Travel

NYC Beyond the Parade: Alternative Pride Guide

by Steve Weinstein
Contributor
Thursday Jun 6, 2013
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With reason, New York takes pride of place when it comes to Pride celebrations. It was here, in late June 1969, when a routine police raid on a Greenwich Village diva bar called the Stonewall turned into a riot that ignited the modern gay pride movement.

In 1970, a brave group of gay men, lesbians and transgender stepped off the curb and marched to commemorate that event. Since that time, New York’s Pride march has evolved into one of the biggest and most celebrated in the world.

In that 1970 parade, the cops pointedly turned their backs on the demonstrators. No public figure would dare be associated with it. How times have changed! Today, there is a large delegation of out-police, and they are greeted warmly by their peers on duty. Politicians fall over one another to march, although no one has probably been as loudly cheered as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo two years ago, only several hours after he signed into law the statewide marriage-equality bill he had so enthusiastically championed.


Beyond the Parade

The weekend is so full of events that it’s easy to bypass the city’s other splendors, which would be a big mistake. Be sure to set aside time to go to a Broadway show, one of the world-class museums, or window shopping on Fifth Avenue or Madison Avenue.
During Pride weekend, the whole city seems to go gay, but if you want to experience local flavor, head to Ninth Avenue between West 42nd and West 57th Street, the heart of Hell’s Kitchen; or Eighth Avenue between West 14th and West 23rd, Chelsea’s main street.

Above all, you must make a pilgrimage to Christopher Street. At the corner of Seventh Avenue is the smoke shop that has been there since before the Stonewall Riots; you’ll recognize it from countless photographs. Across the avenue at Christopher Park fronting the latest iteration of Stonewall, the group sculpture of two men and two women entitled "Gay Liberation" marks the Village’s long gay associations. At the eastern end of the park Christopher Street intersects with Gay Street, which dates from the Revolutionary War and is one of those kismet coincidences that make the Village so charming.


Stay

It’s worth it to go off the beaten path and no place offers a better repository of New York cool than the Klimpton chain. The coolest of the cool for those strictly in the know is Ink 48, the Klimpton hotel on 11th Avenue in the city’s major gayborhood, Hell’s Kitchen.

Being only a block away from the Hudson River means that Ink 48 offers some breathtaking views; the Intrepid, a retired U.S. battleship that is now a museum, is only a block away. The building, which originally housed a printer, has been lovingly preserved.

But don’t think that this means Ink 48 is dowdy. Hardly! From the ambient trance music in the lobby to the locavore farm-to-table cuisine in Print, the hotel’s restaurant, Ink 48 oozes with New York City attitude.

It’s also a few blocks from Stage 48, the brand-new megaclub that hosts a happening Saturday night gay party; and only six blocks directly north from XL, the city’s major all-gay nightclub.


Dine

Whether you’re staying in one of the giant Times Square hotels or a boutique hotel on the fringes of Midtown, if you want the most fun restaurant in town, head to Whether you’re staying in one of the giant Times Square hotels or a boutique hotel on the fringes of Midtown, if you want the most fun restaurant in town, head to Vinyl. Located between West 50th and 51st Streets in the middle of Hell’s Kitchen (and nearly hard by the area’s biggest and most popular bar, Boxers), it doesn’t get any gayer than this LP-themed restaurant.

That’s LP as in, well, vinyl. Because before MP3, before iTunes, before CDs (yes, there was such a time), people listened to music on round plastic disks about the size of a large dinner plate.

Vinyl takes the theme very seriously, from the glitter faux-records covering the street wall to the Barbi and G.I. Joe dolls in cases made up to look like rock acts, such as the Beatles and Diana Ross. Be on the lookout for the Grateful Dead box, which is decorated with a giant marijuana leaf.

As befits a straight-friendly gay restaurant, there are no his and hers bathrooms. Instead, there is Dolly (as in Parton), Nelly and Cher (no last names needed). Pick your favorite; once you close the door, you’ll be tinkling to that artist’s music.

As for the food, it’s standard bistro fare but with a healthy angle and a cosmopolitan flavor. Dishes such as edamame falafel sliders are sly takes on comfort food. You won’t find Velveeta in the mac-and-cheese, which always wins raves.

Vinyl doesn’t take reservations, and during peak hours, you’ll have to wait at the bar, which will be jammed with fun people downing signature cocktails like the Sir Elton John (Earl Grey-infused gin, Crispin hard cider and lemon), or the Jimi Hendrix (Hendrick’s gin, kaffir lime Thai chili syrup and cucumber).

Hell’s Kitchen has become known as the city’s major gayborhood, but foodies associate it with Thai cuisine. No one knows how or why Ninth Avenue, the area’s main drag, became as crowded with Thai restaurants as Bangkok, but if you want the gayest and coolest one, head to v(iv), on the avenue just south of West 48th Street.

Most (if not all) of the male staff are gay, and campy touches like the full-sized sitting-female shiny metallic light in front of the restrooms mark this as gayer than Liberace. The lights are kept low, and some nights a DJ spins live music.

Real finds include Pla Abb, grilled marinated tilapia fillet with lemongrass, Northern-Thai curry paste, wrapped in banana leaves; or Hung Lay -- tender pork belly with Northern Thai curry, ginger and peanut. If you’re in the mood for some serious spice, try the red or green curries.
Vinyl. Located between West 50th and 51st Streets in the middle of Hell’s Kitchen (and nearly hard by the area’s biggest and most popular bar, Boxers), it doesn’t get any gayer than this LP-themed restaurant.

That’s LP as in, well, vinyl. Because before MP3, before iTunes, before CDs (yes, there was such a time), people listened to music on round plastic disks about the size of a large dinner plate.

Vinyl takes the theme very seriously, from the glitter faux-records covering the street wall to the Barbi and G.I. Joe dolls in cases made up to look like rock acts, such as the Beatles and Diana Ross. Be on the lookout for the Grateful Dead box, which is decorated with a giant marijuana leaf.

As befits a straight-friendly gay restaurant, there are no his and hers bathrooms. Instead, there is Dolly (as in Parton), Nelly and Cher (no last names needed). Pick your favorite; once you close the door, you’ll be tinkling to that artist’s music.

As for the food, it’s standard bistro fare but with a healthy angle and a cosmopolitan flavor. Dishes like edamame falafel sliders are sly takes on comfort food. You won’t find Velveeta in the mac-and-cheese, which always wins raves.

Vinyl doesn’t take reservations, and during peak hours, you’ll have to wait at the bar, which will be jammed with fun people downing signature cocktails like the Sir Elton John (Earl Grey-infused gin, Crispin hard cider and lemon); or the Jimi Hendrix (Hendrick’s gin, kaffir lime Thair chili syrup and cucumber).

Hell’s Kitchen has become known as the city’s major gayborhood, but foodies associate it with Thai cuisine. No one knows how or why Ninth Avenue, the area’s main drag, became as crowded with Thai restaurants as Bangkok, but if you want the gayest and coolest one, head to v(iv), on the avenue just south of West 48th Street.

Most (if not all) of the male staff are gay, and campy touches like the full-sized sitting-female shiny metallic light in front of the restrooms mark this as gayer than Liberace. The lights are kept low, and some nights a DJ spins live music.

Real finds include Pla Abb, grilled marinated tilapia fillet with lemongrass, Northern-Thai curry paste, wrapped in banana leaves; or Hung Lay -- tender pork belly with Northern Thai curry, ginger and peanut. If you’re in the mood for some serious spice, try the red or green curries.


Nightlife

Beyond the Pier Dance, if you want to be where the coolest people are, there is only one choice this year. The evening after the march, Amnesia, which may be the choicest space in West Chelsea, will host legendary DJs Junior Vasquez, Johnny Vicious and Hex Hector.

The party starts at 10, but no one in the know will get there much before 12:30 a.m., which gives him or her plenty of time to work it until they spill into the bright light of day at 7 a.m. Hey, this is New York, the city that never sleeps. Parties start late and end early.

This party marks the first time these House producer/remixers have spun the same venue. Prepare for the music to be loud and the beats hard. As if that weren’t enough, Veronica will be singing some of her amazing hits like "Release Me" and "Someone to Hold." Plus, Inaya Day will be bringing down the House with underground standards like "Keep Pushin’" and "Movin’ Up."


Steve Weinstein has been a regular correspondent for the International Herald Tribune, the Advocate, the Village Voice and Out. He has been covering the AIDS crisis since the early ’80s, when he began his career. He is the author of "The Q Guide to Fire Island" (Alyson, 2007).

This article is part of our "Summer 2013" series. Want to read more? Here's the full list»

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