Wandering through the crowds at the last Floatopia, bro-bumping everyone in sight and pounding cut-rate malt liquor with a mob of friends, I was having an unfathomably good time. Suddenly coming into a clearing among the people, I came across a guy running in circles like a gorilla, throwing mud and terrorizing anyone around him. Combined with a lot of nudity (good) and seeing a puke-covered young woman continue to vomit while getting dragged by her handcuffs (bad), it was an unforgettable event. Hell, I even stepped on some fool’s head while he had a gently savage Kenny G make-out sesh right in the middle of a walkway. To put it simply, shit was awesome. Wildly awesome.
Oh wait, it’s already happening again?
I just got Vice Chancellor Michael Young’s e-mail about Floatopia 2, and to be honest, I can’t say that I disagree with him. After the carnage, both real and perceived, of the last event, it’s obvious that Floatopia cannot survive on its current evolutionary path.
Don’t believe me? Look at what happened to San Diego a couple years back. The city’s beach community had a decades-long tradition of throwing huge beach parties, including the monumentally epic Over-the-Line Tournament held every year at Fiesta Island. However, when the rest of the city heard a few horror stories, including an overly hyped near-riot, they decided they had had enough. A measure to ban drinking at the city’s beaches passed easily, despite a thorough lack of support from those who actually lived near the water.
Past Floatopias, Labor Day and other huge parties at our beach have been remarkably ignored. A few thousand people pounding beers with DJs spinning in the sand never garnered much attention. But now, much like what happened in San Diego, the precedent has been set. With the number of pissed-off people in positions of power right now, the possibility for drastic legislation is very real. We’ve already got noise and alcohol distribution curfews at the ludicrously early hour of midnight; what happens when we can’t even booze at the beach?
The environmental damages caused by Floatopia have been discussed in depth, and although that’s the focus of my studies, I don’t need to get mixed up in that conversation. I’m more concerned about the effects the current uproar, in its aftermath, is going to have on our community. Isla Vista’s residents have, from the beginning, always enjoyed and fought for the freedom to do whatever they wanted. Whether it’s a hippie festival, pimps and hoes parties or burning down banks, we’ve created an environment unlike any other. Just think about how envious people are when they come to visit.
Yet right now that freedom is most definitely coming under fire. Growing up in Chico, I always heard stories about how Chico State went absolutely apeshit in the ’80s and ’90s. But by the time I started getting out and about, what had previously been community apathy toward the exploits of faded students had slowly changed into outrage, and famous local party scene got shut down after increased pressure for restrictive legislation. The same thing will happen for us if the rest of Santa Barbara County thinks we are all a bunch of raging drunks killing off the otters and dolphins with forty bottles and used condoms.
I had a hell of a lot of fun at the most recent Floatopia, and I’m hardly going to quit getting lagonzo at the beach, especially not during my last Spring Quarter. But I’m not going to leave my empties and passed out friends/chicks behind either. The solution to the situation has yet to be found, although getting militant at the beach like Da Hui on the North Shore a couple decades ago is possibly viable alternative. With our image in the eyes of SB natives so important, the main question is whether or not we are willing to let them meddle in our way of life.
As far as Floatopia 2 is concerned, if you want to find me, I’ll be working on a jug of Rossi at Sands.