Susanne Bartsch
Susanne Bartsch making her grand entrance

May 28, 2021: An extraordinary sight to be seen. Last night Susanne Bartsch revived the downtown nightlife scene in a magnificent performance of burlesque, vaudeville, dance, and fashion in New York City. Perhaps it goes without saying, but the nightlife scene suffered a massive hit due to the coronavirus pandemic, basically becoming nonexistent. That’s precisely what made the famed entertainer’s opening night of her “New York, New York” show that much more special—emotional, even.

The legendary queen of nightlife (whose first-ever party was in 1989) hosted weekly Zoom parties amid the COVID-19 pandemic, in place of her weekly in-person shows. Her show is a passionate ode to the return to better days. “New York will always be here, she’ll always be alive!” Bartsch tells us as she heads into the venue. “Even when the city that never sleeps was forced to stay home, we still got dressed up and partied on Zoom.”

The aforementioned venue is none other than Sony Hall, a live music venue adjacent to Times Square, making it perfect for uniting uptowners and downtowners alike. The only thing that looks different from her IRL shows now compared to those pre-pandemic is the COVID-19 safety measures. The Sony Hall team distanced tables six feet apart, instilled temperature checks before entering the musical venue, and placed hand sanitizer dispensers in communal locations.

Once guests made it past the barricades and down the venue’s winding marble stairs, they were with a sight reminiscent of what we could merely assume Studio 54 would have looked like on one of its iconic nights. Although no Bianca Jagger rode in on a white horse, the cultural event included burlesque shows and performances by nightlife aficionados like Joey Arias and Amanda Lepore.

Guests didn’t miss a beat when it came to revival nightlife looks. Equal parts camp and glam, party-goers put together head-to-toe ensembles that ran the gamut: full cheetah print, all-white accessorized with pearls galore, vintage FENDI (with latex wig to match), and much much more. “Of course, we’ll be a bit anxious to be back out after this past year, but being able to dress up and go out again comforts me,” a guest dressed in a 20s flapper-inspired feather ensemble tells me over the roar of the music.

Bartsch opted for a skin-tight custom look by Kyle Farmery. The talented entertainer dazzled under the spotlights as if she never left the party scene paying tribute to her BARSCHLAND production team for putting together a cabaret of outstanding performances. The unforgettable night ended with RuPaul drag race winner, Aquaria performing her rendition to “New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra in a sultry black bodysuit with sheer bedazzled shoulder cutouts. 

Nightlife and fashion have always gone hand in hand, inspiring many leading designer collections from the iconic Halston to John Galliano. The absence of the cultural scene has undoubtedly been a creative outlet the Big Apple has missed. Bartsch’s “New York, New York” will be a new weekly nightlife fixture along with the return of her iconic On Top parties at The Standard—a grand return for the city that never sleeps.