Photo by Richard Burrowes
Iphones flash and fans roar as Azealia Banks ascends to the small platform that acts as a stage in the center of West Village hotspot Westway. The tiny room is packed from wall-to-wall with gay boys, drag queens, go-go boys, leather daddies, porn stars, club kids and (a few) girls; it’s nearly impossible to hear Banks over the screaming crowd. As the rapper begins howling the lyrics to her buzzing, breakout track, “212,” she jumps up and down, while the crowd follows suit.
This is “Westgay,” a Tuesday party developed by nightlife legend Frankie Sharp hat’s ruled over the gay club scene since its creation in 2012. Just last April, Sharp revealed in an interview with Next Magazine that the party would be ending in early July (June 30th to be specific). The venue is slated for demolition to make way for luxury condos (gentrification at its finest). Westgay has become the meeting place for the myriad queer subcultures of New York, attracting the city’s up-and-coming influencers, including avant-garde drag collective Chez Deep, DJ Juliana Huxtable and American Apparel collaborator Kesh. The party didn’t only attract members of the underground—Westgay also boasted performers like Lil Kim, Natalia Kills, Mykki Blanco and nearly every Rupaul’s Drag Race queen you can name.
To commemorate Westgay’s finale, we interviewed New Yorkers who’ve frequented the party over its three-year reign to discuss what made the weekly event so special.
What made Westgay unique?
“Westgay is unique because it’s undefinable. Every week there is something new—a fresh face, a breathtaking performance or new music you’ve never heard before. Personally, the reason Westgay is so groundbreaking is because everyone that shows up wants to be there; they are devoted to the party and trust that they will turn out an amazing night.” – Sussi Suss, nightlife personality
“Westgay was unique for a lot of reasons, but I think what made it such a standout was Frankie [Sharp]. He envisioned something so special and specific to him. This electric, insane, headless circus of gay heaven. It was such a zoo every week because he made it his job to make each week special and silly.” – Sam Banks, performer and member of the Westgay family
What is your fondest memory of Westgay?
“My fondest memory has to be when me and Nicky Ottav wore matching forest camouflage outfits to the club and I DJ’ed the back room. I played tons of trippy trap and Nicky twerked behind the booth. It was lit.” – Alees Yvon, artist and former Westgay host
Who was your favorite performer?
“My favorite Performer is gonna have to be Alyssa Edwards. Her barefooted lyrical dance encore performance to ‘Summertime Sadness’ will never leave me.” – Sam Banks
Have you taken inspiration from any aspects of Westgay, while creating your own events?
“Definitely. Frankie’s programming acts as an inspiration for how I program ‘Duh Fridays.’ The way he stacks established, big acts with up-and-comers, I always thought is such a cool way to appeal to the downtown crowd. We love our NYC-centric performers—people who are boiling and being buzzed-about—but also have love for the mainstream. It’s always been exciting to see how Frankie blends the two.” – Alex Chapman, musician, DJ and party planner
“Frankie was always amazing at mixing long-time nightlife veterans with younger faces in the industry. Whenever I made a lineup for an event, I tried to do the same those separate entities could become one.” – Nicky Ottav, clubkid and former Westgay host
What makes the crowd at Westgay so loyal?
“Westgay birthed a really special scene of artists and club kids, and over time, it has become a tradition for a lot us. Every Tuesday there was this great spot we could go to to see familiar faces, dance with our friends, see great performances and have a fantastic time.” – Miss Queen Sateen, musician and nightlife personality