Diddy's "White Parties" in the Hamptons Finally Explained
Hua Hsu grabs the cover of the Jan/Feb Atlantic Monthly to explain what Sean Combs and Jay Gatsby have in common, the post-racial world that even Nelly knows he lives in, Stuff White People Like, The (White) Rapper Show, WASP style, and the other stubborn trappings of "The End of White America."
- For a contemporary embodiment of the upheaval that this scene portended, consider Sean Combs, a hip-hop mogul and one of the most famous African Americans on the planet. Combs grew up during hip-hop's late-1970s rise, and he belongs to the first generation that could safely make a living working in the industry--as a plucky young promoter and record-label intern in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and as a fashion designer, artist, and music executive worth hundreds of millions of dollars a brief decade later.
In the late 1990s, Combs made a fascinating gesture toward New York's high society. He announced his arrival into the circles of the rich and powerful not by crashing their parties, but by inviting them into his own spectacularly over-the-top world. Combs began to stage elaborate annual parties in the Hamptons, not far from where Fitzgerald's novel takes place. These "white parties"--attendees are required to wear white--quickly became legendary for their opulence (in 2004, Combs showcased a 1776 copy of the Declaration of Independence) as well as for the cultures-colliding quality of Hamptons elites paying their respects to someone so comfortably nouveau riche. Prospective business partners angled to get close to him and praised him as a guru of the lucrative "urban" market, while grateful partygoers hailed him as a modern-day Gatsby.
"Have I read The Great Gatsby?" Combs said to a London newspaper in 2001. "I am the Great Gatsby."
Plus, Burning Man references!
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