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PARTY CRASHER: Floatopia! Loopholes!


Floatopia! Loopholes! Liquor!
Photo by Josh Board

It was odd that as I was going to crash a party a few weekends ago, I almost got into a crash.

We pulled into a gas station in Pacific Beach and two trucks and a car almost collided with us. All because of the party we were going to hit – the famous Floatopia.

A guy I played basketball with had been talking up the event, which is the beach booze ban partiers' retaliation for not being allowed to drink on the beach. A loophole in the law allows for people to drink if they’re on a floatation device in the water.

At the gas station, cars almost collided as people came in from all directions, all with the same thing in mind – using the air hose to blow up their various rafts.

As I was filling up my tank, I watched as a car drove off, with three different arms out the window holding this big green thing to the roof. Those are the types of guys you don’t want to drive behind when they’re moving.

It did make things easy in terms of finding the location of where everyone would be. If you could find parking (we got lucky) you could just walk along following the rafts people were carrying.

One enterprising group had a handmade sign on their front lawn stating: “Park here -- $20.” The driveway was empty at noon, but who knows what’ll happen later when all the spots within a three miles radius are taken.

As my girlfriend and I walked by, we saw people in their front lawns blowing up their rafts manually (some had pumps, some had them in their mouths – looking like they were about to pass out).

A few guys were walking down Fanuel Street with inner-tubes around their waist. One guy had a crazy octopus he seemed proud of. If the eight arms would’ve only had cup holders at the ends….

We found a group of 10 staked out in the sand and we asked if we could crash their party. One said, “Ya got a dingy?” I said, “Excuse me? That’s rather personal to be asking someone you just met.” He smiled and said, “If you want a beer, you’ll need to use your dingy to go meet my friends out there.”

He pointed out to Mission Bay, where all the rafts were in a small 50 yard area.

He threw me a Coke and said, “This is all I can offer ya on terra firma.”

As we put our towels down, I went to ask a lifeguard some questions.

I found one near the water directing things and asked him why they were all floating in the same area. He explained, “We have to have it zoned this way, with boats 200 yards from them. The current keeps taking the rafts that way, though. We had to do it this way because last year it got so impacted in such a small area. We also had to bring a lot of extra lifeguards here. I think we have 15 working today. It’s going to be bigger than last year.”

Before walking back to my new beach buds, I walked around the grass area. There was a large police presence. I saw the cops arresting one petite woman that looked like she could hardly stand up. It wasn’t even 1 p.m.


All aboard for Floatopia.
Photo by Josh Board

It seemed a lot of the bike riders were getting upset with the crowd. When one guy rode by -- looking like a Lance Armstrong clone -- I wondered why they’d attempt a bike ride on a day like this.

Another couple had the right approach to cycling. They had beach cruisers, beers in hand, and car air-fresheners dangling from the handlebars. One of them looked at me, held up the beer and said, “Loopholes and liquor! Loopholes and liquor!”

The group I met had now shrunk to two. They had gone onto the rafts for some beer. One of the women here said, “Do you realize someone could’ve made a killing selling rafts here? Especially those big green ones that have the four headrests. I’ve seen about 10 of those.”

There was a couple in their 70s sitting nearby. I heard the woman say to her husband, “You love looking at all these women in bikini’s, don’t you?” He replied, “Well…it’s not that. I understand the tattoos are popular now, but three women have entire paragraphs tattooed on their sides. What is that about?” She said, “It sounds like you’re trying to find an excuse to get up close and read them!”

Aside from these senior citizens, the crowd was almost all in their early 20s. I almost felt out of place with my graying sideburns. The one guy I saw with almost all white hair, was lurking around, creating a weird vibe. A guy in jeans and longhair thought another presence was creating a weird vibe.

“Those cops just standing there, floating around the outskirts of our rafts. What’s up with that?”

And for us folks with the gray in our hair…we remember a time when Beach Boys and Jimmy Buffet, or Oingo Boingo, were the songs of choice at the beach. Two different boom boxes had hip-hop blaring out.

I heard one drunk guy say “Hey look…men in suits!” I turned around and saw that a wedding party was trying to find a location to take photos. They weren’t having luck on the sand, and quickly moved to the grass area.

A homeless guy walked by with a shirt that said: “Just Do Me.” I said to the small crowd, “That would be the perfect shirt for Tiger Woods.”

Nobody laughed. Maybe Tiger jokes have been played out at this point. Or maybe the lack of beer on the beach makes being funny harder.

An hour later, most of our group returned from the raft. One of them said, “There were guys next to us that had this huge box they had floating next to them. It was filled with beer. It was such a brilliant idea. I’m just not sure how they kept it floating.”

We decided to head out, without even hitting the water. Dang…maybe I am getting old.

We passed the wedding party, who were now taking “rock, paper, scissor” photos.

I wanted to see if the house selling parking got any takers. I couldn’t find it, but did pass a house having another party. I was going to ask them if we could crash it, but two guys were yelling at each other in front of the cooler. One said that his friend agreed to sell him a beer for $1. The friend angrily said “Why would I do that? Who sells a beer for only a dollar? It makes no sense.”

I put the Oingo Boingo CD in the stereo and we drove home.

(Want to invite Josh Board to crash your party? Drop him a line at josh@sandiego.com.)