China Chalet, a Financial District restaurant that hosted a party for the film The Imperialists Are Still Alive!, is during the day invaded by barbarian brokers and hedge funders. But last Thursday it turned into a balkanized state, each out-of-place guest handpicked by director Zeina Durra. The crew of misfits high and low uncannily resembled the ex-pat jet setters, debauched hipsters and local lowlifes that protagonist Asya tags along with as she roves from back-room bar to nightclub to art studio.
Ms. Durra had been planning the bash for almost two years. Perhaps it deserves a title of its own. Here are a few tries:
The Harlem-Hailing Nigerian Bop Bands Are Still Alive! An afrobeat outfit uprooted for the night from its residency at St. Nick’s Pub on 148th Street shook maracas and sawed violins and pitter-pattered on bongos. St. Nick’s makes an appearance in the movie, as one of the many spots frequented by Asya and friends. Bourgeois émigrés embracing the Djembe: still alive!
The Pantsuit-Wearing Glammy Auteurs Are Still Alive! Ms. Durra—who is of Palestinian, Bosnian, Lebanese and Jordanian extraction—speaks with an accent like she went to Oxford, which she did. She was wearing an Yves Saint Laurent tuxedo and talked over the bouncy racket. “I just love giving parties, and I thought, ‘Oh, I have to have the band at the premiere party,’” Ms. Durra said. The West End pronunciation of the word “premiere”: still alive!
The Indie Film Royalty Cameos Are Still Alive! The film steals from Godard both its title—a line from La Chinoise—and its tricks. And Whit Stillman, one of the director’s clear points of reference, appears as a man in a nightclub dancing vigorously. Days of disco: still alive!
The Black Eyeshadow Goth Art Kids Are Still Alive! “Individualism is something New York is kind of lacking,” said Chadd Curry, a video self-portraitist. He had darkened his eyelids with soot and smeared Tin Man–colored silver paint elsewhere on his cheeks and face. “Everything is kind of the same,” he added. The woman with him referred to herself as a “photographess.” Noticeable lack of irony: still alive!
The Neighbors of Occultist Pandrogeny Icons Are Still Alive! The crowd’s punk relic contingent consisted of two women in leather jackets. They told The Observer a story about an adorable pandrogynous couple who decided to get breast implants. “Genesis P-Orridge was my landlord, and on Valentine’s Day when Jackie Breyer and Genesis got their, um, augmentation. I was the first person to hear about it.” The other chimed in: “Then we drank wine with them … ” “… We did more than that,” the first women corrected. Ah, the satanic charm of Mr. P-Orridge’s apartment, with its occultist paraphernalia and wooden swastikas. “When you find blood in the freezer, it’s scary,” she noted. Freaky raconteurs: still alive!
The Feline Wiles of French Ingénues Are Still Alive! “Is Elodie here yet?” asked Ms. Durra. She was referring to her star, Elodie Bouchez, who in a diva move withheld her presence until late in the evening. When she arrived, The Observer happened to be outside. Her dark eyes honed in on us, and dragging on a cigarette she mustered a nod and promised an interview. She later proved elusive. Makes sense—she’s married to Thomas Bangalter, half of masked duo Daft Punk. Robot wives: still alive!
The Sarong-Wearing Muscle-Hipped Lit Boys Are Still Alive! Jon-Jon Goulian, whose memoir The Man in the Gray Flannel Skirt hits bookstores next month, arrived wearing a skintight belly shirt, sarong, high-heeled platform shoes. Literary androgyny: still alive!
But the event needed no new name. It was simply an extension of The Imperialists Are Still Alive! As the dance floor cleared out, DJ Rachel Chandler paused her iTunes and joined The Observer at a booth, where he was sitting with Mr. Goulian, Ms. Durra and a sprinkling of her friends. They ordered a final round at the bar, bummed cigarettes from the adjacent table and basically re-enacted any number of scenes from the film. Ms. Durra must have been content.
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