Brunch with the CS NYC gang at Great Jones Cafe
Brunch with the CS NYC gang at Great Jones Cafe on Sunday, June 17, 2012.

So, this last weekend was exhausting. I have been trying to get more involved and active in the CouchSurfing group in my own city, since I use the platform so often when I am abroad. Actually, I had planned to be productive and work on my projects (this site and others), but then I got a call from my buddy Gian, who has become one of my regular buddies in the relatively short time I’ve known him. As soon as I arrived home from work on Friday, he told me about a roller skating event called “roller disco,” which is put on by Down and Derby at Brooklyn’s Dekalb Market. You roller skate and drink beer, how could I say no?

At Roller Disco, with Alessandra, Joseph, Marina, Manisha, and Gian.

I met Gian there at around 11 pm, and some other people were there that I already knew. It was great to see some unexpected familiar faces, while also meeting a few new people. I thought I remembered how to skate (assuming it was a skill that never gets forgotten like riding a bicycle), but I caused so many accidents in the first 20 minutes that I passed my skates on to my friend Joseph. It was a great time, but it only lasted until 1 am, so we all decided to head over to Alphabet City in Manhattan for some Rockabilly dancing at Otto’s Shrunken Head, a Tiki bar which has some great 50’s music on the 3rd Friday of each month. The whole gang hopped on the train and dived, bopped, and strolled the rest of the night away, leaving at 4:30 am.

After waking up on Saturday morning at around 11 am, I decided once again to make that day and the following one a productive one with which I could get some things done on the websites. And once again, that phone call came in, with an event that I couldn’t pass up. Gian called me and told me about a a free concert in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, which was part of the “Celebrate Brooklyn” festival. There were three great bands scheduled, and so many of my friends going that I once again was to weak to pass it up. Nation Beat, a Brooklyn-based band, kicked off the set with their southern rock/Brazillian metal fusion. Next up was Chico Trujillo, a band from Gian’s home country of Chile, followed by the spectacular Balkan Beat Box, a New York City-based band with Israeli members that likes to include political chants in their Middle Eastern-themed music. The night was pretty fucking awesome, and I was with the best of people. Afterwards, we decided to go once again to Manhattan, as soon as we added an Australian girl to the group – one of Gian’s friends; I actually had brought an Australian girl with me to the concert, and she left early, so this was a funny coincidence. This time we went to the East Village, where we picked some random bars and met chatted the night away.

As the night wore on, people started to trickle out and go home, one by one. Soon, it was only me and Chantell, the Aussie, left. At 4 am, we were kicked out of the bar for closing time, and the two of us weren’t tired yet, so Chantell came up with a brilliant idea.

“Let’s go to Brooklyn Bridge Park and buy beer and watch the sun rise!”

Again, I have no self-control, so I cheerfully agreed. We bought beer, and then spent a half-hour trying to locate a taxi to take us back to Brooklyn. We got to the park and started strolling around, and the sky was already starting to brighten. We sipped beer and stumbled around, and then an NYPD cruiser came by. They asked us what we were drinking, and we didn’t try to hide it.

“It’s beer!” I said, with some inexplicable enthusiasm.

“We’re sorry to do this, but we’re gonna have to write you a ticket,” the cop who was driving said. They told us to wait on the bench while they ran our ID’s, and we continued to drink while waiting. Soon, they called us back to their window, and handed us our summons. “You guys can continue to drink if you want, now that you have the ticket. If another cop comes and tries to give you another ticket, just show them that we already gave you one, and you should be fine,” the cop in the passenger seat told us, the most awesome thing that I’ve ever heard from a figure of authority. And drink we did, until the morning became too bright, at which point we left.

The next morning, everybody from the same indefatigable group wanted to meet up for brunch. We pushed the time back further and further until we all finally gathered at Great Jones Cafe in Manhattan at 2 pm. The food wasn’t so great, but the people I was with more than made up for it. The only thing I hated (and dread each time I meet a group of CouchSurfers) is when the check comes; everybody tries to do math, and the deliberation sometimes can take as long as the meal.

After brunch, we hopped on a train to go to Central Park, where we met another group of surfers. We camped out, ate cheese, threw frisbees, drank more beer, and had a great time in general. By the early evening, we all started to go our separate ways. Gian, Chantell, and I, along with a few others, went to eat at a Mexican restaurant, where we drank sangria and had several tacos. We followed that up by going to the most miserably boring bar in Midtown Manhattan, before all finally retiring for the weekend.

I learned many things over the course of these two and a half days: One, CouchSurfers can be the funnest people to be around; there are all sorts of stories to hear and trouble to get into when you mix different cultures and perspectives; Two, I have no self-control; Three, I can’t roller-skate to save my life; and Four, Midtown Manhattan bars are the absolute worst.

*Thanks so much to the wonderful people I was with: Giancarlo Alberti, Chantell Collins, Julia Ressmann, Tony Plakas, Rocia Acuna, Graceie Bodo, Alessandra Feruglio, Manisha Gupta, Marina Gritsenko, Jesse Wong, Joseph Chakola, Nadav Shatz, Jason Shah, Grete C., Paolo Cocco, and anybody else who I’ve missed. 

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