The Pride Weekend Sunday evening pier dance, which officially brings the city’s Pride Month to a close, was held this year for the first time on Pier 97 at West 57th Street on the Hudson River. The June 24 event — packaged by Heritage of Pride (HOP), as it was last year, with the Saturday evening pier dance as Pride Island — was headlined by singer/ songwriter Kylie Minogue and also featured world-renowned DJs.
Though HOP, in response to neighborhood concerns, had pledged at a June 14 meeting of Community Board 4’s Waterfront, Parks & Environment Committee that the Sunday evening dance would be “completely done by 10:15,” that schedule slipped by roughly half an hour. No unhappy local residents, however, were evident as the crowd streamed under the elevated highway at 12th Avenue to make their way home, nor did any of the attendees express particular concern when told that an event that was ticketed to last until 11 p.m. might end 45 minutes earlier.
Crossing under the highway in the other direction hours earlier, Gay City News encountered excitement and anticipation on the faces of partygoers as they made their way toward the gated pier. Upon entering, attendees could feel the music’s bass beneath their feet and saw a stage and light fixtures festooned with metallic streamers. Crowd members danced and swayed along the Hudson River, with the middle of the pier full of food vendors, photo booths, ball pits, make-up stations, and bar set-ups. Colorful outfits were the order of the night, and there was no lack of Rainbow Flags and other regalia, glitter, feathers, and avant-garde fashions.
“I’ve never scene anything quite like it,” said Justin Diperio. “The whole sense of community is unreal.”
Candice Boysen, mid-celebration, said, “So far I’m having a blast. It’s all about community and everyone being together.”
Boysen said she hadn’t heard anything about Pride Island being rolled up early, but wasn’t concerned about that possibility.
“I don’t think it would make that much of a difference,” she said, though she wondered aloud why anyone would complain about an 11 p.m. ending, adding, “I also think people can get over it for one day out of the year. It’s New York City. We all deal with something at some point to celebrate everybody.”
Others pointed out how remote the event was from residential buildings.
“It’s a big event. We are so far away from residents,” said Cornell Pineda. “It’s the business area in this part of town.”
Another partygoer gave more or less a shrug to word the event might end early.
“It’s about celebrating each other,” said Alexander Lacasse. “We’re here to be happy. I don’t care if its 10:15 p.m., 11 p.m.”
At one point during the evening, HOP made glancing reference to the controversy stirred by the change in this year’s parade route from its traditional march down Fifth Avenue into Greenwich Village to a J-shaped path down Seventh Avenue from Chelsea into the Village and then up Fifth Avenue to the Flatiron District. Over a bullhorn, the group reminded attendees that next year’s Pride celebration will not only mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots but also be staged in tandem with World Pride — and asserted that the parade route will be same as this year’s. City Council Speaker Erik Bottcher told Gay City News in early June that, in a meeting in the mayor’s office, HOP had committed to a public deliberation over next year’s route.
Minogue, who began her 20-minute set shortly after 10 p.m., sang crowd favorites, including “Spinning Around,” “Get Outta My Way,” “Love at First Sight,” and “Can’t Get You Out of My Head.”
Fireworks followed at 10:30, and huge lights signaled the evening’s end at 10:45. When the departing crowd surged into the streets of the far west 50s, they found a quiet scene seemingly unaware that a big party was just winding down.