The grandeur of the ocean beaches in the Hamptons is unparalleled. Everyone knows it. The very rich live closest to them. The less rich live farther away, and the locals live up in Springs or in Noyac where they have, for the last 350 years, enjoyed the solitude of the bay beaches. There, with the water lapping at their feet, they can sunbathe with their families on the pebbled sand, throw out fishing lines, go clamming or swimming or kite flying.
Some of these beaches, Little Albert’s Landing, Albert’s Landing, Fresh Pond Park Beach, Barnes Landing and Maidstone Beach, are town owned, with wonderful facilities. There are bathhouses at some of them, pavilions with picnic tables, barbecue pits, ball fields. One of them, Little Albert’s, actually is home to a small brook that flows out to the bay. Kids wade in it, raft in it, or if particularly adventurous, swing on ropes attached to trees that allow you to fly across it. Dogs splash around below.
There are rules and regulations about these beaches as there are for all beaches, but for the most part, the town leaves everyone alone up here on the bay. These Landings do not, in the scheme of things, appear to be of much interest to the tourists and summerpeople. It does concern the town, however, if multiple groups of family and friends show up at the same time to use one or another of these facilities. So they ask you to call Town Hall ahead and reserve one of the spaces. They can accommodate two or three parties at the same time, usually. They’ll reserve it for free, as a courtesy, just as a maître de’ will reserve a table for you at a restaurant. It’s an unofficial thing. (Town Police Chief Eddie Ecker confirmed that this service, which I have used for family outings in the past, is still in place.)
That was not the kind of reservation John Rayner Turley made. On August 1, the town unanimously granted a mass gathering permit to Turley. He asked for and got Fresh Pond Park in Amagansett. He was expecting about 150 friends and relatives out there for a “summer social,” the application for the mass gathering permit said. There would be a band and a DJ. Outdoor music, per the permit, would end by 9 p.m., indoor music, if any, by 11. It would be a nice time.
A web page had, apparently without any officials out here noticing, been put up inviting people to come on out there to the gathering for $174—$154 for early birds—enjoy rock bands, dancing, food, beer and fun all the way through until midnight. The date would be Saturday, August 10. They announced that that night, this Landing would bear a new name—“Electronic Beach.”
Early on Saturday, lighting people, catering people, beer delivery people, sound systems and food began to arrive on the narrow road leading out to Albert’s. The bands arrived. The groups were Strange Talk, from Australia, the Chainsmokers, and a reggae group called See-I. After that, busloads of people began arriving. The price to the party included bus transportation. Some took the buses, others arrived in cars or on motorcycles. Tents were set up offering Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Vita Coco coconut water, Pacifico beer and Monster Energy Drink. And then the first of the bands began to play, and their music was amplified by the sound system, arranged in large stacks of speakers that bellowed out a noise that could be heard for miles, as far away as Sammy’s Beach and Napeague.
The sun set around 8, and soon thereafter the lights went on, providing a blue glow to the proceedings. An estimated 200 people attended. A total of nine calls came in to the police during this party. But when the police came, Police Chief Eddie Ecker said, the officers were shown the valid permit and they did nothing other than tell the promoters to turn the volume down. Then the police left. The beams from giant white searchlights roamed the skies. Come to Little Albert’s, the home of Electronic Beach. Finally, at midnight (three hours after the 9 p.m. limit for outdoor music) the thing shut down, everything was gathered up and all the revelers left.
The East Hampton Star broke this remarkable story. One local woman said she had gone down to Albert’s for her daily swim at sunset and said the noise was nearly intolerable and so she went home. And thus the weekend continued.
On Monday, the telephone at East Hampton Town Hall in Pantigo began ringing to find out what had gone wrong. Many people felt this was an unwarranted invasion, a huge intrusion of citified summer people into this quiet, family area. They had come. They had rocked on. There may not have been any laws against all this on the books—they got a permit—but that’s the town’s fault. There should be laws to prevent ear-shattering, high-voltage parties from happening on a public beach.
It did appear, as far as the locals were concerned, to have been a daring commando raid on a quiet park and narrow bay beach in the Hamptons without advance warning. Who knew the town would give a permit for a giant gathering but not any warning? It will be known, by some, as the Attack at Albert’s Landing, 2013. Hopefully, ways to repel such invaders will be forthcoming.