Thursday, June 30, 2011

No More Brooklyn "Pool Parties," But Concert-Goers Now Have ROCKBEACH to Look Forward To...If They Can Get There.

If you enjoy the outdoor indie-music scene in New York City, then you probably know about the free "Pool Parties" that have drawn crowds to the Williamsburg Waterfront area, aka the aptly-named East River State Park, for the past two years, and to McCarren Park, for the preceding three years, for epic live concerts combined with fun events like dodgeball, among other pastimes.

The "Pool Parties" by JELLY originally began six years ago, during the summer of 2005, at the site of the defunct McCarren Park pool, which closed in 1984.  However, after plans for the pool's restoration were set forth in late 2008, the 2009 summer shows were officially moved to the East River State Park (although, somewhat ironically, they were still referred to as "The Pool Parties"). Ah, the memories. I had my first and only (thus far...) crowd surfing experience during a Girl Talk concert at the Pool Parties in 2009.

This year, many concert-goers were distraught to learn that these treasured weekly summer parties were no longer going to occur, despite the efforts of Senator Chuck Schumer, among others, to keep the free concerts at the waterfront, as, apparently, according to the Wall Street Journal online, there was a financial/contractual dispute between promoter JELLY and the nonprofit organization that oversees local park events, The Open Space Alliance for North Brooklyn. (There WILL still be other ticketed and free shows at the East River State Park this summer, from different concert promoters.  Pop culture website, Bumpershine, has compiled a list here.)

In place of the Pool Parties, however, JELLY announced today that it has teamed up with TOPMAN, a British Menswear company with feelers in both the music and fashion industries, to carry on the tradition of free, live music and dodgeball, and even bring back Slip n' Slide, from the McCarren Park days, in the Rockaways. The once-again ironically named festival, "ROCKBEACH," will take place over six weekend days between July 9 and September 10, and will even have real pools for fun-time frolicking. But, the Rockaways? To many people living in the city, even in the outer boroughs, the Rockaways are a foreign land. However, to alleviate the pressure of making travel arrangements (pretty much the only way to get there is through a very long and intricate ride on the MTA), party buses will be available, for $20 roundtrip, leaving from various, as yet undisclosed, locations in Brooklyn and Manhattan. If you RSVP for the ROCKBEACH mailing list, at, you may be eligible to win bus tickets (subject line should read "ROCK BEACH RSVP").

The ROCKBEACH concerts, on July 9, July 24, August 7, August 20, September 3 and September 10, will all take place at the Aviator Sports Complex, located at 3159 Flatbush Avenue, in Rockaway, Brooklyn, New York, near the beaches of Fort Tilden, and the last three shows will also offer camping at Floyd Bennett Field, where the sports complex is located.  (For more on the real concrete jungle camping experience, see the Frugal Traveler's May 2010 article recounting his camping adventure at Floyd Bennett).

Thus far, the lineup has only been announced for the first show, Saturday, July 9, and will include performances by Penguin Prison, Wild Yaks, Janka Nabay and The Bubu Gang, and Monogold. So will ROCKBEACH really rock the beach? You'll have to attend to find out.
Crowd Surfing at Girl Talk -- 2009 Pool Parties, East River State Park

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

New One-Man, Off-Broadway Show, "Sex on the Beach," Beckons Audiences

Guest Author for this Post: Tami Shaloum

Edited by: Heather K.

Editor's Note: As a courtesy from Signpost, a social networking website for "bargain hunters," which offers great deals from local businesses and unique local merchants, WGINY was extended tickets to the new Off-Broadway show, Sex on the Beach, a show centered around the sex tourism industry in the Spanish Carribean. Signpost is currently offering a heavily discounted deal for tickets to Sex on the Beach, $19 for tickets worth $47! Guest author, Tami Shaloum (previously featured in WGINY's Post #2 of An Affordable Weekend of Meditation, Yoga and Relaxation, Close to NYC), attended the show on June 23 and wrote the following review. 

Sex on the Beach, Roy Arias’ Off-Broadway one-man play, is a funny, scathing and often poignant exploration of the sex tourism industry in the Spanish Caribbean. The audience is presented with three characters, all prostitutes selling their services to tourists, and all portrayed by Arias. There is "La Caramelo," a Puerto Rican transvestite on the run from the police who is beginning to rethink his line of work after recounting a series of violent acts toward his fellow street walkers. "Brazo E' NiƱo" is a high-spirited, big talking hustler who finds his reputation on the line. Finally, the last, and most sympathetic, character is "Esperanza," a Cuban mother who is fed up with her low-paying job as a dentist and “waiting for a bus that never comes.”

The play does a good job of giving a face and personality to an oft-discounted "profession," and works best when you think of the show as social commentary. It does not really judge or posit an opinion as to the morality of prostitution, but merely suggests that there are very different reasons for selling one's body, and that there can be pride in the profession as much as there is shame. Each character recognizes the dangers of their chosen vocation, as well as how they may be negatively viewed by society. Sex on the Beach also addresses the fact that homosexuality is still frequently frowned upon, as we see two of the characters struggling with this problem.

As far as the play's entertainment value, it helps for theatre-goers to have a grasp of the Spanish language to understand a lot of the references, as Arias’ accent is thick and he speaks in a rapid Spanish/English hybrid. In fact, the play’s original award-winning incarnation was all in Spanish. The playbill gamely includes a short dictionary of some slang words but it is difficult to refer to it in the dark of the theater. While this did not entirely take away from the enjoyment of the play, it would have been nice to understand all that was said.

By far the most appealing part of Sex on the Beach is Arias’ performance. He seamlessly transforms into the three very distinct, very different characters. He is as believable as a transvestite as he is a struggling mother. He infuses emotion into the roles and makes the audience really feel for these people. Another stand out is vocalist Natalia Peguero, whose sultry voice seduces the audience in between scenes while Arias changes into the next character. These two performers make the experience of watching Sex on the Beach almost as enjoyable as its title suggests.


Thanks again to Laura Zanzal, the community manager at Signpost. Consider joining Signpost so that you never miss any of their great deals. Find discounted tickets to Sex on the Beach through July 3 here, when you subscribe to Signpost. After July 3, you can buy tickets at Theatermania. The show is currently slated to run through July 30, 2011.

Monday, June 27, 2011

New Yorkers Show Their Pride on 5th Avenue.

Yesterday marked the 42nd annual Pride Parade in New York City, a tradition that began in 1970, shortly after the gay rights movement took off in 1969 at the now famous Stonewall Inn. The parade, which began at 36th Street and 5th Avenue, continued down 5th Avenue all the way to the West Village. As most New Yorkers know by now, this is an especially historic year, as New York recently became the sixth state in the nation to pass a marriage equality bill or, in other words, to legalize gay marriage. (Curious how your Senator voted? Click here, a site to which I was directed from Gothamist).

2011 Pride March 
As always, the parade was full of wonderful, colorful people and costumes, and spectators were treated to over an hour's worth of performances, floats and a multitude of marching groups. The vibe was decidedly different this year as participants and spectators really had something to celebrate -- not just their pride in who they are, but the long-deserved recognition of equal marriage rights for all couples. (Although the bill came with an exemption for religious institutions, in that they can refuse to carry out a same-sex marriage, this appears, for now, to strike a relative balance between religious tolerance/freedom and civil rights).
Colorful and Intricate Costumes
Some of the loudest cheers during the parade were heard when Governor Cuomo passed by, and signs reading "Thank you Governor Cuomo" on one side, and "Promise Kept" on the other, could not be missed. Other notable politicians included Senator Chuck Schumer and Representative Jerry Nadler, to name a few. The parade of notables seemed never ending, from stellar performances by organizations such as The Lesbian and Gay Big Apple Corps Marching Band, to intricate floats from non-profit organizations such as The Door and Green Chimneys, and even participation by some large corporations such as Delta, and white-shoe law firm It just goes to show that there is no dividing line when it comes to equality.

Company Float - Green Chimneys
Congratulations New York on a banner year and a parade that will not soon be forgotten.

UPDATE: Commenter Jenny A. also spotted NYC Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn at the parade, NYC's first "out" councilwoman, and a longtime proponent of marriage equality.  Thanks for the tip, Jenny!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

"Wake Up" and Listen to Fitz and The Tantrums.

Despite predictions of rainy weather on Saturday, the sun shone through for Fitz and The Tantrums at Central Park's Mainstage, part of The City Park's Foundation Summerstage Concert Series.  Although the forecast undoubtedly kept some fans away, Fitz and the other bands in Saturday's FREE concert lineup, which included King, and Lee Fields and The Expressions, with interludes from DJ Rich Medina, played to a packed field.
Fitz and The Tantrums on Mainstage
The Los Angeles based soul group immediately transports fans to the sounds of the 70s, when soul was at its peak, but they have a funky, modern flair that keeps their music fresh. The beautiful Noelle Scaggs has an effervescent chemistry with the band's leader, Michael Fitzpatrick (aka Michael "Fitz"), and when she asks whether you're ready to "get [ ]our groove on," she is not just patronizing the crowd.

Fitz (right) and bassist, Joseph Karnes (left)
sign autographs after the show 
Fitz and The Tantrums are absolute crowd-pleasers, interacting with audience members throughout the show, from Fitz "stealing" a woman's sunglasses (he gave them back, after performing a song in the lady's retro shades), to Scaggs always making sure everyone had their hands up clapping or their bottoms out dancing, this was not a band for whose set one could sit even for a moment, except perhaps during their last song (their most well-known single, "Moneygrabber") when Fitz instructed everyone to "get low." Those who did not oblige were called out in the crowd, and within a minute or so, everyone was kneeling down, quietly bopping to the music as it crescendoed louder and louder, until we were all back up on our feet dancing and clapping again with our hands in the air.

James King flute solo
The band's songs are fun and groovy, and you immediately want to sing along. Add to that Fitz's unique sound, Scaggs' powerful, sexy voice backing him up, and exquisite instrumental solos from bandmember James King, on bass sax, alto sax and even flute, and from Joseph Karnes on bass guitar, and this band has found a winning combination for success. In two years, they have already played to New York crowds five times, and they promised to return again soon. So, if you know what's good for you, "Wake Up" and check out Fitz and The Tantrums. (Yes, that's an ironic reference to one of their newest songs...).

And don't forget that Central Park will be hosting free music, dance and comedy shows all summer long, in all five boroughs, as well as some paid acts. You can find the full schedule of events here.

Michael Fitz Poses With an Adoring Fan (Okay, that's me/WGINY...)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Are You a Savage Beauty?

When I first learned that The Metropolitan Museum of Art was hosting yet another exhibition showcasing a famous fashion designer, I was less than thrilled to check it out. However, I am glad that I did not hold back on visiting "Savage Beauty," a rare and eccentric collection of fashion and accessories from late designer Alexander McQueen. (If you do not know who he is, Google pictures of "Lady Gaga," and consider whether her outfit looks really outrageous. If it does, it's probably by McQueen.)*.

McQueen, who committed suicide last year, shortly before his 41st birthday, was a force to be reckoned with in the fashion industry. He dared to be different and each item he designed was as much a work of art as it was something to wear. His designs were often provocative, dark, and, in his own words, had "an underlying sexuality" and "perverseness." He was and remains, even posthumously, highly controversial, and the reasons are clear as you make your way through the lengthy exhibit.

One of the first pieces of "art" you see as you enter the exhibit is a stunning dress made of red glass and feathers. (I must admit, at first glance I was reminded of Zoolander's Mugatu's "Derelicte" campaign...). Sound tame? As you continue along, don't miss the jacket on which the back is painted with Jesus on the Cross and, for a person of the right proportions, the wearer's body might line up with that of Jesus', and the wearer's outstretched arms would appear to be on the Cross as well. Moving on, you will come to the first room where the darkness of McQueen's designs really set in. An element of forbidden sexual desires emerges in designs that incorporate capes, masks, and black leather dominatrix-seeming outfits. As you wander through the many rooms of this exhibit, you will continue to come upon many bizarre, and some strangely beautiful, couture. In the accessories room, one of the mannequins wears a metal spine with a tail, while another wears a connected headband and armband made of metal thorns. It seems nothing was too shocking or too outrageous for McQueen.

Also make sure to be on the lookout for the use of varied media throughout the exhibit. One not-to-be-missed video involves a female model who walks out in an all-white dress, but is soon "attacked" by machines (robots of a sort, I think) that spew colors all over her, creating, in the end, a unique splatter pattern that could never be replicated.

"Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty" is on display through August 7, 2011. Don't miss it! For more information, visit The Met's website or read the museum's press release on this exhibition.

UPDATE: Luxury rental management company, Glenwood NYC's Manhattan Living Blog recently featured the Savage Beauty exhibit and has some great pictures and more descriptions of what you can see here.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


Dear Readers, 

I have some great posts planned, but unfortunately I have not had a chance to sit down and write lately, and I will be on vacation through June 15 at Bonnaroo in Manchester, Tennessee!! We are getting on the road in the morning and driving down to the four-day music, film & comedy festival. If I have some down time and get to an internet cafe, perhaps I will throw up a post, but don't hold your breathe. 

What can you look forward to when WGINY returns late next week and throughout the summer? Here is a sample: 

Sunny Day Activities: 

More yoga retreat ideas close to NYC.

Where to run around NYC. 

Rainy Day Activities:

A review of a savage art exhibit... 

A recommendation on where to find the best indoor climbing in and around NYC. 

And of course more concerts and food/drink ideas. 

See you soon!!