Maybe Stevie Nicks fans were onto something when they started Night of 1,000 Stevies 25 years ago in a small club in New York’s Meatpacking District. This year’s not even halfway over, and already we’ve seen countless tribute parties in the wake of the deaths of beloved icons. Why wait until someone is gone to celebrate their life? Why don’t we honor the people we love once a year, every year, while they’re still alive and kicking?
Every year, more than 1,000 people flood Irving Plaza to do just that: attend a six hour long party honoring and celebrating the life and music of Stevie Nicks. It’s campy. It’s strange. It’s fun. “It’s a Noah’s Arc of Stevie love,” co-creator Chi Chi Valenti told Rolling Stone last year.
That’s what it really is, above everything else: something that brings together people from all walks of life — middle-aged suburban moms, drag queens, Brooklyn hipsters, fans for more than 30 years, fans for only two or three — and from all over the country (one girl flew in from Florida) for one night because they all can find one common ground: a love of Stevie Nicks. The menagerie of people couldn’t be more different, and, yet, Stevie Nicks brings them together. Maybe she really is a witch, because that’s a pretty powerful thing to do.
“Thank you all for coming out to celebrate the queen of everything!” Valenti exclaimed midway through the night. Sure, it’s a great way to psych up a crowd who had already spent the better part of the evening “Yas queen”-ing, but if you think for a second, “queen of everything” isn’t really such a hyperbole. The original selfie queen? Check. Queen of rock and roll? Check. Aesthetic queen? Check. As Richard S. from Albany said, “she created a brand for herself before that was even a thing.”
Night of 1,000 Stevies is not for the faint of heart or the shy. It’s a karaoke party, drag show, and dance club all rolled into one, then put on steroids. The costumes on display are outrageous. All the hits are played, of course, but rest assured that this isn’t the type of audience you want to hit with “Edge of Seventeen” six times in one night. No, the crowd is loud as they enthusiastically shout out all the words to remixes of deep album cuts and demos.
It’s the kind of place where people are quick to tell you the connection they feel with Stevie Nicks, a favorite memory or favorite song, but have a more difficult time distilling why they love the singer in the first place into a simple sentence. “She’s just… totally unique,” many said.
“Her voice is the best female rock voice of all time, but lyrically — everything hits you in the heart,” Richard S. said. “But it’s abstract, so everyone can relate to it and can take what they want from it.”
His friend Ryan nodded and added: “She doesn’t play victim in her songs, which is kind of rare. Even when she’s heartbroken, she’s always kind of in charge. She’s not crying and complaining. She says ‘I miss that, that hurt me,’ but she moves on, and she’s damn strong.”
That’s something that brings a lot of people to Night of 1,000 Stevies in the first place. Despite being given an ever-increasing amount of access into celebrities’ lives, it’s becoming harder to find celebrities today who are so comfortable being vulnerable in front of millions of people. It’s harder to find celebrities who go through intensely testing trials and come out on the other side even stronger. It’s harder to find celebrities who have managed to stay relevant for more than 40 years without ever having to reinvent themselves.
Night of 1,000 Stevies isn’t just a celebration of music. It’s a celebration of what it means to be an artist, a celebration of what it means to be brave, a celebration of what it feels like to throw away inhibitions and be yourself, even if it’s just for a few hours.
When I considered going to the event for the first time last year, I felt a little embarrassed. It all seemed so over-the-top that I wondered how it would look if I went. Would all the people there in their detailed costumes think I was an amateur for just showing up in a black chiffon-y dress? Would all the people seeing my Instagrams think I was a crazy fangirl? I searched for reasons to justify it: “Well, what if Stevie makes a surprise appearance this year like she’s hinted at before?” “Oh, it’s just a fun way to drink and dance and listen to my favorite music.”
It’s okay to admit that you’re going to a party full of fans who are just as excited and full of love for something as you because you want to have that experience. You don’t need an excuse. Maybe we’re all so wrapped up in this idea that we are supposed to be jaded and blasé, this internal monologue repeatedly telling us don’t care too much; find your chill.
Here’s the thing: sometimes, it’s kind of cool to not be chill about something. It’s cool to care about things — really care about them. It’s cool to meet other people who care about the same things as you. And it’s pretty close to magical to be surrounded by 1,000 of them on a Friday night in New York, a city with more than 8 million strangers bustling through it every day. You don’t need an excuse for that. Go dance to the music you love. Go sing at the top of your lungs. Blame it on your wild heart.