So, I'm back from five hours of cruising Second Saturday, and it just gets bigger and bigger. That's the story, and it's not all good, as issues of ALL those people in our traditionally sleep midtown are starting to come up for the police and there are those who are worrying that Second Saturday will go the way of the Thursday night market, ruined by its own success.
People drinking can get a little ugly as the night wears on, but the bottom line on Second Saturday remains this: It makes Sacramento feel like as interesting a place as you could be on Saturday night. And really, how often can you say that about Sactown?
I mean, I park the furry bike on the corner of 18th and L, and the first thing I see - other than a friend and a woman who I haven't seen for more than 20 years - is a samba drum group and dancers strutting and performing to delighted onlookers in front of Aioli (free advertising, Reda). People are digging it, stopping their bikes - have you ever seen so many bikes in Sacramento? - and even the folks inside the restaurant are enjoying the floorshow through the glass.
So then I wander up L, past the still-impressive L Street Lofts - really isn't that the finest new building in this town in forever? - and see that the gateway up into the lofts across the street, in the same building that houses the Buckhorn Grill, Ginger Elizbeth Chocolates, Diane Tempest's art gallery, and that new yogurt place, are open. So I wander up, through the gate that is usually closed, and there are people wandering this internal plaza, sitting at what looks like a back patio for L Bar, and just people people people, and it's COOL. I've been in there before, but no PEOPLE before. And people, not pork, make a party.
And then I wander over towards more loud music, katy-cornered, towards Mulvanney's, and there's a new space that the restaurant has acquired and turned into a funky little party, with a doorman inviting people in - under the industrial door that was, until recently, the front of an auto repair. This is an improvement. They've got cool chandeliers made out of collanders, and art on the walls, and barbeque and a full bar.
It's nice, and funky, and somehow upscale as well. And the people are...FINE. Honestly, Sacramento's not the prettiest town, day to day - ok, yes, I'm being shallow and judgmental, but who objects to pretty faces? - but tonight is different. Fine women, sexy girls, handsome, stylish guys - it's good for the eyes, and it makes Sacramento feel less frumpy, less suburban, and more, well, attractive.
At this point, it's probably worth noting that Second Saturday is suddenly a lot less about the "art walk" and a lot more about partying, and seeing and being seen, and those who object to it on those grounds have a point.
But really: As far as I'm concerned, very little art is as interesting or appealing as other people. I can't remember who said it - it might have been Degas - but whoever it was said, "We are here to look at each other," or something of that ilk, and it's TRUE. At least for me, and apart from nature itself, there's really noting quite as interesting as other people.
And there are waffles! Fresh off the waffle-maker, and while I didn't have one, I was all over the De Stijl-era White Stripes flava of the color scheme. More than that, the presence of street food vendors is a SIGNIFICANT improvement in Sacramento's street scape. There was a kettle corn place in front of Faces, too, and others - street food is a sign of civilization in my book, every bit as much as art.
And cheaper. And usually, tastier...
And there was also more street music than I've ever heard on a Second Saturday. There was a fine little combo playing something vaguely fusiony-proggy in front of Body Tribe, as usual, but it got a little hairy, sonically, at 20th and J, where three different electric bands vied for the attention of passers-by, while a crew of rappers caught the attention of a good crowd in front of the News and Review building.
Noise will be an issue with the city if this things keeps growing, which it shows every sign of doing, but it should be possible to deal with it to everyone's satisfaction. People make a party, and what's a party without music? As long as it all quiets down by 10 or so, what's the harm?
Businessess sure don't seem to be suffering, as the delightful Azul was cheek-by-jowl, front to back, and I ran into another old friend and caught up. And speaking of new businesses, the Lounge on 20 is now open, and it's gorgeous. I snapped a few photos through the windows, and will go back sometime soon - what a great space, and a terrific addition to what is the defacto center of Sacramento nightlife (once again, the gay guys got their first). What was once called Lavender Heights is now the epicenter.
As one passerby sniffed at me as I shot a snap or two through the window, "That's sorta voyeurism, you know," I could only respond, "Definitely." You Sacramentans and your interesting new places to socialize fascinate me.
Honestly, this is so exciting to me, to see this grow, to see people come out and come downtown to look at all this creative energy. I know there are those who feel this is all happening too soon, or is too bar-oriented, or too-upscale, or not funky enough, or only once a month, or draws - shades of the Thursday Night Market - "the wrong element." But to me, this is a sign of vitality, of the creation of an actual community, and draws the focus of this town from the endlessly sprawling suburbs - and from TV, the internet and other "virtual" realities - to a brightly lit, noisy, CROWDED cityscape. And I see NOTHING wrong with that.
One month till the next one! Be there!