Guess it didn't work out as Beth planned it. No one goes out anymore and the Stern's are trapped in their estate like everyone else. They live like hermits, albeit ones with room to spread out. "People staying at home in the Hamptons are staying at home in a 5,000-square-foot house with a yard and a pool," notes Candace Bushnell, who just bought a place in Sag Harbor. The decorator Alex Papachristidis has been going to Bridgehampton all his life, and his whole family has houses nearby. He calls it magical, loves the endless beaches; he even comes out regularly in the winter. "You have options: If you need to buy something you can. You can go to a party. There's a movie theater in East Hampton and one in Southampton," he says. "Not that I would choose to. I want to watch a movie at home on my big TV." He is firmly in the Hamptons Hermit camp, even avoiding restaurants, apart from the occasional hamburger at the East Hampton Grill. "I go out every night in New York. Here, I want to be with my family, have a drink, and not think about driving." The interior designer David Netto, whose upbringing included weekending in the Hamptons, says he loves the Palm, "but the mood in there on a Friday night can be just so brutal—you know, aggressive. I'm sorry to say it, but the people with money are the worst behaved." His wife still likes to go out, though. "She comes home from the Surf Lodge with windshield wipers stuffed with parking tickets. I babysit." This new wave of intimate socializing is an echo of what the Hamptons originally were: a low-key scene where people would travel between their houses and private clubs like the Maidstone and Southampton Bathing Corp. "The private clubs are still thriving," notes gardening stylist and longtime East Hampton resident Dianne Benson. "But that's more the families that have been here for a long time, who somehow fit into the landscape in a different way. That is not new money; that's old, nice, blue money." That vibe still exists on Robins Island, where old-money types have long enjoyed the land discreetly and kept no bouncers on speed dial. Reclusive billionaire Louis Bacon, who now owns Robins, is said to host pheasant hunts there for his friends. There's also Gardiners Island, a private and uninhabited stretch named after the Gardiner family, a wealthy and flamboyant clan that has mostly died out. Benson's partner Lys Marigold remembers Fanny Gardiner driving around the Hamptons in her pickup truck, wearing "great big emerald and diamond rings with jeans." Those types were the first pilgrims to the East End. Then the artists and writers came. Sally Quinn, the journalist who bought Grey Gardens about 35 years ago, hung out with a crowd that included Kurt Vonnegut, Truman Capote, Tom Wolfe, Nora Ephron, George Plimpton, and Jann Wenner. Hollywood came calling in the '90s, and with it new money and glitz. By the dawn of the new millennium, twentysomething hedge funders who could readily spend six figures on a summer rental were bombing around in Range Rovers. Bottle service clubs catered to the ostentatious new crew. The publicist Lizzie Grubman famously backed her father's Mercedes SUV into a crowd outside a Southampton nightclub, injuring 16 people and fleeing the scene. It was the apex—or nadir—of Hamptons vulgarity. These days the new denizens—their very density requiring an expanded playground in which to frolic—have spread farther afield, flocking to spots like Navy Beach and the Surf Lodge in Montauk, which has, in a few short years, gone from sleepy fishing village to nightlife central. "The hipper you are the more you want to go to Montauk," says the photographer Priscilla Rattazzi, who bought her place on Georgica Pond (where she can now hear private planes landing at the nearby airport even in October) back in 1989. For those like Rattazzi, who have been anchored in prime Hamptons towns for decades, moving out is not in the cards. But neither is plain old moving; the joke, she says, is that people from East will not go to dinner parties in Southampton. "If somebody invites me for dinner in May or even September, I'll go. But not in July and August. Those are the two big no-no months." But the writer and producer Holly Peterson thinks everyone is protesting just a little too much. "It's socially self-aggrandizing to act as if you're too important and too cool to make the effort to show up to an organized event," she says. "In casual conversation the de rigueur attitude is all, 'I have interesting houseguests like the Clintons, David Adjaye, and Warren Buffett, and we're whipping up pizzas in our outdoor pizza oven and having an elitist discussion on my back porch, so we won't be participating in this Bravo Housewives fete of the masses with you all.' That's the psychology of it." The designer Nicole Miller, who has a house in Sag Harbor, also suspects that the oft-proclaimed disdain for the chaos is a bit of an act. "Everybody's a little hypocritical," she says. "Somebody is going to Nick & Toni's, and Moby's is always packed. I would be lonely if I were just sitting at home and grilling all the time." Despite his preference for a quiet night in, Netto will admit to having dined at Nick & Toni's. "One of the funny parts of all this action in the restaurant scene is the joy the WASPs take in participating, even though they say they don't," he says. "I asked my mother once to take me there, because I had never been but had heard how hard it was to get a table. She said, 'Oh, Hicks & Phonies, good idea. When do you want to go?' I wasn't even sure she would have heard of it, let alone know the insider nickname. We had a delicious dinner, didn't know a soul." Overstated as it may be, the backlash to the glitz has taken with it some casualties. Shops like La Perla and Scoop and the fitness chain Peloton have closed. Events like the famous Sean "Diddy" Combs annual white party have gone by the wayside—in fact, the East Hampton estate where he held it is currently on the rental market for $200,000 for the summer. It even has a home theater and a gate to properly seal oneself off from the crowds. But what exactly is the point of paying the premium to have property in one of the most expensive locations on the planet if you treat it like a well-decorated bunker? "It's about water," says Rattazzi of the area's natural beauty. "It's about the ocean, the bays, the ponds." Couldn't someone get that on, say, the Jersey shore? She pauses to think. "I guess they could."