One fine afternoon in the early 00′s, after having consumed several beers, two hot dogs, and probably as many cheese burgers at the Gowanus Yacht Club, my companion and I stumbled down Union Street headed East to Park Slope. After we passed the canal I saw the following graffito on the side of a building: “Go anus”. Someone had done a reverse Letter Man and taken the “w”.
The canal itself has never been pleasant. One source says “The opaqueness of the Gowanus water obstructs sunlight to one third of the six feet needed for aquatic plant growth. Rising gas bubbles betray the decomposition of sewage sludge that on a ripe, warm day produces the canal’s notable stench.” The environs around it aren’t much better. After you pass Hoyt headed East, the nice front yards and townhouses of Carroll Gardens give place to many warehouses and factories, many of which appear abandoned. It was in one such abandoned warehouse turned crackin’ night spot — The Green Building — that my date and I caught Michael Arenella‘s Winter Ball last Saturday night.
Some wiseacre painted the building green, and maybe that’s how it got its name. Or maybe some progressive, trendy developer took an old warehouse, painted it green, greened up the electric and water systems, and made it into a club. It’s a big — cavernous — space, and Michael Arenella prettied it up right nice for Christmas. Two bartenders served up fancy cocktails; one of the bartenders was a pro, the other was comic relief. And Mr. Arenella invited all sorts of glittering, twinkling, pretty people who could be mistaken for stars to descend from the winter sky and grace his ball.
The lineup was Piano entertainment provided by Drew Nugent, the big band stylings of George Gee, burlesque beauty Plum Manchego, Roddy Caravella and his Crazy Lindy Hoppers, Jen Minsky of the Minsky sisters, and lastly Michael Arenella & His Hot Eight took the stage and swung the party until midnight, when I had to turn into a pumpkin. (That is, head to the Slip to catch Albert Cadabra’s Birthday Bash.) The guy in the Santa outfit kept calling me Quentin Tarantino, which is funny, cuz I totally look like Tobey Maguire. In revenge I started calling him Father Christmas (behind his back). I regretted that when he bought me a Manhattan. Then I thought, is there a cocktail called a Brooklyn? And if so, what’s in it? Gowanus canal water? Sheesh!
That’s right, I am wearing a tuxedo with a velvet jacket. Yes, it was made in Italy. And I tied the tie myself. That’s 95% of the fun of this scene. It’s scene and be scene in this scene, if you know what I mean. Just check out Drew Nugent in that awesome, vintage top hat, posing with four hotttties. He looks like Rich Uncle Pennybags from Monopoly. He told me the hat is 100 years old, then showed me the label to prove it. I should look so good at 100. Getting dressed up to go out is coming back — or so says the New York Times. A new generation of New Yorkers — folks in their 20s and 30s — have decided that it’s cruel to be cazsh (how do you spell that? You know, cazshual?) on a Saturday night. OK, there were a few people at the party not dressed up. I hope they felt appropriately ashamed. I hope and pray for the day when you can go to a club and every guy you see is wearing a bow tie he tied himself.
George Gee’s orchestra set the mood. Couples danced. Girls flirted with boys. In sum, Mr. Gee warmed the crowd up nicely. As noted above, Plum Manchego, Roddy Caravella and his Crazy Lindy Hoppers performed between the orchestras. Roddy’s Lindy Hoppers were so elastic they looked like Mr Fantastic performing a booty dance on Plastic Man. Hot stuff. I was sad to note that one of the Minsky Sisters was absent. Jen told me Kristen was sick, and travelled off to Providence to heal herself before their big show tonight at Tazza in the mighty state of Rhode Island — TONIGHT!!! If you have the means to get out of NYC, or if you live in Providence, check it out.
While I prefer two Minskys to one, let me state for the record that Jen did a hot tap dance number with one of Roddy Caravella that was the highlight of the evening. Jen Minksy is definitely the entire package.
Keep your eye out for more of Michael Arenella’s parties. I was told on deep background that they’re planning one for Valentines Day. You KNOW that will be hot!