An avowed anti-tobacco crowd turned out in force on Saturday night for the Cloud Competition at Clouds Vapors & Lounge in Byram. Located kitty-corner from Byram Ink on North Water St, the six-month-old lounge drew “vapers” from near and far.
While vaping is a passtime of men and women alike, Tasha was one of few women who entered the competition, which pitted pairs of competitors against each other before a crowd of fans and panel of judges.
Saturday’s judges were Ron Perrone, Pete Livornese and “Jessica Rabbit,” who took their task quite seriously.
GHS ’10 graduate Richard Esposito, who was the friendly face at the door, where only adults 18 and up were admitted, entered the competition with one of his homemade vaporizers.
Esposito, who attended the competition with his father, said he got into vaping when he became determined to quit his heavy cigarette habit.
“I started as a customer,” he said of Clouds Vapors & Lounge. “Then I became an employee. I get up every morning and run a mile before coming to work,” said Esposito, 22. Of his father’s participation, Esposito said his dad was formerly both a cigarette, then cigar smoker, and had likewise become a vaper himself.
By about 8pm, the lounge filled with vapers who had traveled from near and far. Members of the crowd talked of a sense of community. The alcohol and tobacco free event drew people from New Haven, Wallingford and Hartford in Connecticut, and others from New Jersey and Long Island.
While the lounge swelled with vapers anticipating the start of the cloud competition, a representative from Frankenstein Kreations put a tiny drop of coconut vape “Juice” on this reporter’s hand. As promised, it smelled and tasted pleasantly of coconut.
When the competition began, competitors were called two at a time to front of the lounge, where under spotlights they stood back to back. On the count of three each blew a cloud of vapor. The crowd erupted in applause and the judges declared the winner of each pairing, followed by sportsmanlike handshakes and congratulations. Winners were decided based on size, density, length, and volume of the biggest cloud.
Clouds employee Christiana, who recently graduated SUNY Purchase with a history degree, said the lounge plans to install gallery lights and display the work of local artists. “It’s a social place,” Christiana said.
The lounge, which has free wifi, also showcases a range of local musical talent. When there isn’t live entertainment, employees spin classic vinyl. Esposito said during the week there is a morning crowd, a lunchtime crowd, and on Sunday mornings a crowd relaxes and enjoys cartoons.
Vapers at Saturday’s event repeatedly referred to a sense of community and shared commitment to a tobacco-free lifestyle. The 18+ crowd included both men and women. There were parents and adult children and an age range of 18 to 70.
One of the judges, Ron Perrone, has taken his vaping a step further than hobbyist. Perrone is a professional vaper, who works the competitive circuit and has sponsors. Still, the majority who turned out for the competition described the community as social, with an anti-tobacco theme.
Clouds Vapors & Lounge is located at 39 North Water Street in Byram. Tel. (203) 531-5091
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