New York’s hottest club is Guggenheim. It has everything: trans performers named after cocktails, live puppets, business executives and fashion plates who wear dresses made from human hair and act surprised when asked about their outfit.
On Wednesday, the Guggenheim held a party for its young collectors, and turned its iconic rotunda into a fictionalized “queer arena” and nightclub, conceived by the artists Jacolby Satterwhite and Tourmaline.
There were certainly elements of a discothèque: lights flashed and DJ TT Britt played thumping and brash music. But the effect was not entirely convincing. “I don’t know what they were thinking,” said Alison Lopez, a publicist for artists, as she watched guest mingle under the heaving house tracks. “I’m confused.”
Others said it was exactly what they expected. “It’s like in the movies when they do an arty event,” said Michael Alden Hadreas, who performed later that night under the stage name Perfume Genius. “I kept thinking of movies like ‘Look Who’s Talking’, when a baby gets loose at a party.”
The evening started with an intimate dinner attended by artists like Rachel Rossin, patrons such as Libbie Mugrabi (who wore a silver sequin bikini top), and art world royalty-in-waiting like Ísadóra Bjarkardóttir Barney, the daughter of Björk and Matthew Barney.
By 10 p.m., they were joined at the after-party by hundreds of younger professionals in suits with no ties and little black dresses. A few outfits stood out.
Candice Saint Williams, an artist who gave her age as “I don’t know what time is,” wore a skirt from Miss Claire Sullivan, made from long black human hair. “I love it because I feel like I’m a character; I feel like I’m in Beetlejuice,” she said. “And I have a hairbrush tucked in my underwear.”
“It’s good to be back and seeing people,” said Elena Soboleva, 35, a sales director at David Zwirner Gallery, who wore a green maxi dress from the Vampire’s Wife. “It’s a British designer; she has this feminine gothic revival.” Ms. Soboleva was trying to depart to feed her 10-month old baby, but had misplaced her husband, who was roaming the galleries and admiring the Kandinsky exhibit.
On the would-be dance floor, a woman carrying a Maltese dog snapped “No!” when asked if the dog was enjoying the music.
After a few speeches about a new fund from LG to support artists, Perfume Genius performed a song with the choreographer Kate Wallich, both in pinstripe suits (his, Raf Simons; hers, Christian Dior). A short film created by Mr. Satterwhite to accompany Perfume Genius’s forthcoming album, “Ugly Season,” was projected onto the rotunda; it featured surreal scenes of a man being carried over lakes of lava.
By midnight, guests were making their post-party plans. Brad Mahlof, 33, a broad-chested real estate developer who wore a white Alexander McQueen shirt, with a strap detail on the shoulder, was deciding whether to go to Paul’s Casablanca or home to Chelsea. Another group were debating a sex party called High and Tight.
“I haven’t been to the Guggenheim since middle school,” Mr. Mahlov said. “It’s kind of cool.”