Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Museum of Modern Art

Nylon Nights

This Year’s MoMA Party In The Garden Had Everything — Including A Protest

Young collectors, older chaperones, and a short-lived (but much-talked-about) disruption.

by Tim Latterner

It seemed as though people didn’t quite know where to start at the MoMA Party in the Garden on June 4. So naturally, the line to get in quickly turned into the line to get a photo taken on the step-and-repeat, where a large wall of flowers emblazoned with the museum’s logo functioned like a tractor beam for the content-hungry. That then quickly turned into the queue for cocktails.

While there were some artists in the crowd — Jim D’Amato was spotted at the bar telling stories — most partygoers seemed to be the sort more interested in dealing art than making it. As blown-up versions of MoMA’s logo were projected onto the stone walls and the scent of Diptyque citronella candles filled the air, guests circulated wearing tuxedos, power suits, and elegant gowns, clearly having come from the ticketed dinner held beforehand in the museum’s hall to support the education initiatives around the collection.

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Museum of Modern Art

For the first two hours of the afterparty, a DJ played house music for the crowd as they scooped up cheesy crackers from passing trays and sipped on cocktails like the “Summer Heat,” a blend of tequila, fresh watermelon, chile, and lime. By 11 p.m., the energy was palpably itchy as the crowd waited for Fletcher to perform. But a small group of attendees had something in mind to get everyone’s attention.

Moments into Fletcher’s set, the first few chords were interrupted by a battalion of security guards dragging one man off the stage. In a few swift moves, he was tackled and hauled by his extremities to the large gate to 53rd Street. The band continued to play until another group of guards swooped in from the other side of the stage. This time, they carried out a woman in a black dress and green shawl, who was escorted through the building. Fletcher’s song covered up the protesters’ shouts, but more kept appearing in the crowd. Over the course of the first two songs, three or four were given the boot.

At a party like this, such a spectacle was so absorbing that people hardly realized when Fletcher had to take a moment between songs to fix a wardrobe malfunction. The show, however, did go on.

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Museum of Modern Art
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Museum of Modern Art

I left not too long after and walked to the corner of 53rd Street to hail a cab, where I saw a group of familiar faces: the protesters. They seemed friendly enough and were evidently deemed low-risk enough to be left nearby, so I went to talk to them. They were from a group called the “Summer of Heat” — yes, in a moment of ironic alignment, nearly the same name as the garden party’s signature cocktail — that’s staging a series of nonviolent protests aimed at taking on Wall Street’s backing of the fossil-fuel industry.

After an eventful night, I was ready for one more drink, so I made my way downtown to Clandestino. There were no equities traders or wealth managers — or short-lived protests for that matter — but there were three artist friends drinking cans of beer and doodling away on napkins.