In the post-war years, it was quite common for a gentleman to eat at
his club every day, never varying his routine in the slightest. Members
of the following generation rebelled somewhat against such habits, cutlivating
a menu of restaurants from which they were able to choose; the list became
ever more diverse as bars and multi-ethnic restaurants were added to the
With the arrival of the 1980s, where one went in the evening became
a matter of style as much as substance. Restaurants and bars became hot
spots, places to be seen, where the elite could congratulate themselves
on getting past the front door.
And in the 1990s, all pretense at timeless quality was thrown to the
wind in a tornado of openings, flashbulbs, secret phone numbers; of destinations
becoming more famous than most of the boldfaced names inside them.
The lifespan of a hot new bar/restaurant started shrinking dramatically.
Years turned to months, and months to weeks, as Balthazar begat Moomba,
Spy begat Veruka, and the Soho Grand begat the Mercer Hotel. It wasn’t
long before the downtown fabulous started abjuring all destinations except
those which hadn’t opened yet: the “soft opening” had arrived, and with
it a condescension towards anywhere actually listed in the phone book.
There was a parallel development, too: as the number of destinations
increased, the chances rose that no matter where you were, you would be
better off somewhere else. And as the number of cellphones approached
the number of revellers, groups of friends in different places found it
increasingly necessary to meet up with each other, usually at some third
It wasn’t long before the amount of time spent moving between parties
exceeded the amount of time spent at the parties themselves; before minutes
of airtime overtook minutes of facetime. The greatest bar, the most exclusive
event, was always just the right cellphone number away; even first-name-only
supermodels started suffering the Groucho Marx syndrome of never being
satisfied at any bar which actually admitted them.
In the 2000s, the real party, the place where everybody wanted to be,
had disappeared from the map. The radically contingent destination, or
RCD, existed only behind the speed-dial buttons on Nokia 8860s; coalesced
only in the interstices of possibility between dreams and fabulousness.
It’s opening tomorrow.