The East Village institution’s 44th annual gala celebrated its artists with a fantasia of performances and an unforgettable party

This past Friday, Performance Space New York staged its annual gala, celebrating 44 years of experimental programming, as well as honorees Bill T. Jones, Clarissa Dalrymple, and Catherine Gund.

After cocktails outdoors, along with a performance by Davon Rainey, attendees headed into PSNY’s fourth floor. Incense plumed in the black-box theater, which had been converted into a Divine Disco fantasia by creative director Richard Kennedy and team. Flowers courtesy of Gerardo Gonzales dangled like chandeliers, and performers, including Daphne Guinness and Rashonda Reeves, took to stages and non-stages alike. Awardees spoke from stripper-poled platforms. Lights fluxed in purple: Think Studio 54 regrown post-climate collapse or Dhalgren meets Diana Ross, topped off with an Indochine-catered dinner party that was properly a party, and which turned into a guest-list-free afterparty with sounds by Alima Lee, Tigga Calore, and Christian Tokyo going late late.

But don’t take our word for it. Document asked revelers: Why Performance Space?

Pati Hertling, PSNY senior director, lawyer: “A gala isn’t interesting if there’s not a diversity of people in the room. This isn’t just for the amazing donors and patrons who have bought tables, but also for the artists, whom we reserve as many seats as possible for. It’s important for us that the gala is in the space. It’s more like a dinner-as-performance, which you can enjoy together.”

DeSe Escobar, artist, DJ, Club Glam impresario: “I’m here because Pati has saved my life legally. Also because I love K8 [Hardy], and I think they are the most iconic couple. This is for family vibes. I needed to see those who summoned me over here. It feels really great to be with this New York.”

Alima Lee, DJ, artist, filmmaker: “I’m here at Performance Space, number one, because they’ve paid me to be here and they invited me, but also because I love Pati and I’m so happy that Taja is part of the team. I love performance art and dancing and supporting the arts. Period.

Reed Rushes, artist, performer: “Liveness matters to me because it’s hard to find these days, it’s a rarity. And there’s nothing that beats a transient moment—something that’s gone in an instant, there’s no record of it—but that we all felt the energies of everyone coming together.”

Gage Spex, artist, performer, Spectrum icon: “I really love the difference of each event that I come to here; the room is a multiverse of possibilities. It’s always so specific to each artist, and I love how dedicated Performance Space is to not censoring people and making sure that their visions are taken care of.”

Kate Williams, artist, performer: “I think that live performance gives you the opportunity to witness and be witnessed. It’s a way to feel that words can’t always express for us.”

Jack Waters, artist, filmmaker, performer: “I’m here because this is my community. This is my creative space. And I am here to support, in a big way, the honorees and the venue itself. Also for the fun—and for the free dinner.”

Performance Space New York gala collaborators included: Arewà Basit, Richard Kennedy, Erik Altemus, Josh Rouah, RaShonda Reeves, Fernando Casablancas, Reyna Pannell, Josh Rouah, Méliké Konur, Mati Hays, Žilvinas Jonušas, Noah Amick, Sean Bennett, Alima Lee, Lysis, C.Oneil Productions, Tigga Calore, Devanté Melton, Nina Carelli, Andrew McGovern, Fernando Casablancas, Isaiah Cook, Davon Rainey, Sarai Frazier, Joshua Rouah, Bettina Garofalo, Christian Tokyo, Gerardo Gonzales, Libby Willis, Leigh Gerber, and Indochine.