Earlier this year I spent two months hanging out in New York City. My friends said I should try out this club called WestGay. I didn’t think that any party on a Tuesday night could be much fun, but I went along anyway…
It turned out to be, without a doubt, the best night I’d ever had in America, with the most glittering display of strange and wonderful people I’d seen for a long time. This party was unique, original, fun and open – there was no assholeism or attitude. It felt like how you’d imagined clubs and clubbing would be like, before you’d ever been to one.
After about twenty minutes, a colourfully dressed handsome chap bumped into me with a bottle of champagne. It was Frankie Sharp, the promoter who’s been credited with breathing life back into the New York gay scene, something that even as a New York novice, was resolutely clear to me as I looked around the Westway’s Main Room. We caught up on the phone last week…
DH: Tell us about how you got started in the world of clubs… what was the first party you did?
FS: My very first party was in San Francisco with my good friend Brontez from the band ‘Gravy Train.’ It was called “Work Me, Goddamnit!” It was in a dilapidated old gay hooker bar in San Francisco. McDonalds once sponsored us and gave us 100 cheeseburgers to pass out. Id wear weird clothes that I could only get away with in my early 20s and Brontez was always nude. We would both DJ – I was playing off of iTUNES!! So embarrassing.
DH: How did WestGay start? And how has it become such a sensation?
FS: I was unemployed from a fancy fashion job then trying to become a stylist which I QUICKLY learned didn’t make me ANY money to live, in NYC, at least when you’re starting out.
I went to visit my friend Sam Chiera who runs the East Village bar, Bedlam, to have a funemployment drink and him and my boyfriend at the time encouraged me to “throw one of my silly parties” like I did in San Francisco.
It ran for a year and was very successful, garnered some great press and won a few nightlife awards. I had guest DJs like Jake Shears and Andy Cohen and artists like Maluca, Sky Fereirra, House of Ladosha and SSION perform. WestWay caught wind of me and the event and asked me if I could organize a gay dance party at their venue. I said if I could have complete creative control of the biggest gayest circus New York has seen… sure. Since then it’s become a dream every Tuesday, and every Tuesday I find I’m always saying “that was the best WestGay yet.”
DH: You have some great live acts – what do you look for when it comes to performers?
FS: SUPERSTARS who are cool and larger than life. Idols and Icons I’ve always wanted to work with and freaks of the future.
DH: Who’s given the best show so far?
Each performance at WestGay has been different from one another and each is INCREDIBLE. The energy at WestGay is through the roof, it makes everyone performing go NUTS. Also it’s in the centre of the main room and the audience surrounds you. I call it a ghetto coliseum.
DH: You’re often see drinking champagne – how many bottles do you drink in a night?
FS: Moet Chandon. Two probably? But I’m often giving away glasses as well.
DH: If you were a cocktail, what would it be?
FS: A champagne fountain. I love things in an abundance.
DH: Any plans to take WestGay to any other cities? London? Berlin?
FS: Me and the WestGay muse and DJ Juliana Huxtable have been talking about bringing WestGay to Berlin in the fall and next Spring we’re doing Shanghai and possibly Mexico City. I’m also the NY Editor for London-based fashion magazine, Ponystep. The Creative Director and Editors for Ponystep are also the originators of the insane London party “BoomBox” – we often talk about a London-based collabo!
WestGay at Westway is every Tuesday at The Westway, 75 Clarkson, New York City
Check out their facebook page, here: http://www.facebook.com/WESTGAYNYC
By Danny Hilton:
On Facebook: /danhg
On Twitter: danny_hilton
His website: http://www.dannyhiltonmusic.