Brooklyn Paramount Pre-Opening Party With St. Vincent Recap


You should know that Brooklyn Paramount, the city’s opulent new music venue, is bigger than it looks. I realize this after I’ve already walked the full perimeter of the ground-floor atrium and balcony, woven through the floor at the main stage, peered down a hallway of office space, and bopped downstairs to the bathrooms — and I still can’t find St. Vincent’s DJ set. I’m texting the publicist, wondering if she got the info wrong, when I hear it: a soft “oonce oonce” leading me to a corner of the balcony where people are pushing their way into something called “Ella’s.” I assume it’s another bar, but it turns out to be a complete second club with a VIP section and a stage — and St. Vincent’s already playing.

During the pre-opening party at the storied institution (it was built in 1928), it’s immediately clear that there’s nothing quite like it in the city. Before searching for St. Vincent, I marveled at the former movie palace’s lavish Art Deco interiors with marble columns and dainty Juliet balconies while rubbing shoulders with suits of all kinds — Armani, linen, sequined, white with red roses. The other guests and I picked at grazing tables piled with prosciutto and decorative artichokes as tuxedoed servers swooped in to offer espresso martinis and non-alcoholic negronis. Luxury was clearly the theme of the night, down to the completely digitized coat check.

But I was here for the main event: to see Ms. Vincent tote out her “DJ a.c. LOCO” persona for a rare gig. She’s dressed in her usual uniform: a white shoulder-padded blouse complete with an black tulle ascot. She looks austere, but the music isn’t, as she turns the knobs, finger-scratches the turntable, transitioning Prince into Rihanna into Beyoncé — and Kendrick Lamar. (And she knows all the words to “King Kunta.”) She takes small sips from a chilled glass of white wine and completely avoids audience eye contact. Behind me, two people go on about the “Eric Adams accusations,” as someone else remarks, “She’s here to vibe, collect the check, and leave.”

But then, after one particularly clever mix into Madonna’s “Vogue,” she lets out a laugh and whoop. She rolls up her sleeves and starts jumping, dancing, shimmying behind the decks — and finally acknowledges the audience with a smile and an air toast. From there, the crowd is going — especially when she shifts the vibe into Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer” and eventually, her new single “Flea.” Her shirt’s now entirely untucked, and the same guy behind has changed his tune: “She’s so damp right now. She’s really earned it.”

Upon my exit from the boiling-hot confines, I overhear someone say that Ella’s is actually the VIP lounge at the Brooklyn Paramount. Downstairs, the massive grazing table has been transformed into a dessert bar dotted with mini Junior’s cheesecakes (I grab two). On my way out, I pick up more freebies: a T-shirt and a pen. I count myself lucky — even though I might never be in the same position again, cosplaying the VIP life for one night had its perks.

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