Tuesday, August 5, 2008

New York, NY: Dreamland

I caught Jordan and Glynis for lunch on Saturday then met with Lauren to troll around for wigs and glitter until we made the protracted journey to Coney Island for Lola Staar's Dreamland Roller Rink party in the old Childs Building on the boardwalk.

We met Talia and her friend Heather, and then my Heather/Plummy and strapped on our skates. I had envisioned skating glamorously around the rink with a fat pink cocktail but I shortly learned that no booze is served on the compound. This soon was all too clear. By the time we stepped onto the portable plastic roller rink (arguably not the best surface for novice skaters) it was apparent that some of us would not be skating very far. Keep in mind that Lauren, Heather and I were each in particularly flashy costumes, thus amplifying any minor tumble or major spill - so it was not unreasonable to bow out gracefully before anyone ended up in the hospital.

A few of us gave it out best effort for a little while, all though at a very slow pace. The Icarus death wish was easily tempered by the sheer challenge of stumbling along faster than a shopping card with a broken wheel. I even got an unsolicited lesson from a local pro. We left after an hour and a half having enjoyed the experience but sobered to the reality that none of us are the Apolo Anton Ohno of the Linoleum that we thought we were.

I do recommend giving the Dreamland Rink a whirl. The rink open earlier this spring when Coney Island fixture Lola Staar (nee Dianne Carlin) won a make-your-dream-come-true contest with Glamour magazine. She has since been working with the city and the owner of the Childs to keep the rink open during the summer months. Staar is a part of the Coney Island movement of artists (burlesque dancers included) and activists fighting the area's redevelopment. This is a true example of a pocket of the old guard New York City tradition of political and creative organizing that is thriving today - its no surprise that this community only exists now on the very tip of Brooklyn. Plus, the Childs Building is a beautiful relic of Coney Island's better days.

Our group met up with Glynis and Leslie then took the train back to mainland Brooklyn. Lauren, Leslie, Heather and I went to a massive multi-rooftop party in one of the old warehouses converted-into-comfortable-hipster-residences. I won't lie, the party was fun and we danced our asses off once DJ took over after the self conscious rock band.

Yet there is something about this face of Bushwick that feels empty. Maybe it was the contrast of Coney Island fresh in my mind. Maybe it was all of the kids trolling for coke or the tired fashion. The atmosphere amid the industrial district is completely inorganic. Everything is without context. It is unoriginal, without a sense of humor, and heavy with a use-it-then-loose it lifestyle. Contrary to many of the critics of this (sub)culture, I don't think it is the force that is sucking the creative life out of New York. But it is a symptom of the problem, an off shoot of a crisis of affordable housing, access to education, "guerrilla" marketing. I don't blame this demographic for having fun, for their contributions to the present urban fabric of New York - I just don't identify with it.

When the party died down we went to a bar around the corner then hitchhiked a minivan back to the Metropolitan area bars to meet Talia and her friends. Lauren and I dragged our asses back to Manhattan under the dirty morning light.

Nathan, you dog!; Childs Building on the Surf Ave. boardwalk

Roller rink

A lesson from a local; Heather answers the call of the costume

Bushwick rooftop; Leslie, Lauren, Ruby

I swoon for ILGWU shirts!; apocalypse in Bushwick

Some UP summer fashion; this man asked us to douse him in glitter

Roller skates = pasty popsicle legs

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