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Go West, Young Wasp

Gary Pryor

STOP ME IF YOU HAVE SEEN THIS ONE BEFORE:

A baldish man from the Paine Webber Investmentgives out his engraved business card to a tall, blonde woman wearing a red silk jacket who finds his face familiar and recognizes him from the University of Virginia.

“Give me a call,” he tells her.

Somewhere nearby, a somewhat opposite scene is taking place. Two Goldman Sachs bond sellers around their thirties are standing with their documentary-film-producer friend. All of them are studiously ignoring the two Wall-Street women dressed in short black suits casting short but quick glances in their direction.

Possibly their bonuses are yet to be decided in their downtown offices; however it doesn’t let them affect their social business. The Crane Club is the newest attraction for club-goers who found the supper-club theme at M.K and Au Bar quite desirable. With its navy-blue walls having equestrian and nautical prints, floral tapestry banquettes, and chintz bar stools, the Crane Club has taken inspiration from the illustrious Stork Club. “It’s the Upper West Side’s Upper East Side version of Nell’s,” said a man wearing a dark winter-wool suit at the bar.

The Crane Club is the latest addition to be featured on the upper Amsterdam Avenue Strip – often considered to be the Columbus Avenue of the nineties. However, it is quite different from the neighboring clubs. Recently, on a Friday night, many collegians who were home for the holidays had crowded the rather downscale hangouts like the Quarter Moon Saloon and the Raccoon Lodge. Yet, for the Crane Club, there was no line outside its baroque doors. Perhaps it’s because of the fact that the members of the Crane Club are all in their thirties, preferring a quieter, more pretentious atmosphere. They would feel more in place for a cocktail party organized for members of a hunt club.

“I built a club for my friends,” says 30-year-old co-owner Gary Pryor, a former Morgan Guaranty government-bond salesman who is quite the charmer with the well-heeled weekend crowd just like a young politician at his first fund-raiser. “We used to go to the Lucy’s or the Surf Club. The Eurotrash ran the city for a while and we didn’t get to go to any parties. This is a real strong social network of people who summer and ski together. “

The Stork Club’s neighbors Au Rivage and Wilson’s are the caterers of the dinner service, which starts at 8:30 pm. By 11:30 pm, the bar crowd has arrived, and the Stork Club is now in its full swing. Somewhere, a D.J plays all the popular songs of Tone-Loc, Aretha Franklin, Madonna and many more. Elsewhere, you will find some blond men in striped ties mustering up the courage to buy champagne or white wine for the women at the bar, wearing gold jewelry and silk blouses.

“I wouldn’t even call this a bar,” says 25-year-old Kathy Shea, a petite merchant banker who lives right around the corner. “It’s more like a Princeton eating Club.”

MEREDITH BERKMAN

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