I Went to a Brunch Convention to Discover the Secrets of Brunch

Is brunch a stupid meal for the privileged? I set out to find out.
August 17, 2017, 10:30pm
All photos by the author

I have always considered brunch to be class warfare; an excuse for well-off white women with top buns to max out their father's credit cards and men with questionable facial hair to stand in line for bread by choice. It is why, whenever a well-meaning friend asks me to eat before 3 PM on a weekend, I emphatically decline.

Which means, of course, I am wholly unfamiliar with the actuality of brunch. I have wantonly judged, seething, from a distance for years, yet rarely experienced the stimulus itself. But blind hatred isn't a particularly attractive quality, especially given our current political climate.

Which is why, in the interest of seeing how the other half eats, I have found myself wearing a flimsy paper badge around my neck at 1 PM on a Sunday. "Get ready to brunch so hard," it reads. The fact that this statement isn't preceded by a hashtag perplexes me. If an event catered to millennials occurs without one, has it actually occurred?

The badge grants me entrance to Downtown LA's BrunchCon, a weekend-long celebration of all things half breakfast, half lunch, with tastings from over fifty vendors, photo ops in front of signs that read "#CulturedAF" and "#FoodPorn" (finally, the hashtags I, a millennial, crave), beer pong and, according to the event's website, "a BOTTOMLESS MIMOSA BAR and a BOTTOMLESS BLOODY MARY BAR SPONSORED BY KETEL ONE!" My fellow attendees have paid $65 for the privilege of listening to nondescript top 40 music whilst consuming mass quantities of off-brand champagne and congealed eggs.

In the VIP holding area, people mingle under fluorescent lights. Chugging mimosas out of plastic cups, they anxiously wait for the event to open; they have paid $30 more than the general public in order to gorge themselves 30 minutes earlier than the plebes.

At the holding area's bar, because I don't drink, I order an orange juice sans champagne—the bartender looks at me aghast. "Just orange juice?" she incredulously asks. I nod, ashamed. Were security to emerge behind me and escort me out, I would understand entirely.

The doors open and people rush them like the Who concert disaster of 1979—the energy they possess while already intoxicated is inspiring. A trio of women wearing shirts that read "Shut the Brunch Up" squeal with delight.

Once we enter the venue, we are presented with booths peddling wares like "the perfect brunch shirt!" and coozies that say "Make America Drunk Again." The word bitch is bandied about so much, it quickly loses all meaning. Balloons read "Cheers, Bitches." Water bottles with the slogan "Thirsty Bitch" embossed in gold await dehydrated buyers. I stand in line and await a sample of "Skinny Bitch Pizza."

There is the option to wash down the food with a rosé mimosa, which sounds like diabetes in a glass. "It's rosé, I'm keeping it classy" says a man as he gesticulates toward his sunset-colored beverage. He is clearly not on his first glass.

I emotionlessly consume flavorless "breakfast pasta" out of a paper cup and survey the scene. Out of the corner of my eye I think I see a man doing a sieg heil by the Bumble branded beer pong table; upon closer examination, I realize he's just exuberantly dancing to the Chainsmokers.

I am on edge because Charlottesville has just happened the night prior. Down the street, people are marching in the streets in protest of white supremacy, but at BrunchCon, the only reminder of the South's existence is waffles on a stick.

On the car ride there, I remembered driving past a line of people waiting to brunch on my way to the post-election Women's March. I viewed them with intense disdain, thinking they were on the wrong side of history. How the fuck can you idly eat avocado toast while the world burns? I wondered. Given that and my preconceived notions of brunch, I assumed I would feel similarly at BrunchCon.

Curiously, I do not. I am, rather, struck by the intense diversity of the crowd. I always found brunch to be a white person's game, having seen it used as a punchline in countless shows and films about insufferable millennial Williamsburg residents, and everyone in the line I passed on the way to the Women's March was as white as the eggs they were lining up to eat.

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But here at BrunchCon, I am surrounded by hundreds of people of all races, all here for one common purpose: to drunkenly shovel chilaquiles into their gaping maws. Everyone, including me, nods in rhythm to E-40's "Function" as it blasts from the DJ booth. I smoke a cigarette on a staircase outside next to a middle aged black man in a guayabera sharing a vape with two Filipinas he'd just met.

Inside, people old and young excitedly talk at communal tables. Some fit my preexisting mental image of a bruncher—slouchy top bun, boho dress, suede booties—but most do not. No one is upset, everyone is equal, and piles of uneaten food cover every surface. Given the unrest unfolding outside its doors, it feels downright utopian.

In this moment, I realize brunch is not the class warfare I always assumed it was. It is a place where everyone can act as though they're a member of the 1%, regardless of their actual socioeconomic bracket. The ability to spend $13 one may or may not have on eggs is society's great equalizer—after all, some of the poorest people I know are the most fervent brunchers I know. An opportunity to get drunk and wild in the middle of the day, to forget reality for three hours, is why brunch has become an American institution.

Maybe, I think, we should brunch instead of protest—if everyone got along as well as people do when under the influence of bottomless mimosas, we'd solve this whole racism thing in an afternoon. White supremacists would hate BrunchCon's Rainbow Coalition of people laughing and dancing and drinking non-American macrobrew beer on this, a Sunday, the Lord's day. True equality exists when everyone has the same opportunity to stand in line for room temperature tacos. A mimosa in every hand, and every man, woman and child a bitch—this is the future liberals want.

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