Notes from the Night: A Nightlife Culture Review

By Gamal Hennessy

This is simultaneously the best and worst book ever written about New York nightlife. 

It is the best book because Taylor Plimpton captures the rituals of going out with a style that evokes every emotion involved with this intricate process. He describes the reluctance of being dragged out for yet another night and the anticipation of getting ready. He contrasts the ambivalence of the pre-game drinks with the struggle to get into hot clubs. He compares the arrogance that comes from getting into a club to the jaded cynicism of being around so many people who pretend not to care. 

He shows you the comfort of being with friends and the anger of being provoked by strangers, the pleasure and pain of drinking, the urge to dance and the fear of not dancing well, the attraction to beautiful women and the futility of trying to pick them up, the drained feeling that comes at the end of a long the night and the desperate desire for the night to never end, the frustration that comes from never find what he is looking for in nightlife and the contentment that comes from a good night out. Plimpton describes one night but in a certain sense he describes every night in this world in a writing style that is equal parts insightful and naïve. 

It is worst book because reading it can easily lead to the impression that the "exclusive club" experience is all that nightlife in New York is about. He specifically leaves out any reference to the bar and lounge environment, the live music scene, the underground venues and all the other types of nightlife that make New York unique. He never comes to grips with the idea that his nightlife culture is only a slice of a larger whole and that for all the allure of his scene, he is missing out on much of what New York has to offer. 

I highly recommend this book. It is a very good description of New York nightlife for anyone who can't experience it firsthand. It will also bring back a lot of fond memories for anyone who has actually lived this life.

Have fun.