At the recent expansion-warming party for the Garage, everybody was partying very much like it was 1999. Adding a grazillion more square feet to the already mammoth Capitol Hill pool hall/bowling alley/etc.—an entire two-story wing, with two more bars, four more pool tables, six more lanes of bowling, and room for many, many people to eat whilst looking out onto the fresh lanes—is a very 1999 idea, or at least an idea that probably seemed fantastic six months ago. The new north wing used to be a parking lot. Now, a PR person explained, the Garage can host your private party ranging from 15 to 1,200 people. You can park your time machine wherever.
No, no—the economy is not as bad as all that (yet). Right next door to the PR event, in fact, in what's now the Garage's midsection, a large and lively private party was also in full swing. The acronym taped to the door sounded like a radio station, but proved to be that of one of the largest "professional services firms" in the world (which sounds like hookers but isn't). At 6:56 p.m., two young urban professionals of the male persuasion emerged from the acronymed party and had a hostile exchange with another man, followed by brief yelling, followed by one of the acronymed partygoers vomiting copiously in the Garage's courtyard. For the record: No real professional vomits before 7:00 p.m., even if there's an open bar. Points, however, for going back in, presumably to drink more.
Inside the expansion-warming party, warmers galore enjoyed free beer and wine from the new Star Bar, decorated with a green star that is like a braille asterisk for a blind giant. Nearby a fish tank houses exclusively red and orange starfish (unless the red and orange ones ethnic-cleansed the others prior to the event). The liquor shelves have millions of tiny mirror-squares adhered to them, which PR said one of the owners had mosaicked by hand. This owner, Jill Young-Rosenast, is also responsible for much of the Garage expansion's art, which is fantastic: in the Star Bar, small Plexiglas cases with what look like outfits for Goth Princess Barbie (the best is off-white with what appears to be a blood stain); in the dining area, shadow boxes full of worn porcelain dolls that have been dismembered, so that one is an arrangement of torsos, one of all arms, one of heads, and so forth; at the bottom of the stairs, a penetrating grouping of glass doll eyeballs. It's all foreboding and elegant, and makes you want to meet this Jill person.
Upstairs, in the new Echo Room, everyone admired (a) four large glowing globe light fixtures with packing peanuts affixed all over them to beautiful effect and (b) an enormous photographic mural of tired-looking elephants on the march. The free drinks, scheduled to end at 8:00 p.m., never stopped.