We receive emails and comments all the time from readers who turn to our (not inconsiderable) knowledge of NYC for advice, so we've decided to take time out of our busy day of internet surfing to answer questions. Today: What do New Yorkers mean when they call someone Eurotrash?
A journalist from "the continent" emailed us yesterday in response to reader comments on a post about Parisian nightlife impresario André Saraiva smooching uptown girl Annabel Dexter-Jones at Le Bain. The reporter very nicely expressed his distaste for the "eurotrash" label deployed (again, by a reader) in reference to Saraiva, Le Bain and contemporary New York nightlife. Here are the comments:
"the rooftop is nice but Le Bain is gross. a loud airless toilet covered with mildew and eurotrash."
"Wow talk about embarrassing for her... Eurotrash putting his hand up a "socialities" [sic] chest.."
"Gee, what a risque leaked photo...yawn. NYC nightlife these days is so Eurotrash it is pathetic. It seems we haven't moved on from the worst of the 70s (disco and bad blow)."
And here is a snippet from our peer's reaction:
"in the comments, I...read things like "Eurotrash" and not very kind words to describe André Saraiva... Is that resentment toward André Saraiva ? What do you think about that ?"
Now, while we can't speak for commenters, we can take a stab at describing the meaning and history of the "Eurotrash" descriptor. (Sadly, full etymology could not be researched thanks to the OED's $295 annual subscription charge.)
To begin, some "official" definitions:
It should be noted that Eurotrash is also used to describe a certain brand of art, typically opera, that became popular on American soil in the 1980s. An alternative Urban Dictionary entry for Eurotrash calls it "Post-modern, degenerate, trendy, or out-of-style European cultural phenomena masquerading as avant-garde High Art." And the word appeared for the second time in the Times in a 1988 Christmas Day review of "Gotterdammerung," the last entry in Wagner's Ring Cycle, at the Met:
"...the Metropolitan's version...stands out among recent ''Rings'' for its rejection of mindless updating and other theatrical faddishness...It is not safe to predict how successful the Metropolitan's departure from currently fashionable Eurotrash will prove to be..."
But most commoners today hear Eurotrash and associate it with Meatpacking District boîtes before Lincoln Center productions. Now, what (Louis Vuitton) baggage does the word bring with it?
Here's a start:
Is Eurotrash a pejorative? Despite it containing the word "trash," I say no. Eurotrash is merely another way to tag the people we see out at night. It's no more a slur than hipster, "socialite," frat boy, Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, Charlotte or B&T. OK, maybe it's not quite a term of endearment. And it's a bit sad that we need to label anyone remotely different than ourselves. But at the end of the day, or DJ set, we've all come together and stayed under the same roof.
As for Saraiva, you can bet plenty of red-blooded Americans will line up when he opens Le Baron this fall, trashy or not.
Saturday, May 25
We sat down with Anne Pasternak for a few questions about Creative Time's past and future, as well as the importance of having an awareness about public art in the city.