Last night, unfashionably east on Delancey Street, a very fashionable crowd lined up outside an emptied 24-hour parking garage for the Givenchy after-party. “They washed the windows for this,” says a civilian walking by with her baby stroller and looking at the three-story brick-and-window façade. “Please get out of the street,” said an iPad girl, politely. “No, literally move to the sidewalk,” says the other iPad girl. A teachable moment, for this intern, no doubt.
“Don’t be so obvious,” shrieks a high-heeled woman in a short white dress with elbow cutouts. I’ll call her Tan Bun. She giggles, throws me a knowing but not necessarily conciliatory look, and returns her attention to the coke bump her man in an oversize leather jacket is generously tapping on her …. purlicue. (That’s the space between the thumb and forefinger. Now you know.) Anyway, it’s more of a coke dump. He snorts the rest straight out of the vial. “Gooooood morning!” he shouts to the line at large, shedding his leather jacket, and becoming Tan Tank. A couple for our time, perhaps. “Fuck this shit,” says Tan Tank, leading Tan Bun right to the front of the line. They get in before the line is “opened.” I guess I could have seen that coming. I continue to wait.
“The thing about Givenchy is there are sooooo many levels,” groans a man in a tight mesh muscle shirt, two hours later. We’re on the second floor of the warehouse, I am waiting in line, all in vain it turns out, for the VIP section. “What do you mean, layers?” shouts his friend, also in a complicated layered mesh ensemble. Either they can’t hear themselves over the music or communication isn’t the point of their friendship. I, for one, am blaming my inability to connect on the former, in an attempt to gather my karma while I may.
Anyway, there is much fodder for the eye in this space, even for those of us trying to get to a slightly elevated plane within it: Neon lights flash blue, red, and green. The partygoers with the right idea are dancing wildly to the thumping music. Abandoned cars with bright-blue lights built into the consoles — rusting, some smashed, but with doors pried off so you can … make out in them — are strewn throughout the cement expanse, adorned by “performers” in flashy costume-y costumes doing repetitive sexual choreography. A clown in a black-and-white checkered suit, garish red lipstick, and a white face moves his hips backward and forward. (I saw him earlier, actually, in line, running past and shouting at the iPad girl: “Where is the back entrance?” Says his fellow worker, “Where even is this neighborhood? I got so lost. It’s not the Lower East Side.”)
“What is this music?” I asked a man with a beard and body chains draped over his leather, also dutifully in line. “Sorry, have we met!?” he shouted apologetically. I said sorry, and explained that I don’t understand music and I was wondering what it was because I just love to learn. This speech was, in retrospect, about as unamusing as it now reads. (Sometimes pratfalling just means falling on your face.) “House music,” he said. Dully. Not even drolly! “Okay, like deep house music,” he adds as a favor. Because the bass is louder? I want to know. Because there’s something revisionist about this thumping versus old thumping? But he shrugs and gestures wildly toward the bar like I’ve been keeping him from his calling, which he is correct in thinking isn’t music.
The conversation that was to be willed into abortion is actually naturally shed because Kim Kardashian walks past. Out of the VIP section. I mean, I think she does. “That was Kim Kardashian,” says someone behind me. “Kim,” says a man to my left, in black leather pants and a crop-top set. He nods sagely, as he swivels his hawk eyes straight back from which he came: the bodyguards blocking the man with the VIP iPad. (Kendall Jenner was there, too, decked out in her version of the night’s unofficial goth-chic wardrobe: tight leather pants, see-through mesh-y black striped turtleneck on the top.)
“And there goes Courtney Love,” says my peanut gallery. “I love how she just puts lipstick all over her face.” I say that she’s wearing the same outfit as Kendall, but better. The onlookers swivel around and swivel back. I forgot we weren’t here to make friends. I check myself, and remember that I’ve been told downstairs I can’t get into the VIP area without a pass and it’s the same list here and of course when I get to the front, the same man, now on a different entrance, says, “I remember you. Do you remember me?” Well, no, otherwise I wouldn’t have tried the same thing twice. But lucky for you I remember what he said, with the quizzical head tilt Jonathan Franzen has whenever he spots a bird ignoring its migratory patterns, “You’re beautiful. And not just for a writer,” he pauses, letting this compliment sink in. “I would let you in. But I don’t have the power to do that.” Then, to the man behind me without a pass, “Oh, hey man, you’re fine, come on in.”
Anyway, I give up on dancing and the man who’s been trailing me because he said he was a doctor, which is fine, but I asked what kind and he said: “General. I mean any kind.” And I was like “a general practitioner?” — and then realized playing doctor is a kind of sex joke. A lot goes over my head. To the outdoors! Where food trucks and grilling stations — ice-cream cones, hot dogs, burgers, ribs — line the streets under a light sculpture that says: I BELIEVE IN THE POWER OF LOVE. A bench of petite, beautiful Asian women in billowing suit sets all delicately eat six hot dogs. I mention this because I too grab some grub, asking the man next to me if I can crib on his table. He’s disappointed I wasn’t popular enough to go to Givenchy. “The show changed my life,” says the man, watching me try not to spill mustard on my Richardson T-shirt he has just called “hip” in a way I’m still trying to parse as pejorative or not. He took another sip of his vodka. “It’s too bad you missed it,” he says, as if I were a girl who wouldn’t eat a hot dog just because I saw a Givenchy show.
“I’m Riccardo’s facialist,” says Tracie Martyn. “The skin of an angel. Or a god.” Instead of talking about Milton, I take the opportunity to extemporize on my skin-care problems “Fixable,” she says to each pimple anecdote. “Easy. We have people that can fix anything.” She pats my arm reassuringly. “Nothing is permanent.”
“Not even love,” I say. To myself mostly, and leave the party: Because, though right now, at 2 a.m., it might seem like it will go on forever, I see now that I’ve been introduced to a sage for a reason. I pass a man heading out, too, in his … summer fur: “God, I thought I was going to get laid tonight.” He stops. Then turns back.