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Mel Ottenberg’s Top 10 Party Scenes to Watch Right Now

Traci Lords in Blade.

Welcome to Club Mel, a weekly ode to vampire kisses, candy flipping, and all things going out. Remember leaving the house past 10pm? Our Creative Director Mel Ottenberg does. This week: Mel brings the party inside with his list of the top ten party scenes in modern cinema to watch right now. Behold, the bygone days of boogie nights.


10. Party Girl (1995)

“I would like a nice powerful mind-altering substance. Preferably something that would make my unborn child grow gills,” said Parker Posey, iconically, as Mary in Party Girl. Rewatching this movie and living for Mary all over again makes me really miss all the NYC party girls of my entire club herstory. Shout out to Lady, Chanelsa, Alice, Jen, Bonnie, Slini, Chrissie, Amanda, Kira and Jaime, to name a few of my girls, without whom I’m nothing. Anyways, here’s my top five house songs that Leo plays at all the Party Girl parties: 1. “U Got Me Up” (underground goodies mix) by Dajae. 2. “Music Selector is the Soul Reflector” by Deee-lite. 3. “In the Dark We Live” by Aphrohead. 4. “Throw” by Carl Craig. 5. “Lick It” by Karen Finley.


9. The Decline of Western Civilization (1981)

“Nausea” by X and a beautiful shot of L.A. slam dancing mosh pit bad kids is the perfect opening scene of Decline Of Western Civilization. Don’t you wanna go out and listen to some live music in a dank club tonight?!? I do. I haven’t gone out for AN ENTIRE YEAR next week.


8. Mahogany (1975)

“DON’T YOU KNOW WHO I AM?!?!” Mahogany is pissed off, but she’s got to perform and be the life of the party, because she is MAHOGANY! So she pulls off her wig, and she yanks off her clothes, and she drips hot candle wax all over her body while the crowd goes nuts. Mahogany loves the nightlife, she loves being a top model, and she loves to PARTY. Shout out to Miss Diana Ross for the perfect post-glamour, drunken morning after walk of shame back from the party and into Mahogany’s messy life. It’s seedy, it’s depressing, and I love it.


7. Liquid Sky (1982)

All the nightclubbing scenes in Liquid Sky are supreme, but the fashion show at the club scene is the most iconic one. Look at these LOOKS! These are some real fucking looks, people. And some really nasty makeup looks. Ann Carlyle is the REAL alien queen of the night. Shout out to my pal Keni Valenti and Warhol favorite Benjamin Liu, who are both models in the show. WOW!


6. Body Double (1984)

The club scene in Body Double is another mind blower that I’ll continue to watch all the time forever. And this one is directed by Brian De Palma! And stars Melanie Griffith as adult film star Holly Body! And features “Relax” by Frankie Goes To Hollywood in a club scene within a porn scene within the movie! It’s a lot to take in, and it’s all perfect. Remember one-night-stands when you met people out in the clubs? Remember THAT? This scene is giving that to you, and then some. I love you Melanie Griffith!


5. Sweet Charity (1969)

FOSSE!!!!!!!! Sweet Charity has two of the hottest club scenes ever filmed: “Rich Mans Frug” and “Hey Big Spender.” Fosse really ate these scenes with the incredible dancing, looks, casting, hair, girls, boys, wigs, makeup, sets, choreography attitude and everything else. I’ve watched both scenes often during COVID to remind myself that I love glamour and that SWINGING DAYS WILL COME AGAIN. If you aren’t familiar,  search “Sweet Charity Rich Man’s Frug” on YouTube and watch it for the rest of your lives.  That is a fucking CLUB SCENE! Also YouTube “Sweet Charity Hey Big Spender” because it’s also really THE next level hardcore perfection club scene, with maybe the best club scene looks ever.


4. Cruising (1980)

THE gay scene. MEN ONLY! A beautiful ode to poppers. Pacino. Leather. Daddies. Fisting! “Heat of the moment” by Willy deville is one of many genius butch touches in this incredible scene, and all our New York forefathers are looking really fucking great. Pour out some RUSH on your light blue hankie for them tonight, boys. CRUISING FOREVER!


3. Basic Instinct (1992)

Roxie and “Blue” by LaTour are the TRUE stars of the very iconic Basic Instinct club scene. Most scenes this known aren’t on this list, but there is NO LIST without this baby. Anyways, Roxie is hot, her hair is LAID, and her dress is TIGHT, but she is NOT getting what she wants, and she is PISSED. “Blue” by LaTour is maybe my #1 movie song of all time, and it’s never the wrong song to play if you’re getting “intimate” or you wanna party. One time in Paris years ago, Michel Gaubert played “Blue” on repeat as the pre-show music to a really good Raf Simons show. He just played it over and over and over and over. All the fashion queens were going crazy in their seats because “Blue” is a song that just makes you wanna take it to the limit. If you see this, LaTour, I LOVE YOU!!!!


2. Klute (1971)

Klute is fantastic and everyone is watching it these days, and the club scene is super hot. Jane Fonda stars in Klute as Bree, a complicated New York hooker with the best shag haircut ever. Bree is being stalked by a murderer, the cops are on her case, work is bumming her out, life is difficult. One afternoon, she runs away from the private investigator who’s trying to save her life and she scoots over to the club. The club is fully going OFF in the middle of the day, which is such a nonchalant part of the storyline that one can only assume the city that doesn’t sleep was really popping off 24/7 back in 1971, the year of Klute. Bree is feeling spiraled and frantic and upset, but she’s doing her best at acting groovy and sexy and in control.  She grimaces, she smiles, she wanders, she makes out with a stranger, she kikis with Candy Darling on the dancefloor, and then she finally finds what she’s looking for: Roy Schneider, her ex-pimp! He’s there with his new old lady, but Bree plays nice, snuggles up besides him, and she’s BACK IN THE CLUTCHES OF NEW YORK CLUBLAND!  Jane really carries in this scene, snatched her first Oscar for this role, and I WANNA GO OUT!!!!


1. Blade (1998)

The Blade blood rave is possibly my favorite club scene ever. Wesley Snipes. Traci Lords. Everyone undead and looking great. Blood pouring down from the warehouse sprinkler system on the hot raving vampires. It’s really perfect. Incredibly, a similar scene played out for me in real life at a rave called Paradise when I was 18! So there I was, candy flipping at Paradise, making out with a goth raver girl with a lip ring. We were dancing and making out like crazy, and her lip ring grazed my neck. While she gave me a hickey, the acid REALLY kicked in and I started hallucinating big time. I felt her vampire fangs come out and bite me on the neck. This raver girl was turning me! I screamed over the music, “ARE YOU A VAMPIRE???” And she said “WHAT!?!?!?!?” And I said, “ARE YOU A VAMPIRE!????” And she said, “YES!!!!!!!!!!! YES I AM A VAMPIRE!!!!!!!” I looked around the dance floor, and just like in Blade, all the ravers’ fangs were coming out in unison, their teeth shining under the pulsing laser beams! I was dancing and thinking, “Omg I’m a vampire now am I going to ever see my family again am I going to be really rich like vampires always are in movies Dracula The Hunger etc. am I gonna be really skinny??” Then I went to the DJ booth where my best friend Jesse was hanging with DJ Dan who was playing incredible peak rave music and I was screaming over the deafening beat, “JESSE I GOT BIT BY A VAMPIRE WE GOTTA GET OUT OF HERE NOW AND DRIVE BACK TO RISD AND HAVE TINA THE HEAD RA STAB ME IN THE HEART WITH A WOODEN STAKE!!!!!!!” And meanwhile I was dancing super fast, hands flying everywhere, because it’s DJ Dan at Paradise in 1994, and he was like, “Mel it’s cool,” and I was like, “NO JESSE THIS IS REAL” and he was like, “Okay, go dance and we will deal with this vampire problem later,” and of course the story goes on and on and on. But anyways, imagine how thrilled I was years later when I saw that my own teenage experiences were sort of immortalized in a scene as incredible as the Blade blood rave!!!