Once, in a haze of cigarette smoke, nightclub names evoked the exotic worlds of black and white movies: El Morocco. Copacabana. Latin Quarter. Eden Roc.
Now it is 1990, and a super-cool authenticity is found in the detritus of late capitalism: a colossal warehouse of sweat and electronica whose only nod to ancient nightclub glory is the VIP room.
In the VIP room, the A-list slithers in, in all three sexes. A VIP party is taking place, but not an important VIP party, because VIP parties go on in the VIP Room every day. The party is in honor of a half-sister of Liza named Lorna who sings too. Except Lorna is nowhere to be seen. Maybe she doesn’t exist. Or maybe she does, but tonight she is just an imaginary theme, an excuse to hold a VIP party.
At any rate, the A-list slitherers don’t care. They wear their virulent strain of fashion as proudly as they wear the virulent strain of boredom that infects such events, and has since, oh, Max’s Kansas City. They all know each other. They show up in the same circles, parties such as this in places such as this. Parties are the office they go to every afternoon when they wake up.
The lesson of the A-list slitherers is that they are simply functionaries. Flunkies in a marketplace of meanings. Extras in a living commercial for this night club.
The Great Unwashed, whose money will soon be laundered, lays down cash at the door in exchange for a meaning: an experience of cool. The illusion of cool is created by the simple fact that an A-list exists and inhabits a VIP room they are not permitted to enter. Their own exclusion is the product guarantee of authenticity.
Meanwhile, up at the party, the exchange begins.
Lorna, the singing sister, couldn’t care less about the guests at her party, if she’s even there. She trades her slight frisson of fame for an infinitesimal boost to her career.
The slitherers couldn’t care less about Lorna, the singing sister. They trade their aura for a free place to conduct the business of being cool.
The owners of the nightclub couldn’t care less about the singing sister or the A-List. They trade some real estate and free drinks for a VIP room whose sole reason for existence is to create a class of people who won’t be allowed in.
The bridge and tunnel crowd have begun assembling outside the Tunnel, lining up on a desolate street to entrust their destiny to a doorman. Some will not merit being admitted into a club that will then not admit them to the VIP room.
Humiliation, desperation, crushing prices and decibels are the payment. The truth embedded in the proposition? Same as it was on the leopard-striped banquettes of El Morocco: Enchantment.