Soviet Block Party

Some people just prefer the taste of Russian dressing

In our seats by the ¨lake,¨ which true to the town´s artifice was actually just a retention pond with a fountain, Madeline repeated what she had understood: ¨Those women she was pointing out actually have jobs. She said they just love to dress, and they love to dance.¨

¨It´s a Russian thing,¨ a voice interrupted. ¨One of them is my wife -- the one in the red dress.¨

If the unaccented English hadn´t first given his American status away, the orange Hawaiian shirt and khaki shorts would have. The Tequesta business owner explained that he´d met his Ukrainian wife on an international dating Internet site, LoveMe.com.

¨Are Russian women better?¨ I asked, wondering why he´d opted to import.

¨They are until they´re Americanized,¨ he said, wielding his seven years of marital insight. ¨These are RAPs Russian American Princesses.¨

His wife and the ice-skating Paris Hilton, whom Hawaiian Shirt Guy told us was married to ¨a very rich man,¨ were promoters of the event.

¨A lot of it´s a show,¨ he concluded before he went back inside. ¨My wife is actually pretty prudish.¨

I started to extend my sympathies for his bad luck, but I figured I´d already exceeded my offending quotient here, so I kept it zipped.

Madeline had begun to warm to the event: ¨It´s kind of cool this place is in Palm Beach Gardens,¨ she said, proud of her town´s cultural progress. ¨It´s so bizarre.¨

Back inside, the American interlopers, Jimmy and Denise, were dirty-dancing in their casual duds, impervious to the fact that denim and khaki stood out like scuffs on new shoes against the glitter and glam.

¨I wouldn´t have dressed any different if I knew I was coming here,¨ Denise insisted. ¨You need to live life and love it. It´s all up here.¨ She tapped her temple with her finger.

I assumed she wasn´t just talking about the vodka, though the dancing suggested that, yes, Russia´s best was starting to go to her head. Back at the bar for more vodka, I met Jim, an American day trader who had met ice-skating Paris Hilton at the polo matches. He pointed out the Russian restaurant owner.

When I commented on the women´s slutty clothing, Jim gave me a once-over. ¨You could be hot too if you got some streaks in your hair and put on a designer dress,¨ he said.

I took my schlubby American self across the room to get the real story from the owner, Edward Kogan, who told me he´d been in the United States for 30 years.

¨Longer than I was in Russia,¨ he added.

Though he´d just moved from Manhattan three months earlier and opened Java Moon a month later, he attributed his place in the local Russian community to MeetUp.com. Up-to-date networking, retro fashion: It was a jarring combination.

Two gorgeous and elegantly dressed young women thought so too.

¨I feel like I´m at the skating rink,¨ remarked Remy, a Bradley´s bartender.

¨It´s so ´80s,¨ agreed her friend Jordan, a Nordstrom´s sales associate.

Remy dug into her knowledge of party fashion niches. ¨Some of it´s South Beach house.¨

¨I thought everyone was on drugs when I saw how they were dancing,¨ Jordan said. She stomped her foot and extended a disco finger heavenward, like Tony Manero.

¨That´s how they dance in South Beach when they actually are on drugs,¨ Remy said.

Now I was perplexed: Were these Soviet ex-pats still clinging to outdated fashions? Or was I just reluctant to acknowledge that the garish ´80s were back?

¨We´re going to Noche,¨ the young lovelies said enticingly. ¨Come with us!¨

Noche? That was one way to call it a night.

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