It’s early morning as I write this. I am sitting in a comfy chair surrounded by my puppy and Buster, my cat. The patio door is open. Our eye contact is easily understood as we wink and smile at each other in delight. The air reeks of spring, which has been elusive so far. A hint here and there has left us unsatisfied. We want to toss the cold weather gear into that closet where the cat will sleep on it till late September. There is romance in the air today and romance is all that I will speak about.
An extremely romantical soiree is near. A night for those who believe they are the upper crust, the better half, the enlightened, the enfranchised will be held at the extremely romantic Capitale this Saturday. French Cabaret Dinners is inviting the jet set to a 1920s-themed dinner party called Midnight in Paris, inspired by the movie. Capitale was designed by the infamous architect, bon vivant Stanford White who was shot on the roof of the second Madison Square Garden, a building he designed about a hundred and five years ago. The murder was over a model – Evelyn Nesbit – and the jealous rage her millionaire hubby, Harry Kendall Thaw – couldn’t control any longer. Sanford was a playboy. He built a circular room in his home with mirrors all around and a single swing in the middle. He lured pretty young things to this den and had them swing naked and then did manly things to them. Legend has it that the popular, romantic song "I Could Love a Million Girls" was playing at the time. Stanford designed the legendary mansion, Lands End, on the Long Island Sound which is said to have inspired the home of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Daisy…Gatsby, F,Scott …It doesn’t get ,more romantic than that. Stanford’s work lives on. He did the arch in Washington Square Park which should be more romantic than it currently is.
I read the following:
"He designed and decorated Fifth Avenue mansions for the Astors, the Vanderbilts (in 1905), and other high society families. His Washington Square Arch still stands in Washington Square Park, and so do many of his clubs, which were focal points of New York society: the Century, Metropolitan, Players, Lambs, Colony and Harmonie clubs. His clubhouse for the Atlantic Yacht Club, built in 1894 overlooking Gravesend Bay, burned down in 1934. Sons of society families also resided in White’s St. Anthony Hall Chapter House at Williams College, now occupied by college offices."
Capitale is wonderful and the perfect setting for this spring fling. There will be a three-course dinner and dancing, and even a late-night smash for those who have other dinner plans. It will have a 1920s feel, and I have been told to leave my Mets hat at home – I’m thinking Brooklyn Dodgers. They were so romantic. I rarely attend such parties, but my friend Henry Stimler is that kind of guy and he is hosting along with Roberto Buchelli, Seth Greenberg, Yana Tara, and that Alacran guy, Arty Dozortsev.
I caught up with Henry and asked him all about it.
Besides dressing like David Niven, what do you do?
I was a private equity chap for nine years, but after the banking crisis I decided to devote myself full-time to the world of nightlife. So besides building my restaurant Jezebel – which should be open in June – I host a weekly live-music night at Winston’s Champagne Bar on a Wednesday night, Yiddish Cabaret at The Box once a month, French Cabaret Dinners at La Petite Maison bi-monthly, and now concept parties at Capitale, our first being a 1920s-themed party called Midnight in Paris.
I’m getting lots of notices about this Saturday’s event at Capitale. What’s this event about ? Who are the players?
It’s getting to that point that people are somewhat bored of the same thing over and over again, sitting and sipping vodka and tonic and making polite conversations – they want to be entertained, Midnight in Paris is a production; it’s going to take you back to that glorious age of live music, singers, dancers, burlesque, flapper girls, jazz, etc. It’s an entire production, and you get to dress like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda – what could be better than that? I have the amazing Seth Greenberg, owner of Capitale, the elegant Roberto Buchelli, Arty of San Anturo, and Alacran as our sponsor and, of course my girl Yana Tara; a rather formidable team, wouldn’t you say, sir?
Capitale is a wondrous building designed by the infamous Stanford White. He also designed the house that The Great Gatsby centered around. Is there a Gatsby-esque era going on now or is it always going on for some, but at times it expands and retreats? Is Stanford White’s Capitale providing the romance needed for a gala event?
I can’t think of a better space then Capitale for this sort of party; from the minute you walk up, its special, and we have added so many things to evoke the 1920s, from the Rolls Royce parked outside, to scenes of Paris – it’s going to be wonderful. As for the Gatsby-esque period, I think it comes and goes and movies bring it back to the forefront; Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris for me and the new Baz Luhrmann-directed Gatsby movie brings it again.
On a broader note: when I see you, I see a bon vivant. Where do you go? And when you "slum," what amuses you?
I go everywhere. Seriously, there is no place that I won’t go check out at least once. But I have my regular haunts; I love the posh lounges like Rose Bar, Provocateur, and Boom Boom Room. I love the rock & roll places like The Bowery Electric and Sons of Essex, when Madame Wong’s was around, that was my home, prior to the now-shuttered Beatrice. I haven’t had a "home" since – Provocateur being my most regular. Hopefully, when Jezebels is open, that will be everyone’s new home. When I slum, it’s home with the GF watching movies. I think tonight we have Chariots of Fire and Casino Jack on the agenda.