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On the traditional Jewish holiday of love, the Bangitout Tu B’Av party brought hundreds of Jewish singles in their twenties, thirties and forties (and yes, a few in their fifties) to Riverside Park for one of the largest gatherings of the year. I knew a lot of people, but I also didn’t know a lot of people, which is an achievement, and an encouraging thing, since it often feels like I’ve met every New York Jew imaginable. This proves it ain’t so (for which I am eternally grateful).

Lucky to have snagged a cool night in an otherwise humid summer, the Bangitout crew greeted each partygoer with a sticker with a number on it and a card—if you saw someone you liked and were fearful of approaching, you’d write their number down and submit it to the BangItOutstaff; they’d see if it was a match and get you in touch with each other.

misc_2006_00045__WinCE_.JPGI’ve gone for three years in a row, and some years (okay, one year) it resulted in a date, and in others it didn’t. But I’ve never used the card. I think it’s because I don’t just see pretty things and want them, I want to know they’re of a compatible quality, which necessitates further investigation (and also proves that as a woman, I’m motivated by something beyond the external). So the numbered stickers don’t help me, unless we’re both too shy to ask for each others’ “real numbers” (a business card, an email address, a phone number)—and really, I know that the prospect of rejection sucks, but who wants to be with someone who’s not confident enough to ask for your phone number?

There was lots of music, which I’m pretty sure was assembled as much for its thematic appropriateness as it was for its danceability. Top plays of the night belonged to Kanye (“Golddigga”), Nelly Furtado (“Promiscuous Girl”), and Christina (“Ain’t No Other Man”), with a side of Missy Elliott (“Work It”) and the seemingly out of place, yet reassuring Phil Collins (“You Can’t Hurry Love”). There were camera crews in attendance, one for a purpose I’m not sure of, and the other for a Columbia Film School student’s project. (I wasn’t drinking that heavily, but I’m pretty sure I remember doing a lip synch on camera to a George Michael’s “Freedom”—which, when it was on MTV featured a bevy of beautiful models doing the syncing…oh dear. )

Still, the function and dysfunction of single life followed us into the park. When a friend of mine complimented a man’s glasses as she passed him, instead of smiling and saying thank you (let alone taking it as an opportunity to start an actual conversation), he stared at her like she was insane. Everyone I spoke to seemed to have an ex or an almost-ex in attendance. Then some socially awkward guy was yelling at someone else in Hebrew. The truth is, negative stories are much more interesting to relate than the positive ones—but some people actually overcame shyness and the sheer availability of the hordes and spoke to people. There was also much dancing. I even saw a few people exchange phone numbers, if you can imagine that. But in any case, hundreds of people came and stayed for hours, which is the hallmark of a successful event, even if no marriages result.

As I’m pretty sure I said to one of the camera crews (which followed me around for some B-roll footage of what it’s like to wander through the crowd), an event like this is too overwhelming to expect dozens of people to hook up and get married as a result. But what large-scale jewish singles events do provide is an opportunity to expand our circles, the ones that seem so small that they sometimes feel like they’re closing in on us. Friends meeting friends of friends is a much more realistic and solid road to romance. That said, if I’m single next year, I’ll likely go again—sans the camera crew, I might just have a chance.


About the author

Esther Kustanowitz

For more posts by Esther, see EstherK.com, MyUrbanKvetch.com and JDatersAnonymous.com.

3 Comments

  • sounds like a bangin party…wonder if we had something like that in LA..do we?

    how come you’re anti card? i think i’d be anti card b/c its kinda lame to write ppls info down and wait for some 45 year old to pair you up. rejection is so sweet sometimes, and thats always the worst case scenario. sometimes when i go out with my friends we each try to get rejected by at least 3 girls before we leave the bar. the idea of a staff person working my mojo for me sounds pretty retarded.

    secondly, blame it on the fact that i have testicles, but come on, for both sexes, looks is the first thing we notice. its physical chemistry and attraction that first connects us, and thats totally legitimate. i do it all the time, and girls do it too.

  • I do not think that these kind of parties result in anything substantials for the players. In my experience it was easier to meet in non pressured more authentic situations.

    I believe these types of events to be a waste of time and funds, if one is expecting to meet someone there that they would go out w/ on a serious basis.

    Personally I don’t see myself staying in the same city going to the same parties for so many years.

    I would relocate.

  • Sounds totally sweet. But daytime is reality time and night is fantasy time so I think it should happen again, in the day time, same place, same people. But if you want to get real, no kidding, serious results, do not let one single ounce of alchohol pass your lips. Not even one. The idea is to have every brain cell you own doing its job.

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