The Social Vampire Diaries: That Night I Spent an Hour Waiting to Get Into the Alexander Wang After Party

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A light rain falls on my new shirt, a silver leather thing with black lapels and a zipper up the back. I look like the inside of a very fashionable lunchbox. I change out of a pair of black horsehair loafers and into my new Balenciaga heels. They’ve been sitting in a box for the last month and a half since purchasing them, and if it weren’t for Lief supporting the idea of me being 6’4 and fancy tonight, it’d probably have been another year before they saw the outside of my closet.

“It’s a shit show,” he texts.

I walk down the street attempting a grace that I am strangely capable of in showrooms, modeling pants for international buyers who don’t give a shit about me. In real life it’s harder; no one’s paying me to look elegant or capable. The fact that I don’t fall over all night is a success story in itself.

A hovering mass of people wearing black encroaches upon the entrance, attacking from all angles. Everyone who’s anyone and everyone who’s no one is here, myself included. I’m freely willing to admit I have absolutely no business trying to get in. If it weren’t for Lief, I’d be at home, likely writing about the underground boxing match we went to last night and watching The Daily Show.

Lief’s standing outside, wearing a shredded denim Acne jacket and a baseball hat. He drank a 32-ounce margarita before he got here and I can tell he’s feeling rowdy already.

“What’s it looking like?”

“Not good.”

Apparently the five people who were supposed to get us in tonight have all but vanished. So-and-so and this person and that person who does this and said that. Lief keeps looking at the shattered surface of his iPhone. “This is so annoying,” he says.

“I might have to get grimy to make this happen. I don’t want to get grimy,” he says.

“We’re here,” I insist. “Get fucking grimy.”

Fashion week after parties are designed to make you feel like a loser unless you’re actually supposed to be there. The whole act of trying to get into one seems sort of strange. For instance, I don’t try to crash random people’s birthday parties or weddings. And if anyone took issue with it and told me to fuck off, I’d totally understand. But at fashion week, you take your inflated sense of self-worth and imagine that’s currency. That and a pair of really expensive shoes and some good hair. Yes, you think, I might not have a ticket, and I might not be on the guest list, but I am list transcendental.

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

Lief and I stand in between two parked cars and assume the affectations of people who think they’re important but clearly are not. If you’re important, you’re inside. Lief groans. I cross my arms. We’re like personified eye-rolls and ho-hums. Lief starts launching into mini tirades about hookups and favors and “Don’t ask me for anything anymores.” I’ve never seen him this annoyed. I think it’s the margarita.

“If you’re on the list, get in the line,” some guy in a black suit repeats from the door. There’s a stronghold of resisters standing on the sidewalk. To get in the line, to barricade oneself between the venue and those horrible silver bars is an admission of defeat, a sacrifice of the little crumbs of ego we have left. On the sidewalk, we are still humans. In between parked cars, we still have power.

I can’t imagine what this whole scene looks like to the security detail. To them, it’s all very black and white: you’re on the list or you’re not, you have a ticket or you don’t. Still, they’re surrounded by cool kids with glittery pants and half-shaved heads, praying to the party gods for a sign of the gray, a glimmer of hope, a breaking of resistance.

The creative director of J.Crew walks past and per the dictates of their corporate culture – the way they interacted with the models like they were human beings, asked our names, looked us in the eyes when they spoke to us when we worked together last week – I say hello and kiss her on both cheeks. She’s with Garance Dore. They both disappear soon after because, well, they’re supposed to be here.

I feel like I’m on Titanic and someone keeps shouting “Women and children first! Women and children first!” and I’m the 75 year old man left to perish on the listing promenade.

Models come up and out of nowhere and slide straight through the crowd like eels, all bones and thin wisps of hair.

“They’ve got a ticket for us,” Lief says, still looking at his phone.

One ticket means one entrance. Lief instructs me to pretend I’m his girlfriend and we’ll probably be okay. Twenty minutes later, our ticket is delivered by Jake. And just as we move off of the sidewalk and into the line for hard tickets, they close down admission. Everything grinds to a halt.

We stand. And wait. And feel a little less loser-y, but we’re still not inside. We’ve been waiting for over an hour.

I’m standing next to some emaciated, French male model version of Robert Pattison and his entourage of cigarette-smoking hip kids when a bass line thuds from inside.

“Is that…” Lief’s ears perk up. White light flickers from the windows of the building onto the façade of the one across the street. “Is that Die Antwoord?”

Now I’m starting to get annoyed. I can hear Yolandi rap on the mic, her voice screeching through the air like a rat caught in a trap. This is just salt in the wound. Everything about this is getting embarrassing – this need to get into a party and dance around strangers, this need to get dressed up and wear shoes that are now making my calves numb. The problem is that when it works, it’s fun. You’ve won some sweet, stupid, superficial victory based on nothing.

The line starts moving again, two by two. They’re only taking hard tickets now, no guest list. Finally Lief and I arrive at a man in a gray suit. “One ticket, one entrance,” he reminds us. We tell him we’ve got a name on the guest list, one we’d been given along with the hard ticket so we could get in. “Sorry,” he says, “we’re not taking the guest list anymore.”

Only one of us is getting in right now. This is like Guest List Gladiator. The man watches on, his eyes relaying zero sympathy or heartfelt desire to keep the team together. Rules are rules. Hard tickets only.

Lief says he’ll wait.

I push the ticket in his hand.

“Don’t do this to me,” he says. “I’m not going to go in.”

“I’m not going to go in either.”

The man continues to watch us argue over who is going to sacrifice the last hour and a half of their life for zero reward and lots of wasted dignity. This is like Sophie’s Fucking Choice right now.

I push the ticket into Lief’s jean jacket. “I’m leaving. You stay.”

And then I walk away, down the street in my Balenciaga heels and my silver shirt, the rain falling lightly again but not enough for an umbrella. There I am, alone in the Financial District: Jenny Bahn, party martyr.

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The Social Vampire Diaries #2

Our friend’s friend is mad because we’re an hour late.  “It’s not my party and if we reach capacity there’s nothing I can do to get you in,” he tells him.  This is what people say to those not important enough to get into a party on their own merit.  But we all know that there’s no such thing as “at capacity.”  There’s always room at a party; you just have to be the right person.

Sergio – I think his name is Sergio – pushes us towards the entrance.  “Go, go, go, go,” he says from his place on the smoking patio.  Mason and I brush past security guards and a line of people not getting in until we are inside, hidden from the street and an angry man until we are surrounded by all of the right people.

This is the fashion crowd.

It’s already packed inside.  Beautiful people chain smoke cigarettes between four walls covered in tropical wallpaper harkening back the long lost days of Bungalow 8.  Late night coke binges, palm fronds, Heather Graham in roller skates.

Everyone here is beautiful.  Everyone here is awesome.  The problem with this seemingly winning recipe for a raging good time is that each and every person in this place holds onto the core belief that they are the most awesome person in the room.  There is no hidden hierarchy of betterness; everyone here thinks they rule more than the person next to them, whether or not the person next to them is their best friend.  People wander the crowd like satellites, boys crashing into girls without apology, girls waving their lit cigarettes around with blatant disregard for the surfaces of others – skin, hair, expensive clothing.  Burn it all.

When Mason gets scratched in the eye by the claw of some anonymous wench, I can’t say I’m surprised.   She holds a candle up to her cornea.  “Can you see anything?” she asks, her left eye squinted and watering, wanting to know if she is bleeding or otherwise visibly harmed.

No one in here is badly dressed.  Strangely, yes.  Over the top, certainly.  But badly?  Never. Even the girl dressed up like a glorified cobalt blue beetle somehow manages to pull it off.

There is a recipe for why certain bars and clubs do better than others and it depends on the crowd in which it panders to.  The fashion crowd, for instance, requires an open galley in which to strut through, where they can see and be seen in whatever outfit they painstakingly threw together that night.  This is unlike the Hollywood crowd, which requires dark and hidden corners, big cushioned sofas and places where they can hide from prying eyes. Fashion knows no privacy.  If you can’t be seen, what’s the fucking point?

Waitresses do their best to hold onto trays of food that nobody eats: spring rolls, some chicken satay thingies, red boxes of Chinese takeout.  “Care for anything?” they ask, smiling with an admirable believability.  Other women in chic interpretations of ethnic clothing wander the room dropping buckets of champagne on ice at tables surrounded by more chain smokers.  I haven’t inhaled this much second-hand smoke since 1998.

I am introduced to a man/boy who looks like a poor man’s Brad Pitt cast to play Kato Kaelin in an HBO special about OJ Simpson’s life.  “Hi, I’m So And So,” he says, without looking me in the eyes, scanning the room to find someone recognizable to take a photograph with.

Snap.

More flashing cameras.  More lights.

Olivier Zahm arrives with his entourage. He’s wearing the same thing he wears in every single photograph I’ve ever seen of him: a plaid shirt, a leather jacket, jeans, a pair of aviator glasses sitting under a curly mop of hair.  He holds a camera above he and his friends, taking pictures of himself while another person in his entourage takes pictures of the pictures. People circle him like sharks, hoping to get drawn into the fray and immortalized on his online Diary.

Some skinny girl with long brown arms and an orange dress swigs out of an abandoned bottle of champagne, putting a cigarette to her lips with one hand as soon as the big glass bottle comes down with the other.  On the opposite side of the room, a perpetually chic European editor dances on a chair wearing some 90s Versace-esque cutout dress while cameras flash violently from all angles.

I think I’m going blind.

“Theodora Richards is wearing the jumpsuit I just bought,” Mason says.  I scan the crowd trying to find her even though I have no idea what Theodora Richards looks like.  Later, unknowingly, I end up dancing behind the DJ with a wisp of a girl wearing a lace-up version of a Halloween cat costume, so much so that I nearly apologize for sitting on her tail when she’s reaching for her handbag.  This is apparently Theodora.

I wait in line in the bathroom for a stall to open up and listen to two women talking to each other in Russian while one pees and the other – presumably – stands awkwardly above her. They continue to talk to one another in front of the only sink while I stand patiently, waiting to wash my hands.

Back in the main room, girls throw their hair up into messy buns because it’s 100 fucking degrees in this place, the subtropical climate matching the subtropical wallpaper.  Sweaty boys in the front get progressively more drunk and dance on the floor to oldies but goodies and newbies but baddies and I’m staying later than I planned on staying because I ran into an old friend in a suit and tie and why the hell not.

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The Social Vampire Diaries #1

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There’s a girl with red lipstick that remembers me from an Oscar-viewing party at our mutual friend David’s house.  March.  Fucking March.  I blurt out something about how depressed I was that day because of my ex-boyfriend even though the story doesn’t make sense because she doesn’t have a context for it and we hardly know each other beyond a brief and ancient exchange about who we thought should win Best Actress.

A man who looks like any other man comes up beside her.  They apparently know each other; he’s her boyfriend’s work partner.  He stands back while she and I talk with his arms folded, a hand to his chin, surveying the scene like a general contractor.  He whispers something to her and then looks back at me. 

The girl mentions that he lives in Los Angeles but he says he’s just got a place out there.  “I’m doing the bicoastal thing,” he yells over the terrible music.  She says something about an Alpha Romeo and I try to conjure up an image of what that car looks like in my head because I think that was her point, but I can’t.  He asks me where I live.  I tell him Brooklyn but that I go back and forth between New York and LA because I have family and friends out there, because I work there, too.  I do not need to drive home the point by telling him that I am bicoastal.

And suddenly, without realizing, she’s left the two of us standing next to each other. 

I let him buy me a gin and tonic because he’s a douche bag and I deserve it for having to hang out with him.  Michelle orders a shot of tequila.  He gets one, too.  I can’t decide if he’s drunk or stoned, but he keeps asking me the same questions over and over again, not even remembering that he has asked them before when they come out of his mouth or when I give him the same answer.

Where do you live?

            Brooklyn.

So you live in New York?

            Yes.

What do you do here?

            I model and write.

How do you know Devon?

            I met her through my friend David.

Oh yeah…so, you live in New York?

            YES.

What do you do?

            I model and write.

How did you and Devon meet?

            Through my friend David.

Who’s David?

            A mutual friend.

He keeps standing next to me and looking at me while he shakes his head.  I dance around the table with my gin and tonic sloshing out of my cup because I’m not drinking it quickly enough. 

“You’re intimidating,” he tells me.  I say that’s a matter of perception.  He says that he’s insecure and I tell him he’s full of shit because no one that’s insecure would be secure enough to admit that in public to a total stranger.  I think he says that he has low self-esteem and now he’s really just blowing smoke up my ass.

On three occasions we bang our heads together, trying to listen to one another speak.  After the third time, I can’t tell who’s embarrassed or who’s irritated.  Michael stands back and says, “Hi, I’m Michael.  It’s so nice to meet you.”  He’s trying to start over.  He does this twice.  I haven’t felt this awkward since I went on a blind date with some rich kid with a BMW who kept saying over the course of our Moroccan dinner date “Oh my god.  This is like the worst date ever, right?  I mean, I’m sorry.  I’m like.  Fuck.  This is bad, yeah?”

This man makes me want to gouge my eyes out.

When Michelle tries to save me by walking outside to “smoke cigarettes” he says he has cigarettes and that he’ll come with, but by the time we’ve made it through the crowd and out the doors he’s already forgotten he was going to come out with us and so he smokes a cigarette down the sidewalk by himself.  I don’t even think he sees us, he’s that fucked up. 

When we get back inside he finds me and grabs me by the arm and says, “Where did you go?”  Every time I get out of his line of sight he comes and finds me and asks me the same question.  Whenever I make my way to get away from him he asks me if I’m leaving, my response always being “I’m going to say hi to a friend” or “I’m going to the bathroom,” when it should really be “You’re not my psycho boyfriend, psycho.”

His breath is a steaming cloud of cigarettes, the kind where I just want to get a tongue scraper and peel the tar off of his tongue from front to back.  I knew this breath, had kissed this breath before.  It was a combination of Camel Lights and cocaine, which, as my friend Jared later tells me, Michael was apparently doing in the bathroom that night.

He’s a terrible drunk, just as bad as a friend of mine from Los Angeles, back when he used accuse me of being a star fucking prostitute just because I didn’t want to give him a ride home.

When he asks for my phone number I give it to him but I have no idea why.  In a way, I feel bad for him, even though his “I’m so shy and awkward” shtick is a total load of crap. 

“Okay,” he says.  “I’m going to call you tomorrow.”

I nod my head because if I’m lucky he’s not going to remember me tomorrow and none of this will matter.  He’ll just be drunk and high in another bar, hitting on another girl who he’ll use his extreme self-deprecation as a ploy to get her to sleep with him. 

 

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