Living Liberally threw itself a launch party Saturday night in a wonderfully eccentric West Village event space, complete with a gilded “Porn Palace” room and a spacious deck. A hundred people or so showed up to celebrate — and raise money for — an organization dedicated to getting right-thinking people out and about, having a good time, and maybe discussing liberal politics. Living Liberally is the newly organized umbrella for several more activity-specific groups: Drinking Liberally, Laughing Liberally, Blogging Liberally. There’s even Eating Liberally, tied to the progressive food movement, which set up a grill on the deck and also served, according to a pamphlet, “ABC Chocolate Cake: ‘A’ for applesauce, ‘B’ for beets, and ‘C’ for carrots.” (G for gross!) In other words, though this party was a fund-raiser for the organization’s work, usually Living Liberally’s parties are its work.
Co-founder Justin Krebs, affable, tall, ponytailed, was in full macher mode Saturday night. He and Matt O’Neill, also present, started Drinking Liberally in 2003 after the invasion of Iraq. The local chapter generally meets once a week at Rudy’s, in Hell’s Kitchen; the admission price, according to frequent attendee Kathryn Riley, is the occasional pitcher of beer. But now there are 200 chapters nationwide, and all the other kinds of Liberallys, which means there’s more overhead — including full-time staff — and a need for cash. “We’ve never asked for $100 before,” Krebs said, “and we felt profoundly uncomfortable for it, but people said yes.”
The party was what you’d expect: Mostly young people (although co-founder O’Neill insisted Drinking Liberally’s average age nationwide was 37), mostly downtown sorts, mostly vaguely hip. There was an element of the insufferable, readily conceded in the party’s online invitation, which referred to “latte-sipping” and “Volvo-driving” liberals. (We might remind organizers of the Dave Eggers rule: Acknowledging how annoying you are doesn’t make you any less annoying.) We found Living Liberally to be self-aggrandizing, well meaning, and drunk — and the organizers didn’t disagree. “We’re the physical manifestation of the growth of the blogosphere,” O’Neill said. —Marc Tracy