Mr Ian Schrager’s Guide To Hosting A Party
Studio 54 owners Mr Steve Rubell and Mr Ian Schrager outside their legendary New York nightclub, 20 July 1978. Photograph by Mr Allan Tannenbaum/Getty Images
The founder of Studio 54 and the EDITION Hotels tells us the secrets of throwing a good bash.
Mr Ian Schrager has given more parties than just about anyone since Caligula. And unlike the emperor’s, Mr Schrager’s end with people smiling, be that at Studio 54, which he co-founded with Mr Steve Rubell, or the thousand other dos he has hosted at his many boutique hotels (a category he, incidentally, created). MR PORTER joined him for the party of the year at his latest opening, Barcelona EDITION, the ninth in the luxury chain, to find out how the world’s most famous host goes about his business.
What makes a good party? Booze, the people, the place? And in what mix?
The most important things for a party are the people and the place. In equal measure. It’s a bit of a chicken or egg question. You have to have a great place that’s exciting and glamorous – that you can cut the air with and everyone knows it. And having great people is also essential. But I think the place suggests and facilitates people having a good time. The booze is irrelevant; it could be there or not be there.
The party at the Barcelona EDITION was pretty intense – people dancing on ropes down the building, Ms Rossy de Palma doing a cabaret, Ruinart on tap… What is the impression you are trying to make with these extravaganzas?
Before us, most hotels’ opening events were institutional – they were for the partners of the venture, or the financiers, banks, that played a role in making the hotel. And they were boring. Staged. We wanted to do a hotel that’s more than just a place to sleep. We wanted to catch an ethos, the spirit of a city. We really wanted to have a proper opening night that would give an idea of the DNA of the brand, to lift the spirits of guests, make their heart beat faster and make them think they’re part of the cultural zeitgeist.
Why do you have clubs, such as Cabaret in Barcelona, in your hotels? Aren’t hotels about going to sleep?
It makes a tremendous amount of sense to have a hotel and to have a microcosm of the best the city has to offer right downstairs in the public space. So you can sleep there, but you don’t have to go any further to get a taste of what that city has to offer. That could be good restaurants, good parties, good cabaret or nightclubs. I think the most important thing, though, is focusing those venues on the people in the city, not the guests in the hotel because the guests want to go where the in-the-know people in the city go. That’s what we’ve done since we got in this business.
What is the best party you have ever thrown?
You know, it’s hard for me to say which is the best party. There have been so many of them and we always try to make the last the best. I think Barcelona was absolutely great! The key element to a great party is to make sure people have a great time – that’s the only criteria for a good party.
You have that wonderful apartment in Manhattan, designed by architect Mr John Pawson. Do you throw parties there?
Yes, we have parties and dinners, but what we do there is really private. The parties in the hotels and venues are a different kind of thing – there, we are trying to make sure people have a great time, great fun, great experience. That’s not what goes on in my home; it’s my refuge in the city, for my family.
You used to leave Studio 54 when the night was going well – why? Do you not like parties, or do you perhaps just like producing them?
You’ve got to understand that Studio 54 was different. And I do enjoy parties, but away from my business. In all reality, I do get more joy seeing people have a lot of enjoyment and watching people get loose.
What makes a party a success in the Mr Ian Schrager mould?
No! Age is not a chronological thing. It’s a thing of the spirit. And if you feel you should dance, you should dance. I don’t see age as a limiting factor. The heart is the only limitation we have.
Is there any age past which no man can (or should) dance?
Never forget that the guest is more important than the host. Sometimes people forget that. The only thing that matters are people and making sure that they have a good time. And when you approach it like that, people can sense it and they understand it.