Midnight and It’s Only Just Begun

It’s chaos. It’s a party. It’s Montauk after hours — last call 3:30 a.m.
Remi Shobitan, master of the deck bar at Montauk’s Surf Lodge, on the summer season’s penultimate night T.E. McMorrow

    It was midnight, Sunday, Labor Day weekend at the Point bar in downtown Montauk. The crowd of 20-somethings was 5 wide and 20 back, waiting to gain entrance. Andy Picarro and Patrick Gant guarded the gates. Inside, the L-shaped bar was packed, crowd hands in the air, dancing to a techno-beat.
    Across the street at the Memory Motel, it was much the same — a throng of people jamming to the beat, drinking the night away, inside the bar, and outside in the picket fence-enclosed parking lot.
    Both Mr. Picarro and Mr. Gant are big men, certainly not the kind a bully would choose to push around. But most of the job is not brawn.
    “You’ve got to talk people out of it,” Mr. Picarro said, as he checked the stamps on the hands of returning customers.
    Across the street, at Pizza Village, the vendor of choice for the late-night crowd, there was a line of about 25, waiting to order.
    At the Surf Lodge on South Edgemere Street, a new crowd was waiting to enter as another crowd looked for taxis to leave.
    An East Hampton Town police officer stopped to assist the chaotic swirl of taxis. An ambulance, sirens screaming, snaked its way down Edgemere, the officer shouting to the crowd, “Get out of the way! Get out of the way!”
    “East Hampton? Where?” a driver asks of a potential fare. Told Main Street, he said, “$80.”
    Part of the mystique of the Surf Lodge is its appearance. It looks and feels like an island. Inside, each area opens up into the next, some feeling quiet and intimate, some jammed and jamming.
    The crowd is in its 20s; 30 is pushing it. Thirty-five? You must be on Social Security.
    The packed barroom in front is dark with wall-to-wall dancing. You don’t walk through the room, you jam. It’s like a mosh pit for the well-heeled.
    And much of the crowd is well-heeled — investment bankers, hedge fund managers.
    Roger Akiki is in charge of security for Jayma Cardoso, a club owner with a visible presence, always on site watching over the frenzied party she has spun. “She is a fabulous person, a caring human being,” he said as he directed his staff, guiding customers through the labyrinth of rooms.
    In the outside bar area, fire burning in an open grill in the sand, Remi Shobitan, the bartender, slung drinks with speed, poetry, and grace.
    “People love him,” Mr. Akiki said, as Mr. Shobitan mixed two drinks in seconds.
    Back in town, by the beach, at the Sloppy Tuna, the hour is late but the crowd is still coming. One of the security team steps out to say hello to a cop.
    “A real shit show,” the cop says. “They leave Manhattan, and I guess there are no rules.”
    It’s been a tough season on the East Hampton Town police, especially those patrolling Montauk. Officers have been punched, cursed at, kicked, and spat on. Pre-dawn fights on Main Street were a regular occurrence.
    It has been controlled chaos, but it has been controlled. The East Hampton Town Police Department has made a point of networking with the security teams at the various bars.
    “You got your rich-kid entitlement mentality clashing with your local-kid entitlement mentality,” Mr. Picarro said, back at the Point as the hour approached 2:30 a.m.
    Told that things at the Sloppy Tuna were winding down, Mr. Picarro said, “They’ll start heading here.”
    “Anybody going to East Hampton?” a cab driver shouted. The price was still $80. The taxis were lined up on both sides of the street; they didn’t stay empty long.
    Traditionally, by the end of the season, Montauk has five or six cab companies running.
    This year, there are countless companies, with names like United, ABC, Mitts, Blue Sky, and All NY. Cabs are being sent out from UpIsland, even from New York, their drivers unfamiliar with Montauk.
    According to Elvis Almonte, a Montauk resident and driver for Surf Taxi, the drivers of these out-of-town taxis rely on global positioning devices to get them to requested destinations. The problem is, not every Montauk address is in the system.
    “If it isn’t in the GPS, they can’t find it,” he said.
    A cop checked the paperwork for one of the out-of-town cabs to make sure its driver had proper insurance and a license to operate a livery. The young driver was flustered, but produced the proper documentation.
    “I have everything,” he said, after the officer left, as people climbed into his minivan.
    Sometimes, as they piled into cabs, the young customers stacked themselves up in order to get the whole group inside, with men and woman sitting and lying on each other’s laps.
    At 3 a.m. at the Point, people were still streaming in.
    “I’m from Norway,” Mikel Haugstveit said as he headed inside to join the fray. “I took a plane to New York. I came to Montauk, slept in a hotel for three days, then I went surfing.”
    As with all the local clubs, the security team at the Point has one last job once the doors close.
    “You’ll hear the scraping of brooms at the end of the night,” Mr. Gant said, as the security team cleans up the cups, cans, and bottles left in the area after closing.
    At 3:30 at the Point, it was last call.
    The music was still going, the packed crowd was still dancing, but the door was now locked.
    A young man in designer orange shorts and a polo shirt pleaded to get back in, his girlfriend was inside, but his pleas fell on deaf ears. Once you step out, there is no return.

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Photos by Sunny Khalsa


Montauk is in danger of becoming Hampton Bays - East. This article should serve as a warning to what should already be obvious to anyone whose lived here for a while. The type of people that are being drawn to this town by the many new clubs is reflected in the sky-rocketing trash problem on the streets and beaches. Mostly empty booze and beer bottles. No one wants to take the fun out of a beach weekend, me included, but Montauk will soon be known for it's drunken hoards instead of a beautiful family retreat. Those families will go elsewhere. The Northfork, Cape Cod or anywhere they can find a beach town with an environment unlike what is depicted in the above article. Anyone that argues against my point either spends time crawling around Montauk in a drunken haze at 3 a.m., or stands to profit from it. Every time. But one day, these profiteers will realize that there's a new hot spot somewhere else, sell-out to a second generation of opportunists looking to cash in and Montauk will be left with a permanent legacy of association with places like the Jersey Shore. I say, pressure the Town to enforce every letter of every code, ordinance and law - they were put there FOR A REASON - limit the profit and force their hand. We can still save what we love about Montauk and preserve it for the future, but it's starting to get late!
Six words: North Fork is where it's at
Ah, you can't stop change!! I remember us laughing at the people paying $1,500 for an apartment that my Grandparents paid only $150 for 25 years ago. That would be on N. 9th St and Bedford Ave in the heart of Williamsburg. We were baffled and now you can't touch the place unless you have a fortune. Now it's happened to Greenpoint and rolled into Astoria. So, my advise for Anonymous # 1, is to be thankful for the tax revenue coming in and the new business. It's only 15 weeks during the summer and then you get your town back. I'd trade that for the 52 weeks we're stuck w/in the city. BTW - Hampton Bays ROCKS!!!
fck the hamptons montauk is a real town ive been in ny 15yrs and spent one nite out east NOT in montauk. every other time i have been in mtk and know this town will never be east hampton and if it means more hamptons bays vibe, good, keep the stuck up rich folks out.
mr poster at 4:14 am from your post you appear to be real loser. get back to your mop before the wash water gets cold.
One solution to balance the the need for revenue by these businesses and the rapidly deteriorating quality of life in Summertime Montauk IS TO IMPOSE THAT ALL BARS IN EAST HAMPTON CLOSE AT 2AM. That would still allow the businesses to make their money it would just encourage some to start their party earlier and keep the drunken carloads from entertaining a dangerous post-midnight drunkfest jaunt to Montauk. MOSTLY BAD THINGS HAPPEN AFTER 2AM!!!! Is is really amazing to me how our Republican Town Board Members have all this concern for the business owners but little regard for the real TAXPAYERS- the homeowners. How much tax revenue did the town generate from these businesses that are responsible for the deterioration of the quality of life, and in some cases the environment, in Montauk? Very little since all they pay is property tax, not SALES REVENUE TAX. Meanwhile, who pays the bill for increased Police Protection, increased Trash Collection, and increased stress on EMT's? The answer is we, the regular tax payer. We can't reverse the tide of popularity for Montauk, nor should we, but we need our elected officials to represent the needs of ALL OF THE PEOPLE, NOT JUST THE BUSINESS OWNERS. It's time that when the next election comes around, you forget what your party alliance and vote for the OVERALL GOOD AND BALANCE OF OUR BELOVED TOWN.