Last weekend I went to what I thought would be a cool Brooklyn party on a boat. What I actually went to was a senior citizen party/political benefit on a barren lawn in Canarise, and I’d love to tell you all about it.
The party was billed as “Brooklyn BBQ on the Boat.” I was like, three of my favorite Bs! Many other promises were made in the invitation, including “6 areas of entertainment” at this “outdoor/indoor party,” plus a “special guest DJ and performance by Atlantic Records recording artist.”
I should have known things would not be quite what I expected, as my friend and I stepped onto the 2:30 shuttle bus, which actually turned out to be a 3:15 church van with no AC. We were on the church van for what seemed like three hours, traveling from Fort Greene, through the depths of Crown Heights, in and out of East New York (I think), until we reached a part of Brooklyn I’d only ever heard about: Canarsie. It was fine, and quiet, and looked like Queens. But I had one concern: where are we supposed to get on a boat in Canarsie?
We pulled into a gravel lot and walked into what seemed to be a deteriorating saloon. We received wristbands and two “drink tickets,” before being directed out back to a vast, balding lawn. There was a DJ spinning under a tent, a section of picnic tables, a table of food, including vats of macaroni salad and cole slaw from Costco, and a tub filled with a mysterious orange drink. Just beyond the lawn there were several small boats docked in a small bay (pretty sure the other side was glamourous Mill Basin).
I don’t have the time or energy to lay out the entire event, but here are a few of the most important details:
1. “Bonnie”*: “Bonnie” was a woman of about 82, whom my friend recoginzed immediately upon entering. She’s volunteered for the non-profit my friend works for, with her other old lady friend who was there too (that one was about 105, and I didn’t see her after an hour, because bedtime). Bonnie wore a shiny, gold, short-sleeved pantsuit, and a hat that your aunt my described as “fun.” We’ll come back to Bonnie in a bit.
2. The DJ. The DJ was great. He played hits, past and present, and everyone appreciated his stylings. The one bone I had to pick was that he played all the line dance songs consecutively. Electric Slide, Cha Cha Slide, Wobble, all of ’em. You have to spread those out. People wear out quickly. Also he bleeped out weird parts of songs. “Groceries,” you can leave that word in.
3. The boats. So, we weren’t actually having a party on a boat. There were four boats (of many that were docked) that were going out for trips around the bay. We eventually got on a boat and had a really great trip around the bay. There was hip-hop and breeze. Lovely. But that was about 30 minutes, and then we were back on the dried out lawn, so maybe they shouldn’t have called it a party ON a boat.
4. “Charlie”. Like “Bonnie,” “Charlie” was an older gent who was familiar to my friend through her job. Charlie was slightly younger, maybe 72, with an affinty for “Whip and Nae Nae.” Obviously, when the song came on everyone was pretty excited, even though the dance is best done by 6 year olds. But Charlie was the most excited. He did his whip and followed up with a nice, clean nae nae. And we all watched him. He did all the parts. Stanky leg. All of it. The weirdest thing was that he did the whip and nae nae to each subsequent song. It was obviously his go-to, but those moves are strictly reserved for that song. No one had the heart to tell Charlie this, so we just let him whip and nae nae to “Truffle Butter” and went about out business.
5. At one point, Bonnie and Charlie were dancing together. Bonnie was almost doing a twerk. That’s all I’ll say about that.
6. “Drink tickets.” Those tear-off raffle tickets are still in the pocket of the shorts I wore that day. No one ever instructed us how to use the tickets, and when my friend asked if we could use them for drinks behind the bar, she was told “they aren’t serving from the bar.” What? There was a whole bar, and a case filled with beer. But we were only to drink the orange punch? This made me think that maybe we were all going to be murdered, but I just gave a heavy sigh and poured me some punch. Later, there was a “VIP” section (read: bottles of liquor and juice on a deck), and so my friend and I made our way there. Of course, by the time the real VIPs (that’s us) got there, all of the juice was gone. What a conundrum! Until we remembered the barrel of sodas we’d seen earlier. Which brings me to…
7. Golden Champagne. Apparently this is a type of soft drink. To be specific, they offered Western Beef Golden Champagne soda. For those who don’t know, Western Beef is a fowl-named low-budg grocery store in NYC (think Aldi’s). Golden Chamagne sounds delicious, like something you’d drink with Drake in a jacuzzi. But Golden Champagne tastes like nothing I’ve ever consumed. Honestly, of all the words on the label, it probably tasted more like western beef than golden champagne. And you don’t want to drink beef.
8. Eventually, it was time to go (it had always been time to go). We made certain to be ready for the 8pm bus, band of course it didn’t leave until 8:45. The driver was out of his mind, and stopped at McDonald’s for like 5 minutes. I considered getting an Uber, but it would have been close to $100, so I just sat there and kept my mouth shut. We then began to drop people off one by one, which would have been fine, had anyone been along the way. It took us about 30 minutes to get to the party, but after 45 minutes, we were dropping people off in thoe most suburban parts of Brooklyn. And people had the nerve to try to have along farewell. I was like, bye, Felicia. When we got close to my apartment, I basically did a ninja roll out of the church van.
*some names have been changed to protect the twerkers