Marooned in NYC

New York City's Phoenixphest party, held last Thursday at the nightclub Strata, lent a hint of geek-chic to Manhattan’s upscale Flatiron District. That is to say, there was some chic within each geek in attendance.

Phoenixphest 2009, New York City

In perhaps coincidental Chicago Maroon meta, dark red light bathed Strata’s entryway and front bar. The sound system blared the standard club fare of top-40 sprinkled with the occasional indie-esque Hot Chip or MGMT track. But cinching Phoenixphest NYC’s claim to party veracity was its ragtag remix of former Snell-Hitchcockers, Burton-Judson buds, and Shorelandians all grown up—and, why not, maybe some former Pierce and Woodward residents as well.

The beat of Phoenixphest NYC was decidedly down-tempo, as partygoers preferred mingling over mini-burgers, spring rolls, and open-bar bounty over showing off their Phoenix-phresh dance moves. But the alumni crowd ran the sartorial gambit—and perhaps the personality gambit as well—more diverse than the average boîte crew.

For starters, it should suffice to say that most Flatiron fetes don’t feature attendees sporting U of Chicago sweatshirts hobnobbing with others clad in Western business attire—or in vintage clothes with pink tights, for that matter. In any event, a conversation that opens with, “What was your College house?” generally is not a surefire icebreaker at most NYC clubs. At Phoenixphest, it was the ticket into witty conversation about Hyde Park memories, with a social doughnut soon forming around the cocktail table.

In fact, his College house itself was part of said bygone era for Sherrick Lewis, AB’09, who reminisced about his days in the now-closed Shoreland’s Hale House. Soon Betsy Block, AB’09, and Elizabeth Bellis, AB'03, a former B-J resident and RA in Shoreland’s Fallers House, joined in the banter.

The conversation came to a brief halt during a keynote address from NYC-area young-alumni chair Jen Glickel, AB’08. Although the acoustics were less than forgiving, her reminder to donate and volunteer should at least strike some sort of chord with young alumni.

After all, regardless of house affiliation or College major, the conversation eventually drifted toward topics uniting scientists, writers, and financiers alike: apartment searching, career networking, and the triumphs and tribulations of daily minutiae like subway lines, laundry drop-off, and grocery delivery.

Ah, New York living. Join the club, fellow Chicago alumni.

Anne Szustek, AB’03, AM’04

September 30, 2009