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Swingers

How flirty are the city’s playgrounds?

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I n the movie Little Children, two unusually un-worn-out-looking parents (Kate Winslet and Patrick Wilson) meet on a playground and begin a torrid extramarital affair. We decided to test this premise in the city, where women dress up to go swing-pushing and dads spend hours on their hair to achieve that Stay-at-Home-Dad bed-head look. Is there monkeying around the monkey bars?


Bleecker Playground
West 11th and Hudson Streets, West Village

SELECTION
Celebrities; moms in alice + olivia; dads in Ben Sherman hoodies; shrinks, Euros, NYU professors.

VIBE
Marc Jacobs meets Jane Jacobs.

SIGHTINGS
Liv Tyler, Sarah Jessica Parker.

THE PARENTS SAY:
Tom Farley, 34, software-company manager, and Maeve, 15 months: Is there a sexual dynamic here? “It’s more frequently vicarious flirting, through the children. Sometimes I point her toward the kid of the really pretty mom and try to strike up a conversation that way. If my wife sees this, she’ll kill me.”


Washington Market Park
Greenwich and Chambers Streets, Tribeca

SELECTION
Screenwriter dads; moms in French scarves (tied the fancy way) and outfits from that shop on Reade that closed.

VIBE
Nobu meets Nemo.

SIGHTINGS
Ed Burns, Christy Turlington.

THE PARENTS SAY:
Venus Borden, 40, full-time mom, with Sebastian, 6: Is child-raising flirty? “Yes. When your children are school age, your friends really become other parents because you see them so much. If anything’s going to happen, it will happen in that group. There’s lots of flirting going on at school: drop-off, coffees, potlucks.”


Chelsea Waterside Park
West 23rd Street and Eleventh Avenue, Chelsea

SELECTION
Uptowners recently transplanted to Chelsea who have no idea what men used to do on those piers.

VIBE
Goo-goo-ga-ga meets Gagosian.

SIGHTINGS
Mary McCann, Ethan Hawke.

THE PARENTS SAY:
David Strah, 38, full-time dad, and Barry Miguel, 48, fashion executive, and Zev, 8: Do women flirt with you, assuming you’re straight? David: “I probably wouldn’t pick up on it.” Do gay dads flirt with other gay dads? Barry: “I think they do. Guys are guys.” David: “Usually they’re not very attractive.”


Harmony Playground
9th Street and Prospect Park West, Park Slope

SELECTION
Worn-out stay-at-home moms in fleece sweatshirts; dweeby-preppy or grungy-tattooed Ivy-educated dads.

VIBE
The Squid and the Whale meets The Cosby Show.

SIGHTINGS
Kathryn Erbe.

THE PARENTS SAY:
Sarah Hindsgaul, 28, stylist, with Eli, 2½: Does your husband say, “I saw the hottest women at the playground”? “He says, ‘I saw the oldest women.’ In New York, most mothers are over 40.” Are Park Slope dads cute? “They’re boring. If I were going to flirt at a playground, it would be in Williamsburg.”

Have good intel? Send tips to intel@nymag.com.


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