Popular Costume Beach Volleyball Gets Spiked
In 2010, the city of Manhattan Beach – led by the police chief – implemented a crackdown on the the Charlie Saikley 6-man beach volleyball tournament, which had become the top singles party event in the South Bay. This PubClub.com article looks at the arguments and provides responses based on fact.
As predicted, with the crackdown of drinking on the beach there was an explosion of house parties. By 2011, the tournament was moved off the weekend to weekdays, tho in 2016 it’s creeping back to being a weekend event.
The Manhattan Beach Surfest/6-man is one of this scenic seaside city’s signature events. It reflects not only the community, but the people who live here by combining a true Southern California sport (which was born on this very beach) with a wildly creative and humorous party.
Yet for 2010, the 6-man, as it is most widely known, is getting sand kicked in its face.
The police have said they will crack down on alcohol, the city has raised the entry fee for the teams, and a few changes are taking place on the sand (teams must submit names to organizers and then pay $100 per person for a wristband for certain on-court access, for example).
PubClub.com looks at the issues heading into Surfest/6-man for 2010.
• THERE ARE 80,000 PEOPLE AT 6-MAN
Fourty thousand, 60,000, 80,000. These numbers are thrown around as randomly as team Tropic Thunder’s sets. And are about as accurate.
There are NOT 80,000 people at this event (the higher number is the one most often repeated by Manhattan Beach Police Chief Rod Uyeda in a City Council meeting). Not even close. As proof, consider that the Los Angeles Coliseum and Rose Bowl seat roughly 100,000. Take the number of people at the 6-man and put them in either venue, and the stadiums will look empty.
PubClub estimates the crowd to be between 20,000-25,000. Still, a significant number, to be sure, but nowhere near 80,000.
• THERE’S DANGER OF A RIOT
“My biggest concern is a riot,” Uyeda told the City Council in its 6-man discussion. Mr Uyeda, who has been chief for four years, should know by now that volleyball players and watchers are not rioters.
This is not a rave concert, it’s a wacky volleyball party. Halloween on the beach. Sure, it’s bizarre and people party, but Uyeda himself reported “six to eight” arrests occurred in 2010. “Six to eight!?” That’s a pretty good number on any weekend, let alone for an event that attracts several thousand people.
People here are largely responsible. They party all the time and know how to handle their alcohol. Walk down the beach, even at 6-man’s peak, and all you will see is people having a good time, smiling and laughing. By far, the majority of people at 6-man are in their 30s and 40s with professional occupations. They are not teenagers and they don’t riot.
• PEOPLE DRINK ALCOHOL ON THE BEACH
Yes, this is true and it’s illegal in California.
But so what!? People here are just having fun. Harmless fun. They largely conceal their alcohol, keep it stored out of view in the tents and consume from plastic cups or containers. It’s hardly an open-air keg party.
And what’s so bad about alcohol, anyway? People have been drinking for centuries yet it seems booze has taken a beating lately as police and city officials everywhere are trying to curb consumption at fun events like 6-man and San Francisco’s lively but equally harmless Bay to Breakers.
Regardless of what steps the city and police take to slow alcohol consumption at the event, people are going to pour into Manhattan Beach looking to party. And if they can’t do it on the beach, they will do it elsewhere. And that means they will be jamming into the bars.
So instead of having the party people largely confined to a small area, limiting alcohol on the beach will result in people spreading out all over downtown.
One positive side benefit could be that the alcohol ban or reduction (whichever turns out to be the case) will spawn a rebirth of Manhattan Beach’s once vibrant house party scene.
• ‘PARTY WEBSITES’ (MEANING PUBCLUB.COM) BRING IN PEOPLE FROM ALL OVER THE COUNTRY
This is an interesting argument, and one that PubClub.com gets the most fingers pointed at for the swell in attendance the past few years.
While the recognition is certainly welcomed, the argument is less valid than some of Team Magnum P.I’s mustaches.
PubClub.com is down on the sand for 6-man and talks to people. And PubClub has discovered that 95% of those who go to Surfest either to play or just to party are either from the South Bay, have previously lived in the South Bay or know someone who lives in the South Bay.
Where PubClub.com comes into play is in the latter category. When a local suggests that an out-of-town friend make a visit for 6-man, they send them to PubClub.com to show them what the event is all about, what it looks like and what to expect. It’s just another of this site’s detailed, descriptive articles.
What it does not do is bring in people who are just looking for a party, for in order to find PubClub’s 6-man article, one must first know about the event. You just can’t Google “wild beach party” and have it come up in the search.
This isn’t Oktoberfest, JazzFest or some other recognized major event. It’s a local party put on by locals and attended by locals.
SO NOW WHAT? A SUGGESTION
There is no question that there’s too many people on parts of the beach for 6-man and it’s also a good idea to take measures to return at least part of the event to its original roots, and that is high-quality beach volleyball.
The problem with the crowd issue is that most people are packed into a very small area because everyone wants to be as close to the pier as possible. Spreading out the tents of the “party teams” away from the pier would go a long way toward solving this problem.
The “serious” teams – that is, those that are good enough to make it to Sunday – should be the only ones allowed around the pier. Tents for the “party teams” should be placed further south; even at the event’s peak, there’s hardly anyone where the Masters courts are located. Sponsor tents could create a buffer zone between the two.
One move that makes little sense is the elimination of PA systems on Sunday. Teams use these to increase the comedy element of the event, to keep things from being too serious, none more creatively than Team Mangum’s hilarious J.T., enhanced by the repeated playing of the TV show’s theme song.
Sunday, after all, is not at issue here. This is when the true volleyball skills of the players shine. The 6-man is actually two events in one, the big party on Saturday followed by the respect of the sport and participants in a fun, friendly and loose setting on Sunday.