Introduced as the empress of crazy, Patricia Field welcomed the inaugural “THE FUN Conference on Nightlife as Social Practice” with a rousing and jovial keynote address. Field, popularly known for her work Emmy-award winning costume design for “Sex and the City,” has been a staple of the New York club scene for decades. Speaking at the Museum of Art and Design, she elaborated on trends she has seen in nightlife, her favorite DJs, and - of course - her love of dance.
With her rasp, well-worn from full ash trays and glasses of whiskey, Field begrudged the dip in creative nightlife options in the 90’s, but welcomed its recent return.
“I feel like in the 90’s there was a real downside to nightlife - it was rich and muffled,” Field bemused. “Nightlife celebrities are re-emerging and so is dancing. Dancing is what I missed the most; dancing is what gives it the energy - but the drugs help too.”
In particular, she took issue with former Mayor of New York Giuliani who “changed the city into a champagne lounge.”
“I tried it once, and I was like ‘we’re spending all this money on crappy champagne and just sitting here. What’s the point?’” she asked. “But there’s all these teens that grew up in the 80’s who missed out on a good time and I feel bad for them.”
Field went on to underscore the unique role nightlife plays in our everyday schedules, differentiating it from work and home lives.
“In the evening you have more of a choice how to spend your time. It’s a whole other time when you can enrich yourself,” she said. “How you spend your nightlife has to be fun and creative and not a huge bore.”
Field also commented on the uniqueness of living in New York where there is “diversity at your fingertips.”
“Imagine if we lived in Iowa and the next person lived 20 miles down the road,” Field paused for groans from the audience. “People with soul live in this city. Latinos, Middle Easterners, African Americans - it’s a soulful city where soulful people move their body to the beat, and not on a mechanical bull.”
Aside from insulting the Mid-West, the owner of the famed boutique with her namesake elaborated on how promoting clubs has changed. While Field recognizes she was “back from the days of flyers,” she noted how social media has democratized the process and has taken away a more local, clique-vibe she had come to know.
Throughout a speech and Q&A session that mostly consisted of discussions of partying and club kids, Field took a turn for the more serious and intimate when she discussed her beginnings in going out.
“I grew up loving jazz,” Field explained. “I’d be in Birdland or the Village Vangard with Miles Davis. I actually sat in on a live radio performance with Billie Holiday; I saw them all.”
She left the podium with a note to aspiring club owners and DJs: “When I walk into a club, I want to start dancing immediately. And if I don’t, then I’m out of there.”