At a Halloween party Sunday night, Nylon Magazine’s Digital Director, Faran Krentcil tweeted:
The brilliant @angelobianchi is wearing a Save the Beatrice tee. “I’m dressed as last year,” he says. #BestCostume”
What makes this a genius Halloween costume is that in fashion, the scariest thing you can be is something from an old season. A ghost. How we dress – and how we party – gives us great insight into our culture, but a little political jab can really nail it home. It made me think about coming to the end of an era in New York nightlife and what I’ve learned from it. Let me explain the back-story.
The T-shirt was a relic – referring to saving the Beatrice Inn. Located between West 4th and West 12th St, Beatrice existed from 2006-2009. It went through two Presidents and the first iPhone, but just missed the reign of Twitter and end of Michael Jackson. Angelo was the doorman and literal face of the lounge/club/”speakeasy.” The way he curated the party basically invited you to be part of a marvelous, hazy movie every night. It was hard to move to New York alone, and Beatrice gave me an abstract way of socializing. It had the mix of music I liked, inspiring fashion, and new kinds of people — that were always nice. It was just an anomaly. Before, it seemed lucky to end up anywhere with one of those elements. I was so new to New York, but it was the first time I ever felt free and really had fun. Fun fun.
It was like the Fight Club of fun. I enjoyed it in a slightly intimidated way. The “rules” were you shouldn’t bring random people and you should never write about it. With everything so viral-obsessed, Beatrice figured out how to maintain taste. They wanted the opposite of press – they wanted privacy, because privacy – with just enough room for chance — is the ultimate luxury of a good time. They didn’t have tables to be bought or would let just anyone in via money or power – the person had to have style, and had to bring some unexpected element to the party. I normally wouldn’t think about Beatrice as a “brand,” but when anonymous thieves stole the namesake sign to put up for sale, you had to realize it had become iconic.
Just as in fashion mixing high and low pieces had become stylish in dress, mixing all types of patrons made for a good party. A 21 year-old-girl from Bushwick in a thrifted crop top and maxi skirt would be dancing next to a couple in black tie post-gala, and they’d be next to a model in pajamas, a scruffy heir or a magazine editor in Phillip Lim. And they’d play all the music I actually wanted to dance to. My friends in Brooklyn didn’t get it – they would ask, like it was the squarest thing in the world, “Why would you go to a club in Manhattan.” I explained what I thought it held for me that Market Hotel or Silent Barn didn’t: the constant possibility of meeting someone who could infinitely change your life.
There were never any lines to get in – it was a safe haven from the “Sex and the City”-goes-misogynistic scene in Chelsea and Meatpacking. If people weren’t allowed in they were told it was a “private party,” and that was that. They didn’t want lines building up in the residential area – and despite their best efforts – the neighborhood wanted them out. They did a great job, and I think maybe the most risqué thing I saw outside was a model pee on the street once.
When it was shut down by the city’s Buildings Department, regulars made “Free the Beatrice” T-shirts and threw a “Free Beatrice” party. It seemed like an unusual response for an “exclusive nightclub,” more like something that would happen if an indie record store was bought by a corporation à la Empire Records. But the place fostered what felt like a family and people loved it.
For what seemed like kind of a long while, there was talk it would be re-opening soon – in a week, then in a month. Former Beatrice kids felt “homeless” and moved on to Jane and Cabin and Boom Boom and Avenue. Everyone was searching for a new kind of stimulation that would fix what was just felt. It was such a crash. Then there was talk of “new” Beatrices — additional places have opened from the co-owners: Kenmare by Paul Sevigny and The Bunker by Matt Abramcyk.
It is impossible to compare these places to Beatrice. Maybe it was strange because the Beatrice didn’t just die one night, it carried on for so long – what we were trying to save was something irreversible. It was special because it was a physical place that summed up a specific time. The bougie/slummy charm, the civilized debauchery – there was an appeal that just made sense to the moment of the city. I thought I loved it so much because it was my first time “going out” in New York – but it affected people who were older, who were from New York too. There can’t be a new Beatrice when Beatrice stands for something that has floated out of the zeitgeist.
I made a list of the most memorable details to come from Beatrice, the highs and lows:
- the low ceilings
- the fresh roses and nude lady painting in the rose room
- the black and white tiles, gold tables, red booths
- post-dancing grub at Corner Bistro
- the bathroom line
- Rock and Republic Party
- sitting on top of the booths in the back
- The Chelsea in Atlantic City
- the American flag behind the DJ booth
- the music: (new) Justice, Vampire Weekend, MGMT (old) Morrissey, Talking Heads, Nirvana and (older) Dion, Mary Wells, The Isley Brothers
- Down By the Hipster vs Guest of a Guest “drama”
- Jack Siegel’s photos
- the tiles in the bathroom
- Emily Brill
- George Gurley being punished for writing “The Definitive Guide to the Beatrice Inn” by being forced to wear a full clown suit
- Harley Viera Newton / Lissy Trullie / Rachel Chandler / Mike Nouveau / Matt Creed DJing
- Kirsten Dunst
- Josh Hartnett
- “Get Your 15-year-old Full House ass away from my girlfriend,” — Lindsay Lohan to Ashley Olsen
- the sign getting tagged, then the sign getting stolen
- the smoking/the smoking ban
- Heath Ledger
- playing Frank Sinatra as the closing song when it was time to kick everyone out
- the bowl of fresh oranges, and taking one for the cab ride home
On Monday, Angelo opened Rubirosa, an old-school Italian restaurant on Mulberry St. Yesterday I stopped there for lunch and had the homemade manicotti. It was delicious, nourishing, and most importantly, maybe the perfect meal to embrace whatever the new New York will look like.