How not to make an ass of yourself at the Black Party

Survivors of the annual bacchanal tell you how to make the most out of Rites XXXVI: The Black Party

Photograph: Klaus Enrique
A performance at the Black Party

Ah, spring in New York: Flowers are blooming, birds are singing, and the city’s kinkiest scenesters are polishing their leather in anticipation of the fabled Black Party, one of the best gay parties in the city. What began in 1981 as a queer celebration of hedonism is now an institution, drawing thousands of revelers annually. Here’s what newbies need to know.

RECOMMENDED: Guide to the Black Party NYC

Avoid prime time, avoid the line

Peak arrival time for the shindig is between 2 and 4am. According to Black Party producer Michael Peyton, at 2am it can take about 45 minutes to get in. “Around 4am, another crowd starts to roll in: bartenders, coming in after work,” he says. “And some guys will get up at 6am, have breakfast and come dance on Sunday.”

Don’t be a hero

Even the heartiest clubland survivors may not last from the party’s start (11pm) to its finish (late afternoon the next day). Stephen Pevner, who owns Black Party production company Saint at Large, recommends you pick a DJ and show up for his or her set. “Choose a portion of the party,” he says, “because you’re never going to make it through the whole thing.”

Going with buddies? Have a meet-up plan.

“At my first Black Party, I was totally blown away by the size of the venue and number of people,” recalls attendee Anthony Angelico. His advice: “Pick an area on the dance floor, and keep that spot for the rest of the night.”

Don’t be scared

“It doesn’t have to be intimidating,” Peyton says. “A lot of people are just there to dance. No one’s going to force you to do anything.”

Okay, maybe be a little scared

“At the Black Party 2010, people were hanging from piercing suspensions all around the outside of the dance floor,” recalls DJ Spencer Reed. “Later in the night, I was by the dressing room, and a bunch of people came rushing down. They were escorting a guy who had fallen from his piercing suspensions, and had them all ripped out of his back.”

Dress the part—but there’s no code

“Just wear whatever makes you feel sexy,” Peyton says. “Even if that’s white tennis shoes and socks…and nothing else.” Pevner recommends a change of clothes. “People spend the whole night in one outfit, and they end up uncomfortable—there’s chafing. Wear one thing to socialize, then change into something more comfortable when you’re ready to start dancing."


Shawn B
Shawn B

LOL... I'm going.... sounds like fun my first year here in New York...  

LeNair X
LeNair X

It seems to me that the best way to not make an ass of yourself at The Black Party is to simply NOT GO.

For a time, I was fascinated and bought into all of the hype about the Black Party. Even tried to become a performer during my time as a gay porn actor. But now that I am older and wiser, I see The Black Party for what it really is --- a den showplace for prostitutes, which is by no means cute. I am, and probably always will be PRO-exhibitionism. I will never be pro-prostitution. And most, if not all of the performers for The Black Party are prostitutes.

The reason why I am against prostitution is because there is an emotional and mental disconnect in it. And that disconnect is what paves the way for the rampant drug use that The Black Party and most circuit parties are known for. That drug use and praise of prostitution is also why the gay community is so overwrought with emotional cripples. Our community needs something that celebrates sexuality, and uses more POSITIVE role models to do it. And using doped-up porn actors who are just there for the money is not that positive image to give gay males, young or old, about sexuality. Making them front and center representation does more harm than good.

We also should consider the FACT that every year, there's a story that brings notoriety to The Black Party. The problem is the story is 90+% DRUG-RELATED. To this day, the story that I can't forget, and made me start seeing the Black Party for the mess that it is was the story of how someone defecated on the dancefloor.

I would be all for the Black Party if exhibitionism was its message. But it's not. For the times that I went there, I don't know if it ever was. And that saddens me. Making me feel that my hard-earned money went to lost causes trying to turn a big profit by giving bread crumbs and scabs to a greater cause.