New Yorkers experienced an unprecedented spring awakening this weekend — the temps kicked up a notch as spring officially arrived, we’ve hit the one year mark since the city shut down, and we have slowly started to come out of pandemic winter hibernation as the vaccine injects new hope into our arms and collective spirit. The scene out there was a sneak peek at what the city’s summer may have in store — which could, as I recall Gothamist’s Jake Dobkin once telling Brian Lehrer, look a bit like an extended V-J Day.
This weekend — our first glimpse ahead at the new-new normal — Bethesda Fountain was a downright party. In fact, it evoked photos I’d seen from the 1970s, when native New Yorker Robert Iulo documented the Sunday scene at Central Park’s famous fountain — a broad daylight party in which all New Yorkers held a standing invite.
“In the summers of the mid-’70s, on most Sunday afternoons there was a Latin music party at Central Park’s Bethesda Fountain,” Iulo previously told Gothamist. “Jazz station WRVR DJ Rodger Dawson’s Sunday Salsa Show was played on boom boxes strategically placed around the fountain plaza. You could also find small groups of musicians and singers at the plaza edges and on the terrace above. Latino food was cooked on site and available at low cost, so was beer and rum. If you wanted, there were low-limit gambling games and guys walking around with trays of one dollar loose joints shouting, ‘Tabaco suelto.'”
Maybe we’re not quite back there yet, but our own documentarian, Scott Lynch, says that the scene was more amped than typical first spring weekends—”Not necessarily in crowd numbers, but on vibe and happiness… a lot more music and dancing.”
Happy spring, New York, see you at Bethesda Fountain every Sunday this summer.