folsom_east
Tom Giebel

New Yorkers have mixed feelings about the High Line. Sure, it’s popular enough to make other cities jealous. But it’s kind of out of the way and, damningly, overrun by tourists. It’s also long been the object of ire from long-time residents suspicious of Bloombergian development, who find it a little too … manicured. It’s a project that makes New Yorkers face up to the question of what sort of city they want to live in — one that’s exciting, but little bit rougher around the edges, or one that’s safe but maybe a little bit tame? And that contrast has never been as stark as now, when High Line-related construction is conflicting with a kinky sex parade.

Jeremiah Moss, a blogger who’s solidly on the side of the older, rougher city, writes that the construction of fancy buildings in the High Line’s neighborhood has led to the cancellation of an old and dear ritual: the Folsom Street East street festival, “the largest outdoor fetish street festival on the easter coast, which brings thousands of sexy kinksters out onto the streets of New York City on a summer afternoon to celebrate sexual diversity and expression.”

Moss sees the High Line’s influence at work:

[The festival organizers] write: “Thanks for 16 great years celebrating sexual freedom with the Folsom Street East Street Festival, and we hope to see you back on the kinky streets of New York City in 2014!”

They don’t say which streets and we can guess it won’t be West 28th. Ever since the High Line opened in that part of town and Bloomberg rezoned it for luxury development, Folsom East has had a target on its back.

Perhaps this is a sign that whatever kinky culture is left in New York has simply moved to a more outer borough. But perhaps shiny, modern cities can’t be safe for tourists, gentrifiers, and sexy kinksters at the same time. For efficiency reasons, it’s quite desirable for more people to live in cities, but it’s important to make sure there’s room not just for people who want to spend $4 on hibiscus ice pops but for people who’d rather spend their money on horse-tail buttplugs.