-star roundup of Toubin’s favorite musicians: Archie Bell, Joe Bataan, Maxine Brown, Young Jessie, and Ural Thomas, all artists with classic hits from the ’50s and ’60s, joined by a few other, slightly newer acts, among them David Johansen, of the New York Dolls.
Truman Capote’s Black and White Ball, November 28, 1966
It’s been more than five decades since Truman Capote invited a glittering array of his friends—a mix of European aristocrats, novelists, and artists—to the Plaza Hotel’s Grand Ballroom for one of the most legendary parties New York has ever known. Capote’s Grand Masked Ball welcomed every walk of social strata with notable guests including Frank Sinatra, Mia Farrow, First Lady Lynda Bird Johnson, Audrey Hepburn, Gloria Vanderbilt, and Italian Princess Luciana Pignatelli.
Each New Year’s Eve, Soho Grand picks up where Capote left off, transforming the hotel’s entire lobby floor into a Black and White Gala complete with masks, black tie dress, and champagne on tap.
Opened in December ’73, at the intersection of Bleeker and Bowery in Manhattan’s East Village, CBGB was the breeding ground for the 1970s New York City rock scene. Here, every night was legendary with new acts breaking through on the regular. From the Ramone’s first public appearance on 16 August, 1974 to Patti Smith performing with Television on 23 March, 1975—which also marked Richard Hell’s last appearance as bassist for scene-leading art-rockers Television—CBGB was the place to see the future of music.
WORDS Edwina Hagon