Supporters of mayor-elect Bill de Blasio may have appreciated his landslide victory over Republican rival Joe Lhota, but it turns out that a surefire win does not make for the most entertaining election party. Held under the bright lights in the Park Slope Armory, de Blasio supporters milled around the track looking sober and bored, a far cry from the high-energy affair that was his primary party at the nearby Bell House.
"Everyone on these benches looks so sad," one reporter remarked to another. It was true. An assemblage of press was hunched over laptops on metal bleachers, looking like technically-enabled evacuees from some prolonged catastrophe (which isn't far from the truth—it's been a loooong election season). Brooklyn Lager was available, but drinkers were forced to stand in their own cramped pen, sequestered from the rest of the revelers by orange cones and a yellow chain. Tale of Two Cities, indeed.
De Blasio has a number of high profile supporters, at least some of whom were present to celebrate his win: Cynthia Nixon and Susan Sarandon were in attendance, as was Steve Buscemi, if for no reason other than the Armory is a convenient walk from his house.
Chirlane McCray introduced her husband, and de Blasio, securing his place as New York's hippest mayor, emerged to the song "Royals" by Lorde. The second and third most popular de Blasios, Chiara and Dante, made their customary appearances alongside their father, with Chiara wearing her characteristic flower headband and Dante's afro looking radiant as ever.
The speech itself touched on all the themes that propelled de Blasio to victory: The city's growing inequality, affordable housing, and the importance of a police department that works not against the community, but alongside it. De Blasio spent some time couching his bold plans for the future in warnings that the "progressive path" may be pitted:
"The challenge before us today is different from any we’ve faced before: it has no distinct or dramatic catalyst, no insidious face, no electronic image on a radar map. The growing inequality we see, the crisis of affordability we face, it has been decades in the making. But its slow creep upon this city cannot weaken our resolve," he said. On the bright side: "New York’s resilience is legendary; our toughness is unmatched; and our will is unbreakable. So I say to you tonight: The road ahead will be difficult, but it will be traveled; Progressive changes won’t happen overnight, but they will happen; There will be many obstacles that stand in our way, but we will overcome them." All of this was met with wild applause from an audience that, for tonight at least, was filled with optimism.
De Blasio's speech concluded the way we assume all of de Blasio's speeches will end for the next six dozen years of his reign: With a family-wide Smackdown, official dance move of the de Blasio clan. By this time, reporters and supporters alike were already hightailing it for the door. The alcohol pen was mostly deserted. Susan Sarandon loitered near the back of the Armory, posing for the occasional photograph.
Bloomberg loyalists worry that once their man is out of office, the lavish parties will cease as well. Looking around the Armory on Tuesday, it's hard not to wonder whether their concerns, however insipid, are justified.
Remember Bloomberg's first victory party, way back in 2001? Me neither. It was held at the B.B King Blues Club in Times Square, and from the sound of it, most people couldn't get in anyway—an apt depiction of Bloomberg's New York. Here's an excerpt on the festivities at from the Columbia Daily Spectator:
The party was mainly attended by middle-aged men and woman dressed nicely in gray and black suits, and a major undercurrent outside of the party especially among younger attendees was the desire to get jobs in Bloomberg's administration. In fact, many who were not admitted bemoaned not being seen by Bloomberg and therefore not being able to be considered for jobs in Bloomberg's upcoming administration.
For most of the night the street remained almost empty, with people entering quickly out of the cold night air and coming out only to smoke quickly, or to get a quiet moment to talk before darting back into the party. Few sounds emerged from the party itself and it seemed to be businesslike, if not secluded from the public. By 11:00 a few reporters already had begun to leave the party almost twenty minutes before Green had even decided to concede, even as last-minute supporters rushed in sensing that the election would soon be decided.
Will anything really change? Is this indeed the beginning of a more inclusive New York, or is this just the beginning of a backslide into the bad old days, with a better playlist? It's impossible to know. Bill de Blasio's Spanish has already proven infinitely better than Bloomberg's. Luckily, some wag has already secured the @eldeblasito Twitter handle, just in case.