I’d lost my phone. To be more specific, I drank too much tequila, went to a party I didn’t like, drank more tequila, and, somewhere between an Uber and the front steps of my apartment, lost my new iPhone. The next morning, hung-over and depressed, I make my way to Jacob Riis beach with one of my first queer friends in New York, a bag of White Claws in hand, hoping it would somehow make everything better.
Riis is the city’s most democratically queer beach, named in 1914 after the muckraking journalist (then recently deceased) who campaigned (using language that admittedly can seem a bit questionable today) to improve the lives of the city’s immigrant communities. It’s not as easy to get to by subway as, say, Coney Island or even the beaches at the other end of the Rockaways. Instead, you need to take a bus or the ferry, or ride your bicycle, or splurge on a Lyft, or track down that one friend of yours whose partner has a car. The journey is made more tolerable by good company.
The vibe is like nightlife but with sunblock, or a block party with bodysurfing. Vendors sell weed and rum punch (“Ice cold! Ice cold!”), and before I can find a vacant spot to lie down, I notice several people I know from going out and hooking up: a boy I want to sleep with, a boy I almost slept with, and another boy I definitely slept with a few too many times. The last one is popping about from group to group in a tiny blue Speedo. Later, I remember his Grindr bio is “As seen on Riis Beach.”