Arts & Entertainment | August 9, 2020 1:08 pm

Underground Pandemic-Era Parties Continue in NYC

An unsettling trend continues

Rope barrier
Exclusive parties continue, albeit in illicit fashion.
Deavmi/Creative Commons

Not long after New York City entered a state of shutdown due to the pandemic, reports began cropping up of illicit underground parties around the city. Catering to an affluent clientele and taking place under the radar, these events tapped into the understandable need felt by many to be around other people — but also posed a very real public health risk.

In the last few months, a number of illicit gatherings have continued. Writing at Gothamist, Ben Yakas takes a survey of the underground party scene as it currently exists in New York City. More specifically, Yakas explores one particularly high-end party scene, where affluent partygoers pay around $5,000 for a table.

Gothamist spoke with Kristina Alaniesse, whose Instagram account documents a host of unsettling behavior going on at these high-end parties. Most recently, these have included events booked by Provocateur, which was holding popup events prior to the pandemic.

[Provocateur] bill their parties as the “most exclusive” in New York, with one former employee telling Gothamist that their door policy is extremely strict, and that they almost never saw a person of color inside. That former employee noted that SNL’s Michael Che wasn’t able to get in one night late last year at a popup event at PUBLIC Arts.

Travis Bass of dance club Lola offered critical commentary of Provocateur for the article. “The people who go to Provocateur and run it are largely not people who are socially conscious,” Bass said. “They’re very insecure rich dudes.”

It can be very disquieting to look at some of the images of these events, in part because — on some level — they seem incredibly normal, even banal. Well-dressed people conversing while dance music plays? That’s not exactly a bizarre sight — or, at least, it wasn’t. Now, though, that normalcy reads as something very different, and altogether unsettling.

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