After getting opposition from the newly arrived condo people, and agreeing to take measures to protect their delicate sensibilities, this weekend's Folsom Street East festival was a big success, with one of the largest crowds I've ever seen in attendance.
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Packed extra tight into a street narrowed by massive construction plywood, bodies pushed and jostled in the beer-soaked scrum, but the energy was joyful. It felt like everyone was keyed up in defiance of the recent anti-Folsom sentiment.
Some of that sentiment was expressed by anti-sex, anti-gay Christians waving a banner on the High Line that said "Jesus Saves from Hell."
Down below, a kinky couple held up their own sign in response, saying only "LOVE."
There never used to be Christian protesters here--but now the High Line is bringing the mainstream in to what was once a relatively protected, unknown piece of New York City. Folsom is suddenly very visible.
Up above, groups of High Line tourists crammed the stairwell (many more than last year), staring down and taking pictures of the scene below, some of them smiling, but most of them looking very serious. They were not amused, but couldn't look away.
When one of the event organizers took the stage, he psyched up the revelers, shouting into the microphone, "Some people are saying we are inappropriate...but New York City is not a sanitized place to go mall-shopping with your children!"
He waved to the gawking High Line tourists and thanked the Folsom crowd for "coming out on the streets of New York City, in the daylight, and saying: We are here, we are queer, we are straight, we are kinky--we're gonna be here as long as you are, so put down your 50 Shades of Gray and get your fuck on!"
And they did get their fuck on. While the +Art condo dwellers were given a barricaded corridor for entering and exiting their building, the spankings and whippings went on just as they do every year. The leathermen and women continued to pour in and out of the Eagle. Adults of all ages strutted their stuff without shame. It felt like "New York Fucking City" for once, after all.
Of course, next year will be another story. Current complaints are coming from the +Art condo building, the only condo on West 28th. It brought 91 residential units to a block that used to have practically zero. But soon those 91 won't be alone here anymore. The massive Avalon West Chelsea is rising fast, bringing another 700 units. And a third giant tower at the eastern end of the block will bring an additional 312 units.
That's going to be a lot of new whiners and complainers.
Folsom East and The Eagle
Folsom East Responds
Folsom Under High Line
Eagle Under Siege
See all my Folsom East photos here