On a recent sweltering Saturday afternoon, a group of young men gathered in a dance studio in midtown overlooking Eighth Avenue. The room, oddly but appropriately, smelled faintly of hay.
A grand piano had been pushed to the wall to accommodate a series of folding tables, and a fan was rotating lazily, attempting to combat the 98-degree heat. At the door, a volunteer handed out raffle tickets and solicited pizza preferences for lunch. The guests—mostly in their 20s and overwhelmingly in favor of facial hair and cargo shorts—milled around, but no one strayed far from a table at the front of the room, which was covered end-to-end with My Little Pony merchandise. Lording over the spread of glittering pastel wares was a stocky man with graying hair and glasses who wore a T-shirt emblazoned with a pink pony and the words “HATERS GONNA HATE.” Hello, his name tag read, My name is Cupcakes.