Before Michael Little opened Lost Weekend NYC at 45 Orchard Street in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, he was teaching eighth grade in the South Bronx — a job, he remembers fondly, that gave him both weekends and summers off. The year was 2011. “I knew it was going to cost me my weekends,” Little says of starting his lifestyle store, which was influenced by his passion for surfing. Thinking up a name was the easy part.
Though a surf shop in downtown Manhattan could easily seem out of place, Lost Weekend NYC has become a familiar early-morning outpost for resident locals. It doesn’t hurt that it also serves up one of the city’s best cups of coffee via its brew bar, sourcing freshly roasted beans from Parlor Coffee in Brooklyn. (In an interview with William & Park, Little has said of the intimate connection between his two muses: “Try getting up at 4 a.m. to check for waves without coffee.”)
Little is from a small town called Bellingham some 20 miles south of the Canadian border in Washington state. He went to high school in the early ’90s. Grunge was coming in vogue with the mainstream popularity of Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains. But Little and his friends preferred punk bands like Born Against, Naked Aggression, Neurosis and Operation Ivy. “We would sneak out of the house at midnight and go down to the hippie-owned Mexican restaurant in town to see hardcore bands like Jayhawker and Slowsidedown,” he says. “I remember buying Jawbreaker’s first album, Unfun. To this day I still have on my iPhone. It’s one of the 10 albums I would take to the grave.”
“I don’t actively seek out music that makes me think of surfing. I actively seek out surfing, then get in the car and usually dial up music based on how I’m feeling.”
Little’s music tastes are easily experienced by newcomers to Lost Weekend NYC, where he plays mid-’90s Bay Area punk, and more recently reggae — “primarily roots reggae, rocksteady and some dancehall.” He’s a regular fixture at The Leadbelly and Bario Chino in the Lower East Side — both walking distance from Lost Weekend NYC’s storefront — where he often deejays. “I don’t actively seek out music that makes me think of surfing,” Little says of his influences. “I actively seek out surfing, then get in the car and usually dial up music based on how I’m feeling.”
The surf commute is a big part of Little’s weekly ritual, as it is for most New York City-based wave-seekers. “I surf three to four times a week,” he says, mostly near Rockaway, Queens, but sometimes traveling as far as Montauk at the end of Long Island. It ends up being a lot of time back and forth. “There’s a truism that says there will be traffic one way to the beach,” reveals Little, proving it’s best to be prepared with a solid playlist in your back pocket.
Here he shares his some of his favorite tracks to help you get where you’re going. If you’re up as early and often as Michael Little, hopefully there’s also a cup of coffee nearby. Even better if it’s on your way to the shore.