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“There’s nothing that says ‘party’ and ‘class’ like a bomb-shelter basement in Midtown,” joked drag comedian Murray Hill last night. “This is bullshit!” It was one of the many loving jabs taken at the sixth-annual Paper Magazine Nightlife Awards last night. The three-hour soiree took over Good Units at the Hudson Hotel, in a room filled with tables, candles, suits, and drag queens. It all started to make sense after three hours at the open bar.
Recent cover star Pee Wee Herman opened the evening with a series of silly quips (“Thanks to Paper for making this happen — rock and scissors weren’t available”) before the awards part officially began. Really, the only reason we came back this year is because of the noticeable shift away from the elitist nightlife that dominated last year’s ballot. This time we saw parties we’ve actually gone to, bars in Brooklyn, and DJs we’ve idolized for years. First award? “Best New Party,” which went to Flashing Lights, who met all three of our limited criteria, though it should be noted that they just celebrated their second anniversary. No one was there to accept the award. (Apparently they hadn’t been invited. Burn.)
The awards continued. “Best Restaurant With a Nightlife Scene” went to Kenmare as “Peanut Butter Jelly Time” blared above. Next, Amanda Lepore and Cazwell presented “Best Hotel With a Nightlife Scene” to Ace Hotel. “Best Designer With Nightlife Influence” went to Charlotte Ronson. (Overheard: “What? Are they just making up awards to give out?”) Apache Beat presented the award for “Best New Bar,” which went to, get this, Greenpoint’s Coco 66. “Best Gay Night” was a tie between Sugarland Saturdays and Amanda Lepore’s Big Top. (The latter has been canceled for a minute and is looking for a new venue.) By this point we were having a great time.
Then came the coveted “Best DJ” award, a category shared by Jazzy Jeff, Biz Markie, Stretch Armstrong, Just Blaze, and a handful of people we couldn’t help but laugh about. (Solange Knowles? Really?) The big winners were Caitlin Moe and Mia Moretti: Caitlin plays songs on the turntables, while Mia plays riffs on her electric violin. We were treated with a performance shortly after their confusing win (as some sort of qualification, maybe), and while the live aspect of the duo is wildly entertaining (hot, nerdy violinist jamming to “Alejandro”), we’re still holding a little bit of a grudge. “Did she win Best New DJ, or Best DJ?” asks the guy next to me, sharing my sentiment. “Oof.”
Once we saw Mr. Mickey and our own Michael Musto take the stage, we knew it was time to sit back and watch the punches roll. Mr. Mickey, sporting a fabulous Diane Von Furstenberg cardigan, noted that “I’m surprised you’re back after last year’s debacle,” referring, of course, to James Murphy pulling a Kanye during Musto’s award presentation at last year’s awards: Musto called Murphy a douche, and the whole thing ended in a diss track. This year, the duo gave out the “People’s Choice” awards without incident.
Best Party went to Le Poisson Rouge’s Friday-night soul and hip-hop fete, Freedom Party. “Best Club” went to Webster Hall, “Best DJ” to Questlove, “Best Website” to Gayletter. “I’ve never been mentioned in any of these fucking things,” said Musto. “Earlier someone from Guest of a Guest came up to me and goes, ‘Who are you?'” “Best Promoter” went to Brooklyn’s beloved Jelly NYC. “I guess no one here reads Brooklyn Vegan… which is awesome!” exclaimed the acceptor. Another chimed in, “Brooklyn, if we owe you money, sorry! We’ll pay you back!” We saw them get asked to leave towards the end of the festivities.
All in all, we were pleasantly surprised with this year’s award show. Though, we do hope that the wide disparity between the staff-picked awards and the People’s Choice prizes will serve as a clue to whoever picks next year’s nominations. “We’ve been nominated three years in a row and didn’t get invited one year, and didn’t get a table this year.” notes one award recipient at the end of the night. “We all got really drunk and showed up because we thought, ‘Fuck it.’ Now that we’ve won the People’s Choice, it’s more of a ‘Fuck you!'”