Here’s What You Missed at NYC Pride’s Dance On The Pier
So. It turns out NYC Pride’s Dance on the Pier had a surprise up its sleeve after all. Going into Sunday’s 30th annual party on the water—the last one in its present location—we knew that the woman of the night would be Fergie, back on the scene and ready to reconnect. But as she told SPIN recently, something special was planned, to pay tribute to the obscene slaughter that took place in Pulse Orlando only two weeks earlier. That something special, it turned out, was Hillary Clinton.
After brief remarks from stylist Brad Goreski, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president filled the giant video screen, and spoke of Orlando. “What happened that night”, she correctly concluded, “was an act of terror. It was also an act of hate.” She looked to a “better future, free from discrimination, free from hate, free from fear.”
Tributes to Orlando were inescapable in New York on Sunday. The Pride March began awash in orange, the city’s color; signs proclaiming New York’s solidarity with the Florida city were ubiquitous; and those arriving at the Dance on the Pier were given orange #WeAreOrlando bandanas. Not that that dampened the party. They danced at Pulse, and they danced on the pier—and hugged, communed and, sure, hooked up. Under a blazing sun, the pier was pretty much a frying pan until early evening, and more than a couple rainbow flag face paintings were smeared by sunset. But things cooled down, only to heat up again thanks to Stacy Ferguson.
We didn’t get much new stuff—only a portion of the new “Hungry 1st Byte”, accompanied by its stylish black and white video. But we did get a jukebox sampler of her nuggets—solo and with the Black Eyes Peas. Following the Clinton intro, Fergie began with her own response to Orlando: “We are strong. We are together. We are proud”, as a prelude to the Peas’ evergreen “Where Is the Love”, accompanied by the names and beautiful faces Pulse. From there though, it was largely a blast: a bouncing “Fergalicious”, the sass of “Glamorous”, and the Peas’ “Rock That Body”. It felt rapidfire—she barely came up for air in an apparent attempt to pack in as much as possible to the half-hour set—and you wished some songs like the affecting “Big Girls Don’t Cry” felt less rushed. But visually it delivered: matrix-grid visuals, no shortage of smoke, black and white dancers that occasionally donned masks; and Fergie herself, a mane of hair particularly wild tonight, in a black bustier that she complemented with a series of jackets, leather and sparkles.
After BEP trio to wrap up the set—“Don’t Phunk With My Heart”, “Time Of My Life” and crowd-pleaser “I Gotta Feeling” (we told you she crammed in a lot) — Ferg said good night. And her performance felt right. For any skepticism about her choice as pier dance performer, following millennials Demi Lovato and Ariana Grande the last two years, a woman with a few more life lessons and wisdom under her belt seemed an apt choice for this particular year. And even after the headliner left the stage, NYC Pride had one more pitch-perfect move in store.
For the annual fireworks display—a stirring, lump-in-the-throat moment even in the most innocuous of years—the DJ led with a curious choice: Queen’s ode to mortality, “Who Wants To Live Forever”. Where were they going with this, we wondered? Perfectly, it turns out, into Prince—and not just any Prince, but one fit for this bacchanal on the Hudson, “Erotic City.” And next? David Bowie, putting on his red shoes and dancing the blues. Our two ever-fearless giants, lost in this mind-blowing year of 2016, beautifully remembered.
“I just feel like everything was so perfect this year,” remarked one guy next to me, under the pyrotechnics. “I was really happy to see how festive it all was,” said Mark Doctrow, a friend and CNN producer. “Orlando was still on our minds, but everyone still managed to carry on and celebrate—as it should be.” Those spectacular, glittering eruptions lighting up the New York sky drove it home: the arc of the moral universe, as Dr. King said, bends toward justice. There will always be blackness, but ultimately the light will win out. Don’t let appeals to hate seduce you. Keep believing in those fireworks.