The wizards' guide to NYC
Cast a magical spell, play Seeker in Quidditch or drink mead before seeing Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince on Wednesday 15.
Tue Jul 7 2009
Enchantments; Photograph by Heami Lee
Dark and difficult times still lie ahead for our Harry Potter, but the wizarding world is alive and well in New York City—and there are plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself in magical culture. You won’t actually fly around on a broomstick during the monthly Quidditch matches (the Harry Potter equivalent of soccer) organized by The Group That Shall Not Be Named (www.hp-nyc.com), one of NYC’s largest HP fan organizations. But that doesn’t mean you won’t be limping home. “We never realized how aggressively people would play,” says organizer Jonathon Rosenthal, a 30-year-old computer consultant who lives on the Upper West Side. “They take the game very seriously!” The next match is set for July 19 at 3pm. Costumed members will also be meeting at the (1998 Broadway between 67th and 68th Sts, fandango.com) for the midnight screening of Half-Blood Prince on Tuesday 14, and to stalk the cast at the film’s NYC premiere at the Clearview Ziegfeld (141 W 54th St at Sixth Ave, 212-505-2463) on Thursday 9.
Sadly, Butterbeer doesn’t exist outside of J.K. Rowling’s imagination, but there is another sweet quaff favored by wizards: mead. The winelike beverage is made from honey, and can be flavored with spices or fruit. Try the Brooklyn Buzz mead ($8 a glass) from ManhattanMeadery at Spuyten Duyvil (359 Metropolitan Ave at Havemeyer St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-963-4140).
Hagrid would likely find favor with Barcelona Bar (923 Eighth Ave between 54th and 55th Sts, 212-245-3212), which counts a Harry Potter shot ($7) as one of its 100-plus drinks on offer. Expect the bartender to don a wizard’s hat while he mixes vodka, orange juice and triple sec, rubs the glass rim with Bacardi 151, sets the whole thing on fire and tosses in cinnamon to create sparks. Confundo, you’re toasted!
Hermione would tell you to learn how to cast a proper spell before you imbibe. “Magic is about materializing your will, and using different tools to help make it happen,” says Cat, an employee at Enchantments (424 E 9th St between First Ave and Ave A, 212-228-4394). An East Village fixture since 1982, the store stocks various necessities used in the practice of Wicca and other spiritual traditions. Cat says one of the most popular items are the custom-carved candles ($27.50), created with a person’s goals in mind.
Professor McGonagall may scoff at divination, but if you’re not as skeptical, head to The Tarot School (352 Seventh Ave between 29th and 30th Sts, 800-804-2184).Tarot-reading classes are offered every Monday (6--9pm, $30).
Or put your prophecies on hold and cheer for your favorite Hogwarts house--Gryffindor or Slytherin--on Saturday 11, when members of the Hogwarts Improvisation Society battle it out at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre (307 W 26th St between Eighth and Ninth Aves, 212-366-9176; midnight--1am, $5). “My one requirement [for performers] was being a superfan—like, big enough to already own a costume,” says producer Kirk Damato. As for Potter-themed suggestions, Damato says “the best would be 'hormones.’” And the worst? “'Equus.’”
POTTER-RIFIC! Click here for wizard-rock YouTube videos and MP3s.