At the start of every season in the Hamptons a pall of despair, cast by bellwethers of doom, predicts that this will be the year it all falls apart. This will be the summer that the septic system in Montauk finally succumbs and fills Fort Pond with raw sewage. The year that the East Hampton Town Board pawns their power for a fat check from Ralph Lauren and absconds to Argentina. The year the piping plover finally falls victim to rising oceanfront real estate prices and cashes out of this world forever. And every season, Labor Day slips by with about as much ceremony as a wet fart, leaving locals slack-jawed and staring at each other with glazed eyes, like six-year-olds after a Pixy Stix binge.
After breathless predictions that when the rising tide of excess, self importance, and big city ‘tude finally breaks the East End will be a desolate wasteland of empty Moët bottles, snapped stilettos, and the acrid smell of precision-engineered German rubber lingering over still-smoking patches in the westbound lanes of Route 27, one can almost hear the wah-wah of a muted trombone over the collective sigh of service and retail industry personnel headed to newly-deserted beaches with their pockets full of Benjamins.
The Hamptons are embodied by hyperbole: big houses, big bank accounts, big events, and big personalities. Because of this, for the three months and change that the Hamptons are, well, the Hamptons, they personify everything we love to hate, and perhaps more tellingly, hate to love. These dour perennial premonitions stem from the fact that the Hamptons represent something special to everyone—whether it be as a home, an escape, a party, or another notch on the social ladder—and when it appears that something is about to change that sacred place we all hold dear in our collective unconscious, it kindles the irrational, almost xenophobic the-end-is-nigh fear that fosters overblown rants about zoning laws, the fluoridation of water, and insidious plots from the far right.
Truth be told, this season ranks as one of the best. After a few touch-and-go years, Montauk’s social scene emerged from its chrysalis as something far more fun, yet far less reckless, than the whistleblowers foretold. The Surf Lodge
had a solid season with its summer concert series, with no repeat of the potential septic nightmares and stack of citations of last year. Montauk Beach House
committed no heinous offences and certainly did not herald the undoing of the sleepy fishing village aura some in the town have tried so hard to preserve. We’re not about to embark on a discourse of the problems facing small scale commercial fisheries in this economy, but seriously, nobody is really complaining about having dingy and dying business give way to popular new sources of revenue, even if some visitors don’t know how to clean up after themselves.
was a seriously chill, laid back spot that popped up this summer and somehow stayed somewhat under the radar, and when Swallow East
finally went live, the place was a hit (the end of season employee party featured tattoo artists, and no one gets tattoos to commemorate an awful summer). And the first public incarnation of SUPERBURGER
was an end-of-summer coup de grace. Trust us, we were there, glistening, greasy, fat, and happy, reveling in the August sunshine. Let’s not forget Momofuku: please, please come back next summer, we promise to eat so much pie.
Elsewhere, things were business as usual. Sag Harbor got a few new restaurants, the yachties kept doling out their owners’ loot on Main Street, chef Matthew Guiffrida found a new home with his restaurant Muse on the Harbor
and David Lowenberg’s new venture The Bell and Anchor
kept the North Haven celebrity quotient suitably stuffed.
Heading south to Bridgehampton, the big news was that the Polo Classic toned down the spectacle, um, debacle, under the VIP tent into something that actually resembled a VIP tent and not a slightly damp, champagne fueled upscale bacchanalian frat party with a horse thing happening somewhere.
With so much focus on Montauk, the two Hamptonian juggernauts—East Hampton and Southampton—were almost forgotten in the social media grist mill. Even though the venues change, it all really stays the same. Southampton Social Club
kept things social, no big news there, and Nammos
repping the luxe Mediterranean vibe in place of Nello’s made sure the Euro set had a place to spend 15 bucks on a beer.
Even in East Hampton, boozy brunches on Three Mile Harbor Road barely raised any eyebrows or tongue clucks from the village fun police and the jeroboams of rosé kept coming at Beaumarchais
, but the real party, as revealed by the ladies at Guest of a Guest
, was down at Indian Wells beach, where a week after their story ran, nervous nellies started reporting about nudity and people drinking hard alcohol on the beach. Well, um, that’s kind of what happens on a beach, in the summer, populated by young people who are mostly nude to begin with. What a shocker.
Now that another tumbleweed Tuesday has come and gone, plans for the postseason get underway. The weeks after Labor Day aren’t quite like most people imagine, with sheets of plywood in short supply as business owners close shop and McMansions are locked down for the winter months. September is quite easily the best month to be out East, especially if you’ve been working the whole summer, you know, making hay while the sun shines. The ocean is as warm at it ever gets, the crowds are gone, and everything is on sale and up for grabs. It’s sort of an inside wink among those who slog, heads down, working through the summer months while the rest of the world is on vacation. Hotels have vacancy, tables are available for 7pm dinners almost everywhere, but it certainly isn’t desolate. It’s still the Hamptons, just a little bit more reasonable. It’s also far from over, the Topping Rose House
in Bridgehampton has yet to open its doors, and we are interested in what Tom Colicchio will be putting on the menu.
So where does this leave us? New stores and restaurants have opened, Montauk’s nightlife scene turned it up to 11 (but was considerate enough to turn it back down after 2am) parties were had, charities funded, share houses shared, and at the end of it all, there were fewer tears (and code violations) than in years past. Despite the traffic, the crowds, and the near-record level of DUI traffic stops, the sanctity of the Hamptons has emerged intact. Thanks for a great season. Now leave us alone, we have a beach to enjoy.