Chandon Kicks Off Its American Summer at the Dream Downtown

Chandon Brut Classic is a sparkling wine from California that tastes very good, costs $22, and comes in a red, white, and blue bottle that’s inspired by the idea of the American summer. The Dream Downtown is a hip New York hotel owned by my Indian alterego Vikram Chatwal that’s popular with celebrities, artists, and bon vivants of all stripes. Last night Chandon hosted a party at the Beach at the Dream Downtown, a funky day-and-nightclub by its second-floor swimming pool–to kick off a season of sun, fun, and bubbles. Naturally, the Chandon was flowing freely, both on its own–in white and rosé expressions–and in cocktails. I arrived early with my English friend Steve, and we plopped down on a cushioned bench by the pool and watched the scene unfold.

And what a scene it was. In addition to all manner of beachy decor and several bars serving Chandon, the organizers had gone through the trouble and expense of hiring models to personify the summer theme of the party. There were a couple of buff young guys wearing sailor outfits who looked like they could have just stepped out of an Old Navy commercial. There was a shirtless dude in red trunks batting around a beach ball and occasionally swimming in the pool. And there was a tall, blonde female model wearing a dress designed by Trina Turk and inspired by the Chandon American Summer bottle. DJ Hannah Bronfman kept the beats going with a summery mix of modern disco hits. Being a pool area, all the glassware was made of plastic, which didn’t bother me a bit. The weather was lovely and it was a pleasure to relax and take everything in. 

One thing we couldn’t help but noticing was how many women were in attendance, and how few men. Of the men who were there, the vast majority appeared to be gay. And so we witnessed a parade of well-dressed, professional-looking women teetering on uncomfortable-looking heels and looking just a little bit nervous, their eyes darting around the party and eventually resting on the male models, who, at various points during the evening, were attempting to race miniature remote-controlled boats in the pool. Several of the boats took on water and began to sink before someone fished them out of the pool with a skimmer. It’s like a friend once told me about the joys of being a single straight guy in New York. "The best-looking women in the world are here looking for men," he explained. "And the best-looking men are here looking for each other." 

This really didn’t affect Steve or me, we’re both accounted for, but we actually felt a whiff of sympathy for these ladies. Where were all the guys? I really don’t know. We hypothesized that the women in attendance simply outclassed most men their age. Better jobs, better apartments, better prospects in this new, information-based economy. It can be intimidating for a guy. In any case, my advice for any straight guys reading this is get yourself to New York, fix up, look sharp, and head to the Dream Hotel. I really like your chances. 

We chatted with a few people, tasted the cocktails, sampled pretty much every one of the passed hors d’oeuvres (the mini crabcakes were the best), listened to music, caught up on old times, and stayed until they shut down the bars and ushered everybody out. It was 9:00 p.m. Time to go home. 

Lest we forget what the whole thing was about, Chandon’s American Summer release is a fine sparkling wine for poolside sipping, and yet another reminder that you don’t need to wait until 11:59 p.m. on New Year’s Eve to pop a cork. Have a great American summer everybody. 

[Related: BlackBook New York Guide; Listing for the Dream Downtown; More by Victor Ozols; Follow me on Twitter]

The Young Ones: ArteBA’s Barrio Joven

The biggest weekend of art in Buenos Aires and all of South America, ArteBA officially began Thursday night with its invitation-only opening party, which was preceded by two nights of other more intimate festivities. While it felt slightly less packed than last year, there were more than enough well-to-do patrons of the arts rubbing shoulders with imported skateboarders and a couple of statuesque drag queens. A myriad of galleries from South America had work from the usual big names–Marcos Lopez, Nicola Costantino, Romulo Maccio–but this year, emerging artists and galleries enjoyed a far larger chunk of space on the floor.

While the Chandon flowed freely (but doesn’t it always?), hordes of ArteBA opening night guests headed straight for Barrio Joven, where 19 galleries from all over South America held their own next to the larger, more established spaces. An area for showcasing independent galleries and emerging artists, Barrio Joven managed to infuse some legitimate excitement amongst all the hobnobbing. Santiago’s Galeria Trafix and Espacio Lugar booths were packed with demure older Argies and young hipsters the whole night through, and works from Mexico City, Caracas, and Mendoza were equally well-received.

The young Buenos Aires art scene was also well-represented in Barrio Joven. Chez Vautier, Miau Maui, Mite, and Munguau were all showing their favorite promising young talent, with gallery owners enthusiastically talking up clientele to the sounds of skateboard decks crashing on the half pipe. In the background, a gigantic mobile of Converse sneakers managed to outdo even Chandon for product placement.

Around the corner from Barrio Joven, the godmother of all emerging art in Buenos Aires enjoyed its new position as elder statesman. Now in its fifth year at ArteBA, Appetite attracted visitors with its flashy sign and human-size bird cage. Expat performance artist Tranqui Yanqui engaged children and tipsy adults alike with his interactive neon ATM. Appetite owner Daniela Luna promised her booth will continue bringing the party to ArteBA after opening night with live cage dancing. As the obligatory art-viewing portion of the evening wrapped up, all the scruffy youngsters were making plans to head to the numerous post-opening-party parties while impatiently texting their dealers.