Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The British knew how to do a street party

I came across a photo of a British street party in the most recent issue of Elle Decoration UK (that's right, I freely spend ten bucks on a British shelter magazine), and was so taken by the beauty and energy. What looks like an infinite table stretches off into the distance covered in tablecloths and pots of wildflowers. Bunting swags back and forth between buildings and every resident has come out to celebrate the Jubilee. These people know how to do a proper communal party.

In Brooklyn there are annual block parties, where the street is closed off from traffic for a day. Neighbors bring out snacks onto their stoops, kids play basketball in the street or sometimes someone will even set up a badminton set. A great one we went to was on our old block at 1st street in Park Slope, where not only did residents set up tables outside their buildings with tons of italian food, but our next door neighbor had trays of tequila shots! I'm not advocating public drunkenness, just a little wildness injected into a quiet affair.

But there always seems to be something lackluster about these block parties. Everyone is still kind of separated as they sit on their stoops, only chatting with the people they know. The kids are the ones having the most fun and perhaps they do some bonding, which knits together the mini-neighborhood. Blocks in Brooklyn can be their own microcosm in the best of ways. Still, I wish there could be these acres of tables covered in linen and flowers, with kids in jaunty paper hats and bunting simply everywhere, probably put up by lots of dads on ladders yelling at each other across the street to "Hang it higher, higher!"

Top to bottom:
Photo from Elle Decoration UK, June 2012 (no attribution)
Children's Peace Celebration 1945
A coronation party on Herriot Hill (I'm guessing the 1953 coronation of Queen Elizabeth)
World War II street peace party

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