By Kia Makarechi
July 19, 2011, New York, NY– On a beautiful July Saturday in New York, a group of Iranian Americans descended upon the Hudson Terrace rooftop lounge for a night of art, introductions and — of course — dance. The event, the 5th Anniversary Celebration of The Network of Iranian Professionals of New York (NIPONY), was sponsored in part by PAAIA’s youth group, NexGen.
The “Hamptons style” event featured art by acclaimed Iranian artist Sormeh Saei, live music by Piruz Partow and the Thursday Night All Stars and mode fashions from Persian Apparel designer Cyrus Arian. As dusk hit and a striking summer sunset bathed over the rooftop, the popular DJ duo Alex and Amir (who flew in from Paris, where they were on tour) started a set that ably blended up-tempo Los Angeles Iranian music with the hottest pop, hip-hop, Latin and house songs of the moment. By this time, the crowd, which had previously been mostly engaged in polite, handshake introductions had hit the dance floor.
NexGen shares a number of PAAIA’s goals, and is aimed at “creating a network of highly talented young Iranian American professionals and students, both to support their career development as well as to create a vehicle for them to serve our communities.”
Iman Bacodari, who helped manage NexGen and NIPONY’s involvement in the event (and arranged for the live entertainment and DJ’s), said that his goal was simple: “We wanted to bring together the community for advancement on many levels — it’s a networking opportunity for Iranians, an opportunity for Iranian organizations, artists, designers and musicians to introduce themselves to the community.”
The event was free, which Bacodari said was very important to NIPONY and NexGen. By inviting and appealing to as many Iranian Americans as possible, the organizations involved hoped to create a sense of pride and excitement within the community. “This is a new concept in the Iranian community in the New York/Tri-State Area,” said Bacodari. “Everyone is so busy trying to survive and proposer that there’s often little attention to looking at who we are, where we came from and how we have perfected (and can continue to perfect) the idea of being an ‘Iranian American.'”
Shaheen Ensanyat, a key part of NexGen’s leadership team, echoed Bacodari’s sentiments. “We agreed to sponsor this NIPONY event because it aligns with one of our core goals, which is community building.”
All told, the event proved to be a thoughtful way for the community to come together in a far more social way than conferences and mixers. And though drinks were poured freely and the purses were abandoned in piles as people hit the dance floor, a natural politeness permeated the event — one that is often missing from New York’s club scene. It’s likely the staff of Hudson Terrace has never seen such a well-mannered group.
For more information on NexGen, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on NIPONY, please visit their Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/niponygroup.
Kia Makarechi is a writer and editor for The Huffington Post. He can be reached at email@example.com.