Under a canopy of balloons, wearing a dramatic bowler hat and bow tie, Omar Hernandez flits - somehow - effortlessly through his solid mass of guests, taking selfies, cheek-kissing, greeting almost everyone by name like they're old friends. Which, to be fair, they probably are (Omar is friends with everybody).
We are all celebrating the opening night of Omar's La Boîte, the latest iteration of Hernandez's staple supper-slash-nightclub sanctuary for New York's chicest. While he also holds court at uptown outpost, Omar at Vaucluse, this feels like a sigh of relief for the downtown crowd, who've been trekking to the Upper East Side since Omar's La Ranita, in Greenwich Village, closed last year.
This new two-level space, located on the edge of Chinatown on Broome Street (which most recently served as the home of Better Days, and Happy Ending before that) recalls a sort of old school glamour. As does the evening's festivities.
Early on, upstairs in Omar's, the dining club, Cuban crooner Chino Pons sets a retro mood as attendees catch up around the bar, which is marked with a pattern of dance steps (for, obviously, the performers set to put on a show during regular dinner service).
As the night rages, a crowd forms to the corner outside and guests are directed downstairs to "La Boîte" through a mirrored stairwell boasting the bust of a zebra - a particularly on-theme animal considering the glossy, striped aesthetic of the subterranean lounge, which is full of plush nooks, a gilded pole (an instant crowd-favorite), and a giant photograph of Bianca Jagger riding her white horse in Studio 54 (as it so happens, Rose Hartman, the photographer behind the iconic snap, is also around here somewhere).
Champagne and cocktails in hand, partygoers are finally welcomed through the zebra-printed doors of the haunt's third social space - an intimate discotheque which quickly fills with familiar scenesters, models, and fashion types, like Young Paris and cool-girl Nausheen Shah. Prodigious chef Flynn McGarry, who is helping to curate Omar's dinner menu, is also mingling about. Back upstairs, a cheeky burlesque performance by Emily Shephard, Duane Gosa, and Julie M. Smith keeps the crowd entertained. By the time I leave, not quite past my bedtime, but almost, the sidewalk is packed with the late-coming wave and the party doesn't seem to be ending anytime soon.
Once again, Omar has pulled off one of the best new hot spots in town - not to mention the first great bash of 2020.
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[Photos by BFA]