A Christmas Postmortem

February 09, 2017

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THE LOWER EAST SIDE

In the Big Apple, folks really know how to party at Christmas. I saw this firsthand at a terrific birthday/holiday celebration in a club on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

 

Masquerade birthday party

Before I get into this, here’s a back-story about Xmas festivities. In December 1999-2000, my husband Peter and I decided to go to the Cayman Islands. Entry into the 21st century was giving Americans the jitters. Many believed the world would veer off its axis and we’d all vanish into the ether. Given this scenario we decided to spend our last hours on earth in a tropical paradise.

Our trip was great except that everywhere we went on Grand Cayman Island we heard that dreadful song, Who Let the Dogs Out. As we left the Caymans I said, “I’ll shoot myself if I ever hear that crazy song again.”  CLICK HERE to hear it.  

We arrived back in New York two days into the new millennium and I went to a Christmas party that was held in January (too many parties in December). This event took place on the mezzanine floor of a Wall Street tower. The night of the party, I stepped off the escalator and couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Who Let the Dogs Out!! was blasting at ear-splitting volume. The crowd was dancing so hard the floor was shaking.

I saw the same energetic, floor-shaking dancing at this year’s downtown December 10th party and it brought back memories. The tune was different, but the Yankee spirit was the same. Some things never change.

SARDIS' SECOND FLOOR BAR

In mid-December I was invited to the holiday party for LPTW (League of Professional Theatre Women) that was held in the Second Floor Bar at Sardis. One reaches the bar by going up a short staircase just inside the front door of the restaurant. The bar looks very similar to the landmark restaurant downstairs because both spots have hundreds of caricatures of show business celebrities hanging on their walls.

 

Caricatures of show business celebrities hanging on the walls of The Second Floor Bar in Sardis on West 44th in Manhattan

This famous landmark was founded in 1927 and is located at 234 West 44th Street (between Broadway and Eighth Avenue). It is known as a pre- and post-theatre hangout, as well as a location for opening night parties. For us, it was a fun spot that served an excellent vodka martini.

The crowd at this party was pretty boisterous and when a group of ladies broke into “Happy Birthday” for one of their own, everyone joined in – all out of tune, but so loud the show biz celebs almost fell off the walls. Lots of high-energy merriment here or, to repeat: some things never change.

THE BAR IN THE PLAZA’S PALM COURT

Afternoon tea in the Plaza Hotel’s Palm Court has been a New York tradition for over 100 years. However, in 2013 this space was renovated by renowned architect Thierry Despont and now includes an oval trellised bar that anchors a room featuring ceiling-high palm trees and a soaring stained-glass dome that’s very close to the 1907 original.

 

The oval trellised bar in the Palm Court of the Plaza Hotel in New York

We decided we wanted to have drinks in this famous landmark so on an extremely chilly December 19th we paid a visit. There were no seats left at the bar so we sat on a banquette that faced it and ordered drinks.

At the bar, to our right, we noticed a stylish blonde who was getting a lot of close attention from an aging Lothario. “Do you think he’s hitting on her,” whispered my friend. “I can’t tell,” I whispered back. This went on for quite some time and then suddenly a male appeared who reminded us of Oddjob, the henchman in Goldfinger, the famous James Bond film. “Looks like security,” I said.

Oddjob headed straight for the man and spoke to him very quietly. Then he took a few steps back and waited. In a matter of minutes, the Lothario put on his jacket and left – followed by Oddjob and shortly after, the blonde.

Oddjob, holding his steel-rimmed hat, in the James Bond movie, Goldfinger

What was that all about? We’ll never know, but we loved watching the drama. And, true to form, my friend said, “We just spent $120 for four drinks!” Some things never change.  

XMAS WINDOWS AT A HIGH SCHOOL

I wrote about the Fifth Avenue windows last year (CLICK HERE for our blog, A Roundup of Holiday Windows) so this year I decided to look at the High School of Fashion Industries holiday windows located on 24th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues.

Simon Doonan, the Creative Ambassador for Barneys New York, helped the students with this project. And they did a smashing job – both in choosing their groundbreaking theme – and in executing it beautifully. I can never recall see a Christmas window that celebrated female musicians. Some things do change.

Shaun Nelson-Henrick

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