When Cher rolled up to the Marquee club in Manhattan in a stretch limo at 1:48 this morning, a throng of costumed fans were ready: From the sidewalk, iPhones captured the singer's entrance to the Chelsea nightspot, many having waited since late yesterday afternoon, dressed in drag and chain-smoking behind elaborate masks and makeup. Cab drivers who stopped to crane their necks were ordered to keep moving.
A day after the Supreme Court dumped the federal Defense of Marriage Act and declined to reinstate a ban on same-sex marriage in California, Cher flew to New York to tease this weekend's Pride performance, but not by singing – she didn't utter a note. Instead, the LGBT ally was a spectator at the Chelsea venue, which thumped and pulsated with a horde of Cher lookalikes dancing to a medley of her hits, including "Believe," "I Got You Babe" and her version of U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." She watched from Marquee's upper level, swaying and clapping and singing along. She wore a gold sequined top and a crown that sparkled through the venue's purple lighting and smoke-machine haze.
An hour after she arrived, Cher descended the stairs to thank her several hundred supporters from the stage. "I've had ups and downs in my career, and you guys have never left me," she told the crowd, which exploded with applause. "You guys have always been there."
Her words seemed to indirectly underscore LGBT resilience in the face of increased homophobic-driven violence in New York, where the police commissioner last month called the murder of a gay man in the West Village a hate crime. Such targeted attacks have doubled since this time last year.
After speaking for less than two minutes, her new dance single, "Woman's World," throbbed from the loudspeakers. Cher's first album in more than a decade will follow later this year.
As the song played, she pushed through the front door and a bouncer blocked it, refusing to let anyone else exit for several minutes. It was one minute before 3 a.m. Outside, after halting traffic on 10th Avenue, the limo carrying the singer sped uptown. Cher's NYC Pride performance Sunday at the Dance on the Pier benefit coincides with the two-year anniversary of New York's legalization of same-sex marriage.
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This article originally appeared on Rolling Stone: Cher Charms in New York With Early Stop During Pride Week