Style Reportage

Style is a strange word — more of a buzzword by now than anything. Too much of what is currently written under the heading of “style” is froth or pap. Although I generally write about cultures or scenes that I like (“lifestyles,” as it were), I don’t write froth or pap.

For one reason or another, I have spent a lot of time writing about nightlife, especially overlooked nightspots or trends. This is probably a hangover from my student days, when I spent a lot of time hanging out — a period, in fact, that culminated in my teaching a course called “Hanging Out.” (Another story — wait for the novel.)

At any rate, between 1994 and 2002 (when I finally peeled off to Ithaca to focus on my book), I spent a lot of time hanging out in nightclubs both in Europe and New York, where I was affectionately known as the “Prince of the Night.”

Once again, I came to the subject from the point of the cultural historian-cum-journalist, cataloging the manners and mores of another, unsung culture — in this case, night culture, so often looked askance at b “serious” journalists.

You can tell a lot about a city or a culture by its nightlife, as well as the It girls who inhabit and write about it — like London’s inimitable Tara Palmer-Tompkinson, captured here in the somewhat incongruous setting of the Oxford Cambridge Club (one of my favorite diurnal hangouts during my London years), as well as in situ at one of the endless parties she attended and wrote about for The Sunday Times. This interview, for The New York Times, was the last she gave before her celebrated burnout; I like to think her voice and genuine humor come through.

Sad to report, Tara is no longer It in London. And the beat goes on…