The Black Party
Slightly intrigued and wanting to check something else off my imaginary bucket list, I decided to look into attending the legendary Black Party, a yearly gathering of NYC’s gay men at the Roseland Ballroom for a night of techno music, dark rooms, and little to no clothes.
I talked to a friend about it, and he was equally, if not more excited than I was. We convinced two more to venture on our adventure. We had our minds set. Come the night of Saturday, March 19th, 2011 we would march our way to West 52nd Street and see what the whole hoopla was about. As the day approached, I heard and read more and more about the event. It was as if I kept getting turned off and on simultaneously. “anonymous sex everywhere”, “people peeing on people”, “ecstasy”, “aggressive groping”, where they for real? I had to check it out.
As soon as I left work, and with the blessing of my coworkers, I rushed home to figure what I was going to wear. Originally, we had planned on wearing nice tuxedos and masks, but with the possibility of getting peed on in the horizon, I decided to ditch the tuxedo and go for something perhaps more “appropriate”. I pointlessly packed a bunch of clothes in my duffle bag, since I already resolved what I was going to wear, and headed to my friend’s apartment.
Earlier that night, I had decided I wasn’t going to get terribly drunk. Instead I would opt for beer here and there and keep it chill. I wanted to both remember the night, and have a fair judgment.
Upon arriving at my friend’s. I had a drink and we got dressed. I wore faux leather pants (as a side note, I had bought these pants a while ago in Paris, and had never worn them but I knew they would come in handy), combat boots, and black suspenders. As a final touch, I chose to wear a white t-shirt with a Robert Mapplethorpe-esque image of a bullwhip. Always better to overdress than underdress right?
At about midnight we headed to the venue. It was only a few blocks away. There was a long line of significantly older men lots of who were dressed in leather gear. I have to admit, I’m a sucker for a mature guy who’s rough around the edges. My eye wondered. The line moved steadily and quickly. We were inside in about 15 minutes. We were instructed to drop off our cellphones, and go downstairs if we needed to check in our garments. Indeed I was overdressed. A leather harness and a jockstrap would’ve sufficed.
We headed straight to the bar, picked up a beer each, and proceeded to explore. It was not very crowded. I had heard the party didn’t really get going till about 2 a.m. There was some contortionist show on one stage, then some slightly unimpressive aerial acrobats, and hideous techno music, which I’m sure I would’ve enjoyed had I not been sober unlike the rest of the attendees.
Earlier that day I had talked to a friend who mentioned he was going to DJ a side room. Since I was getting antsy and needed to pee, I went to relief my bladder and try and find him. Indeed it was a side room, right next to the dark room, through which I had to walk to get to where he was. I said hi, chit chatted for a bit, and told him I’d go find my friends and come back. He was playing way better music anyway.
I journeyed back through the dark room, which was getting more crowded, and loud with moans and grunts, and into the main room. One of my friends decided to leave. The rest of us walked back to where my friend was djing.
From there on, we pretty much stayed in that room, taking quick trips to buy more beer or water. I danced for about 4 hours. Saw men having sex with men having sex with men, porn stars, familiar faces, drugs (both legal and illegal), more sex, buckets and buckets of condoms and lube, even more sex, a light show, people into all kinds of fetishes, and even a room where you could get tested for STDs (because if we’re going to fuck senselessly we have to be responsible, right?).
Towards 4:30 a.m. I was getting tired. I hadn’t slept much the night before, and again, I wasn’t on drugs, or drunk for that matter, and I hadn’t nor was planning on participating in any of the “activities” there. Another one of my friends had already left, and the two of us who were still there decided that maybe it was time for bed. We stayed for about another hour, and then proceeded to pick up our jackets and cellphones. We were asked if we wanted a wristband to come back, as the event kept going till, and I quote the flyer, “Sunday afternoon”. No thank you. I need a few hours of sleep, and maybe some yoga to feel clean again.
I left the place with mixed feelings. Warm yet bitter, much like the alleged urine I was promised to have splashed on my pant leg. Will I be back? It’s not something that I’ll be waiting for next year, but if there are ulterior motives or a specific incentive, why not?