This weekend, we’re getting ready for the kind of festival Doc Brown would approve of should he find the occasion to pilot the delorean over here. DayLife LES is a back-to-the-future of sorts, reincarnating New York past into a vibrant festival with hip, modern activities for us folks livin’ in the present. The whole thing started just 3 years back, but the concept at its core pays homage to the variety of bustling markets and street vendors that have called the Lower East Side home for decades.
Now, with the promise of everything from astroturf and bocce ball to pet portraits and bedazzling, this year’s event is lookin’ like a hit. On Sunday, June 1st from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. the neighborhood-wide celebration will cover Orchard Street between East Houston and Delancey Streets with 40 different food and fashion vendors, along with big ol’ sides of music, activities and games.
The Lower East Side Business Improvement District (BID) helms the festivities, drawing on their lay of the land since the nonprofit’s beginnings in 1992. “As you know, the Lower East Side has a ton of nightlife,” says Natalie Raben, who serves as the BID’s Director of Marketing and Communications. “We wanted to try and show that there's just as many things to do during the day — thats' how we came up with the concept.”
Next, Natalie and her team went to the history books. “This area was formerly known as the Bargain District,” she explains. “On Sundays, It used to be mobbed with pushcarts. They started closing the street down because there were so many people out there. That doesn’t happen anymore, but we're trying to tap into that historical aspect of the corridor. We have modernized pushcarts that we give to all of our vendors.”
This Sunday, they’ll have two stages running throughout the day, one over at Tammany Hall, with live performances and DJs, and one dedicated to dancing. Hungry passersby can expect to lay eyes upon neighborhood standbys like The Meatball Shop, Melt Bakery, and Brooklyn Taco, along with newcomers like Mission Cantina (from the masterminds who brought us Mission Chinese), Moscow 57 and Soho’s Galli. Once satisfyingly stuffed, visitors can also play giant Jenga (yes, it does look crazy when it falls), get their faces painted, work off meatball calories at a yoga demonstration, or ya know, just bedazzle the day away.
The best part of the whole day? Pet portraits. Bring your furry companion and get a mighty fine likeness painted to canvas for the two of you to cherish forever. “It's something new,” Natalie says. “[Carlos Arteaga] specializes in pet portraits.” When we ask how he gets them to sit still for the process, she laughs, adding, “I’m not sure how he does it.” We’ll see you there — with Fido in tow.