From 01450 to 10031

“It was a great party — if you’ve never been to a party before.” Several though not all of the following recent excursions brought to mind those words by Truman Capote.

Lakeside barbecue in Groton, Mass., at a plush and cozily posh house at the edge of the woods, rented for the year by a trio of graduate students living the rustic writerly life. An impressive though not all covetable existence. Pleasant as intrastate tourism, even if socially we never left Cambridge. Neat-o New England trivia of the sort I’ve come to take for granted: a great-great-grandson of Ralph Waldo Emerson owns the house. Party population: c. 16.

Keg party of baffling decency in Livingston, NJ, in the company of recent Brown graduates and twentysomething Goan-Americans. The suburban wilds of New Jersey were still all new to me, and the experience felt distinctly cinematic, faintly B-moviesque. In effect a college reunion for many, it hosted small pockets of rekindling drama at the pool table, by the beer-pong table, along the carpeted stairs. More ethnography. Party population: c. 60.

Harlem block party on Hamilton Place, where a couple of hip-hop DJs rocked the streets well into the evening hours and during which, not surprisingly, even (or especially) elementary-school kids danced better than anyone getting down at, say, Redline. In spite of steady gentrification and gorgeous brownstones — townhouse prices have nearly doubled in the last three years — Hamilton Heights seems to remain primarily low-income. No non-black, non-Latino residents showed up at this event, anyway, although I spotted one white guy looking on from an adjacent block while talking on his cell-phone — ever the reliable prop. Harlem Week occasioned concurrent festivities elsewhere uptown. Party population: c. 150.

In lieu of catching Talib Kweli and Kurtis Blow at Hot 97’s Harlem Week live broadcast, however — not to mention Nas for free at Summerstage — I spent yesterday afternoon watching India Day performances on Madison and 23rd. Model-turned-actor (and ex-beau of model-turned-actress Bipasha Basu) Dino Morea appeared alongside composer A.R. Rahman as guest of honor. Dressed head-to-toe in distressed denim (why o why), Morea bounced about the stage shouting “I love you all!” until asked to freestyle to a song from one of his movies — whereupon his usually choreographed-for feet fidgeted and ran out of ideas. Rahman, on the other hand, was stingy with stage time and barely addressed the crowd: furnished with a Yamaha keyboard, he launched into “Vande Mataram” at the top of his strained lungs, then reluctantly, half-heartedly, sang a signature snatch from “Dil Se Re” only after the audience begged for an encore. As usual, youth performances were more memorable; the finale featured the most graceful bhangra dancers I’ve ever seen. Flag-waving and rallying cries (“Bharat mata ki jai!” “Hindustan zindabad!”) filled the gaps between acts. Party population: c. 800.

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