Photo by Alessandro Gandolfi
New Yorkers make a show of hating the city in summertime.
New York is too hot, too sweaty; good beaches are too far away. Complaining about the humidity is as much a competitive sport as bagging invitations to a friend’s house in the Hamptons or Jersey Shore. I don’t mind. More space for the rest of us.
Summer in New York is an odd time. The streets – outside of the tourist landmarks – feel wider; the pace seems slower. And, for three months each year, the city feels like a community. It’s the time when a famously tribal city, where wealth and class all too often transform neighborhoods into insular enclaves, briefly comes together.
Street fairs pop up on avenues and side-streets alike. In Central Park, tickets to Shakespeare in the Park are available to anyone lucky enough to get tickets through the online lottery – willing to rise at dawn to line up. Students, office workers, and retirees alike stretch out along the grass, sharing picnic food (or early-morning wine) as the wait for tickets grows ever-longer.
At Lincoln Center – where prices for opera and ballet are often dizzying – the outdoor space is transformed into Midsummer Night’s Swing: a nightly series of dances to live jazz bands. Admission is $25 but a regular community of passionate dancers kick up their heels right outside the cordoned dance area – same music, fewer crowds – for free. At Bryant Park, classic films are screened against the Library’s back walls. There are no velvet ropes, no guest lists, no $100 tickets or $20 cocktails. Everything is accessible, for a change.
Come fall, of course, we all return to our tribes: hipsters gulp down PBR in Bushwick, hedge fund managers pour champagne on the Upper East Side. But for a couple of months a year we’re all just New Yorkers. At least for a while.
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