By Maria Rocha-Buschel
New Year’s Eve is one of the biggest party nights of the year, but The Players club on Gramercy Park made the one before that a night to remember as well. The New Year’s Eve Eve event at the club was hosted by The Salon, which organizes parties inspired by European salons that brought people together to perform jazz music, dance, share their art and enjoy each other’s company.
Advance tickets for the event were sold out and while a limited number of door tickets were made
available, founder of The Salon, Patrick Soluri, said that within 15 minutes of the club opening its doors at 7 p.m., those were sold out as well.
The New Year’s Eve Eve party was the first time The Salon hosted an event at the Players since 2009. Joe Canela, a bartender and union rep for employees at the social club, said it was just one of several events the club used to host that have returned since the departure of the club’s former executive director, John Martello, last spring. Martello had come under fire for turning down events from groups that paid rental fees for the space, instead giving space away free for events held by his associates.
Soluri, a classical musician who grew up in Stuyvesant Town, said he originally started organizing the events in his apartment in 2001 and did them for a few years wherever he happened to be living. In 2006, The Salon had to be moved to a public venue because it got too crowded for Soluri’s home. The 2013 party was the sixth time it took place and although the venue has changed over the years, he wants The Salon to be based at the Players.
“I’m planning on hosting all my main events, about six a year, at the Players,” he said. “I’m hoping that it will be a kind of home and that’s what I’ve been working on.”
The Salon’s most recent party featured performances from 40 musicians and dancers, with classic burlesque, tap dancing and even a free swing dancing lesson and attendees were dressed to the nines in 1920s attire. Performances took place in rooms throughout the club, with big band music, jazz and blues performed in the library and on the stage at the main dance floor. The Card Room and the Booth Room, which is normally closed to the public, were open to a select few with VIP tickets and those visitors were treated to music from accordionist Benjamin Ickies and card tricks from a magician.
There were also a number of men at the party wearing radishes on their lapel and Soluri explained the unusual tradition.
“(It was) instigated by longtime dancer Michael Ingbar many years ago,” he said. “Those gents that dressed like gents get a radish as their boutonniere.”
The next big event he has in the works is a Mardi Gras party. The date is already set for Fat Tuesday, on March 4 this year, although Soluri said that tickets aren’t on sale just yet. But he hosted a Mardi Gras party last year at a venue in the Lower East Side and he said that the event this year will be true to the music and style of the era. Tickets for the event are open to the public and Soluri said that he tries to keep the prices low. General admission advance tickets for the New Year’s Eve Eve event were $30.