Hot City: New Yorkers celebrate a special summer in the city


In mid-June, a photo appeared on Instagram of New York City Mayor Maya Wiley’s hope with MP Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, unmasked, embracing members of rock group The Strokes in front of hundreds of screaming fans. They were in Irving Plaza for their first full-capacity concert in New York in more than a year. Everywhere that followed that night, the New Yorkers were adamant, “New York is back!”

The city, of course, is not completely “back” the way we remember it. Hotels are employed only at 50%, according to analyst STR. Broadway is still almost entirely closed, and likely to be until September, while white-collar office workers move to Midtown sporadically to the maximum.

But the culture? The culture springs to the seams. On June 15, Governor Andrew Cuomo lift up practically all restrictions on the state. When the country reopens, New Yorkers are finally more free to partake, taking the trips we’ve dreamed of in quarantine: the Grand Canyon, Miami, Puerto Rico. But, strangely, many young New Yorkers have instead chosen to stay and take up arms when they wake up in their hometown. This summer, New York is a playground for New Yorkers.

“New York will never be like this again,” a friend tells me to drink, pulling out her phone so she can share a Google calendar. The goal is to protect as much time in town as possible this summer. “Every weekend we leave,” she says, a little stressed, “it’s a weekend we lack magic!”

Relax in Little Island Park on July 4 © Ahmed Gaber

Sunset takes place on Little Island

Sunset takes place on Little Island © Ahmed Gaber

And the magic is: one Sunday afternoon I’m crammed into hundreds of strangers in Dance! new York, dancing to Justin Strauss, a 40-year-old performer on the New York DJ scene. One afternoon of the week I pass by the Whitney museum, almost entirely free of tourists, and stay in empty rooms with Dawoud BeyPortraits of black America and Julie mehretuImmense abstract maps that consume everything. A guard smiles, sitting on a stool. – It’s beautiful, isn’t it? he says. “The museum has reopened like everything else, but it sure is still quiet.”

On Little Island, a whimsical new park that floats atop the Hudson River on 14th Street, they are one of more than 400,000 people to visit since it opened in May. The park cost $ 260 million to build and costs $ 0 per visit. Families go through the trails, speaking languages ​​I can’t place. We’re all halfway through a photo shoot, capturing not only the view but ourselves and others, New York is now a sexy Instagram background for our re-emergence.

On Saturday from 4pm to midnight, the crowd gathers at Queens night market in Flushing’s Corona Park, where independent vendors sell food and art in New York’s most famous cultural melting pot. Visitors gather together, jumping into old-school funk while tasting other Tibetan dumplings, jhalmuri wrapped in Bengali, Portuguese newspaper cream tarts and Malay so that toast. Sellers bring in twice as much as their intended product and sell it.

Family badminton at Prospect Park, July 4th
Family badminton at Prospect Park, July 4 © Ahmed Gaber

In the Meatpacking District, an all-out, immersive production off Broadway is emerging called Seven deadly sins: seven 10-minute games, each based on a sin – pride, greed, envy and so on – each exhibited in different seven-window showcases.

We listened with headphones, beeps and the sirens of the city filtering. We laugh, scream and wipe away the tears. The quality of the pieces varies, but does it matter? It’s live theater on an imaginative stage, and we’re side by side with other New Yorkers, tourists in our city.

The re-emergence of New York is a mouth-watering game of cat and mouse. Where do you dance? What is open until 4 p.m. What’s back? Which roads are closed, and when?

On weekends, Vanderbilt Avenue in Brooklyn it is closed to vehicles. Their neighborhood association raised funds to continue the city’s Open Streets program last year, so restaurants can spread out and musicians can perform. On the Lower East Side, the bars rise. A neighborhood once lost to white preppy 20-somethings is now rich with people of all ages and races, huddled against each other, strangely less gentrified.

And strangers, they talk now. Very much. Just sit down to grab your shoes and, in five minutes, you’ll be deep in conversation about crypto, or therapy, or things you bought in quarantine.

On a Thursday in Crown Heights, a new live music and coffee venue called Wild Birds is already packed at 6 p.m. They opened in March 2020 and are maintained for the winter by selling plants and wine. Co-owner Luke Bonner was collecting tips for the first of his three musical acts that night, an Afro-Latin jazz band. When he gets to my desk I tell him I’m writing about the reopening of New York, and his eyes widen. “Don’t give us too much exposure,” he says, laughing. “We can barely keep up the pace as it is.”

“In my 20 years as a bartender,” says director Monica Sharp, “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

A New Yorker on TikTok asks the question to all our minds: this summer in the city feels different for everyone, and why do people behave like the stars of their movie? “Everyone gives the energy of the main character,” he whispers, the audience on his phone. “And do you all feel the eye contact or am it just me? I can’t be just me.”

Enjoy the sun in Little Island Park on July 4th
Enjoy the sun in Little Island Park on July 4 © Ahmed Gaber

“This is one of the advantages.” that there aren’t a lot of international trips right now, ”says Ian Schrager, the famous New York hotelier and co-founder of Studio 54. World cities can accidentally lose sight of their residents in favor of tourists from around the world, he says. .i. “But what you see now are really the New Yorkers, the New Yorkers for quintessence, ready to go mad, to take back their city, to enjoy it.”

At 74, he has just reopened his public hotel on the Lower East Side, with a new Peruvian restaurant, Popular, and a new and relevant theme: luxury for all. He tells me that our fathers ’notion of luxury means nothing more, and the concept of scarcity is entirely outdated. The pandemic has only pushed this into a clearer view.

“Luxury makes you feel good, it’s treated well, it feels safe and you have the freedom of time,” he says. “And everyone is entitled to it, not just 1 percent.” In Public, there is no man at the reception wearing white gloves and a glass of champagne. In fact, there is not even a reception.

A July 4 barbecue at Prospect Park
A barbecue on July 4 in Prospect Park © Ahmed Gaber

I asked him about the parallels between this and Studio 54.

“In the disco where I started, you don’t have a discernible product,” he says. “You have the same liquor and music as everyone else. So I’ve learned that what you do to distinguish is to make people feel good. Studio 54 has succeeded because people feel free and protected. All the world was here to have fun.I see a gay guy in tight jeans and no shirt dancing with a woman in a ball and a diamond tiara.Any distinction of class, demographics, age, wealth, race? Irrelevant.Everyone feels Everyone wanted to have fun. “

That’s how I feel about New York this summer, I tell them. That entertainment has been somehow democratized: there is less value to exclusivity, the hierarchy is falling apart, and we are coming out of this collective trauma just wanting a connection.

He smiles and nods. “You hit the bullseye with that.”


A 40-minute train ride from Public, in Flatbush, downtown Brooklyn, Garnett Phillip, 44, is seated in a corner of his bar, The Rogers Garden. Phillip is Trinidadian and Ethiopian, and her bar was inspired by the Caribbean rum bars she has always loved. “Not the high-end ones,” he clarifies. “The real local rum bars. They have light colors, that galvanized metal makes you feel good. ”

The bar is a pandemic success story – opened in July 2020, it has challenged the odds of becoming one of Brooklyn’s most popular new neighborhood bars, with about 15 seats inside giving way to a large garden built to blend in. Covid’s laws required bars to serve food, so Phillip built a tiki hut in the garden and lent it to local chefs.

At Rogers Garden in Flatbush, Brooklyn
At Rogers Garden in Flatbush, Brooklyn © Ahmed Gaber

On Thursday and Saturday, fans come for Nina Laurient’s fresh lobster tails, rasta pasta and crispy chicken. D’Mix Cucina. Prior to the pandemic, Laurient was a speech therapist, known as a talented cook only by family and friends. When the bar opened, Phillip invited her to the Garden. A year later, Laurient built a following cult and gave up his day job. I plan to pop up full time in October, and have a restaurant and a food truck by spring.

“I knew it was my passion and in the long run I would find a way, but never at this pace,” Laurient tells me. “Now I sit in the hut on a Saturday, watching people come out of the street because they know the smell, and I think, wow. Look what God has brought me. It’s some of my wildest dreams.”

Phillip looks tired and relieved. “That Tuesday.” [last month] that the restrictions were lifted, I looked around my bar and I was really excited, “he says.” It was packed. And it’s been like that every night since. It was the dream in my head. My DJs here play music, live music outside, everyone is dancing, singing, drinking, mixing. ”

She sighs. “It’s going to be crazy this summer,” she says. “It will be a film. From what we’ve experienced, this is going to be the best summer New York has ever had. ”

Details

  • Seven deadly sins, a play in the Meatpacking District, runs through July 25 (sevendeadlysinsnyc.com)

  • The Queens Night Market runs every Saturday from 4 a.m. to noon (queensnightmarket.com)

  • Rogers Garden in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is open from 2 a.m. to midnight; D’Mix Kitchen is open Thursday and Saturday (therogersgarden.com)

  • Wild Birds in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, is open from 4 a.m. to 2 p.m. during the week and from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends (wildbirdsbk.com)

  • For details on Popular, the new Peruvian restaurant in Ian Schrager’s public hotel, see publichotels.com/eat-and-drink

  • Little Island is free and open from noon to 1am, but with ticket entry; to see littleisland.org

  • The Whitney Museum of American Art is open Thursday through Monday; $ 25 tickets but with ‘pay-what-you-want’ Friday night (whitney.org)

  • For details of the next Baila! The New York party in Williamsburg followed instagram.com/bailanyc)

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