Make.Shift Block Party

Weirder and wetter than ever

Thursday, July 25, 2013

I can say, unequivocally, without hyperbole of any kind, that last year’s inaugural Make.Shift Block Party was the single most fun day of my summer.

Keeping in mind that “Do fun things all the time” is probably the second item of my job description (right under “Spell most things right all the time”)—and it’s a mandate I take very seriously—it’s a tall order to be deemed the Most Fun Thing I Did. Especially as the Block Party falls into a season that encompasses my favorite music festivals, magical backyard dinner parties and the entertainment spectacular that is the Northwest Washington Fair.

But the Block Party out-funned them all.

It wasn’t just the skate jam or the bouncy house (although those were compelling). It also wasn’t the basketball tournament or the beer garden (although those things weren’t bad). It wasn’t even the Slip ’n’ Slide of Doom (although that provided much rich entertainment all day long) or the number of times I was righteously dunked in the dunk tank (thanks again, so-called “friends”). And, while this may surprise you, it also wasn’t the all-day, all-ages lineup of local music (although I certainly loved that part).

It was all those things. And everything else.

It was the sheer variety of entertainment offerings and the sheer volume of people who came to partake in it. It was the way in which everyone was willing to set their inner and outer hipster aside in favor of getting wet and sweaty in the name of having a good time. It was how many different people I saw from all walks of my Bellingham life who showed up to check it out. It was the utter lack of cynicism and the abundance of exuberance displayed by everyone who organized, volunteered, played music or attended the event. In short, some kind of crazy magic was at play, and by the end of that day, my shoes were still damp and squishy, I’d obtained some mysterious bruises, and I was worn out and happy.

Well, Make.Shift is doing the whole thing all over again, promising a Block Party even “bigger, weirder and wetter” than last year’s.

Hold on to your butts, people.

This year’s Block Party is set for Sat., July 27, and comes at a critical time in Make.Shift’s history. After a fire inspection caused the nonprofit to cease throwing shows in their expansive basement until they can blow a hole through a wall and build an additional exit, Make.Shift has undertaken an all-out effort to raise $20,000 to defray construction costs. While the Block Party is a good time that is open to all who desire to attend, due to the number of people who came last year and their generosity at the gate, it also served as a lucrative fundraiser for the nonprofit. So, while you’re dunking your friends, quaffing beers in the beer garden, taking part in the skate jam, watching bands, or enjoying the Block Party’s many offerings, you’re also helping to ensure the future of the arts nonprofit that exists, not just to throw a big ol’ Block Party one day a year, but also dedicates itself to providing necessary support to the music community the other 364 days of the year.

So, what’s in store for this year’s streetside celebration?

Just like last year, Make.Shift will lay claim not just to its own building, but also to the entire block between Grand Avenue and Prospect Street. And they will use every inch of that real estate—and then some—for their all-ages, family-friendly party before the day is through. In their own words, you can “expect all-day live, local music, uncouth water sports, upgraded kids’ zone, bouncy house, bike shenanigans, skate jam, circus performery, misbehavior, delicious food, beer garden, family fun, and SO MUCH MORE!”

But it wouldn’t be a party or a fundraiser or a fundraiser disguised as a party without a solid lineup of local bands. On this year’s stage you’ll see (in no particular order): Robert Sarazin Blake & The Put-It-All-Down-In-A-Letters, Candysound, the Yogoman Burning Band, Go Slowpoke, Palisades, NavigatorCommunicator, Strangely, Artistic Crisis, Mudflat Walkers, and DJ Boombox Kid. If all goes as it should, at some point, you might just find yourself dancing in the streets—in between lobbing balls at the dunk tank target and throwing down in the skate jam, that is.

Speaking of my old nemesis, the dunk tank, a whole host of familiar faces have signed up to be at the mercy of your dunking pleasure. This year’s hapless victims include the Grand Ave. Alehouse’s Pootie Powell, Boundary Bay’s Janet Lightner, Anna Rankin of the Table, the Shakedown’s Marty Watson (also known as the man to whom I will dedicate all my dunk tank dollars), Chelsea Farmer of the Temple Bar, the Hub’s Kyle Morris, Bellingham musician and bon vivant Leatherpants, Make.Shift’s Audra Robson, and more. (A note to dunk tank victims: Ignoring the increasing murkiness of the tank water as the day goes on is probably wise lest you begin to think about the bodies that have been repeatedly submerged in it. Also, if you don’t emerge with bruises, you’re not doing it right.)

All in all, it’s impossible to do justice in words to the entertainment juggernaut that is the Make.Shift Block Party. It must be experienced to be understood properly. So mark your calendars and don’t forget to hold on to your butts.

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