When I told my editor that the people behind the Turrbotax parties that regularly provide weird Brooklyn club kids with a place to assemble and look cool were throwing a party at a spa that was to include not only a full bar but saunas and a hot tub, I could tell she was thinking the same thing I was, without her even saying it: Nudity. Debauchery. Overly enthusiastic young people making ill-advised combinations of heavy duty intoxicants and high-temperature environments. Sexy stuff and mayhem.
But when I came out from the locker room, having changed into a bathing suit and sandals (not my usual clubbing gear), I encountered a roomful of people lounging in matching white robes while a DJ spun 90s-sounding house music. A few were sipping cocktails, but the general atmosphere--heated to a swimsuit-friendly temperature, which was a pleasant change from the subzero conditions outside--was of people taking all of the motivation to rage hard that you associate with edgy underground dance parties and using it instead to chill out as deeply as humanly possible. One of my companions, sipping on very spa-like flute of champagne with a slice of strawberry floating on top, pointed out a girl she thought was topless under her robe, but that never developed into anything.
(Side note: giving everyone at a party matching robes is a really simple way to give the whole thing a nice Logan’s Run/cult vibe. In case that’s ever something you’re aiming for.)
Things got slightly more debaucherous back in the spa area proper, in that people took off their robes so they could get in the hot tub and saunas, but aside from the uptick in exposed flesh it was still exceedingly mellow. Despite the hot tub’s reputation as the ne plus ultra in settings for sleazy decadence, it’s difficult to want to rage when you’re being parboiled into a stupor, and after a few minutes in 160-degree sauna heat doing anything other than collapsing into a puddle seems impossible.
A few people seemed to want to try. A few girls loosely interpreted the requirement for attendees to wear sandals to include high heels. A few guys and girls who apparently showed up sans swimsuit were hanging out in their underwear. A trio of Polish kids who looked like they’d just barely made the event’s age requirements included one discomfortingly young-looking girl who was walking around in an extremely tiny thong, but most people seemed more skeezed out by her than turned on.
Eventually, after we’d sweated out whatever toxins we’d accumulated during the initial rounds of drinks when we showed up, plus whatever we’d had before arrival, plus probably quite a bit of residual stuff hanging around in our systems, we headed back out to the lounge/bar area. It was 1 AM, prime party time, and people were still primarily concerned with lounging on couches like sun-baked iguanas while another DJ spun more 90s-sounding house music. Our visions of debauchery had been melted away in the saunas and hot tub, but whatever part of our brains may have cared were offline by that point.
One of our group commented that the scene was like a poor man’s Playboy mansion, but it seemed to me more like the chill-out room had come unmoored from a party and while drifting around spawned its own, even-more-chill-out room. Which I was perfectly happy with.
After showering and changing back into street clothes I walked back out into the freezing cold, weighing the novel feeling of leaving a party feeling considerably healthier than when I’d walked in.