Summer socializing started off on an 18-story high note this week with the grand opening of Susanne Bartsch’s much anticipated seasonal saturnalia "On Top," at the Top of The Standard Hotel.
The event kicked into full tilt right out of the gates, and within minutes of Ms. Bartsch’s arrival, she had mounted the bar and was excoriating the crowd to “WORK!” in her trademark Swiss-inflected English. Her lofty perch also provided an excellent perspective from which to view her star-spangled Blond’s corset, which I came to find was as dangerous as it was beautiful when she dismounted the bar via my shoulders, digging several glittery, brilliant corners of hand-crafted corsetry into the back of my neck. Oh well, it’s not a good party unless you’ve got the scars to prove it...
Susanne Bartsch, whom Michael Musto recently re-crowned as the Queen of New York Nightlife, has had her royal schedule packed lately. On Top was her second event of the evening, following her weekly soiree at the Soho Grand. She is fresh off a world tour, during which she hosted the Starcount Social Star Awards in Singapore and threw a concert at the fabled Austrian AIDS benefit Life Ball in Vienna. With On Top in bloom again this summer for the third year in a row, Ms. Bartsch is now hosting four weekly events. Her calendar includes a Thursday night at the newly redesigned Marquee and her perennial Sunday night Vandam at Greenhouse, which just happens to be in its fifth straight year. It’s good to be the Queen.
On Top holds a somewhat legendary status in the recent annals of New York City nightlife, and this past Tuesday proved once again to be one of the best parties I have attended in recent memory. After taking a turn on the bar myself (trust me, this was that kind of party) I took a walk next door to the Boom Boom Room, which, for the first time ever, is being integrated into the rest of the Top of The Standard for a weekly event.
The Boom Boom was refined and relaxed. Michael Fragoso and his bow tie brandishing gang of dandies, Les Garcons, held down one corner of the room and gave the atmosphere an amazing queer James Bond vibe. Meanwhile, Domonique Echeverria, a designer and stylist, MC’ed between drag burlesque, live piano, and an amazing number by the singer Raye 6, who has the voice of Aretha Franklin’s angel.
By the time I made it back to Le Bain, the gloves had come off and the place was in the midst of a bacchanal riot that would have made Caligula blush. Two girls in ferocious mohawks bounced to the beat on the bar top. In between the quaking young nudity now occupying Le Bain’s jacuzzi, Gage of the Boone, a Brooklyn-based performance artist, seemed to float on the bubbles trapped beneath the gown of a look that can only be described as the result of a time vortex giving the Egyptian Old Kingdom access to Day-Glo.
Finally, I made my way to the rooftop terrace, which is one of the only places left in New York where one can enjoy a cocktail in one hand and a cigarette in another. (Combining that sensation with the spellbinding view of the Hudson and Lower Manhattan that the roof terrace offers is nothing less than a religious experience.) Seriously, if anyone needs to remember why they love this city, that terrace is like a baptismal pool.
The rooftop was also where hosts Michael Musto, famed Village Voice columnist, Mickey Boardman, Editor-at-Large of Paper magazine, the photographer Jeremy Kost, and Darian Darling, night-life persona and fashion muse, were all holding court, enjoying the night air and each other’s company.
By far, the most incredible thing about On Top was the vivacity and creativity of the partygoers. Ms. Bartsch’s events are well-known playgrounds for the fashion avant-garde, and On Top played out like a night of Carnivale. Goths, drag queens, latex, punks, ravers, dandies, bondage - almost everyone at the party took the opportunity to contribute to the environment through their personal aesthetic. When I looked around at the crowds of people spilling out into the Meatpacking District dawn, it was as if a mob had raided the Costume Institute at the Met. Ah, summertime in New York City.