It doesn’t take a New York Times reporter to see that the Rainbow Room isn’t what it once was. But to capture the very point at which its decay ends and its power persists requires a special art. For writer Susan Dominus, the Cipriani-owned dance palace is physically cheesy (“The chairs that under previous management were upholstered in leather have been replaced by spindly ones that suggest a suburban country club, and a hand resting on any given table would easily notice the wooden surface below, unshielded by the felt that often adds a bit of invisible luxury to high-end restaurants”) and filled with bow-tied bridge-and-tunnel types, rather than the former beau monde royalty. But somehow the Rainbow Room still has something. “Soon enough, the music segued into ‘New York, New York’ that great manifestation of, and tribute to, the city’s affection for unabashed schmaltz, an anthem as obvious and beloved as the Rainbow Room itself,” Dominus writes about a typical night. A young man proposes. An old couple cuts a rug. Somewhere, the Cipriani bank account begins to replenish itself. It’s a New York moment.
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