New York's craziest party comes to town
The Big Apple's most outrageous party, Cheryl, is coming to London this weekend. It's been a huge success in Brooklyn, straddling the arty-party divide since 2008, and the Cheryl foursome, Destiny, Stina, Nick and Sarah, are known for their DIY attitude, wacky themes (from pizza to 'Sasquatch on Broadway') and glitter-splattered promotional videos, which give you an insight into the warped night ahead.
We're no strangers to after-dark nuttiness here, but Cheryl evokes a bewitching scene that's one part polysexual Gutterslut hedonism, three parts Duotard's Dance Party 3000 at Bethnal Green Working Men's Club, with a dusting of Jonny Woo-sized irony and a BoomBox soundtrack. And we simply can't resist a party that promises, as they do, that it will 'ruin your life'. Bring it on, New York!
We talk with Cheryl member Nick Schiarizzi, about what to expect.
Cheryl sounds like the kind of party that Lady Gaga would throw for her friends…
'Often people think that we're trying to be like the dress-up club creatures of the '90s in New York,
or high fashion like Lady Gaga, but it's not like that. These groups are very creative, but, at the core of it, they're being very serious even if they look outrageous.'
Your videos are a cult thing now…
'Yeah, for our second party, we did an instructional dance video to teach people how to do “The Cheryl”, which is the dance we created. It's like "The Hustle" or a line dance: anybody can learn. Since then, every party has had a video before it to introduce each the theme. They've been screened in a bunch of museums.'
And you do those dance routines at your parties?
'Yeah, it'll be 'time to do “The Cheryl” and everyone will get on to the dancefloor to try to figure out how to do it. Destiny, one of the Cheryls, will be screaming at people to do “The Cheryl” through a megaphone.'
What's been your favourite theme?
'It was probably Nausea. It's the feeling of, as a kid, being stuck in the back of your mother's car while she's out doing errands and listening to her bad music. It's that complete lack of control. A lot of that was reflected in the aesthetic of the party, in its 1970s colour palette - there was lots of yellow, orange and brown - and its bland disco music. Everyone had on metallic orange facepaint too, to look like they had bad tans. We shot the video in an office block, where we threw a cocktail party and people we eating food and puking everywhere. We just pick the theme that makes us laugh the most. The last party we had was Europe-themed to kick off our tour this month in Lisbon, Barcelona, Berlin and, of course, London.'
Yes, you're coming to the Star of Bethnal Green. What's the theme for this night?
'We haven't been to Europe before, so the theme is just going to be Cheryl and will introduce its main elements, like the craft table. Early on we realised that it wasn't just about playing good music and showing off, but also about making the whole thing about the attendees and not about us. The craft table is essential because it lets them be creative and because people are willing to be uninhibited if they're wearing something that disguises them. It's about “how much stuff can I put on myself?” and “how funny can I make it?”.'
Have you had many celebrities rock up in a bin bag?
'Anne Hathaway came to one of the parties and she put some tin foil on her head! And my friend spotted Norah Jones at our Halloween party - 1,000 people showed up for it, so it was hard to see who was there.'
What should people wear this time, then?
'The defining look of Cheryl is lots of glitter, shoulder pads, fake hair and fake blood. I always tell people that you should walk into the party like you escaped from an asylum and robbed a dollar store on your way. I llooked on Google Earth and there's a dollar store - what do you call it, a pound shop? - opposite the Star of Bethnal Green, so we'll go shopping in there before the night! It's about looking completely insane and using cheap stuff to make it happen.'