So here’s how it goes if you own a boat in the Hamptons and attend the annual Barcelona Point party.
First, it isn’t necessarily at Barcelona Point every year. Basically what happens is, you get a variety of cellphone calls and texts from various people who ask you if you plan on attending the massive boat party that takes place every summer and if you know where it is. Then, as the party date gets closer, somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody tells you the exact location, and off you go. It is entirely word-of-mouth, and that’s the way the partiers like it.
Essentially, the Barcelona Point boat party is a large, unofficial gathering of boats somewhere in the Hamptons that happens every summer. The boats are generally filled with people looking to drink and listen to music and splash around in the water and enjoy life. A band shows up (by boat, of course), and performs on the deck or on some type of barge, people gather around on kayaks and floats that they bring from their boats, all anchored surrounding the band, and they swim around, imbibe and have a great time.
I attended the Barcelona Point party this year. I attended it last year. And I plan on attending it in the future. No money is made, no charity is designated, and there is no silent auction or catered dinner. It’s simply a party, and if you have a boat, you can go. Bring your own beer.
The festivities frequently move to different bodies of water in the Hamptons from year to year, for the specific reason of not bothering the same people who live near those bodies of water on an annual basis. Changing the location is also designed to avoid authorities being there, but that doesn’t exactly work, since it’s not all that hard to figure out where the party ends up on the day it happens.
Over the years—at least according to many people I spoke with, who claim to have been going to this party since the beginning of time—the party has grown in size dramatically in terms of the police presence that shows up. “I remember when there would be maybe one police boat there, and they really left everybody alone with it,” one guy said to me while I was out for dinner in Sag Harbor. “This year, I think I saw a D.E.C. boat and at least three police boats. I didn’t feel comfortable while I was there this year and don’t plan on going to it anymore.” He seemed disappointed.
I noticed the police presence like I notice a police presence at any large event, and I did not feel they were there in order to bust people’s chops, but simply to ensure that nobody was in any real danger. With that being said, I don’t think I’ve ever been to a large event that takes place in the Hamptons where I didn’t see at least one police officer. Now that I think about it, I don’t think that there is a day that goes by that I don’t see a police officer somewhere, and I think that they do a pretty good job at leaving people alone when they have no reason to stop them.
So can I agree with the several people who told me they think the party has changed and is no longer fun? No, because I had a great time. But I did notice that it was smaller than last year. Does this mean that sooner or later the Barcelona party will be a thing of the past and fall into the category of “back in the good old days…” where everything was better? As long as there are boats and people looking for a party, I highly doubt that.