Live music, art and a 10-foot-tall Chewbacca, are only a few of the many things that were at Bixby Knolls monthly First Fridays event. This month was celebrated with a Star Wars theme, making the catchy phrase “May the fourth be with you” fit in perfectly.
The street was filled with people of all ages, excited to see the different art and music that this month’s event had to offer. Making your way down either side of the street, there was always something to be seen, heard, eaten or bought.
In front of Aura Thai, Ann Likes Red, first-time performers at First Fridays, gave the crowd some rock ‘n’ roll music that made everyone bob their heads and tap their toes. A little further down the street at It’s a Grind Coffee House, Sista Jean & C.B. played the crowd some soul music that, as Sista Jean said, “Your momma would listen to!”
The Expo Center was filled with music played by the instrumental jazz combo group Timberline. The Expo had three different galleries, each offering the crowd something completely different to look at while inside. The Gallery Expo had an “Earthly Treasures Exhibit,” that featured art pieces made entirely out of reusable products. One of the pieces that caught the crowd’s attention was by Claudio Garzon, who created a surfboard made out of plastic debris found in the L.A. River and local beaches. Much of the room was filled with art made by Long Beach students, who were being honored for their work at the Reflections Art Reception and Awards Ceremony, hosted by the Long Beach Council PTA.
The Straight Up Theater Company, also in The Expo Center, put on a light saber comedy show that had the crowd up in laughter with their improv act. They have been a part of First Fridays for the past four months, and love the people, especially the families and young people, that come out and participate.
“A lot of kids, they just want to sit down and watch TV or they just want to go to the mall,” said Crystal Arreola, member of the Straight Up Theater Company. “But I think First Fridays, especially because they’re free, really promote [that] there [are] other things out there. You can do art, you can do theater, you can do music, and I think bringing the community together is really great.”
While enjoying a free hot dog, given to the people in the crowd by the Long Beach Fire Department, there was even more art to be seen just outside The Expo Center. Artists of the Michael Kirk Project painted live, outside onto cardboard with spray paint, making art in minutes. It was a fun spectacle to see that many people in the crowd enjoyed.
On the other side of the block, the street was filled with even more people in and out of the boutiques and restaurants that brought in the crowds with bargains no one could resist. The Historical Society of Long Beach showcased photographs of the 100-year anniversary of the Long Beach Day Nursery, which is set to last the rest of the year.
The capoeira group, Cordao de Ouro, pleased the crowed with their acrobatic moves combined with rhythmic beats. Toward the end of the block, at Georgies Place, The Hot Club De Bop was the only group that had the crowd dancing to swing, jazz, and rockabilly music.
Although much of the crowd was not dressed up as one of their favorite Star Wars character, the night was still something that was out of this galaxy. First Fridays is a monthly event held every first Friday of the month on Atlantic Avenue in Bixby Knolls, between the Bixby Road and San Antonio Drive cross streets. For more information about First Fridays and upcoming events, visit firstfridayslongbeach.com