Monday, October 23, 2006

Replacements


by Noelle Ashley

The iconic NY bar CBGBs has closed. It got me thinking about my favorite places that are gone and what I can do to replace them. I am a NYer who cherishes all the places that make the city feel like home.
Le Cirque…the French restaurant where I celebrated my graduation from Columbia - delicious dinner and then a chocolate place of varied chocolate desserts.
Alain Ducasse offers a magnifique alternative. While Le Cirque was in the NY Palace Hotel which still has its hip 2nd floor bar, but Alain Ducasse is in the Essex House, the hotel on Central Park with a piano lounge.
Pangaea…the celeb-filled nightclub where I drank huge glass bottles of Voss water in between mixed drinks. I hate vodka and champagne, which my friends would order by the bottle. We’d walk right in, despite the line, after dinner at Butter (next door), Baraonda (upper east side Brazilian spot) or the celeb-owned ManRay, after drinks at Lotus, Bungalow 8 or Suite 16 (8th Ave/16th St.) Joonbug.com and other party photographers took our pictures. Once I posed by wrapping myself up in the curtains hanging from the ceiling and peeking out. Sometimes we danced on the padded bench of seats around our table, our backs against the wall and the antlers protruding from the wall – does anyone else remember the antlers? (I do because there’s a photo where the antlers are right over my head.)
Marquee filled that void. I went there with my friend Carolina and the bouncer almost made us pay. I think he said $30 and we should be grateful since most people don’t get in. We hadn’t used any of our connections to get on a guest list that night, and we weren’t dressed to kill, but we sure were dressed to get in for free. Our sophisticated selves had skipped the line, and the cover charge, at every exclusive place in NY – and then some. We stood there in shock until a guy stepped out to use his phone…on his way back in, he said we were with his party so the bouncer ended up letting us in for free anyway. Has anyone else had this happen? Does Marquee make females pay the cover charge?
Windows on the World… I miss this restaurant where I had one dinner, one lunch and many nights in its bar, Top of the World. Superlative views.
After Sept. 11 closed Windows on the World, I sought out height in other skyscrapers. The Rainbow Room is very special, displaying the city skyline through thick glass. When I organized a cocktail party there, I lost my voice by the end of the night but enjoyed every second in the fancy ballroom.
What will replace CBGBs (http://www.newyorkcool.com/archives/2006/October/music-Patti-Smith-CBGB.htm)? I’ll take suggestions. Please write in your guesses. I never really went to this Lower East side bar, but I know I would if it hadn’t disappeared. Does anyone have memories of it you can post under Comments?
I am reassured by the parts of NY that will never close. The Metropolitan Opera, for example. It’s essential to enough people to last forever. The last performance I saw there was The Barber of Seville.
Another NY staple where I’ve seen the Met perform is Central Park, which holds free Opera Nights every summer. I saw Madame Butterfly while picnicking in Central Park with friends from my screenwriting class at Columbia.
At least I can sleep tonight knowing Central Park will never cease to exist.

What are some of your favorite places?
Ones that are gone and ones that would really upset you if they closed?

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posted by Noelle Ashley @ 10/23/2006 10:49:00 AM |

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