N.Y. Scene: The Beach Edition


My Vacation @ Cherry Grove, Fire Island, NY

The New York City region has three gay beaches: Asbury Park, Cherry Grove on Fire Island, and Fire Island Pines. We’ve already covered Asbury Park, and now we’re moving on to Fire Island.

Fire Island is essentially a large sandbar off the coast of Long Island where some enterprising folks have erected beach houses, restaurants and nightclubs. Building communities on a shifting pile of sand may sound impractical and silly, but Fire Island is a popular vacation destination, and the real estate is very expensive. Fire Island can only be reached by ferry, and no cars are allowed; thus, despite the fact that Fire Island is less than two hours from New York City, it feels like you are half a world away.

There are two gay beaches on Fire Island, Cherry Grove (“The Grove”) and Fire Island Pines (“The Pines”). The Grove is perceived to be the quirkier, campier and more “working class” of the two, and The Pines is dotted with designer homes and has a reputation for catering to affluent “look at me!” gays, although both communities are equally unaffordable, so, really, the only differences between them are aesthetics and attitude.

The ladies and older gay men tend to travel to The Grove, and during high season The Pines can be mistaken for an Abercrombie & Fitch modeling convention. In short, during the summer, Park Slope and the Village move to the Grove, and Chelsea moves to the Pines.

A few friends and I are at the Grove, and we are staying at the Bauhaus, which is one of the more modern rentals in the community. In years past, we’ve roughed it at some places, but we’re getting old and discriminating. Now we demand actual bed space and air conditioning.

The Grove is home to a few bars and nightclubs, including Cherry’s, Tides and The Ice Palace, which become lively and even anarchic on the weekends, but for a nightlife reporter, going to bars and nightclubs feels like work, so I’m avoiding them at all costs. Instead, we spend our days gobbling down steamers at my favorite restaurant at The Grove, Jumping Jacks Seafood Shack, which overlooks the ocean.

What else does a nightlife reporter do while on vacation, you ask?

(The deer will walk right up to you demanding food. This isn’t Wisconsin.)

From Cherry Grove, with love,

All photos by Grace Chu unless otherwise noted. If I took your picture and you’re not in this article try looking over here.

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