Speaking as someone who's gone out on Halloween in New York City since I got my very first fake ID at 15, I have most definitely seen some shit. Hell, I got knifed at a warehouse party in Brooklyn once.
But on Friday night, when I set sail (quite literally) for the highly anticipated bash, How Did Our Dreams End Up Like This, presented by Matte Projects and You Are So Lucky, it was hardly the most disastrous party I've ever been to, despite some reports calling it the "Fyre Festival of Halloween." I'll be honest, I had fun. And though I can guess why some people didn't, calling it a scam seems way out of proportion. Here's what went down, in my experience.
The surprise location was Governors Island, at night, which in itself is difficult. There are ferries involved, for one. Two, an unexpected Nor'easter certainly doesn't help (it even caused the following night's cancellation). Nevertheless, a confirmation email from the organizers urged attendees to arrive at the terminal before 9 pm "for best results." After all, the ferries started leaving at 8.
Ever the anxious partygoer, I showed up at the ferry terminal at around 8:30, waited for no more than 10 minutes, and easily caught the next boat, which was full of excited revelers in over-the-top looks. When we arrived at the island, it was a short walk to security and check-in, which also didn't take long, and then we were officially inside the party grounds.
Although Babe.net called the attendees who paid around $100 for tickets "rich assholes" (really? $100 makes you a rich asshole?), the price seemed worth it enough for access to a large area of the island, a two-room party tent, some VIP houses, and the night's headliner: an abandoned hospital, which had never before been open to the public.
Designed by artists and creatives, the setting was surreal. Like the site of the legendary Rothschild ball of 1972, the massive hospital glowed red, looming at the forefront. Neon artwork, smashed chandeliers, and a flower-filled fountain stood outside. The main building wasn't open yet, so we explored the tent which had bars, lounge areas, and a room with DJ, stage, and dance floor. Full disclosure: I had a premium ticket, which granted access to a VIP area of different houses, all not typically open to the public. In one, we found a particularly sexy group of people clad in leather, a fireplace full of candles, and a BDSM Saint Andrew's Cross in the living room. In another, a DJ was setting up for a mini house party experience.
When the doors to the hospital opened, we waited on a relatively short line to enter. At the top of the stairs, a group of glowing angel statues come-to-life watched over the crowd. Flashes went off. Everyone was buzzing.
Inside, the scene was like some special raver episode of Ghost Hunters. I mean that in a good way. The massive, multi-floor building was a maze of corridors and flickering red lights, secret rooms, immersive installations, and dance areas. Windows and doors featured occult graffiti. We had full access to explore as we pleased, and around every turn there was something to see or, let's be real, Instagram. A room lit up with neon crosses featured a pop icon shrine and "submission" cage; another dark corner led us to neon artwork and some figures lurking in the shadows. We found a secret champagne bar and, upstairs, an opium den-like hideout with a live band. Celebrity attendees, in case you were wondering, included director Darren Aronofsky, Lily Allen, and Nina Agdal.
Now, of course, whenever thousands of people arrive in one place, lines form and logistics get tested. At one point we waited on a landing to go upstairs because it had gotten too crowded and there were safety concerns. So it goes. But as for reports that the lack of bathrooms (there were those fancy trailers outside) led to people relieving themselves in empty rooms? Well, I'd just blame that on gross drunken behavior.
Later arrivals apparently faced long lines and couldn't get into the hospital, but again the confirmation email did say, "Please, try not to arrive after midnight, you will miss the best parts of the show." Remember folks, never be tardy to the party, especially on Halloween.
Originally set to be a two-night affair, the Saturday event was cancelled due to poor weather conditions, which, understandably, made people unhappy. But blaming wind and rain on the organizers is a little unfair. For those who made it in, the event really was a dream.
You can read the full statement from the organizers HERE.
[Photos courtesy Matte Projects]