Or at least, I went where the in-crowd goes.
By Hannah Wallace
I know it comes as quite a shock, but when I attended Bayshore High School in the ‘90s, I was not among the well-dressed, ambitious, energetic, active-in-student-government Future Uber-Successful Business Leaders of the World (or whatever the hell). Those people were called the Trophy-Case Kids (because that’s where they hung out), and they were the ones who made underachieving honor students like me look…well, underachieving.
Ten years later and I’ve been asked to write an article about the cool, fashionable young professionals who live, work and party downtown—basically, Sarasota’s Trophy-Case Kids.
I honestly had no idea there was such a crowd. (When my buddy Little J and I lived in Gillespie Park a few years ago, the downtown people we got to know best were our Mexican neighbors, who opened beer bottles with their teeth.) And that’s just it: When they explained the assignment, my bosses—who are, let’s face it, a little older than me—knew so much more about this scene than I did. And I had a high-school-style sweaty-palmed anxiety attack at the thought of being asked to infiltrate the cool kids.
“They want me to write about YPGers,” I told my friends over beers at Esca. “Do they know at any given moment I’m wearing at least one thing I bought at Goodwill?”
Fortunately, I was introduced to Matt Orr, who immediately welcomed me into that world and invited me to hang out with the crowd at Metro Café Tuesday night. Matt’s a realtor with Michael Saunders and a co-founder of the YPG and its monthly Downtown After Five events. Plus, he’s super-friendly and knows everybody (seriously, everybody). At Metro I was introduced to a crowd of handsome young men sitting around, drinking wine and eating quesadillas. Among them were Kelly Kirschner (son of former Sarasota mayor Kerry Kirschner and a current city commission candidate) and Andrew Foley (one-half of the wunderkind sibling team now running Sarasota News and Books).
We went to FST’s “Improv at the Cabaret” and met more promising young Sarasotans—it was as though half the audience were part of this downtown club. And when we returned to Metro after the show, half the cast of comedians came with us. (Heck, I’ve hung around actors before.) I drank a pint of beer and listened as Max Linsky (who just moved here to head Creative Loafing) and Zack Chase (one of the FST performers and an English teacher at Phoenix Academy) discussed the current state of Sarasota schools.
Reassuringly, it was much like hanging around my own friends—except, y’know, there were more of them, they were out on a Tuesday night, and they kept paying for my drinks. And that seems to be a big part of the story: the sheer volume of young, intelligent, successful people enjoying the heck out of Sarasota—and downtown Sarasota specifically.
I’m looking forward to researching the matter further.