Our friend Gene invited us to join him at the Banya party at theBrooklyn Banya Russian Bathouse and Spa. Marching bands and vodka, a Russian bathhouse and semi naked people- all of our our favorite things. He goes every year.
The Gemini and Scorpio invite::
Break out your bikini or swim trunks, and join our hand-picked crowd of artsy, funky (and nearly naked) New Yorkers for the glorious return of Gemini & Scorpio's legendary Russian Baths party.
We will have the entire bathhouse to ourselves, with a few hand-picked professionals on hand for the optional platzas and massages. Enjoy: Russian, Turkish and Swedish steam rooms, jacuzzi and cold plunge pool; poolside dance floor; rooftop smoking deck; authentic and delicious Russian food in a private restaurant room with a view of the dance floor.
This is the kind of party you always imagine, but can never quite find in real life...and may be the only one you'll come out of cleaner than when you came in.
I didn't bring my camera. These things are generally smoother without pictures. But the hosts took some shots, posted here.
We arrived early, taking in our usual cycle of steam, cold, hot baths, and more steam, in between water, beer, and eventually vodka, Russian food, and stories of people who immigrated from Russia. We all sat a banquet table ate and shared recollections. Most have been here for decades now, home in mother Brooklyn, where marching bands and immigrant stories add to a lovely cultural smorgasbord. Over time, the conversation turned to holy Brooklyn and its ever shifting, evolving tides of people and cultural shifts.
At some point, the bar opened up and more people in bathing suits got in line for vodka.
We jumped back into the water, running into more and more friends, making new friends.
Bands started playing in the other room, members of the Slavic Soul Party, Rude Mechanical, and several other bands started playing, clad in swim shorts. More and more people started shaking in the baths, bare feet on the floor. Other couples snuck off into the steam rooms. More shaking on the dance floor. We danced and danced, svitzed, steamed, swam, took in the sights and danced even more.
Its good to see a few people still out there keeping NYC full of crazy, a few still out there.
"We'll see you at Barbes on Tuesday ok?" we said goodbye to new friends, walked out into the Brooklyn fog and made our way home.
The place was filling up as we left.