Dancing At The Urban Edge: Coney Island Weekend Afternoons

Dancers at a weekend afternoon dance party, Coney Island Boardwalk, Brooklyn, New York, 2012. (Fuji X100 w/28mm-equivalant lens adapter). Click to enlarge.

Weekend afternoon dance party, Coney Island Boardwalk, Brooklyn, New York, 2012. (Fuji X100 w/ 28mm-equivalent lens adapter). Click to enlarge.

I haven’t gotten out to Coney Island this summer.  So, offhand, I don’t know the state of the famed Coney Island-Brighton Beach seaside boardwalk post-Hurricane Sandy.  What I do know is that I very much miss dancing on Coney Island boardwalk in the breeze and fading light of weekend summer afternoons.

For the last couple of decades, impromptu dances set to the blare of portable sound systems and music decks manned by proprietors and patrons of boardwalk bars attract a crowd of dancers representative of New Yorkers to whom Coney Island is the only affordable and accessible seaside respite from the thick air, stuffy apartments, and burning pavements of summer time New York.  (This despite the efforts of former mayor Giuliani to expunge such offenses against “quality of life” and of soon-to-be-former mayor Bloomberg to sanitize, gentrify, and recycle neighborhoods and public space for the benefit of those with high incomes and volumes of disposal cash.)

Most Coney Island boardwalk dancers are urban survivors, people who’ve made it through the scourges of low-paying jobs or lives at the edge.  The music is mostly Afro-Caribbean, Latin, and fusion.  The price of a ticket is no more than a lack of pretension and a desire and ability to dance.

These last years, I’d gravitated more and more towards to weekend dances on the boardwalk.  The grit of the edge of the city is more redolent of the New York that shaped me, and the boardwalk venue is far more familiar, accessible, and welcoming to me than are stylish clubs in upper income Manhattan or in the ethnically-purged, middle-American “hipster” neighborhoods that now sprawl across the north of Brooklyn. Not least, the subtle flexibility and responsiveness of the boardwalk’s wood plank surface add spring and an intoxicating feeling of (seeming) virtuosity to one’s every step.

More Coney Island dancers! (Specifications as per photo above) Click to enlarge.

More Coney Island dancers. (Specifications as per photo above) Click to enlarge.

Technical Footnote

On the X100, the  optical imperfections (softness, flare, and color casts) of Fuji’s 28mm-equivalent screw-in wide angle adaptor helped rather than hinder portrayal of a Coney Island weekend afternoon.

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