MoMA Offers a Sugar Rush as Blood Orange, Jamie xx Play the Armory Party

Jamie xx. (Courtesy Getty Images)

Jamie xx. (Courtesy Getty Images)

Normal Red Bull, sugar-free Red Bull, even Red Bull Total Zero: these were the drinks that greeted arrivals to last night’s Armory Party at the Museum of Modern Art, proffered by waiters standing in formation like the caterers at a fashionably late-night funeral. Never before has a fête been so upfront about—and accommodating of—its guests’ extreme exhaustion. 

The Armory Show, the sprawling art fair that annually takes over Piers 92 and 94, had just concluded its VIP preview day, and nearly everyone who had spent the day trekking by booth after booth had also probably stopped by the Whitney Biennial opening party the night before and hit the ADAA Art Show before that. They were willing to rally, though—the party was sold out—and those skinny blue and silver cans went fast.

The artist Lucien Smith was spotted in a highlighter orange ski hat to the left of the stage on the second floor atrium. He’d been chatting with Ben Morsberger, an old friend from school and the guitarist for the band Blood Orange, which was about to perform.

Mr. Smith hadn’t been to the Armory Show yet, but had swung by the Biennial the night before. Of the widely discussed show, he said: “If I can be honest, as an artist I don’t feel that it represents the art being made in America right now.” We confessed to copping a quick feel of one of the several, uncannily realistic sex dolls sitting, splayed, in the Bjarne Melgaard room. Its silicone skin was icy cold, a revelation that further complicated our understanding of the mindset one would have to be in to have sex with it.

“It’s such a fucked-up concept,” said Mr. Smith, who was DJing a 2 a.m. set later that night at the Gilded Lily. “I would hate to wander into somebody’s house and find one of those things in the closet.”

Guests standing along the atrium’s balcony looked down at the crowd below with regal aloofness. We looked up, wondering if there was someone to talk to up there—it was hard to see, the party was so crowded—and they flinched and turned away when we made eye contact, because the point of looking down at a party from the balcony is to enjoy a God’s eye view, to see without being seen.

Downstairs, Jamie xx, who had finished a DJ set, was killing time before returning to the turntables. Was he planning on going to any of the Armory Week attractions, its fairs and sundry shows? “No, not really,” he said quietly in a London accent. “I’ve been to MoMA a couple of times, though.” It was his first time DJing in a museum.

Artist Kehinde Wiley, whose decadent portraiture is on view at Sean Kelly’s ADAA booth, was wearing a striking suit of his own design. The fabric mingled floral William Morris wallpaper with the faces of some of Mr. Wiley’s male Cameroonian models. “Clothing functions as both an adornment and armor,” he said. “It lets something out and it keeps something in.”

Many guests were armed (and adorned) to the teeth in outré ensembles. One petite young man added about four feet to his small stature with a single feather sticking out of his black mesh hat. A coyote pelt, head intact, was slung over his shoulder and the hemline of his leather skirt hit about mid calf. We overheard one man enthusiastically ask another fellow sporting white frame glasses and a bright red fedora, “Have you read Madame Bovary?”

The night went on. Jamie xx returned to the turntables, producing a mix of steel drums and throbbing bass lines. Walking by some walls, our feet would vibrate noticeably. (Drug test us. We’re not kidding.) Guests started hugging more emphatically. The bar was open all night. It appeared the Red Bull had been dosed with Spanish fly judging by the number of men on the prowl. “646.349…” one enterprising Italian man offered as an opening line. The young woman he was addressing looked up from her phone and stared at him blankly. “That’s my phone number,” he explained, completely unnecessarily.