Every year, Sunset Junction promoters pull together to create a street fair unlike any other and this year’s 27th annual gathering on August 18-19 was no exception.
Sunset Junction is considered to be one of the biggest and best of the Hollywood summer block parties. The street fair is located at the junction of Santa Monica and Sunset Boulevard where the streets are blocked off and filled with music, food and vendors.
The feeling at Junction is one of warmth and acceptance with occasional freakish but enjoyable eye candy. Throughout the years the block party has maintained a very diverse and eclectic crowd. Rastafarians, surfers, families, punk rockers, hippies, skaters, Betty Page look-alikes, gays and lesbians, the older crowds, the younger crowds and everything in between.
“I love the diversity of Junction,” said Ben Phatteson, who has been coming to the festival for three years. “The only thing I would change about it is the number of days. Two days is not enough.”
Mike Hoffman has been attending for about 13 years now and he believes the people are the best part of Junction. “The people here are all so friendly and nice, yet so different. I love it.”
Junction’s food choices are numerous and impressive and entice the sense of smell for blocks surrounding the venue. Everywhere you walk, you can smell a cornucopia of food delights ranging from El Salvadorian, American classics, Hawaiian, Jamaican, Mexican, Italian, vegetarian, barbecue, corn, candy and sweets of just about every kind. The beer and margarita booths seemed to be a very popular spot on such hot days, although sodas, lemonade and water were offered as well, not to mention the free shots of energy drinks and Starbuck’s fruit frappuccinos.
Ebony Cain, who was working at one of the margarita booths, said even though this was her first year of working there she enjoyed the good vibe.
The bars that align the streets were open for business as usual and there were also some intimate private parties with music playing and people celebrating with dance and laughter.
Outside of one of these private parties was Josh Bodiente who said, “It’s hotter then heck here, but it is a lot of fun.” Bodiente has been attending Junction for many years.
Going on his fifth year, Costas Chrissikos said, “I love the culture, peacefulness and acceptance of the group of people that come here.”
The vendors were dispersed around the food areas and also had a lot to offer such as sunglasses, exotic looking metal wind chimes, jewelry, palm readers, clothing and hats, free HIV testing and free Hepatitis A and B vaccinations for those who were interested.
Stepanie Engels, a vendor at Junction, said it was too hot for her taste and that she would rather be an attendee than working. “I’ve had better sales in previous years, but I still enjoy being a part of this,” Engels said.
Participants of the street fair watched artists paint before their eyes with spray paint, oils and water colors creating beautiful works of art for others to enjoy while making it all look so easy.
There were also carnival rides and one attraction that many people found to be entertaining, a water balloon contraption that had two sets of catapults that allowed people to lob water balloons at one another. This was a group favorite as onlookers gathered to watch, get a little water on them and laugh.
The diversity of the crowd and the cusine paled in comparison to the diversity of the music. There were three main stages that were set at the end of each street. Rhythm and Blues and Seventies Soul could be heard coming from the Hoover Stage. Acts such as The Emotions, Millie Jackson, Deniece Williams, The O’Jays and Morris Day ‘ The Time were to be crowd pleasers.
On the Bates Stage came sounds of retro-punk, alternative rock and indie rock with groups such as Sea Wolf, Hot Hot Heat, the Buzzcocks and She Wants Revenge.
Lastly, the Sanborn Stage was a mixture of funk, darkwave, drum ‘ bass and Afro-Indian dance preformed by Breakestra, Medusa, Jesse De La Pena and Chebi Sabbah.
A few other DJ’s were randomly placed spinning old school beats and raggae.
“It doesn’t matter what stage you happened to be at, no matter where you looked people were grooving and dancing,” said Mike Walker who has been to Junction three years in a row now. “It was awesome to look around you and everyone was smiling, totally enjoying the music and themselves.”
When randomly asked, the only two things that bothered people were the heat and the parking, but once they entered Junction they soon forgot about their troubles.