"Meet a better quality hunk!" - The Black Party Weekend New York – 23rd March 2002

In 1988 a New York Gay institution closed when The Saint, one of the first gay super clubs along with Heaven in London, was closed. This club had been a beacon for New York’s gay club land since it had opened in 1980; a highlight on its calendar was the infamous dark and sensual Black Party taking place on the Spring Equinox. It’s spirit lives on with the promoters putting on this ritual each year in the famous Roselands Ballroom venue in Manhattan. This year saw the 13th year of this popular event with over 7,000 advanced tickets sold.

The party consisted of 3 top billing USA DJ’s, Paulo from LA, Victor Caldrone and Michael Fierman, dress code was black and heavy, and the event was mobbed from 10pm on Saturday evening right through to 3pm Sunday, with an additional 1,000 door tickets selling from 4am on Sunday morning, thus ensuring a consistent turn over of men throughout the event.

So what did we get for our $90 tickets?…. well I have to say, having experienced some of the best parties in the world, and coming from London home of FIST – possibly one of the heaviest and darkest clubs on the planet – not a lot!.. The décor was not exactly imaginative, and a lot more could have been done to add to the atmosphere. The lighting show was passable, but nothing to turn heads, the music left a lot to be desired… DJ Paulo put on an interesting blend of tribal beats, followed by Victor Caldrone, who when he’s good is excellent, but at this party never really lifted the crowd. Michael Fierman opened with an old mix of a Pet Shop Boys number which had long passed into the realms of an old 45, then played on with a set consisting of original disco beats and missable numbers.

The advertising promised a crowd of sexy hunky leather-clad men – but I must have missed them. Apart from a group of steroidal New Yorkers, twisted on K and Crystal (not for the faint hearted). Who took delight only in growling at anyone who had a minimum of a 55 inch chest and looked like something from Planet of the Apes, it could have been a mix of GAY meets XXL. The sex show was probably one of the tamest around, at one point a so called "porn star" stood around fully clothed with his erection out, calling people from the audience over to give him a blow job – "don’t bother I’m not interested" I called while fleeing to the bar for another Seabreeze.

The "back room" was typically USA, with two bemused security guards ensuring that the numbers involved did not exceed fire limits! One in one out was the call of the night. Once in there it was a scene from The Lord of The Rings Goblins Lair – I didn’t expect pretty, but I thought maybe passable, no such luck.

By 8am myself plus a large contingent from London had had enough, luckily one of our native New Yorker friends said that The Exit Club was the place to be on a Sunday morning. So we rushed back to our hotel, showered and changed and headed over to the West Side.

Exit was opened 9 months ago, having been refurbished it needed a new DJ to kick it off. Twilo – a New York institution and home to Junior Vasquez had been closed down and Junior needed a new residency. As such Exit is reborn as Earth on Sundays from 6am to 6pm. Home to the Chelsea gay set of rich, famous, wannabes and hangers-on who flock to pray at the alter of Homo Hedonism.

How refreshing!… a space the size of Heaven, but three storeys high, with a sound system to rival Fabric, a light show that is consistently interesting but subdued, all mixed with some of the best House music in the USA, woven with stunning visual effects and stage shows a la Cirque De Soliel. This was the highlight to the weekend, a fantastic atmosphere with a friendly interesting crowd that kept us dancing till close at 6pm – well worth a visit to New York alone!

Not all was lost, and as seems to be becoming the norm’ around world famous parties, the after parties on the Sunday provided a better mix of music and men. Alegria at the Sound Factory was the popular hot ticket, followed by Susan Moribito’s Equinox at The Octagon.

So what would I recommend next year?.. save your cash and energy - Miss The Black Party, go to Earth on the Sunday morning, rest in the evening and hit the Sunday parties – you’ll feel better, have more fun and meet a better quality hunk.