The beauty of New York is unintentional; it arose independent of human design, like a stalagmite cavern. Milan Kundera

The first massive influx of Russian and Eastern European immigrants came to New York in the 1890s, driven by dreams of religious and political tolerance, enormous wealth, and a warmer climate. The second wave followed in 1917-1922, escaping the Russian Revolution, and the third wave began in 1970s and followed into the 1990s. These latest immigrants settled in large numbers on a strip of Brooklyn land called Brighton Beach, lured by the promise of citrus fruits and the sounds of the ocean shore. And they nicknamed their new kingdom “Little Odessa.”

Many of these brave ocean-travelers became famous in their adopted homeland: Irving Berlin- a legend of American songwriting; Vladimir Nabokov, a master stylist of postmodern prose; Miklhail Baryshnikov, a stunning ballet dancer who is now a famous character on Sex and the City. All of them found artistic and personal happiness here. Today, New York’s Russian-American population is reported to be around 1 million, and they are all out on Saturday night.

That's because New York's Russian-American scene is like an amplified version of its native counterpart: the feasts are larger, the book readings are longer, the nightclub only closes when the police come to shut. it. down. Russians eat at banquets, featuring enormous smorgasbords consisting of an endless rotation of caviar, smoked sturgeon, mayonnaise-filled salads, filet mignon, duck, goose, pig, you name it. Then they dance it all off in cabaret-style shows, the young and the old both gyrating with equally reckless abandon, the smoking area packed with happy people puffing away and waving their hands dismissively at warnings of ill health.

Because there's a Russian word - “Zhizneradostniy” - an adjective that literally means “life happy”. And that perhaps is the best way to describe New York's Russian-American exuberant scene. Written by Diana Bruk

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