What a Year That Was

NYC nightlife luminaries fondly recall what they can still remember from 2006

If you're like me, you greet the end of the year with a combination of "What, it's December already?" and "Thank God it's over." For me, 2006 was marked by some special moments, including the time I bonded briefly with my teenage hero Axl Roseat the Tribeca Grand and gushed to all my friends the next day about what a nice guy he was, only to open the New York Post and read about his fight with Tommy Hilfiger.

Other memorable moments: waiting for an hour outside the Guggenheim in sub-freezing January weather to see Diplo, and realizing it didn't matter how good he was because I could no longer feel my nipples. And later in the year, meeting the man who was really elected president, Al Gore, twice. Tipper Gore told a story about once wanting to get a tattoo, and I found myself explaining to my former imaginary childhood nemesis (down with the PMRC!) what getting a tattoo feels like. Cue out-of-body experience!

Justice's set at the Pawn Shop during the Winter Music Conference gave me hope for dance music, but my favorite 2006 concert was Bon Joviat Giants Stadium—and I'm not being ironic. We got into the weird "groupie pit" on the side of the stage during "Runaway," and I briefly appeared on the JumboTron. It was nearly my crowning achievement, topped only by winning a Front Page Award for some little article I wrote about sober hipsters.

photo: Tricia Romano

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I asked others to share their favorite things about 2006, to help you remember what you did this year. An unofficial poll conducted by the Fly Life cultural scientists determined that most of your nightlife friends liked Little Miss Sunshine(Spencer Product), An Inconvenient Truth(King Britt), Borat("Because that crazy Jew filmed it in Romania, yayo!" explains Morningwood's Chantal Claret), Volver ("Because Almodóvar understands the strength of women in such an intimate way," says Honey Dijon), Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" (Drew Elliotof the Trinity, and Scissor Sisters), and the outcome of the midterm elections (everyone). Moveon.org's Laura Dawn says her favorite part was "the moment we knew that Rick Santorum was defeated, which was only exceeded by the moment we knew George 'Welcome to America, Macaca!' Allen was defeated. This is terrible schadenfreude, but Ted Haggard admitting to having apparently so-good-he-kept-coming-back-for-more-for-three-years meth-addled sex with a male prostitute was another fave moment, simply because he had toiled for so long to hurt gays and to stop them from enjoying the same rights as everyone else." Amen, sister!

On a less serious tip, you wouldn't guess, but über-cool French dance producers Justice love Lost.A lot."We are waiting the season three to be finished to watch it and not to suffer too much of frustration," writes Xavier De Rosnay. "We get completely brainwashed by this soap and this is actually the first time it happens with a TV thing."

Drag diva Jackie Beatloved " Liza Minnelliplaying a fictionalized version of Patsy Ramsey on an episode of Law & Order. I only tuned in for the camp value, but guess what? She was damn good!"

Others eschewed regular TV altogether. Fischerspooner's Casey Spooner agrees with DJ Max Pask that "YouTube is pretty fucking great. I already take it for granted, but that was this year's media revolution."

Other performers recalled milestones both personal and professional. Justin Bond, he of Kiki & Herb, says his favorite moment "was singing 'The Golden Age of Hustlers'—written by Bambi Lake,a notorious tranny from San Francisco—on the beach at the Cannes Film Festival in front of several thousand people. It was the night of the premiere of Shortbus, and for one magical moment the freaks were ruling!"

Ex-Lunachick Theo marked 2006 by getting her driver's license ("A true New Yorker—getting it way past 16") and performing Screen Testwith her band the Skyscrapers and Rob Rothat PS 122. "It encompassed everything I love to do," she says. "Sing, dance, act, 'become art,' and work with fantastic people."

Local writer Glenn Belverio's proudest moment came when "my book, Confessions From the Velvet Ropes, went into a second printing after only one month"; showbiz man-about-town Murray Hill "got to perform for Penélope Cruz and Pedro Almodóvar—perform my comedy, kids. Get your mind out of the gutter."

Sean Lennon's milestone for the year came at a gig—playing "In the Attic" at Joe's Pub with Pete Townshendand Rachel Fuller. "I never thought I'd be onstage playing one of my songs with Pete on guitar," he says. "At the end, everybody sang 'I Am One' by the Who. I sang the first chorus and was terrified that Roger Daltreywas watching. It turned out to be the most fun I've had all year. I have Pete and Rachel to thank for it."

DJ-producer King Britt's proudest 2006 achievement? "When Miami Vice came out." (He scored the film.) "I happened to be in Hawaii, and we saw the first show. Seeing my name on the big screen is a dream come true."

New Yorker pop critic Sasha Frere-Jonessays his most memorable moment came at the New Yorker dance party (which he curated) during the magazine's annual festival. It was "a tie between watching Michael Mayernot worry when he discovered that Club T had not provided needles for his DJ set, and the moment when they finally did."

Meanwhile, Barry Hydeof the Futureheads is all growed up. His major 2006 achievement is moving to Glasgow and out of his parents' house: "It has been the first time I've ever lived away from the protective talons of my wonderful parents, and at the age of 25 I was worried that it might never happen and I would end up being 50, still in my pajamas, sucking my thumb and staring at the choo-choo-engine motif in the playroom, waiting for my mother to call me down for fish fingers and beans."

Chantal Claret's capper: "When I realized all of the things that had been a problem for me three years before had changed and dissipated, leaving me completely satisfied. Because three years ago I was homeless, broke, motherless, and manless, and now I have amazingly built a life for myself. Yayo!"

Jeff Salaneof the Panthers was most proud of "the publication of my wife Adrienne Maria Vrettos's book, Skin. It was great to go on tour with a book instead of a band. The hotel rooms are nicer in publishing, and I don't have to pack and unpack a drum set every night."

Some people's favorite events were out of town: Miss Modernage remembers the Iceland Airwaves music festival in October, held in Reykjavik. "It's still a music festival unspoiled by 'the industry,' " she says. "Oh, and need I mention the fact that everyone there looks like they fell off the Beautiful Truck? Dear lordy!"

Juan MacLean writes that his favorite 2006 event was DJ'ing on the rooftop of the Standard Hotel in downtown L.A. withJames Murphy. "A bountiful supply of gays, girls in bikinis, friends, and rock stars, along with a rooftop pool, added up to a surprisingly good time," he says. "James and I rented a white Mustang convertible and wore white the entire time we were there, driving around listening to his just-finished 45:33album on the car stereo, laughing at how good life is."

Tim Fletcherof the Stills fondly recalls the Billy Bragg show at SXSW in Austin: "My buddy is a huge Billy Bragg fan like me, and we were drinking pints and singing along with 300 people, and we shed a few. Best show I've ever seen. Also, seeing Rancid with all my friends and singing along to that whole show and then meeting them, and they knew our band. Wow."

Black Lips' Jared Swilley says 2006's best moment was "the World Cup. It was really fun because I was in Europe. The Zidane headbutt was great, especially when he had to apologize to the children of the world."

Two club owners from different ends of the nightlife spectrum recall two very different favorite performances. While downtown, Max Brennan (co-owner of rock 'n' roll dive Lit) cited a Gary Wilson set; Noah Tepperberg (co-owner of the upscale club Marquee) named Jay-Z performing at Tao Las Vegas, his other club, as his 2006 highlight, "because it was the most incredible show I have ever witnessed. He caused such a stir that the place almost caught on fire."

Tech-house producer Gregory Shiff cited "coming back to New York after a summer in Spain, being surrounded by friends, and realizing that there may be some life left in this damn dark city after all. Then going back to Barcelona for a proper club gig and reconsidering." Elsewhere, Misstress Formika looks back fondly on the days when "all the clubs were open and parties were a-rockin'! Because now Limelight a/k/a Avalon will become a strip mall. Ugh."

Drag performer Linda Simpson loved Julia Sweeney's one-woman show Letting Go of God at Ars Nova; Trinity's Drew Elliot had a great time at the Tribeca Grand dancing to Erol Alkan; and Rated X hostess Peppermint Gummybear says she's torn between "the roster of Mofo '06—the Cramps, Morningwood, the Carrie White Follies, and of course the legendary Willie Ninja performance—and walking home to Harlem in drag after a night of debauchery during the transit strike of '06. It was like a one-woman black gay-pride parade at night."

Finally, let's not forget: We lost two nightlife legends this year. Willie Ninja and Adam Goldstone, R.I.P.

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