El Porto Residents Put Sounds On The Strand – For Anyone To Play
Off all the crazy things people have put and built on the median of The Strand in north Manhattan Beach, CA – a putting green, a kids’ playground, tropical gardens landscaping – this one takes the prize for best of all time.
It’s a piano.
Yes, a piano.
There is actually a piano out in the open, sitting there for anyone to come up and play (and several people do) sitting in the area between The Strand and the parking lot overlooking the beach, the surfers, the sunsets and the Pacific Ocean in this Los Angeles coastal community.
Anyone is invited to come by and tickle the ivories, to do their best Elton John, Billy Joel or, in the case of one 10-year-old prodigy, Bach and Beethoven.
Not only is there a piano on The Strand, but the residents who live in front of it in a rented beach house also built a landscaped platform, complete with concrete tiles, plants and a long bench covered in green astroturf. It’s like a mini concert hall, all out in the open for all to enjoy.
It’s all quite spectacular, quite unusual and speaks to the interesting and on-going culture of El Porto, a very local, hot-spot surfing and laid-back lifestyle location in this part of Manhattan Beach.
“The idea started out simply as a patio,” said resident Mark Davis, who shares the rented house with other roommates. “We like to have mimosa Sundays and needed extra room for all the people. The roommates added the patio and one thing led to another and one roommate, Sean Mon, thought about a piano.
“He found this one on Craig’s List for free, got it down here and it’s been very popular.”
How popular? Davis explains.
“We had a 10-year-old child prodigy sit down and play,” Davis said. “He asked if we would like to hear Bach or Beethoven and we kind of laughed and said ‘yeah, whatever,’ but he was incredible. We’ve also had jazz students from Long Beach come up and play. There’s a lot of talent around here and people love it.
“America has talent. El Porto has talent!”
There are certain rules if you want to play the piano. Its hours are 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Other times, there’s a lock on it. When the piano was first installed, it seems some people were coming home from the bars and playing – or attempting to play it – at all hours of the night. Naturally this did not sit to well with some neighbors so Davis and the roommates quickly created a solution.
Now it must be noted that the piano and other Strand median creations are located on city property. However, it has been the long-standing Manhattan Beach policy to let residents do what they want with the space, as long as it’s not overboard (a neighbor once had to remove some structures he had built for his kids to play). After all, these things only enhance the area and what’s better here – a piano or a bunch of ice plants?
Longtime El Porto and Manhattan Beach residents will note the piano looks very similar to the one that Carey Carloff played for many years at Pancho’s just up the street. So while Mon likely didn’t realize it when he got the piano, he has contributed to the history and culture of El Porto.
The piano, located at 4016 The Strand, will be here throughout the summer. If you don’t play, stop by to listen because you never know who might show up to share a song or two.
The mimosa parties, by the way, are BYOB every second Sunday of the month.