Thank You – Black Tie Beach

Thanks to the awesome group of people who participated in today’s mission at Coney Island. If you were there, please leave an Agent Report in the comments. I know there are hundreds of funny stories waiting to be told. Also leave links to any photos you might have taken. Photos from our official photographers are posted below, and we hope to have our video up in a couple of weeks on our YouTube channel. (Subscribe to it!) When the video is posted, we’ll post our official mission report here. [UPDATE – video embedded above]


Agent Scott’s set (165 photos)
Agent Sokoler’s set (146 photos)
Agent Fountain’s set (89 photos)

For those of you who were not there– we had several hundred agents spend a day at the beach at Coney Island / Brighton Beach wearing black tie attire. We covered a mile-long stretch of beach with a diverse group of people of all ages (from babies to sixty-somethings) laying out, playing games, and swimming in the ocean, all in formal wear. Agents were instructed to find cheap tuxedos and ball gowns at thrift stores for the occasion.

Black Tie Beach Coney Island

Tuxedo Beach

The mostly Russian crowd of beachgoers appeared to have a blast watching the spectacle unfold, laughing, taking photos, and asking questions. (Brighton Beach has a huge Russian population.) My personal highlight involved a group of ten middle-aged Russian people chanting “Swim! Swim! Swim!” to me, not letting up until I belly flopped in the water in my tux. One of them then waded out in the water to take a photo of me, not for himself, but so he could email it to me.

Thanks again to everyone who participated! The official report and video will come out in a couple of weeks. Join/follow/subscribe our mailing list, Twitter, Facebook page, or YouTube channel to be updated.

Improv Everywhere Black Tie Beach



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185 Responses to Thank You – Black Tie Beach

  1. Andrew says:

    Hey, where can I find out about the missions before they happen? I would have liked to participate!

  2. Kage says:

    I was there with my 5 and 8 year old girls and I took a few notes of comments:

    ~My 5 year old tried to make friends with a few little girls in the ocean and the older one said to the younger one: I don’t WANNA play with her…indicating her wearing a dress in the ocean.

    ~”Maybe there’s a wedding”
    ~”But, why are they all, like, separate?”

    ~”Did you all answer an ad in the paper?”

    ~”Are you shooting a movie?”

    ~”You’re gonna ruin that dress if you let her swim in there”

    One guy in a light brown visor just would NOT let it go, he approached EVERYBODY in formal wear trying to figure out what we were doing.

    Thanks for a great experience!

    • Ariella says:

      I saw that guy! My friend and I fed him some story about how the two of us were trying to fight the “Jersey Shore” culture and bring a bit of class back to the beach…

    • John says:

      We saw the same guy. We were leaving, and it looked like he’d been there a while. He finally yelled “You’re all driving us CRAZY! What is going on??” We just said it was a nice day, so we dressed nicely.

    • Ari Scott says:

      I just wrote this as a comment on one of my photos but I LOVE parents who bring their kids to IE missions. Those kids will have such great memories.

      • Venessa says:

        I brought my 2 yr. old along…she had a great time playing in the surf in her favorite yellow dress!

        Thanks for the beautiful photos!!

      • Stephanie says:

        My 3 year old had the greatest time being allowed to trash his tux.

        Thanks to IE for giving parents a chance to bring such whimsy into our kids lives. :)

      • Jaypoc says:

        I wasn’t able to attend as I was committed to a similar “impromptu” event (ironically, Also at a beach) and we had a bunch of children along as well. It’s great that parents are exposing their children to the lighter side of society. Maybe the next generation will be more light hearted and forgiving.

  3. Ari Scott says:

    This was one of the most fun IE missions I’ve ever photographed! I took so many pictures. I’m in the process of sorting through them now and will have them online soon.

    I only had one set of people directly ask me what was happening, and it was on the walk to the beach:

    Man: What’s going on?
    Woman: Why is everyone dressed up?
    Me: I don’t know!
    Woman: What did she say, she doesn’t know?
    Man: Yeah, she doesn’t know.
    Woman: You know what, I don’t even care.

    A few moments later they approached some fancily dressed participants.

    Woman: What’s going on?
    Participants: We just like being dressed up.

    I got a photo of the man throwing his hands up in the air in frustration.

    • Alyson says:

      That is so funny! I love your summary. I can just picture it. The woman saying she doesn’t care, but then going up to the next group of people asking! Lol! I love it. I can’t wait to see the videos.

  4. Sofya Furman says:

    This was amazing, thank you so much for making it happen :D. My friends and I were approached by a very nice Russian lady, who asked us if we were celebrating a graduation. We informed her that we just enjoy dressing up for the beach, and my friend convinced her that she was afraid of swimsuits. Also, a couple of people were convinced that we were extras in a movie and applauded us as we got out of the water.

  5. Danielle says:

    I came alone and within 15 minutes I met 6 other people who also came alone. We all decided to stick together and we had so much fun. When we got down to the water and put our towels down we got so many crazy looks. We just hung out and did beach stuff. Swiming in my dress was so much fun and when I came out of the water all of the sand clung to me and I just looked ridiculous.

    We ended up burying one of the guys in our group in the sand and made him look like a mermaid. That got a few people to come over and ask to take pictures.

    When we left the beach, one group of people thanked us for coming and applauded for us…I’m still not sure what they think we did, but they were pretty excited about it.

    To top off our day we rode the cyclone … I call this day a success!

    • Kevin says:

      I’m one the six! This pretty much covers all of the highlights of my day except for the dress part since I was in a tux. I hope we all meet again to cause another scene!

    • Laura says:

      I was part of this group! :D It was my first mission and it blew all of my expectations out of the water. This was a pretty accurate depiction of our day but I might add that on the boardwalk, someone asked us why we were dressed up so we got to use the magic line: “We like to get dressed up for the beach.” I hope to meet up again at another mission!

  6. Brett says:

    my experiences were similar to everyone else posting so far (ie-‘is this a wedding?’ followed by confusion with our response) but my favorite exchange was with a guy who thought he was being smart and asked me why i took my shoes off while swimming in the ocean with a suit. my response: “swimming with my shoes ON? now that’s just silly. who does that?”

    my wife and i loved it! great times. can’t wait to see more pictures!

  7. Brad says:

    My favorite moment was as we were playing a fierce game of frisbee and a family leaving the beach yelled over to make sure I was wearing sufficient sunscreen!

  8. Becky says:

    Since I failed to entice any of my friends and family to come along (losers, all of them) I had a very lovely solo time at the beach playing with shells since I was wary about leaving my belongings alone for too long. Most people assumed that I was attending a wedding, to which I’d explain how I’d simply come to the beach and dressed up fancy. One older man who was with his wife asked me if the party was going to be later, pointing out the lack of music and food. He continued to be suspicious for the rest of the afternoon.

    I think I was most amused by an Asian couple who stopped by and were more intrigued by my shells than the fact that I was decked up in inappropriate beachwear. They even took pictures of the shells, and then the woman offered to take my picture with them. They were all sorts of awesome and adorable.

    I really loved watching everyone have a blast. From building sandcastles to running over to get ice cream to the general chaos in the water. The folks who ended singing hits such as Don’t Stop Believin’ rocked my world! Overall, a wonderful excuse for a trip to the beach with many of the best sorts of people.

    • Julie says:

      Ahh singing “Don’t Stop Believing” and Backstreet Boys and a bunch of other songs was probably the highlight of my day!! It was so awesome to not only run in the water in a dress, but to sing songs with random strangers who are just as crazy as me. I love Improv Everywhere :)

    • Michael says:

      I was just a few feet from you Becky. I saw your wonderful shell artwork, and took a picture of it, but you were away at the time. It was cool. It must have taken you a while to collect all those shells.

      • Becky says:

        I remember you!

        It was secretly my revenge on the shells. One of them actually sliced my foot early on, so I had to bend them to my will. Plus swirly patterns are fun. Thrilled that you liked it though!

    • Michael says:

      And if you forgot to get a pic of the shells, I can email it to you. Just click on my name to get to my website and contact details.

  9. Christin says:

    My companions (who I’d never met before today) handled the onlookers brilliantly. We were building a sandcastle and someone asked if he could take our picture. Their reply: “sure, I guess? It’s not really finished or anything but…” He got this look on his face of “that’s not why I want to take the pict… ok, whatever.”

    The highlight was definitely a big group of us standing out in the water singing Bohemian Rhapsody.

    • Grace says:

      That was definately my favorite part of the day, too.

    • Rob says:

      That was so brilliant!

    • Trisha Lynn says:

      Heh, that was me who said that about the sand castle we were trying to build. (BTW, I wish we’d gotten a pic of the other folks’ sand castle next to our base camp. It had turrets, decorations, and even a draw bridge!)

      My favorite exchange was when I was walking behind you guys heading towards the beach because I’m a slow walker. These two bicyclists who’d stopped on a section of the boardwalk and were watching the parade of people asked me what “all this” was as I kept walking by him.

      Me: It’s a boardwalk!
      Him: No, I mean, what are you doing?
      Me: I’m going to the beach.
      Him: *frustrated* Well, what’s with the fucking ice cream.
      Me: *yelling back at him* It’s tasty!

      I love playing “Yes, and…” with people.

      • Gordon says:

        I have to say, I was thinking it would be a total drag, especially when I was putting on my suit and it was hot and humid and then we were sweating on the platform waiting for the train. I figured 20 minutes on the beach and I would be ready to be out of there. Then as we started seeing other agents on the train, the sheer ridiculousness of it made it more and more fun.

        We met a young woman, Claudia, on the train who recognized us as agents by our formal attire. She’d forgotten her instructions, so she teamed up with us. Once we saw the crowd of people, I was in. Down on the beach, she suggested building the sand castle, and started in. A couple other young women joined her so I finally pitched in. They had mostly finished it, so I started embellishing. I did the drawbridge over half a styrofoam cup. Thanks for compliment! Our friend Maria was a hit in her single strap hot pink sheath with the silly inner tube and silver heels.

        We got reactions similar to those of other people, and we used various stories. One woman near us was most concerned about us ruining our “expensive” clothes. When I asked her where the johns were, she said, “I’ll tell you if you tell me what this is all about.” I just looked at her and said, “What what’s all about?” She looked exasperated and told me which building was the john. Then I was walking back from the john and a pair of guys looked at me and said somewhat aggressively, “Yeah, we know — this is how everybody dresses for the beach in Ohio!” I just gaped at them and said, “How did you know I was from Ohio?” I *am* from Ohio! Only when I got back to our blanket and told my wife Cindy about it did I find out that she had used that line.

        It turned out to be perfect weather for wet formal wear. Despite my earlier predictions, we ended up spending about 3 hours and enjoyed every moment and every double take and quizzical expression. Once we’d changed into our regular duds and headed to the amusement park, it was like Cinderella returning from the ball: no more coach and horses, only an old pumpkin and some mice. But it was definitely the most memorable day at the beach – one of the most memorable events – of my life!

  10. Joseph Matarazzo says:

    My girlfriend and I had a fabulous time being applauded and congradulated on getting married everywhere we walked despite the lack of wedding rings or the fact that her gown was straight out of the 80’s.
    This was our going away last hoorahh before we both go off to college and it was an incredible day.

  11. Shanna says:

    That sounds awesome!! Do a mission in LA please! :)

  12. Marcia Kesselman says:

    My daughter and I were there today, had a great time! On our way to our car a group of kids stopped us and asked what we were doing. We told them “we just like to dress up for the beach. On Long Island, we said, almost everyone does. One of the girls asked my daughter “well are you allowed to lower your sleeves to tan?” to which my daughter replied, “Actually, it IS frowned upon!” thanks so much.

    • Caitlin says:

      As my two friends and I were leaving, we got stopped by a group of people who quizzed us on the usual, i.e., who are you, how do you know those people, why are you dressed for a prom. Then, after we answered those questions, one of the girls got this look on her face and asked with great suspicion, “Are you from Long Island?”

      Now we understand why.

  13. Agent Star says:

    I recruited two of my friends to come with me and after a morning of furious getting dressed, we were set. Throughout the car ride, we didn’t know if we were lost. “How will we know?” “Just look for a huge group of people dressed like they’re going to a wedding.” We found the meet up, finally.
    I think people’s expressions were my favorite part of this mission. Some were quizzical, and some were just “Meh, its New York.”
    My friends and I dropped our stuff and ran into the ocean, Baywatch style. There was a lot of screaming and laughing, but onlookers didn’t quite get it. Everyone we saw had cameras out, some secretly (others not so secretly) trying to take a picture. I think the agents were spread enough so if you walked down the beach, you saw classily dressed folks everywhere.
    I loved what others brought. Scuba gear, a metal detector, and I saw a hardcore game of frisbee in water made it all worth it for me.
    Afterwards, we went to ride the Cyclone. The workers seemed slightly confused at out drenched attire, but I don’t think they let it bother them.
    This mission was awesome, and I’m so glad we could participate!

    • Margaret says:

      haha, i was in that hardcore game of frisbee.

      i came with one other girl friend and we were disappointed that we didn’t have a tuxedo in our company. no matter, we had fun on our own.

      highlights: when asked what’s up with the gowns, i shrugged at the lady, told her i liked to feel fancy and walked away singing “i feel pretty” from west side story.

      also, the couple with the toddler and the metal-detector guy were hilarious! i love that everyone got really into it.

      this mission is definitely something i’d do again!

  14. Amanda says:

    I had so much fun at this mission today! I tried to get my friends to go, and no one would come. I ended up hanging out with a few other ladies,and we had the best time.

    Whenever anyone asked why I was all dressed up and swimming in the ocean,I’d tell them matter-of-factly that I always try to look my best at all times.

    Everyone who participated looked fabulous, and it was really nice to meet so many new people!

  15. blair says:

    The highlight of our day was when an older couple approached us and pressed us for information. They eventually gave up, but the woman said “I live across the street and have been going to this beach for 45 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this! You guys are wonderful!”

    We had a great time, and to make that kind of impression on an old-school New Yorker was worth its weight in gold.

  16. Agent Barney says:

    Fun day! Building sandcastles with a few people, including Maggie, whom I had just met. Some nice lady was questioning us and asked “How do you all know each other?” Our honest reaction came out simultaneously “We just met today.”

  17. May Family Agents says:

    Thanks for another great mission, folks.

    We were able to get our tuxes and evening gowns at thrift stores dirt cheap. Mine was the most expensive at eight bucks, and the cheapest was five. Bow ties we got online for a couple bucks each plus shipping. All told, it cost us about forty bucks – plenty cheap for this adventure.

    Parking was a hassle, but seeing hundreds of folks all decked out in their evening wear was reward enough when we reached the rendezvous point for the mission briefing. Great weather for a day at the beach wearing heavy clothing: cloudy in the low eighties. And the water was warm!

    We swam and made sand castles most of the time. The reactions were wonderful. Everyone we ran into loved the spectacle – no one was put out. That made it a rousing success in our books!

    Favorite moments were floating on my back in the water (a woman said she thought I was dead), and hanging out with the kids in the sand as the world walked by.

    Even with the tuxes and evening gowns, this was one of our best beach days in a long time. Thanks for a great time!

  18. Andrea says:

    when we were walking to find a space to put our towels down, I overheard a couple talking to each other about what was going on:

    “maybe a wedding?”
    “that one looks like a drag queen.”

    A brave 8 year old boy ran up to me when I was building a sandcastle with my elbow length gloves on:
    “um… can I ask you a question?”
    “um…um…… what’s your name?”
    I told him and he said ok and ran after his departing parents. Clearly not what he wanted to ask, but he didn’t want to press further.

  19. Cassidy says:

    This was my first mission – and it was everything I ever dreamed it would be, times a thousand! Met awesome people, got lots of questions/speculation/applause/laughs/suspicious stares/sideways glances/double takes/picture requests, got buried in sand, etc.
    I also didn’t change before riding the subway back – and got some very strange looks, understandably!
    Thanks so much for a great day.

  20. S says:

    So many ladies just came up to us to say, “You look beautiful!”. No further questions. We answered, “Thanks! So do you!” Others thanked us for making their days. Just doing our part, you know?

    Among the funnier responses we received were NYPD authoritatively asking us, “What’s going on here?” “Uh, we like to dress up?” and a non-participant proposing marriage on the spot, with various other strangers offering to be best man, etc.