Famous Holidays in New York History | Herald Community Newspapers


Sophie Voss

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New York City is a social and cultural hotspot whose nightlife has long fascinated residents and tourists alike. But did you know that the city had a law prohibiting dancing in its drinking establishments until 2017? the New York one Cabaret Law was a holdover from the Prohibition era that made musical performance and dancing illegal without a proper license, and, of course, that license was both expensive and difficult to obtain. Fingerprinting was compulsory and anyone with a criminal record was immediately rejected.

This law initially targeted Harlem jazz clubs and prevented musicians like Billie Holiday and Ray Charles from legally performing in the city, and it was used by Rudy Giuliani to shut down raves in the 90s. dated law survived until it was repealed in 2017, but even with the threat of fines, the closure of establishments and the arrival of task forces, NYC revelers didn’t let it stop the good times. .

There has been much debate about when New York night life was at its peak: some might praise the contemporary scene as quickly as others lament it. Others have nostalgia for 70s nightclubs or 80s mosh pits. Some might nostalgically think of the Roaring 20s and the days of speakeasies as the ultimate party era. giggster takes a look at this long tradition of celebration by highlighting five iconic celebrations from the city’s history.

The Bradley Martin Ball

John Jacob Astor dressed in costume for Bradley Martin Ball

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The Bradley-Martin Ball is a hallmark of America’s Golden Age, a period of remarkable economic growth and widening gaps between the upper and lower classes that lasted from 1870 to 1900. Held February 10, 1897 in New York’s old Waldorf Astoria Hotel, where the Empire State Building now stands, this costume ball is considered one of the most extravagant and expensive parties ever held. Hosted by Bradley and Cornelia Martin, the evening itself only lasted four hours, but the Martins spent over $300,000, or between $9 and $10 million today. Add to that the small fortune each guest spent dressing up in extravagant costumes and you have an expensive night for the record books.

Costumes included Marie Antoinette, Catherine the Great, full armor, and even appropriate native attire. According to a New York Times article from 1897 all the jewelers in town had been wiped out by the patrons of the ball and many of them wore genuine French nobility stones. The Bradley-Martin Ball sent waves through New York’s lower class, for obvious reasons, and the ensuing criticism prompted the New York tax authority to raise taxes for the Martins and many of their guests – quite a legacy.

The black and white ball

Truman Capote dances with a guest at his Black and White Ball at the Plaza Hotel

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Truman Capote was best known in the literary sphere for his short stories, novels, and foray into the world of true crime writing. However, his impact in the social sphere can be summed up by his epic Black and White Ball at the Plaza Hotel in New York. Nearly 60 years have passed since the night of November 28, 1966, when Capote hosted his invitation-only masquerade ball in honor of Katherine Graham, the president of the Washington Post. Capote was so enthralled by the possibility of cultivating his own guest list that he sent his final guest list of 540 guests to The New York Times for the world to see.

One of the main reasons this event stands out is the diversity of Capote’s carefully curated roster. Guy Trebay writing that “No one had ever imagined, let alone attended, an official party with a guest list so madly Catholic that it brought poet Marianne Moore and Frank Sinatra together in one room.” As the name suggests, the ball had a strict black and white theme and guests, regardless of notoriety, were required to wear intricate masks.

The Loft

David Mancuso stands by the brick wall

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The Loft refers to 645 Broadway, the deejay’s apartment in Manhattan. David Mancuso, who on February 14, 1970, threw a party there as a last attempt to pay his rent for the month. With his Klipschorn speakers and obscure record collection, Mancuso sent out invitations adorned with Salvador Dalí’s “The Persistence of Memory” and the text “Love Saves the Day” to attract a diverse group of around 100 people.

The initial party was a success, providing catharsis and emotional support to a generation in desperate need of it in an atmosphere that moved away from the heavy drinking and bass clubs of the time. The Loft continued – and still continues – to host dance parties, but no longer in its original location, and has inspired countless DJs and the modern conception of dance music. Pitchfork’s Andy Beta writing“…whether you’re into disco, house, acid, techno, trap, dubstep, or any other dance genre that may crop up, everyone can claim the Loft as their paterfamilias.”

The end of modern Gomorrah

Diana Ross and Steve Rubell at the Studio 54 disc jockey booth

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The name Gomorrah is an intentional biblical reference, and it refers to a city that was so full of sin that God had no choice but to wipe it off the face of the earth. For this holiday, however, Gomorrah’s Destruction is modernized to reference the iconic ending of New York’s famed Studio 54 nightclub. The club stood in a former television soundstage on 54th Street in Midtown Manhattan and found its niche with the rise of disco, regularly attracting the likes of Andy Warhol, Cher, Bianca and Mick Jagger, and Elton John with his pro -drugs, pro-sex atmosphere, everything is allowed. Unfortunately, officials took that sentiment too far and engaged in some illegal behavior of themselves, namely massive tax evasion and drug dealing, which sent them to jail and shut down the club.

Studio 54’s last night, February 2-3, 1980, is one for the history books, serving as a closing party and parting party for the soon-to-be incarcerated owners. It featured a performance by club regular Diana Ross on a mobile bridge inspired by Broadway’s “Sweeney Todd” set. An estimated 2,000 people attended the party all night, including Richard Gere and Liza Minnelli, and the atmosphere was far more celebratory than the occasion apparently called for at the time.

Talk magazine launch party

Elizabeth Hurley and Hugh Grant Join Editor Tina Brown Talk Magazine Launch Party

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While magazines are by no means useless today, they are increasingly removed from the immense cultural and fiscal print empires that the 20th century saw come to fruition. The impact of computer and Internet accessibility was not an issue for magazine moguls in 1999, when Talk Media and Miramax’s Hearst Magazines chose journalist and editor Tina Brown to lead their new creation, Talk magazine. Talk most certainly started with a ban – its August 2, 1999 opening night, called simply “The Party”, was heavily hyped and steeped in 90s excess.

Held on Liberty Island in New York, the Statue of Liberty was just a backdrop for the 800 VIP guests in attendance, including Queen Latifah, Jerry Seinfeld, Madonna and Helen Mirren. Guests could only arrive via the Liberty Island Ferry, called Noah’s Ark A-List. Co-hosted by Hollywood heavyweights Harvey and Bob Weinstein, they were, much like the magazine itself, on the precipice of something big, but not something long-lived. Talk was intended to be a general interest magazine, but would be characterized by its celebrity profiles and lack of consistency during its short duration; it ended in 2002, just three years after its promising start.

This story originally appeared on Giggster and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.


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