It was like Dionysia, filled with ghosts from the Jazz Age. While many NYCxDesign events followed the showroom-centered, Prosecco-serving mold we all love, Apparatus opted instead to host its all-night bash earlier this month in an abandoned theater in Hamilton Heights built over a century ago. It was once one of New York’s best vaudeville theaters and then one of the first “talkies” movie theaters in the city.
The founders of Apparatus and forces behind the party, designers Gabriel Hendifar and Jeremy Anderson, chose “Operatic” as the theme for the evening. Guests filling the historic venue’s eerie-cum-magical interiors dressed in everything from silken robes to full-length capes and masks. Alison Rose, Michael Misczynski of Atelier AM, and Jamie Drake were among the designers who came out to enjoy what was surely “the” party of NYCxDesign.
From the outside, the building didn’t appear to be much of anything. There’s no glittering marquee of yesteryear touting the party’s hosts, or any fanfare at the front. Instead, guests entered through a side alleyway on 145th Street. Inside, paint-peeled walls and winding staircases made the perfect backdrops for partygoers' Instagram posts. Crowds were drawn to the center of the room, where a massive floral arrangement marked a wraparound open bar serving everything from martinis to Champagne in coupe glasses. The seats on the main level had been stripped out, allowing guests to roam freely in the cavernous space.
Waiters circulated the room with caviar-dusted hors d'oeuvres and egg tartlets to keep people satiated. Later, robe-clad choir members appeared on raised boxes to sing from above, illuminated by lighting bouncing off the cathedral-like domed ceilings.
At some point during the course of the evening, the bar staff stopped serving drinks in the prone-to-spilling coupe glasses, opting instead for goblets that curved inward. While at other parties that switch may have indicated a shortened supply or unanticipated demand, the minds behind the evening seem to have thought of everything. When the new, more sturdy glasses had circulated into people’s hands, the back doors of the theater flung open, revealing a DJ perched high above a dance floor, and a new, club-ready set of lighting features and smoke and mirrors. Guests separated into groups and danced for hours into the night.
Hamilton Heights is not exactly known for its past-midnight party scene, and locals watched in awe as hundreds of people arrived in Ubers to an abandoned theater. The only thing more inspiring to see than the attention to detail that went into each aspect of Apparatus’s night was the look of the employees’ faces at the McDonald’s across the street, when dozens of decked-out designers, artists, producers, and more filed in wearing full costume apparel in the wee hours of the night.
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest