party lines

The Studio 54 Crowd Has a New Nightlife Spot

Susanne Bartsch and her husband, David Barton. Photo: BFA

Few people know luxury better than Studio 54’s Ian Schrager, co-founder of the famous nightclub and a staple of New York’s nightlife scene at its (arguable) peak, in the 1970s and ‘80s. For his latest venture the Public, a hotel that opened last night on Chrystie Street, the entrepreneur chose accessible luxury. The name hints at the mission: Schrager said it “makes luxury available to everyone.”

A very New York crowd attended the opening party: Ashley Olsen, Courtney Love, and Susanne Bartsch, a Studio 54 veteran described as the “nightlife equivalent of a couture label” by the New York Times. Bartsch wore a fencing one piece with shoulder pads and greeted Schrager with “Congratu-fucking-lations, bitch!” and a hug. “It’s laid-back luxury,” she told the Cut. “That’s what it is — it’s modern and luxurious.”

Club-like escalators in a golden, mirrored tube shuffled guests to the lobby bar. A giant white couch flanked the windows, surrounded by modern-chic staples: Richard Avedon coffee-table books, large furry rugs, and exposed cement blocks. There’s an arts space in the basement and another bar on the roof. “It’s the opposite of elitist, it’s populist,” Schrager said. “People always accused me of being an elitist. We never really were, we just wanted to do something great.”

Bartsch threw monthly parties in the Copacabana in the ‘80s. When asked what she thinks of New York nightlife in 2017, she said it’s “harder” now. “Nightlife changed because of social media — you don’t have to go anywhere anymore. You can do everything on that little square,” she said, tapping an iPhone screen. “But that’s why we need more of this than ever. When people unite they feel each other, they feed off of each other’s energy. And it’s real life, it’s not cyber life.”

The Public wants to be more low key than Bianca Jagger riding a white horse through the dance floor. “It’s not Studio 54, we don’t want that right now,” Bartsch said. “People are busy. Everyone’s busy … You might be here at five in the morning, easily. But the idea to go to a big disco is too much work.” She politely paused the interview to take a photo with Schrager, to which an onlooker yelled, “That’s New York, right there.”

The Studio 54 Crowd Has a New Nightlife Spot