2016 Was the Year of the Great White Bro

Photographed by Daniel Arnold

Photographed by Daniel Arnold

 

One need only check Twitter to know the bros are out there, cruising around freely with vape pens, or weighing the merits of gongs and confetti machines in an Uber Pool car, or rejoicing that major banks don’t conduct drug tests.

I came to the admission late, on a hot summer night. A colleague and I met for drinks at B Bar on the Bowery, before a concert at Irving Plaza, having each passed an inordinate number of bros en route. “Does Manhattan seem a bit—bro-y?” I asked tentatively. She affirmed: The trip in from Fort Greene had been Bro City. Later, we made our way to Irving Plaza on foot, passing bar after bar overflowing with bros.

When the show ended, close to 3:00 a.m., we ventured back out to hail a cab. Migrating herds of bros were spilling off sidewalks and into traffic, high-fiving each other, slapping one another on the back. As we flew downtown in a taxi, windows unrolled, the ambient roar of the bros poured in from every direction. Where do they come from, we wondered, and where do they go? We rounded a turn onto the Brooklyn Bridge, and my colleague poked her head out the window. “When you pick up the seashell of New York City,” she said with a tinge of melancholy, hair blowing in the East River wind, “all you hear is the great white noise of the great white bros.”

As is so often the case, the young people knew more than we did. “They’re based in Murray Hill,” a 20-something photo editor told me the following week. Her cubicle mate, another photo editor, concurred. “Murray Hill is ground zero for bros,” he said. They broke it down: The neighborhood’s expansive apartment buildings are similar to college dorms, and there is easy access via the Midtown Tunnel or FDR Drive for the parents of bros, who are said to care for their young longer than most primates. “A lot of the buildings have roundabout driveways, so parents can easily drop off laundry and food,” the first editor said. (Sure enough, The New York Times had clocked the phenomenon with a piece titled, “In Murray Hill, the College Life Need Never End,” and the website Thrillist had named Murray Hill the bro-iest neighborhood in America.) Packs of bros travel south to the Lower East Side or east to Williamsburg in order to graze and party, the second editor said, but many return to Murray Hill. For this reason, a third editor explained, some bros do not call the neighborhood by its longtime nickname, “Curry Hill,” a reference to the area’s abundance of Indian restaurants, but by a new one, “Murray Chill.”

One Thursday night some weeks later, a few of us gathered in Murray Chill. We had it on good authority that bros congregate at Joshua Tree, a bar on Third Avenue, but we arrived either too early or too late: only two small groups of bros, tamely taking advantage of happy hour. We wandered around a bit, first west and then south, encountering individual rogue bros but no real herds. Then, on Lexington, we came upon the bar and barbecue spot Brother Jimmy’s—bingo. Or, as it turned out—beer pong. Rooms and rooms of it. Scores of bros in color-coordinated team T-shirts were competing in a lively, hours-long championship spread across several floors and many tables, arranging glasses of beer into triangular shapes and sending ping-pong balls soaring into them.

My colleagues headed downstairs to investigate, and I sidled up to the bar, where the only guy who was not part of a bro mob struck up a conversation. He was from San Francisco, and happened to work as a traveling consultant within the larger bro diaspora. “You can tell finance and tech bros apart by their clothes,” he said. Tech bros are allowed to wear jeans to work, while most finance bros are not, though some finance bros are allowed to wear shorts in summertime, “depending on the firm.” Both subspecies tend to stick to blue button-ups, but will wear a check pattern if they’re in a flamboyant mood. “When a bro wears a check pattern, that’s him being flashy,” he said. Through a sea of bros I spotted my colleague, the photographer Daniel Arnold, and followed him downstairs. With a look of dazed bewilderment, Daniel pointed to a tabletop emblazoned with the corporate emblem of Wonder Bread. “There is an actual white-bread table,” he said.

Later, as we all shuffled down Lexington, another realization set in. The bros, we couldn’t help but notice, were happy. Were we?

 

The post 2016 Was the Year of the Great White Bro appeared first on Vogue.

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