A Funky Alternative to Solstice – Bohemia at the Beach offers its own Solstice fun

Barbara Fabian photo
Barbara Fabian photo

While the Solstice Parade makes its way up State Street to spill into Alameda Park, the Funk Zone will be setting up its own celebration for the first time. Called Bohemia at the Beach it’s the brainchild of Funk Zone resident James O’Mahoney, owner of the Surf Museum of Helena Ave., creator of Skateboarder magazine, and collector of fantastic ephemera. Instead of a grand event under one roof, Bohemia at the Beach has asked Funk Zone tenants — from galleries and art studios to bars and wineries — to do something special on Saturday afternoon to continue the Solstice themes, but with more of a gypsy, bohemian, beatnik bent.

“I’ve been wanting to do this for a while,” says Mr. O’Mahoney as we sit up on his rooftop lounge that overlooks Helena Ave. and Cabrillo, with the lagoon, beach and wharf beyond. “You’ve got 60,000 people going up to the park. You’ve got your drum circle and you can hold a stick of patchouli. And it’s always hot, so why not come to the beach?”

The day will be filled with small pop-up events a ukulele and hula contest at the Santa Barbara Surfing Museum, the Stale Fish Cabaret at 16 3/4 Helena Ave., something called “The Theater of Madness” at Tracy Beeler’s studio a few doors down (46 Helena); a very small Burning Man spinoff called Burning Girl at La Chambre Photographique (214 Helena), Italian chalk drawing at Latitude Gallery (20 Helena), and more. Mr. O’Mahoney is also asking for street entertainers (non-professionals included) to come down and just do their thing.

“Come on down!” he says. “Do you want to tap dance with your wooden leg? Have you always wanted to play your violin with a parrot on it? Or play eight Zippo lighters at the same time? Just do it. It’s an open canvas.”

Because everything takes place within the confines of each business, Mr. O’Mahoney avoided dealing with events permits, except for the Skaters Point Music Festival, which starts at noon, and that’s more of a coincidence. This rock concert on the grassy space just across from the entrance to Helena Ave. was already a going concern: eight bands, all high-school age, rockin’ out for free. As Mr. O’Mahoney is friends with the organizers, he was able to get them on board as a sort of opening event for Bohemia at the Beach.

Mr. O’Mahoney has a daughter who has danced in the Solstice Parade and has ridden in the Fiesta parade a few times, so he’s no stranger to Santa Barbara summers. But this is more for people who are ready to go somewhere else after the parade.

With the Funk Zone getting more crowded every day, the event is also a bit of a survey of what exists and what might disappear if rents keep moving up.

“The Funk Zone is a bit like Greenwich Village and Cannery Row squeezed together,” he says.

This year it’s all about setting Bohemia into motion and seeing what happens. Any plans to shut down the streets and make it bigger are far in the future. Right now, Mr. O’Mahoney is just excited that his neighborhood is throwing an impromptu party.

“This is about freedom to do your stuff,” he says. “Guess what? It’s free to have fun.”

Bohemia At The Beach
When: Sat. noon until after sunset
Where: Helena Ave. and Cabrillo Boulevard to Yanonali
Cost: Free
Information: 962-9048 or cowboystar7@verizon.net

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