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Blackout Blues

Stoplight party

Spotlight-party partiers
Spotlight-party partiers

My friend Steve had his birthday party at Dizzy’s downtown. His birthday falls on the same day as Neil Young’s, and that night Dizzy’s was having lots of local musicians perform Neil Young tunes. Each performer did a three-song set at the sold-out show. The musicians included Berkley Hart, Lisa Sanders, Dave Howard and the Blackout Blues Band, Chuck Schiele, Sven-Erik Seaholm, Marcia Staub, Cindy Lee Berryhill, Gregory Page, and Peter Bolland, who put the whole thing together. Gregory Page told me, “Peter just called me up to do this. It was planned a few months in advance.”

Cindy Lee Berryhill

Cindy Lee Berryhill covered “Heart of Gold” and “Cinnamon Girl,” and Page played “Albuquerque,” “Roll Another Number,” and “Harvest.” I thought somebody else had done “Harvest” also. I asked Page if the musicians got together to make sure nobody would repeat a song. He said, “You know, I didn’t really think about it. They sent an e-mail about the event, but it didn’t list the songs people would perform. Somebody else did ‘Harvest,’ but it wasn’t a big deal. I think that was the only song that was repeated.” When I started to ask a question about the e-mail, Page interrupted to say, “Actually, I got the email wrong. I showed up here thinking it was a birthday tribute for Neil Sedaka. They said it was Neil Young, and luckily I knew a bunch of his songs.”

The Blackout Blues Band capped the night with an electric set — rocking the free world, and rocking this birthday bash. Although one person at the party wasn’t satisfied with just the rock. He said, “They don’t serve alcohol here. Where can we get drinks and hear music?”

Steve and I knew where. We headed to Grand Avenue in Pacific Beach.

I had gotten a call from Meredith telling me about the party. She didn’t seemed too thrilled by the whole concept. She said, “It’s called a ‘stoplight party.’ You wear green if you’re single and available. If you’re wearing yellow, it means you’re in a relationship, but it’s not that serious, and you’re still looking. Red means you’re not available.”

When I talked to Rollin Ellis, who lives in the apartment and put this thing together, he said, “I just hope people get creative. It could be a small green item like a bracelet. It doesn’t have to be a big green shirt. I’m going to wear a green badge, but with a yellow smiley face on it.”

I don’t know if that meant he was in the yellow category or green. Another person who overheard the conversation on color asked, “What does it mean if someone is wearing purple? Maybe it means they love Prince, or Barney the dinosaur.” There were a couple of kegs and a box for donations. There were signs on both gates of the apartment saying, “No alcohol beyond this point.” The apartments had a courtyard in the middle for mingling, and everyone who lived there seemed to be at the party having a great time. They all had their doors open. One guy said to me, “Do you want to see where I bring the women when things start to heat up?” He walked me over to his garage in the complex and opened the door. Instead of having his car parked in there, or a bunch of tools lying around, he had it carpeted. It had a stereo, with speakers on the ceilings, a disco ball, a strobe light, a black light, a leather couch, and — the ace in the hole — a Jacuzzi. They had their surfboards hanging on the walls (and this complex is within convenient walking distance of the beach).

Daniel Greenamyre

There were string lights hanging across from apartment to apartment. Someone said, “These apartments look just like the ones in Melrose Place, but without the pool.” Somebody set up a big screen, showing slides of different things, including people at the party, and a photographer was occasionally walking around, snapping new shots.

Within an hour, there were at least two hundred people packed in here. A DJ named Daniel Greenamyre was spinning records on one of the balconies. I went up to talk to him. He had all his gear set up on a surfboard. He told me, “I had to, because it’s starting to drizzle. I can just slide the surfboard closer, under the ledge, if it rains.” The apartment that the DJ was at was packed with people. A 45-year-old guy was making out with a woman who looked to be 23. I wondered if they lived there or were just using the couch. Jell-O shots and other bottles of alcohol were set up on the table.

There was a drunk guy walking around bugging everyone. When I was talking to Meredith and she was putting her hair up, he came over and sniffed her underarms. Since they were giving out name tags, Meredith would occasionally write something funny on them. She wrote on mine, “Be nice to me, or I’ll make you look like an ass on Thursday.” One guy’s tag said “Roberto,” which wasn’t his name. Another said “Lady Killer,” and a woman had one that said “Underground Ho.” For my photographer, Meredith wrote on his name tag, “I can make you a star on the Internet.”

I asked one of the guys who put the party together if they had permission from everyone in the complex. He said, “I’d rather ask for forgiveness than for permission.” He then said, “Yeah, everyone was invited and told about the party.” But at around 11, when the band DeaFred started, a woman from three apartments away came over. She wondered about the noise and asked, “When do you think the band is going to stop?” She didn’t seem too mad, and I noticed she was still at the party an hour later.

Surprisingly, it wasn’t until 1:00 a.m. that the police made it over. The band had been playing jazz and rock for almost two hours. The drummer originally didn’t show up, thinking the weather would damage his drum kit. The rest of the band convinced him it wouldn’t rain, and he could set up underneath a ledge.

Band at the party

The police arrested four people. One guy had walked outside with his beer. Rollin later told me the guy was pissed and said, “Instead of the cop just giving me a warning, he took me to the drunk tank.” Rollin continued, “There were two people that got arrested, but I don’t know what they did. The other guy that got busted, that I know about, walked out and poured his beer on a cop car. He was so hammered I don’t think he even knew it was a police vehicle.”

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Spotlight-party partiers
Spotlight-party partiers

My friend Steve had his birthday party at Dizzy’s downtown. His birthday falls on the same day as Neil Young’s, and that night Dizzy’s was having lots of local musicians perform Neil Young tunes. Each performer did a three-song set at the sold-out show. The musicians included Berkley Hart, Lisa Sanders, Dave Howard and the Blackout Blues Band, Chuck Schiele, Sven-Erik Seaholm, Marcia Staub, Cindy Lee Berryhill, Gregory Page, and Peter Bolland, who put the whole thing together. Gregory Page told me, “Peter just called me up to do this. It was planned a few months in advance.”

Cindy Lee Berryhill

Cindy Lee Berryhill covered “Heart of Gold” and “Cinnamon Girl,” and Page played “Albuquerque,” “Roll Another Number,” and “Harvest.” I thought somebody else had done “Harvest” also. I asked Page if the musicians got together to make sure nobody would repeat a song. He said, “You know, I didn’t really think about it. They sent an e-mail about the event, but it didn’t list the songs people would perform. Somebody else did ‘Harvest,’ but it wasn’t a big deal. I think that was the only song that was repeated.” When I started to ask a question about the e-mail, Page interrupted to say, “Actually, I got the email wrong. I showed up here thinking it was a birthday tribute for Neil Sedaka. They said it was Neil Young, and luckily I knew a bunch of his songs.”

The Blackout Blues Band capped the night with an electric set — rocking the free world, and rocking this birthday bash. Although one person at the party wasn’t satisfied with just the rock. He said, “They don’t serve alcohol here. Where can we get drinks and hear music?”

Steve and I knew where. We headed to Grand Avenue in Pacific Beach.

I had gotten a call from Meredith telling me about the party. She didn’t seemed too thrilled by the whole concept. She said, “It’s called a ‘stoplight party.’ You wear green if you’re single and available. If you’re wearing yellow, it means you’re in a relationship, but it’s not that serious, and you’re still looking. Red means you’re not available.”

When I talked to Rollin Ellis, who lives in the apartment and put this thing together, he said, “I just hope people get creative. It could be a small green item like a bracelet. It doesn’t have to be a big green shirt. I’m going to wear a green badge, but with a yellow smiley face on it.”

I don’t know if that meant he was in the yellow category or green. Another person who overheard the conversation on color asked, “What does it mean if someone is wearing purple? Maybe it means they love Prince, or Barney the dinosaur.” There were a couple of kegs and a box for donations. There were signs on both gates of the apartment saying, “No alcohol beyond this point.” The apartments had a courtyard in the middle for mingling, and everyone who lived there seemed to be at the party having a great time. They all had their doors open. One guy said to me, “Do you want to see where I bring the women when things start to heat up?” He walked me over to his garage in the complex and opened the door. Instead of having his car parked in there, or a bunch of tools lying around, he had it carpeted. It had a stereo, with speakers on the ceilings, a disco ball, a strobe light, a black light, a leather couch, and — the ace in the hole — a Jacuzzi. They had their surfboards hanging on the walls (and this complex is within convenient walking distance of the beach).

Daniel Greenamyre

There were string lights hanging across from apartment to apartment. Someone said, “These apartments look just like the ones in Melrose Place, but without the pool.” Somebody set up a big screen, showing slides of different things, including people at the party, and a photographer was occasionally walking around, snapping new shots.

Within an hour, there were at least two hundred people packed in here. A DJ named Daniel Greenamyre was spinning records on one of the balconies. I went up to talk to him. He had all his gear set up on a surfboard. He told me, “I had to, because it’s starting to drizzle. I can just slide the surfboard closer, under the ledge, if it rains.” The apartment that the DJ was at was packed with people. A 45-year-old guy was making out with a woman who looked to be 23. I wondered if they lived there or were just using the couch. Jell-O shots and other bottles of alcohol were set up on the table.

There was a drunk guy walking around bugging everyone. When I was talking to Meredith and she was putting her hair up, he came over and sniffed her underarms. Since they were giving out name tags, Meredith would occasionally write something funny on them. She wrote on mine, “Be nice to me, or I’ll make you look like an ass on Thursday.” One guy’s tag said “Roberto,” which wasn’t his name. Another said “Lady Killer,” and a woman had one that said “Underground Ho.” For my photographer, Meredith wrote on his name tag, “I can make you a star on the Internet.”

I asked one of the guys who put the party together if they had permission from everyone in the complex. He said, “I’d rather ask for forgiveness than for permission.” He then said, “Yeah, everyone was invited and told about the party.” But at around 11, when the band DeaFred started, a woman from three apartments away came over. She wondered about the noise and asked, “When do you think the band is going to stop?” She didn’t seem too mad, and I noticed she was still at the party an hour later.

Surprisingly, it wasn’t until 1:00 a.m. that the police made it over. The band had been playing jazz and rock for almost two hours. The drummer originally didn’t show up, thinking the weather would damage his drum kit. The rest of the band convinced him it wouldn’t rain, and he could set up underneath a ledge.

Band at the party

The police arrested four people. One guy had walked outside with his beer. Rollin later told me the guy was pissed and said, “Instead of the cop just giving me a warning, he took me to the drunk tank.” Rollin continued, “There were two people that got arrested, but I don’t know what they did. The other guy that got busted, that I know about, walked out and poured his beer on a cop car. He was so hammered I don’t think he even knew it was a police vehicle.”

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