Nada Diane Fridi cracks the glittering glass ceiling of Paris’ most elusive It Girl clique in one heady, endless night in “Paris Private Parties”.
It’s 11 pm, I’m in the taxi heading for that girl’s place. I planned to arrive late, when dessert is served, because I didn’t feel comfortable enough to arrive on time for dinner. I wait at the gate for quite a long time, the numerous iPhones are either on the coffee table, in coat pockets or clutches, while the girls are screaming so loud over Mariah Carey’s Fantasy that I didn’t even have to give the driver the street number for him to find it. One girl’s bladder led her out of the living room and she heard the choir of vibrations and ringtones I triggered and let me in. I had brought with me a magnum of pink champagne; totally out of my budget but… yolo. I step into karaoke hysteria and almost no one pays attention to my arrival. There are cigarette butts on every plate, in every piece of uneaten roast, and lipstick marks of the full spectrum of warm colours, from pale pink to deep purple, on all of the glasses. Dessert has been served: a masterpiece of French patisserie sits on a beautiful plate that the hostess brought back from either Mexico or Brazil, where she often goes on inspirational trips
Claude sees me, grabs my hand and pulls me into the middle of the action. She pauses the song playing on iTunes and introduces me solemnly to everyone. They’ve all seen me around many times; we’ve been going to the same club five nights a week for the past year, but even though the place is pretty small, we don’t occupy the same territory. I guess it is possible to miss someone dancing between the fan and the sound system when your spot is the sofa right beside the DJ booth.
The hostess urges me to have some of the barely eaten cake and starts opening every cupboard in her kitchen and dining room to find a glass for me. She gives up after a while and slides right into a conversation that I would probably find hilarious, too, if I had been to Calvi this year. There must be something like 50 glasses for 12 girls. I take one and wash it. Once in the living room I look for my bottle of champagne and find it on the table, empty, next to many others. Within a few minutes, taxis and chauffeurs have been called and the procession of party-goers is clicking its heels down the freshly waxed staircase of the elegant building in northeast Paris. After a ride just long enough to reapply lipstick, we’re there. There’s a long, winding line in front of the club and a bunch of people smoking and chatting around the entrance. The bouncer’s face lights up and, after 12 pairs of kisses on his cheeks, he opens the door to the girls that walk in front of the impatient crowd and into the club. Claude takes my hand and pushes her way to the bar. She asks for two house cocktails for her and her friend – that’s me! Everyone comes to greet her and, depending on who it is, she gives them a warm hug, a kiss on the cheek or just waves her hand. We join her friends on the dance floor, where they are all sipping on their fruity drinks, going through the crowd with their gaze, commenting on everything and anything, as if they were in charge of writing up statistics on the clientele of this place. The music is working its way into our bones. I feel good, I feel like I’m in the right place. We’ve been joined by lots of people: producers, photographers, stylists, shop owners, artists.
It’s 2am, the club is about to close, I’m almost alone on the dancefloor, the others keep running in and out of the room. I go to the bathroom and when I grab the handle of the stall to get in, the door opens and five people walk out, laughing. “There you are,” she says. “Let’s get out of here.” I follow her into the street. Taxi moment again, but this time in total confusion. “Do we need more taxis?”, “Who’s getting in this taxi?”, “Is this your taxi?”, “Who called this taxi?” The door of a minivan slides open and she screams, “Get in!” We ask the driver to play Mariah Carey, open the windows and sing along as loud as we can. Man, Mariah just hits the spot in moments like these. We go to another club, a few blocks down and gather in front of the entrance. The bouncer says we can’t all get in, there are too many of us. One of the guys gets angry and starts insulting him. He rambles on about the fact that the bouncer’s a nobody – who does he think he is? He feels all important deciding who gets in or doesn’t. Does the bouncer know who HE is? The bouncer says, “This one is too drunk anyways, he’s not getting in.” The girls are making frantic phone calls and, after a few minutes, the manager of the club walks out, calms everyone down, says hello and walks into his club with a girl on each arm. The bouncer smiles and wishes us a good evening. It’s my first time here; everything is so luxurious and fancy. We go straight backstage. There are people there waiting for us, people I follow on Instagram, people who collaborate with sneaker brands and whose names bring in hundreds and thousands of kids to any party anywhere if they appear on the flyer.
Now we’re out on the dancefloor, Claude finds me and gives me a glass of vodka something. Her friends like me, I think; everyone is so friendly, we’re mingling and hugging and dancing and laughing for what feels like hours. Claude disappears, so I look for her and find her smoking in the toilet. She looks sad. She tells me she hates her life, she’s really broke and depressed and her ex-boyfriend posted a photo of him with some girl on Instagram. I look down and my eyes meet her brand-new Balenciaga shoes. She can’t deal with all of this right now, she’s going to New York for a while until she feels better. She asks me if I can lend her money tonight for taxis and such. Of course I can. We leave the toilet and tell everyone we’re leaving.
It’s 5am and we’re out on the street trying to figure out where to go now, what apartment to gather in. We hop into taxis headed towards the 18th district, and through the window I see people taking the first Métro. After buying snacks and alcohol at the convenience store we go up to this guy’s place. I couldn’t imagine a nicer place for a man. It’s decorated with exquisite carelessness, full of bits of trips and life experiences, with the right amount of sports gear, old objects, smart books and magazines. He looks just like his place; he’s funny, his hair is beautiful and his shirt is just right. He brings glasses, fresh herbs and lemons to the table. He puts on music – need I say that it was perfect? Then he goes around asking everyone if they have this and that. Claude changes the music and starts to dance lasciviously; some dude joins her and pushes her slowly into a room. There are little groups all over the apartment doing different things, chatting, drinking, dancing, eating, going through their handbags, talking on their phones, smoking on the balcony, making out on couches and in corners, reading, sleeping. I’m tired but I just don’t want to leave.
It’s 8am. The few people who are awake are in deep conversation in the kitchen. I take my things and leave quietly. I’m in the street now. I put my headphones on and play some Mariah Carey as I walk home.
Words by Nada Diane Fridi
Illustration by Safia Bahmed-Schwartz