Dances of Vice

September 18, 2007

A crowd of decadently wardrobed dancers and revelers came to the Financial District this Saturday for the second in Shien Lee’s new monthly party, Dances of Vice. I suppose a night of Victorian, Edwardian, and early 20th century fashion and music might seem a bit over ambitious a scope, but the crowd of bobs, bowlers, and bustles all makes sense in the moment.

I’ve always felt that when it comes to packing a crowd, most New York bars and parties seem to botch the relationship between space and volume, the music too loud for conversation and the room too small for dancing. The result is strangers standing around and screaming into each other’s ears.

Dances of Vice, however, hits both of these just right.

The music (exclusively from the 20s, 30s, and 40s) is mid-range driven and played at a not unbearable volume, leaving the air free for conversation. The dance floor is wide open in front of the stage while there’s still room for a seat at the bar, along the walls, and in the upstairs.

Hitting the dance floor might be a bit intimidating for anyone who hasn’t been social dancing for the past 4-5 years (maybe 1-2 years for girls). I was wearing a vest, pocket watch and tuxedo pants, yet still felt like I underdressed and underqualified to set foot on the floor. Fortunately, theres still plenty of entertainment even if you’re more inclined to drink like its the 20s than dance like its the 20s.

September’s party featured the cabaret music of Jill Tracy accompanied by nouveau noir dancer Tempest. August saw a fashion show by costumer Vecoma and an awesome cello performance by Oryx Incruentus accompanying the silent film L'Inferno.

Dances of Vice knows what kind of party it is and does it well: great music, unique performers, and an overall atmosphere that I’m hoping will only get better as the crowd grows each month. If you’re willing to put in a little extra effort on your outfit, there aren’t many nights in New York like this one.

(The pictures in this post are from August, and the full set can be found here. When I arrived this month there were already four people walking around and taking pictures, so I left my camera in my bag. I thought it would be better if the party had one more participant rather than one more photographer.)