- Illustration by Mr Angelo Trofa | Words by Mr Jordan Kaye
Why not take the time this summer to scrape yourself off the frying pan of the city pavement and plop down at a beach, at least for a few days. If you do, don't forget to pack your manners: any beach has a social code of its own, and a visit to the Hamptons in particular will require a special sensitivity to your surroundings.
NO BEACH GEAR ON THE BUS
If you don't have your own car to park on the Long Island Expressway for a four-hour session of white-knuckled, stop and go misanthropy, you'll have to strap yourself, DeNiro-like, onto the underside of someone else's Maybach or chopper. Or you can just submit yourself to public transportation, in which case the rules of beach etiquette will begin even before you leave midtown. Everyone prides themselves on the air of extreme informality that they assume once they've settled into the beach digs, no matter how dearly priced. But take note that the letting go doesn't start until your nostrils fill with sea air. The go-to bus of the Hamptons, the Jitney, isn't the kind of transport that lends itself to beach pails, bare feet, or fishing gear. Kindly pack your coolers and beachcombers neatly into a sporty duffle and allow it to be stored under the girth of your bus. Fit in by spending your trip primly tapping away at your iPhone.
DON'T MESS WITH OTHER PEOPLE'S FLIP-FLOPS
Once you arrive at the beach, the provisions of the Hamptons social code will apply with even more force. The first sight that usually greets you upon arrival is the lengthy rows of unlocked bicycles and unattended flip-flops. People leave these semi-valuables unsecured, as the prevailing conceit of the Hamptons is that everyone is privileged enough that no one would bother stealing - and so no one need bother locking anything. To virgin Hamptoners, what you see is not an invitation to try on those Lanvin sandals you've been coveting since April. Remain incognito by lining up your own flip-flops with care and order, so that no one else steals your pair.
YOUR NEIGHBOURS ARE NOT YOUR FRIENDS
Depending on your beach of choice, you may see a few quaint summer shacks just beyond the sand dunes. Those 9,000sqft bungalows are actually the guesthouses attached to the 16,000sqft palaces just out of sight. Although each of these monuments to the extreme implications of capitalist justice could host the entire remaining membership of Occupy Wall Street in the living room for tea and crumpets, visitors are generally unwelcome. No peering into the royal chambers, and don't expect a warm welcome if you ring the doorbell so your toddler can take a pee. The homeowners didn't fancy this location for good people watching, and despite their proximity to the beach, you aren't encouraged to acknowledge that they exist. Keep your eyes fixed on the watery horizon, please, and no looking back over your shoulders at the second (or third) houses of your betters.
THIS IS NOT A FESTIVAL
This basic tenet of the Hamptons code is actually nine rules in one: no radios, drum circles, drugs, nudity, nappy changes, fish fries, arguments, belly laughter, or extreme displays of feelings of any kind. The emotional volume of the Hamptons is fixed rigidly on its lowest setting. Relax all you like, just keep your wild side in check.
If you haven't yet reached a level of professional achievement that allows you to totally unplug from the outside world for the entire weekend, you haven't truly earned a place in the Hamptons. This means you can leave your handheld devices in the beach bag until it's time to confirm your dinner reservations.
All of these rules enforcing the rigours of relaxation shouldn't lead you to believe there isn't a dress code around here! Beach attire is expected to have been recently purchased, meticulously curated, dearly priced and worn only once at any given beach.