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Gotham magazine's first anniversary party was probably the first buzzed-over party of 2002, and it showed how New York's events have shifted since the still-filled-with-frivolity days in early 2001, when the mag hosted its crowded launch party. Gotham worked to pack celebrities into both bashes, but some minor differences between the parties were telling. (The fact that it took the mag a mere ten months to celebrate its first anniversary might say something about the joy of surviving this economy, too.)
Although the Regent Wall Street's ballroom echoed the pillars-and-marble glory of Cipriani 42nd Street (which hosted last year's soiree), trekking downtown amongst police barricades to a venue just a few blocks away from the site now known as ground zero made it impossible to forget the city's new reality.
Inside, Bentley Meeker--who used intricate, patterned gobo lights last year--went simple and patriotic, alternating red and blue lights on the room's pillars, and shining white gobos of the mag's logo. And although the launch event had taxi cabs parked inside, cigarette girls passing out candy, and performaces by Run D.M.C. and 3LW, this year's party had less hoopla and decor. Above DJ Cassidy's small stage, an ice sculpture of a giant hand g.phping a martini stood on the balcony in front of a hanging American flag. (We won't attempt to interpret the symbolism.)
Cassidy (a protégé of sorts of the launch's DJ, Mark Ronson; both are booked by Damon DeGraff) spun a hip-hop and R&B mix that included 70's hits (the original “Lady Marmalade") and current tunes (Destiny's Child, Nelly Furtado). At one point, Gotham founder Jason Binn, Miramax chief Harvey Weinstein and Sex and the City star and designated party host Kyle MacLachlan embraced for the photographers as Sister Sledge's “We Are Family” played in the background.
The party element that didn't change between events was the importance placed on celebrity guests. Celebrity wrangling firm Flying Television Productions was hired (as with last year) to rope in a group of press-worthy guests, and owner Lori Levine told us this time of year--after award nominations start coming out, but before the craziness of the Oscars sets in--is a good time to get nominees to show up and pose for pictures. They're ready to promote themselves and, therefore, your party.
Despite the toned-down decor and the slightly more subdued feel of the whole party, it still drew a large crowd of people--with a wide mix of ages and fashion senses--ready to eat, drink, smoke, dance and gawk at the assembled celebrities. The paparazzi line was set up just inside the venue, so the guests could watch as the celebs (Angie Harmon, Chris Noth, Ivana Trump) posed. But the famous faces ultimately got to gawk back at the crowd, gaining access to a V.I.P.-designated area on the large balcony, where they could look down on the rest of the assembled partygoers.
Read our coverage of Gotham's launch party...