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It’s a Celebration: Madonna Fans Unite for NYC Boat Party

If you happened to be anywhere walking along the East side of Manhattan on Wednesday night (June 28), you might’ve seen and/or heard the joyous sight of several dozen Madonna fans dancing and singing to the sound of the Queen of Pop’s prolific catalogue aboard a boat heading down the East River.

No, that wasn’t a post-Pride weekend illusion: it’s a celebration.

Fandom makes the people come together, whether fervently voting in polls or trending hashtags on Twitter, but Madonna fans in particular have been bringing their passion to real life in the form of monthly dance parties in New York City for nearly twenty years now thanks to Madonnathon NYC, orchestrated by Jeannie Buxo — or DJ JENE, as she’s also known by the party’s frequently returning attendees.

“MadonnathonNYC started back in 1999, when a friend of mine suggested that I organize a Madonna party in a nightclub,” she explains to PopCrush.

“We would have Madonna parties at my friend’s house, and it just felt like it was something that was missing in NYC nightlife. Back then, we would attend a Madonna party at a night club, but it would be very small, and we would have to wait all night for the DJ to play only one or two of her songs. So I decided to take matters into my own hands, with no experience as a party promoter in the nightlife world. I just started to reach out to different night clubs in Manhattan and sell my pitch. I found one promoter at Kurfew who gave me my start. I collaborated with them at The Tunnel. It was our first Madonna party for the release of ‘Beautiful Stranger’ in the summer of 1999.”

Evidently, the demand was strong enough to throw more parties. Many more. And at this point, the functions aren’t even restricted to land.

“We reached a point where we drew interest from sponsors and promoters alike, and Madonna’s own label. It feels very rewarding. We have accomplished something very special,” Buxo says.

Along with the pulsating beats and flashing lights on the boat’s (literally) rocking dance floor, Confessions style, the 3-hour spin on the high seas on Wednesday night was filled with giveaways of rarities, including massive GAP in-store promotional posters and Madge-esque Skull Riders sunglasses, free Arctic Zero ice cream, a bar and a buffet inside the two-level ship.

The already well-acquainted attendees, dressed in custom ensembles and their tour merch best, got lost in the momentary midweek liberation among fellow rapturous fans. (The gorgeous views of the city, including a close-up with the Statue of Liberty for the perfect #unapologeticselfie, also didn’t hurt.)

For diehard Madonna followers, the need for a monthly party seems somewhat self-explanatory. But for the less well-versed in Madge’s music, DJ JENE says it’s about the vibe.

“Her music is accessible and positive and uplifting. I think that’s the main reason why fans always come out for our events. Just like Madonna says in her lyrics: ‘life is just a party, that’s all you need to know.’

“We all need a break from the stresses of life,” she adds, “to be with friends who love the Queen of Music and a chance to hit the dance floor. It’s an amazing feeling.”

In true M fashion, the party went on and on and on: after returning to land, the crew carried over to the afterparty at Rockbar, the usual venue for the monthly Madonnathons, to trip the light fantastic into the early morning.

“I have always felt strongly that people make the party, and if you deliver on your promise, your audience will bring positive energy and will keep coming back for more and more,” pledges Buxo.

No doubt the Queen herself would be pleased, and perhaps not all that shocked, to know that she’s inspired such a loyal following after all these years.

For the uninitiated looking to get into the groove, the parties keep on coming: the next monthly Madonnathon happens at Rockbar on July 14, with another boat party planning to set sail on July 19.

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