This past Sunday, the New York Times explored the former-Soviet tradition of the evening promenade as it has been transported to Brighton Beach, in Paul Berger's "The Promenade, Soviet Style."
The writer hit the boardwalk on a Sunday afternoon and found a scene full of Russian types:
"The benches are typically filled by old women armed with multicolored umbrellas, which they use to protect themselves from the sun. In Russian towns, these babushkas, as they are known, often gather on seats outside apartment buildings, but on the boardwalk they are at center stage. The crowd they survey almost always includes young men shaped like battering rams, with impossibly square heads and haircuts to match. A congregation of wiry, suntanned biznesmeni, dressed in black, is seldom far away, clinching deals on cellphones."
Promenading is a tradition in most cities of the former Soviet Union, if for no other reason that it provides something to do that does not cost money. Berger attributes the continuance of the tradition in Brighton Beach to the same reason, though points out that a number of Russian restaurants (Tatiana, Volna, etc.) are found all along the boardwalk.
Photo: Chang W. Lee for The New York Times