“Queen of The Night” is one of those rare events found in European cabarets, castles and now at the catacombs of The Paramount Hotel on 46th Street in Manhattan (The Diamond Horseshoe Nightclub). This fashion, performance and dining extravaganza comes from the producers of ‘Sleep No More’. Expect to wine, dine, indulge and slow dance a little, but mostly prepare yourself for a breathtaking royal performance that takes place in the dining room, above your head and surrounding a looming, silent hostess — The Queen.
It’s a sexy, decadent, often peculiar and grand event that requests that you dress accordingly to meet royalty (no t-shirts and jeans allowed). Wear something festive, formal and anything that sparkles.
P.K. And Trance Upon Arrival
I stood waiting in the late afternoon sun near Restaurant Row dressed in a formal, white yachting uniform with a polka dot bow tie gripping my neck like a noose. My dinner guest, Trance, a 6’ 3” male model appeared wearing a very snug and well-tailored suit and one of the largest hats I’ve ever seen. His appearance was mysterious and captivating. All eyes traveled in our direction as we joined the other guests, formally attired, and entering the dungeons of The Paramount Hotel. To describe the interior would take chapters so let me simply say, it’s sort of like Tim Burton taking over the set of an Alfred Hitchcock screen-test after the crime and add a little bit of burlesque and post-war damage.
Many guests looked baffled by the décor but everyone was intrigued.
The festivities begin slowly from the minute you arrive and escalate to a euphoric level throughout the evening. This is not a stuffy Windsor tea and finger sandwiches affair. It’s often raucous and everyone is invited to interact with each other and the performers (to a certain degree).
Trance and several other attendees were granted permission to visit The Queen, while others were nonchalantly ushered into hidden rooms for private sessions. That’s all I know. I cannot elaborate more on this. However, the more outgoing you behave and the more outlandish your attire, could be a precursor for selection.
Timid wallflowers are treated gingerly.
Trance and I descended the grand staircase lined with members of the cast and “butlers” who were holding trays of specialty cocktails. A pulsating ominous drone escaped from the walls and various doorways. Trance says to me, “Well, this is something else.” “Apparently,” I respond, “They must know we are here.” He smiles with interest. Kimo, a handsome and provocatively dressed butler greets us at the bottom of the stairs. He encourages us to introduce ourselves to other guests and explore everywhere.
Our experience begins.
The interior is dimly lit and mysterious with taxidermy, peculiar and cryptic objects and photos lining the walls in a labyrinth of rooms; one room has a bathtub completely covered in wax from floor to ceiling. Continuing thru a library, the grand ballroom is sprawling, festive and there she is, HRH standing center stage with a cloak that stretches at least 30 feet behind her. Cocktails and conversations flow. Select guests are given permission to greet her highness while the rest of the group is cordoned off. It’s a democratic process or luck of the draw.
Performers mill about the space with acrobatic vignettes and a little a touchy-feely charades but respectful and kind, it’s titillating.
With a mixture of magic, dance, illusion and high jinks, the night begins with a few campy acts and proceeds into an amazing, jaw-dropping gala. Once seated, the Fire Eater approached our table. “Good evening gentlemen,” he said as he wrapped his arm around my back and chair. “Any closer and you’ll be sitting on my lap,” I replied. He responded, “With that offer, how could I resist?” My chair was pulled out from the table and he sat on my lap. It was jolting but also hilarious. He politely explained what may or may not take place this evening. I knew from then on to expect the unexpected.
A parade of beauties entered the dining room. The sounds of mystical music heightened the expectations of a new act. A group of male guests were invited to assist and admire these talented ladies fly and perform as aerialists above our heads. The room exploded in applause after several major tricks and eye-opening contortions. The energy in the room became tangible.
Our table was set with fresh baguettes, butter and carafes of wine — there was fresh fruit: apples, grapes and olives. When dinner was served, Kimo and a cavalry of butlers parade platters of roasted lamb, chicken and salmon to all partnering tables thruought the hall. The banquet is bountiful and you are encouraged to approach other tables for whatever you would like to try — it’s a bartering family-style trade off. They also set up a section of vegetarian offerings. On this night it was a delicious risotto. My favorite was the salmon baked in a puff pastry and the vegetarian risotto. The sides include a kale salad and fresh string beans.
The dinner culminated with more performances and The Queen ends the show with an amazing dance number. I will not spoil the process in which the tables are cleared but it was worth the price of admission alone. When the banquet subsides with slow dancing, all couples and guests are welcomed to the ballroom floor.
Kimo appeared at our table yet again and encouraged us to join the dance. When we explained our relationship as long-term friends, he said, “Will you dance with me P.K.?” Without a nanosecond to respond, he took me by the hand and led me to the dance floor where couples were embraced and slowly swaying to a celestial version of Chris Isaacs, “Wicked Game”. Kimo put his hand around my waist and positioned us for the dance. We made small chit chat, and took in the music when I noticed that a spotlight came upon us. He said, “I have one more surprise for you P.K.” He took me by the hand once again leading me to the periphery of the dining room where he hopped up on the marble banister. Other butlers appeared with a chocolate mousse cake and an urn of spoons. “Open wide and take a big bite,” he sweetly gestured. A scoop of dessert was presented. I opened my mouth and devoured the sweet confection.
Dessert was served in this manner to every guest.
I dislike comparing one show with another and I loathe the word “circus”. ‘Queen Of The Night’ deserves more than a one-word definition. With the amount of talent that New York City can draw, many of the most incomparable artists are performing at the peak of their expertise: magic, dance, specialty acts and acrobatics.
Furthermore, the quality of cuisine is better than most weddings I’ve had to endure over the years.
When The Queen left the ballroom, Trance and I followed suit and walked passed a fallen chandelier as well as a stuffed leopard in the lobby where other guests gathered for pictures. One woman requested that he place his large brim hat on the feline. Trance declined and we ascended the marble staircase and exited into the heat of the night, aglow from this extraordinary experience.
“That truly was something,” he said.
I couldn’t agree more.
Now extended with an open run into 2016
Queen of The Night
The Paramount Hotel
235 West 46th Street
New York, NY
For tickets and more information visit: http://queenofthenightnyc.com
#queenofthenight #paramounthotel #diamondhorseshoe