1. Glenn says

    Wow… I didn’t make it out this year, and this is quite a shock. So many good times spent in that old building — or, at least, so I’m told. I don’t actually remember most of them 😉

  2. 24play says

    Knowing how construction time relates to any construction schedule out there, I hope anyone with a share next summer has a lot of knitting and decoupaging that they want to get done.

  3. 24play says

    Two reasons:

    1) The place was a shithole. (Warm memories notwithstanding.)

    2) The new owners apparently don’t subscribe to longtime owner John Whyte’s philosophy of, “It’s the only game in town, so fuck ’em if they think it’s a dump. They’re still gonna show up and I’m still gonna get paid.”

  4. Tammy Whynot says

    Wow, yes, quite a shocker. I worked out at the Blue Whale 12 years ago and went to the Pavillion almost every night for the obligatory after-shift cocktail.

    Good riddance, I say – that place was such a dump. I wonder if the Ms. Whyte is still with us; she was a piece of work. But, it was kind of cool to have the old guard of John, Patsy (the manager at the ratty Botel, which I hope is next in the demolition queu) Desmond (the chef at the BW) and Dick (the crotchety old bartender), recounting their glory days of NYC and Fire Island in the 60’s and 70’s. There’s a movie to be made based on those four.

    Anyone, looking forward to seeing what’s next. Too bad about the chain stores.

  5. Johnny says

    wow….a complete shock, but overdue for the renovation……I just remember my first encounter in the bathroom there back in ’82, then in ’83, ’84, ’85….etc 😉

  6. 24play says

    Yes, John Whyte went off to that big casting call in the sky within a few months of the sale.

    I hope heaven has chandeliers, or he’s not gonna find it glamorous enough.

  7. says

    the final phase of the new Pines harbor revamp. And long overdue. It’s easy to get attached to things out there, everything tends to get wrapped in that magic Pines glow, but the harbor was in disrepair and outdated long ago. I’m anxious to see what they do with the area, I already like the cosmetic changes they have made to the front part of the harbor.

  8. Bill says

    That place deserved to be torn down after all the shitty music which was played there this summer (especially the night Junior was there. That guy has REALLY lost it.)

  9. mcquaidla says

    Fond memories notwithstanding, the entire structure was a mess twenty years ago and has only gotten worse with time. The ventilation was lousy, the bathrooms were way underequipped, the lighting was awful, the layout was choppy, and the structure itself was charm-free. The Sandpiper, from what I understand, was at least cute, the Pavilion was as un-cute as you could get. They’d be hard pressed to come up with something worse in its place.

  10. Tom from L.A. says

    This place sucked from the day it opened (in 1980 I believe). We used to call it “the box the (then new) big ferry came in.” Everybody missed the Sandpiper. Hopefully the new place won’t be a haven for Day Trippers.

  11. Brad says

    I’m surprised it didn’t burn down long ago (but for the condensation that collected on the walls thanks to the poor venitlation). I remember being charged $50 to just walk in the door on a normal Saturday night once. The best thing about it (apart from the creepy chandelier) was the regular supply of G-overdoses it produced that would require an airlift. I’d always giggle in bed when I’d hear the chopper coming.

  12. Tony says

    I’ll never forget the downfall of DJ Michael Fearman.

    After years of being considered the Godfather of the Pavilion DJ’s, he was so high on K one evening that his set was impossible to listen to. Jumpy, edgy and down-right wrong.

    The crowd became so angry (it was fucking with our drugs) that everyone stopped dancing at the same time and litterally threw there water bottles at the DJ booth. The lights went up and the club was closed down for the rest of the evening (1:30am).

    People who were there still talk about it.

  13. Steven says

    I remember standing on the upper deck of the pavillion in the middle of the night with my boyfriend looking out over the moon lit harbor. We had just come up for some much needed air.

    I was feeling a bit insecure about myself, given the sheer beauty in that hall below. My boyfriend took me in his arms, looked me in the eyes and said, “out of everyone in this world, I chose you.” It’s ranks as one of the very best memories I will ever know.

    Even that last scene in Now, Voyager can’t trump that!

  14. RANDY SEXTON says

    I was a bartender at that wonderful place when it become the pavilon. Boy do i have some stories. The COUNT CHARLES was the owner. I though i was the only still living .

  15. Paul says

    They actually NEEDED to tear it down before it collapsed. As was noted in the text, the building was originally the sandpiper, and like so many other buildings (and stories) out there, it just kept getting added onto and expanded over the years. The original structure was badly rotted -remember, harsh winters, hot, humid summers, coastal location, etc.- and everything else was built onto and over that structure. Hopefully whatever replaces it will be nice, though they will be changing the layout and traffic flow somewhat. And I wouldn’t mind an American Apparel over the scholck they currently sell there 😉

  16. FCBIV says

    Guys, trust me… it was time. I am acquainted with the owners, and they’re interested in making the Pines a better place. The structure was a hazard, and it’s time for some new places/faces in the Pines, which is now in a renewal from the pretty poison days of the late 80’s and most of the 90’s. By the way, nearly all the rentals are already gone for Summer 2007. That speaks volumes itself. A NYC Gay Summer is all about the Pines…

  17. ROBBYF says

    Well, an era is over. I have good and bad memories of the Pavillion, one of which I met my lover there and we have been together since. A lot of fun was had there. The Island has changed a great deal especially in these past three years. It seems calmer except for the Jack Russells who were traded in for KIDS! Yikes!

  18. Teddy says

    The years I spent spinning fans there will long be remembered starting 1973-1989. The DJ’s of yesteryear spun great music. I loved the Sandpiper on Friday nights. Richie Riveria, Robbie and Howard Merrit spinning brings it all back so clearly. When the 80’s came I remember thinking that now I was at “The Mall in the Pines”. I never liked that room but I adjusted simply by looking at all the incrediable sexy men that danced before me. I returned back to the Pines for the first time 15 years in 2005. The Pavillion had turned into a first class dump! No great DJ’s, they called us dinosaurs, the music played last summer was horrid! The owners looked for a newer crowd . A crowd with no taste or style that we had in the 70’s or early 80’s. What next…..Time to head back to The Ice Palace. Bring on the Warrens, Robbies and time honored DJ’s and someone just mihht become rich! Se La Vie to the current trash that was. They should make a parking lot out of it!

  19. Evan says

    In the midst of demolition, the Pavilion looks better than it has in years! I’ll never forget John Whyte ripping out the water fountain (not when you could pay $5 a bottle instead), but leaving the exposed pipe as a final insult to everyone.
    And the dancefloor that sloped to the corner so that you kept thinking you were dancing on the decks of the Titanic.
    Still…and yet…how many of us experienced the best night ever on that floor, time and time again? I met my boyfriend there so I’m not complaining. Pavilion – dump that you were – may you RIP. Thanks for the memories.

  20. Kenneth says

    I lived , worked, and owned property on FIP for several years (i’m only forty not quite a relic of the past). The pavillion was a sort of shit hole, but it was our shit hole and a place where a lot of gay men from all over the world partied, played and socialized. John Whyte’s “vision” was i’m sure two fold, in that keeping it the way it was did’nt cost him a thing and keeping it rustic kept the masses from taking it away from us. It is time for change in the Pines, could’nt help but happen. But along with change comes change. It will never be the same, don’t even expect it to be.
    Making somthing cleaner and prettier doesn’t make it better, it just makes it different.

  21. Lloyd G. says

    Well, here I am 2 years away from my 50th b-day. Went to the Pines for the first time in 77. $12.50 per night on harbor walk in an illegal rooms for rent situation. The Sandpiper was hot. They would move the tables from dinner and start the disco music. Do you know what the word FABULOUS means? Back then it was really all about your personality and your outfit. There were bodies, but that was just a bonus not a requirement. Saturday was the Ice Palace. The Meat Rack was jumping ( I used to go get a hot one and bring him back to my room). GQ magazine was all the rage. Then it was back to Manhattan for the nights at Studio 54, Xenon, The Anvil and the like. Oh yeah, paradise Garage too. Uncle Charlie’s… The list could go on forever. Those were fun days. The 80’s and 90’s were poison on Fire Island. Sorry, I didn’t find the same magic either. Anyway, the Pavilion was hot, stuffy, cramped, but it’s really all about the people, right? RIGHT??? Thought so.
    Pavilion, RIP. L

  22. Michael says

    Flamingo – gone! Twelve West – gone! Studio 54 – gone! Paradise Garage – gone! The Anvil – gone to concrete hotel! The Saint – an NYU dorm! And now The Pavilion – gone to….?

    It was a shit-hole but it was OUR shit-hole, OUR magic shack on the beach. And most of us had more fun there than we had ever known (I know I did).

  23. beenthere says

    Well at least those hideous posters gracing the exterior Pavilion for the last two summers have been taken down! Cheap and Tacky … which seems to be the audience that the new owners are seeking to attract to the Pines. Yet another example of the mainstreaming … cheapening of gay culture.
    More is not always better.

  24. says

    This breaks my heart- This is my 1st hearing of it being torn down-!
    I remember performing at the Pavilion many times in my life- -Most fond is the memory of July 4th weekend of 1987 when I had the #1 smash hit “SOONER OR LATER(LOVE IS GONNA GET YA!)”, I was brought out by Bob Howard who brought myself and all my back-up dancers out to perform a full concert-(and treated us like kings!) it was AWESOME!- the concert was so great-performing to that wonderful packed crowd that wre screaming and giving me love- and I was giving it right back to them- it was like a “LOVE FEST!”
    A moment I will always remember as well as the many records of mine that were debuted at the Pavilion that went on to become #1 smash hits.
    The Dj’s were always great Robbie Leslie, Michael Fireman, Warren Gluck and many more were always ready to try out one of my new songs.
    I will chrish these memories- and hope that whatever goes up in it’s place -will be a venue that I will be able to perform again for all that wonderful people who come to the Pines for that special magic.
    This is a sad moment indeed.
    Ernest Kohl

  25. TN says

    I’m glad that the place is finally getting revamped. i’ve only been going there for the last 6 years and my partner is a property owner there. We loved the Pavilion until the last two years those Super Tacky posters and announcements started popping up on side of it.
    I hope that the new owners remember that the reason people go out to Fire Island is to get away from the city. We don’t need Splash, Starbucks OR Whole Foods out there. If we want that, we’ll stay in the city.
    It’s a BEACH GETAWAY not a commercial resort. Please don’t let it become P-Town.

  26. Tim says

    We all have our own memories of that great building, and for that we can be grateful.

    I agree with an earlier comment that it’s all about the people. Buildings and stores come and go in Manhattan (or anywhere else for that matter). Facades change. But no matter what decade or generation we are a part of, the Pavilion (Sandpiper, etc.) was a special facade in our lives. It was then, and it will be for years to come, no matter what the future facade.

  27. says

    We are moved by the passing of an era that this demolition represents, yet looking forward to what the future may bring. Our fondest memories of the Pavilion are of the hot Fire Island Men that congregated there. We hope the new space will be more comfortable, attract and host many more beautiful men for generations to come. Already counting the days till the 2007 Summer on our FireIslandMen Calendar…

  28. Ron L. says

    I’ve never been to the Pines-never! In the 1980s, I didn’t even know Fire Island existed. I was too busy being tortured in high school and being forced to take gym! In the 1990s, I had no gay friends! I say all that to say this: I really enjoyed reading all the comments about the Pines. All of your remembrances gave me a sense of what it must have been like.

  29. says

    For me, the Pavilion was an amazing place to perform… probably one of the best in the world. Nowhere else would a DJ find such a sensitive and discriminating audience. Even more than the large NYC venues, the chemistry between DJ and dancer was close and intimate. And, oh, how the crowd appreciated a really good music set. The energy level on good nights was amazing!
    Yes, the room was unattractive, hot, and cramped, but the camaraderie, the feeling of
    family, and the love of the dance was universal.
    I never worked there in its years of decline, but at its peak it was the most marvelous dance palace in the world! From my first year at the Sandpiper in 1975 until today, my fondest memories have been born in
    The Pines and Cherry Grove.
    Robbie Leslie

  30. says

    PS: Though arguably a more attractive structure should have replaced the Sandpiper, the need for sound containment was the principle motive for the windowless “hotbox” that was built. In the Sandpiper’s last years, we were beset with legal complaints and injunctions from our neighbours, especially the Co-ops, over the noise issue. Sadly, in the end, we could not open our floor-to-ceiling glass doors that fronted the harbour. But, that view from the Sandpiper dancefloor out to the dock and water was delicious and what I missed the most in the Pavilion design.
    Robbie Leslie

  31. Mickeal B. says

    Yes the Pavillion was old and run down, but it deserved better than the death that it was dealt.
    Some of my fondest memories dancing and partying with friends and lovers took place in that cherished space. Many of those friends are no longer with us, and I know that too many of us share that same sentiment. To tear it down without giving anyone a chance to put closure to such an important part of their lives is heartless and cruel. This shows just what the owner thinks of the community he purchased land in.
    The Pavillion was not just a building it was a part of our culture and the center of the FIP’s community. The new owners are mistaken if they think they can come in buy up half the town and use the words FIRE ISLAND PINES on all their advertisements, vehicles and buildings as if they now own the whole island. The Pines is not a strip of land that can be bought, it is a community and they are not part of it. Not yet anyway.

  32. Joe C. says

    Although I haven’t been out to the Island for a few years, It is sad to see another part of our history distroyed. I remember them moving the tables to clear room for the Dance floor in the Sandpiper. The ceiling was so low, you could change a light bulb while dancing. ( remember Michael Jorba, Alan Dodd, Sharon White ?)

  33. Jon says

    I remember Memorial Day 1987 when Bob Howard was managing the Pavilion. He threw open the doors at 8PM and a new era was ushered in as HIGH TEA was born. It was an exciting night that lasted for two wonderful years!

  34. says

    Dear Ernest & Jon,
    Thanks for the memory. Those were really great years, when it was all new! I am organizing my thoughts a bit before I blog in with my take on the history of Fire Island Pines, the Sandpiper, the Pines Pavilion and Other Disco Chronicles: Past, Present & Future.

  35. Schuyler Bentley says

    “The Pavilion is really the architectural and social anchor of Fire Island Pines.” This is a joke right? That has to be the most over-sentimental load of crap I think I’ve ever read. The Pavilion has essentially been demolished and the Pines are not floating away. Some “anchor” indeed.

    I would like to think that the Pines will do just fine without that urine and sweat-soaked, dingy drug den; truly an architectural abomination.

    For those community members that are inexplicably terrified of the necessity of commerce, perhaps you should relocate to Water Island or the Sunken Forest. I cannot fathom wasting any more of my time on this nostalgic BS. Grow. Evolve. Change. If you cannot handle that, then take your precious memories of binge drinking, casual sex, and drug abuse with you. Have fun in the Grove.

    For some real information,

  36. says

    I believe the key words above are “necessity of commerce” and it’s a sad fact that the Pavilion was not making the kind of money it once did. The Pines will indeed do fine without this venerated edifice, but it is wrong to downplay it’s cultural and sentimental significance for several generations.
    I have no doubt that “binge drinking, casual sex, and drug abuse” will continue to thrive in The Pines, thank you very much…
    Robbie Leslie

  37. djFrankieFox says

    As we all know, in life the only constant is change. While some will embrace it, others will abhor it. Personally, I look forward to seeing something new & modern with intelligent lighting on the dance floor and fiber optic architectural lighting. It will be great to have something that will warrant a $25+ cover charge. And maybe if I’m a good boy “The Pines Gods” will smile upon this DJ and allow me a spot so that I can help the current crop of shirtless hotties make new memories! ;~]

  38. Teddy says

    Thank you Robbie for that comment. Do the owners pay these bitter queens to comment? They should only know that our generation and many before us made that community a world-class resort. The FIPA people can thank all those “members” for pumping millions of dollars into their community. It’s these “members” who pay these homeowners crazy rents every summer for their run down shacks that need repairs. Having been around the world 6 times I cannot tell you how many times I have been approached in foreign countries when I was wearing a Pines Fire Island T shirt. People from Pauket to Perth to Rio have stopped me to say that one day they hoped to make it to the Pines. The history is legendary to say the least. Perhaps this old bitter Queen is on too many meds. Maybe Bentley needs to evolve under a rock, preferably the new one they are building on the current Pavillon sight! The key sentence here is: “camaraderie, the feeling of
    family, and the love of the dance was universal.” We can only look to the sky and hope all our angels are winking with us! Bentley have you tried a prozac drip lately! Sounds like you are drug binged!

  39. Josh says

    A wonderful place that will be missed. I do have faith in the new ownership, and know that they have the best interests in mind for the betterment of the community. They did save this community from going into the hands of commercial hungry straight businessmen. As mean and nasty as John could sometimes be, he did care for the community and did everything in his power to find the right people to take his place in the Pines. Good Luck Eric! I cant wait to see what else you have in store for my community.

  40. jheese says

    I will always remember my first time at the Pavilion. I was 26 & it was a hot Aug night. Being new to the whole scene I went to the pavilion at 10pm, I think there wer 3 of us there. A familiar song came on but could not identify the singer. Until one of the three queens ran up to me to say this is LIZA, singing “loosing my mind” from company. We danced with such excitment (the other guy stood by the bar shaking his head, but we didn’t care). This is when they use to open the doors up top and between the humidity & the excitment of being in a new place where I could be myself. I felt like I came home.

    RIP Pavilion

  41. KI says

    I second the motion. Posted by: Evan | Sep 29, 2006 10:02:36 PM – What exactly are the new owners hiding by not making any real information about what the replacement will be public? Even the care center has two rendering posted in front of the site? their blog site seems to be an even further diversionary tactic?

  42. says

    Your taking about construction on a beach island, where “everything” needs to be imported or towed over by a Ferry. The Hurricane of 1938 destroyed many of the buildings but they continued to rebuild. Some of the first buildings in Cherry Grove where actually built from the rubble of the 1938 hurricane. In 1940 The Home Guardian Company of NY, that was the beginning of Fire Island. It was supposed to take 5 years to develop but was completed in 3. Peggy Fears built the Botel in late 50s. A Boozy middle age show girl from Broadway, she was a lesbian and her girl friend was a weather girl on the Tonight show. In 1959 a fire destroyed the entire building. Nothing left. Because of the fire the new one built by the Reynolds Aluminum company offered to rebuild it all in Glass, Brick and Aluminum. Cinder Block only, no wonder it was a box and ugly. In March of 1962 again total destruction. But . . . Yes rebuilt again, (Tells you something about the place don’t you think) Peggy sold it to John Whyte in 1964 (Father of T-Dance) A model as stated earlier, quite a character. The party grew and grew and climaxed at the Beaches Party 1979. Then Aids, and the painful fall from grace. Now many of you on here pass judgment, yes it was not the Ritz but it was a Gay Meca and the heart of our liberation and freedom. Cut it some slack. There are reasons it was cheesy. Almost all the construction on the island is not so great unless your Calvin Klein. Keep it in prospective boys.

  43. PeggyFears says

    Young Cratchits Canned by Fire Island Scrooge?

    Is a commercial-property baron in the Fire Island Pines micromanaging his cute young staffers’ personal lives like an old-school MGM matron? A few years ago, gay fortysomething developer Eric von Kuersteiner bought, for a rumored $7 million, most of the cedar-shingled business strip that abuts the Pines’ ferry landing. Each summer, he hires a slew of twentysomething male hotties, many of them out-of-towners, to bartend and wait tables (often shirtless) at his establishments, most notably the Pavilion, a late-night disco. But several longtime Pines-goers and former staffers say that he forbids the boys from entering a neighboring rival club, Sip ‘n’ Twirl, off hours. They also allege that Von Kuersteiner discourages them from dating patrons, fires them capriciously, and kicks them out of his housing — and off the island.
    “You have to obey all these crazy rules because if you’re fired, you don’t have an apartment or job,” says Brad Hammer, 29, who alleges that Von Kuersteiner made him do an hour’s hard cleaning right before handing him a pink slip two summers ago. (Hammer, then an Angeleno, and his dog had to shack up with a Manhattan friend.) Blake Peyrot, 24, says that when he returned to Fire Island last summer to work at Sip ‘n’ Twirl after being fired by Von Kuersteiner the previous year, “I was told to leave his property right away.” A spokesman for Von Kuersteiner denied that staffers are banned from visiting other clubs, just that they “prefer to support the establishments that they … work at.” Still, the reputed ban is a hot topic in the hothouse atmosphere of the Pines, says Gil Neary, a Manhattan Realtor and Pines homeowner, who can see the reasoning behind it. “If you go out of your way to hire people to make your bar sexy,” he says, “you don’t want them bombed at the neighbor’s bar. They can go to Cherry Grove” — the Pines’ nearby, scruffier gay cousin — “instead and do whatever they want.” —Tim Murphy

  44. Jim says

    I highly doubt that it was the “glamorous” architecture of The Pavilion that made us all love it so much. It was what the place represented to us, along with the beautiful camaraderie we all shared out there, the gorgeous music, and the IRREPLACEABLY FANTASTIC crowd we all danced shoulder to shoulder with. These were people who could have partied anywhere in the world they chose…

    So why is it, do you think, that they chose to party with us in the Pines Pavilion???

    Look around you on the dance floor boys…do you see famous models, actors, designers, TRUE DIVA’s, etc. dancing shoulder to shoulder with you? I’ve been out there since the decline in the late 80’s. Trust me boys, what you have today doesn’t doesn’t even begin to come close to what we experienced back then…

    Bad architecture not-withstanding!

  45. Joey Heatheron says

    Hey Dolls….
    Look at it this way……were old now too. Time to move aside and let the young have thier party now.

    A metaphor for those who danced and lived it……..out with the old and on to the new, Whatever the hell it may or may not be.

    Just PLEASE make the music sexual and hot……….

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