Famous People #60: Where is the party?

This party review newsletter has been on sabbatical for multiple obvious reasons!

Anyway, we briefly charged $5 a month for it but got confused by how to fill out the tax forms, so we technically maybe committed fraud. I believe we made a grand total of about $200 each during that time so I am giving that amount to Flatbush United Mutual Aid this month—if you have an extra $5 that you would otherwise have spent on this newsletter in some alternate universe the link is here.

Kaitlyn: Everyone has seen something amazing in New York in the last month. Thousands of neighbors spontaneously assembled. City buses in open revolt. Fireworks that never stop. I don’t have anything to add; you can see it all for yourself.

I’ve been reading Barbara Ehrenreich’s Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy, which is largely about Greek gods and Calvinists and the Grateful Dead, and not relevant to the moment. I thought it might be, because even protest motivated by extreme pain and righteous anger tends to be joyful in a lot of its expression, thanks to the fact that it brings people together to overwhelm spaces that are not usually set up for their use or benefit. I thought it might be, because I’ve seen so many people just absolutely laughing themselves silly outside. They can’t believe it! To be alive right now, outdoors, after such a long time looking at celebrity Instagram posts tagged #stayhome. But the book was published in 2006.

So far, my favorite part has been the part about The Dancing Plague, (lol!):

The dance manias of the late Middle Ages have fascinated scholars ever since, most of whom have inclined toward medical explanations of this baffling and sometimes self-destructive behavior. J.C. Hecker, the nineteenth-century physician who chronicled the dancing manias, proposed that the dancers were inspired by some “inward morbid condition which was transferred from the sensorium to the nerves of motion,” and the search for an exact physical diagnosis has continued into the present time.

Italians thought the cause of the problem was tarantula bites; Germans thought it was a fungus that grew on rye. People would dance until they seriously injured themselves, which seems reasonable to me this summer. If only we could select our plagues!

On Friday, I biked past dozens of Juneteenth parties to James’ apartment in Greenpoint, to watch him pack up for his move to Florida—what a place to go right now. We sat on his roof and described parties that had happened there out loud to each other, then described other parties that happened at other apartments. We watched storm clouds gather over Manhattan but not Brooklyn, and I apologized again for being such a drag when we lived together—I wasted my first year in New York, which should have been more important, but the main thing I remember about it was how stupid we were to live off of the C. It was sort of a party! At least, there were some other random people on the roof.

We drank a six-pack of Modelo and a bottle of wine and at midnight I decided I should bike home, which would have been fine if it weren’t for the fireworks. They startled me on Eastern Parkway and I almost biked into the Nostrand Avenue subway entrance. Of course, then I coasted down Bedford staring at them with my mouth open under my mask—for free! Oh, I cried a little, because explosions are inherently moving and because James is my friend who makes me feel like everything is basically fine. But after I sucked it up I felt amazing—like someone had just pitched another “the end of New York” story in a staff meeting and I’d been given 45 minutes to respond. I biked through like 14 more parties, and then onto the sidewalk in front of my home. Then I rushed through the building to get to my fire escape, where I could still hear everyone out on the street.

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