Recently, I happened to view the film, Party Girl, starring Parker Posey. Set in New York City-1994, it follows the path of a young woman named Mary, a freelance writer and party girl, as she grows up and learns to balance her work and life responsibilities with her passion for fashion, the arts and partying.
Although the film is a cult classic amongst the 1990’s NYC Club Kids and Librarians, it was my first time seeing it. And how refreshing it was to see Manhattan during its pre-gentrification days. I had forgotten how rugged Houston Street used to look and the changes that have happened in lower Manhattan. When living in a loft wasn't a luxury apartment, when the club kids ruled the nights in Manhattan (and parts of Brooklyn), and the outrageous outfits and shoes that were so popular during those years. I myself had a fashion flashback when Mary wears an outfit with these colorful print tights and clunky platform sneaker shoes, both of which were all the rage in school.
I remember that I was too young to be a part of this adult world, or was it that I wasn't cool enough to get access to those oh-so-hip clubs and parties that a privileged few underage kids could get into with the right money, connections and fake ID. I don't think I had any of the three, but I digress. I was at that age where time and culture would not change, only I would get older and access all the good stuff.
I guess I thought I would be a party girl when I wasn't working or studying hard and enjoy life in the big city. Needless to say, that this didn't happen. New York, like most cities, have changed (for the good and the bad) in the years since this film came out. Also, I've found that my interests have also changed since being a teenager---go figure---and I'm more of an artsy kid than a club kid.
Another aspect about this film was that the main character goes to work as a Library Clerk for the New York Public Library. Having worked as a Library Assistant, I thought the film really portrayed the work atmosphere and the type of people who work as Librarians very well.
For Mary, the transition from Party Girl to Library Clerk isn't an easy one. Having a lack of discipline and still partying all night before work, she has a lot to learn and makes a lot of mistakes. As a person, who spends so much time in the library, I found it bizarre that one wouldn't know the Dewey System, not necessarily verbatim, but to have some familiarity with it. And yet, Mary hadn't a clue. Eventually, she gets it and becomes quite good at her job. She realizes that she can't party her life away and decides to enroll in school to be a Librarian.
I loved the use of over-the-top slang, the random dancing and the cast of loony characters that really gave this film a glimpse of the rave scene and party culture of the 1990’s. I also appreciated the flashback to the old New York City, before this last real estate boom and bustling construction changed so much of the city. It was also a time before 9/11 and in my mind there is a feel and vibe pre-9/11 and post-9/11 here in the city, and this film really captures that.
It is now on my list of favorite films.