The Urban Lens: Inside ‘Little Odessa,’ Brighton Beach’s quaint beachfront Russian community

Posted On Fri, January 20, 2017 By

Posted On Fri, January 20, 2017 By In Brighton Beach, Features, photography, The urban lens

6sqft’s ongoing series The Urban Lens invites photographers to share work exploring a theme or a place within New York City. In this installment, Chaz Langley explores the people and establishments that breathe life into Brighton Beach. Are you a photographer who’d like to see your work featured on The Urban Lens? Get in touch with us at [email protected].

6sqft recently featured Chaz Langley‘s photo series “A Stroll in Chinatown,” where he captured the neighborhood’s unique cultural establishments and the everyday comings and goings of its residents. He’s now taken the same approach with Brighton Beach, Brooklyn’s beach-front community that’s often referred to as “Little Odessa” for its strong Russian community. Langley, a Nashville native who moved to New York almost a decade ago to pursue a career as a singer/songwriter/actor/model, has taken to sharing his location-specific collections on Instagram, integrating his graphic design background in their presentation. From a fruit stand to boardwalk, his Brighton Beach series certainly paints a picture of the neighborhood.

What do you feel makes Brighton Beach unique?

What I feel makes Brighton beach unique is the community of mostly Eastern European immigrants who share a common bond of coming to America to make a better life for themselves and their families.

You’ve been singing in a Russian restaurant down in Brooklyn for nearly a decade. How did you get involved with that?

I [used to be] an entertainer on Celebrity Cruiselines. There I met a beautiful Russian girl from New York. After my contract, I moved back to Nashville, where I’d resided prior. I went to visit her a couple of times, and during the visits I learned that she was a dancer in Russian night clubs in Brighton Beach. She introduced me to one of the owners of the club, and almost 10 years later, here I am ingratiated and fully immersed in this beautiful community.

What are some of your favorite places in the neighborhood?

Some of my favorite places range from the best pizza I’ve ever had to the best vereniki (Russian dumplings), but one of my favorite places is Coney Island and the boardwalk of Brighton Beach. Before moving here, I had seen movies and heard stories about this famous place, but I’d never in a million years thought that I would ever live walking distance from it. I also can’t forget Chinar Restaurant that has the best food and entertainment in this neighborhood, not to mention that I perform there every weekend (shameless plug!).

You also recently traveled to Russia. Tell us a bit about that.

My experience with actually going to Russian and Ukraine was surreal to say the least. This experience came to me courtesy of an international singer, Alexander Kogan, and the legendary Julio Iglesias. I was referred to sing background vocals for a month-long tour to Russia and Ukraine, and as luck would have it, they were looking for someone who wasn’t Russian but who knew the language enough to sing with Alex on tour. It was beautiful over there, and I’ve shared those photos on my Instagram page.

Instagram: @langleyseye
Website:
shotbymrlangley.com

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Chaz Langley, Brighton Beach, Russian culture NYC, NYC photography

Chaz Langley, Brighton Beach, Russian culture NYC, NYC photography

Chaz Langley, Brighton Beach, Russian culture NYC, NYC photography

Chaz Langley, Brighton Beach, Russian culture NYC, NYC photography

Chaz Langley, Brighton Beach, Russian culture NYC, NYC photography

Chaz Langley, Brighton Beach, Russian culture NYC, NYC photography

Chaz Langley, Brighton Beach, Russian culture NYC, NYC photography

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All images © Chaz Langley

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Neighborhoods : Brighton Beach

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