By DEAN DECKER
It won’t be easy to forget Louie Cruz. Last Friday was a sad day for the nightowls and party people of Manila when news spread that he had passed away.
He was an icon for those of us who came of age at any point in the last three decades of the last century, whether it was in the ’80s or the ’90s or the early part of the 2000s, in those decadent decades in which it was something else to be young and partying. At the turn of the millennium, he moved to Boracay and brought the parties there.
Parties organized by Louie were the best. One of them, as far as I can remember, was The Black Cat Party at the Manila Hotel Ballroom on a Friday the 13th, in which we call came in black. There was good music, good food, and even better drinks, and people dressed to the nines dancing ‘til they dropped. Bubum Melgar made my black outfit for the event. It was a black jacket over a long-sleeved gray shirt and black pleated pants. The ballroom was decorated with a black cat as the highlight.
Another one was the party at the Film Palace for Valentine’s Day. The girls wore red while guys wore white with a touch of red. It was the late Gerry Katigbak who made my white suit for this party. I wore it with a red scarf and a pair of maroon shoes. The place looked like we were in Greece,communing with the gods and goddesses.
Equally unforgettable was the Halloween party Louie put together at the Hyatt (now Midas), to which we wore the most costume-y getups you could think of. The lobby was so full and Lito Gruet, a fashion model, won the best costume as a tree. If I remember it right the prize was a plane ticket to US or Hong Kong, some cash or gift certificates.
All these parties happened while I was still in schooland Louie threw them around at hotels, whichever fit his mood or his concept. There was hardly anything commercial at his parties. No billboards full of logos or posters advertising drinks or tent cards on the cocktail tables. Louie was just a party boy who wanted everybody else to have a good time.
In the next decade, Louie made his mark at Giraffe, which became the hangout for much of the ‘90s. Giraffe first opened as a fine dining spot at 6750, but after a consultation with a feng shui guru, who claimed that the place was better off throbbing with energy, it reopened as a club and changed what it was like to go out on the town in Manila. It was packed from the night it opened, with celebrities, models, partyphiles, expats, and more.
Louie Cruz was an icon for those of us who came of age at any point in the last three decades of the last century, in those decadent decades of the ’80s, and ’90s, in which it was something else to be young and partying. At the turn of the millennium, he moved to Boracay and brought the parties there.
With a big smile and a Fundador Coke in one hand, Louie would always welcome us in his signature one-sided off-shoulder top (of which he had a collection in every color). He would find time to sit with us, cracking green jokes, especially on Wednesdays, our favorite day at Giraffe. Together with Maurice Arcache, Fritz Weber, Alta Tan, and Raffy Romillo, his was a great team, not to forget our favorite waiter,Mike.
One thing I loved about Giraffe besides the salmon pizza and duck mami was the music. A mixture of techno and retro ’80s provided by Venga of Chito Melo. Drinks were cheaper if you ordered a bottle, so usually we kept a Johnnie Walker Black for me and an Absolut Currant for my friend, Bibeth. No need to finish the bottle, because they would keep it for you ‘til your next visit.
We were regulars but I was still touched when Louie surprised us one time. A group of servers approached us singing a birthday song and then gave us a complimentary bottle. The server told us it was from Louie. We didn’t tell anyone it was our birthday so I was touched he remembered. Bibeth and I have birthdays just a few days apart.
Louie became a friend and at times, when we came to visit him at his place, he would serve us excellent food.
He was the consummate host, whether at home or in the club. He will live on in Manila’s night scene. He will always be a part of happy memories in Manila’s nightlife.