New York’s Black Party Returns
''It's kind of just this dangerous, lurking area that's sort of vaguely reminiscent of a carnival.''
Technically, Daniel Alexander Osach isn't describing New York's Black Party itself. As creative director for the leather/fetish dance party, put on by the Saint-At-Large, Osach is specifically referring to this year's theme, ''Rough Trade at Luna Park.''
''It's like a wasteland on the outskirts of Rome, where the carnival has been shut down for 20 years,'' Osach explains. ''This sort of abandoned, detritus-strewn Luna Park, where motorcycle riders and gypsies have taken up residence.'' There are also, of course, out-of-work clowns, though Osach is quick to point out for those who have an irrational-but-real fear of colorfully painted faces: ''We're trying not to make the party too clown-heavy.''
That theme should inspire a wide-range of costumes, both from the many performers hired by Osach and his crew, as well as the roughly 5,000 partygoers, who dress up - and more to the point, dress down - every year at the cavernous Roseland Ballroom for New York City's most famous circuit event. The sexually charged party, set for Saturday night, March 23 - following a daytime Black Party Expo originally inspired by D.C.'s Mid-Atlantic Leather Exhibit Hall - is a hedonistic bacchanal pegged to the calendar as a way to usher in the longer, brighter days of spring. The night-into-day party lasts for well over 14 hours, ending in the afternoon on Sunday, March 24.
The headlining DJs for this year's party, set for Saturday, March 23, are an inspiring pair, Tom Stephan and Honey Dijon. Stephan, also known as Superchumbo, played the main event at D.C.'s Cherry party a decade ago, the year it was held at the Convention Center. But last year the gay London-based American DJ was a headliner at Montreal's famed Black and Blue Festival. No doubt Stephan, a dark, tech house DJ by nature, will play a similar gritty but sexy set in New York. He'll go on after 2 a.m., after an opening set by New York's underground DJ/promoter Ryan Smith. New York's Dijon will take over from Stephan after 6 a.m., spinning her signature bass-heavy, seductive house style. Berlin's DJ Boris, also known as DJ 80R15, who opened the Black Party in 2011, will spin his brand of electro/tech house from 9:30 a.m. until the party's end.
Osach, who got his start working for the Black Party as a go-go dancer five years ago, has naturally lined up a bevy of beefy men, including performers from adult-film company Raging Stallion Studios - as well as a motley crew of performance-artist types - to help put on the ''strange live acts'' the Black Party has made its stock in trade.
All in all, it's always a top-notch production - and even with an intentionally seedy theme this year, the Black Party is only ever as dark or dangerous as you want it to be. As Osach says, ''For those who've never been before, don't be scared. It's all in good fun.''
The Black Party is Saturday, March 23, at New York's Roseland Ballroom, 239 West 52nd St. Doors at 10 p.m. Tickets are $125 until March 14, or $160 at the door. Visit saintatlarge.com.