Get yur freak on

22 Mar

There are certain natural events that catapult cities and regions into a state of preparation and then scampering for cover.  Most recently, we saw our west coast evacuate populations to higher grounds in anticipation of tsunami waves riffing off of the earthquake in Japan.  Or, closer to home, around late August our friends in the Carolinas and the Gulf region batten down the hatches and juice up their generators whenever tropical storms begin swirling into cyclones off the coast.  But these precaution-inducing events aren’t always of the “force majeur” variety.  Since the early 1990s there is an event that sends land-locked Atlantans into absolute hysteria.  People either run for the hills, or hit the grocery store and Home Depot like there’s snow flurries to stay at home to defend their land, or at the very least, get some projects done around the house.

My first year back in Atlanta after college was 1993 and I was living on Peachtree Street.  On a Thursday night in April my friend Katie called to say there was a group heading to the mountains to escape “Freaknik”.  I had no idea what she was talking about and dismissed the hype that I was spewing out of her mouth.  After all, I was living in a city “too busy to hate” and I had a lot of stuff to get done.  So what if there were going to be some extra folk in town for the weekend?  I would be staying in place and taking my chances.  I WAS SO UNPREPARED!!!  It began with driving home from work on Friday and the bass thump that shook everything on my bookshelves didn’t stop until about 11pm Sunday night.  No lie.  The next year was just as hectic, the year after that I feared for my life at the gas station when I was verbally assaulted by a group of women.  Because I was a white chick pumping my own gas.  It made no sense.  And from stories that I heard from other friends, I didn’t see all that much.  A friend’s sister couldn’t get her baby to the emergency room because of abandoned cars on the street and people dancing.  My friend Chris got in a fist fight after he was dragged out of his car.  If you weren’t part of the Freaknik, you were in for a problem.

Just chillin' in the middle of the road

For those who don’t know what Freaknik is, here’s a primer.  It started as “Black College Spring Break” in the 1980s.  It was a sweet little picnic hosted by Atlanta University on the third weekend in April.  By the 1990s, unbeknownst to me…living out of town, it snowballed into what can only be called a cultural cluster-fuck.  Think back on “white” Spring Breaks spent at the beach…the cruising, the redneck locals who weren’t on any kind of college break, but were there anyway, the hunch punch parties, wet-t-shirt contests, all the people passed out on the beach.  Oh, I cringe.  It was beyond trashy.  Now, transfer that scene times three, paint it dark and add a healthy dose of hoopty cars,

And for all of the work done on these cars, none of them seemed to have mufflers

pimped out whips, the dawn of cam-corders, no beach for people to congregate or pass out on,

Behold...the beachless bathing beauties of Freaknik

Atlantans trying to get home from work and the only good strip for cruising being I-75.  Oh and gratuitous, public sexy time.  You know what I mean by sexy time.  It is so legendary that T-Pain produced Freaknik: The Musical for Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim.

I guess he flew in and didn't have a car

It must have been around 1999 when it finally fazizzled.  The city got involved and tried to inject positive, uplifting events and even went so far as to introduce a job fair into the mix.  A job fair?  For Spring Break?  Permits were issued.  It had the same effect as having your mother chaperone you and your friends to a Minor Threat show.  Um, not cool.  It moved to Daytona Beach and the local Volusia County government poured water on it and it died.

Must have t-shirt or 2011?

But…it’s almost April and that means that there are rumblings and suggestions that Freaknik is coming back.  A revival. Everything old can be new again.  Oh, Lawd! It has a new spelling, Freaknic, and there is buzz on Facebook and Twitter that it’s totally going to happen.   There’s even a website.  This happened last year, too.  Not much happened.  Atlanta City Officials are telling us to remain calm, however.  Freaknik/Freaknic organizers have not filed with the city for special event permits within the 30-day advance period, so we are safe.  ‘Cause everybody knows that mayhem, mellay and misdirection always asks permission first.  Whew!

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5 Responses to “Get yur freak on”

  1. GO March 22, 2011 at 11:32 am #

    Back in the day, my favorite T-Shirt from this event said ” No Sand, No Beaches, Just Sweet Georgia Peaches ! “

  2. Laurel March 22, 2011 at 11:34 am #

    Oh, Lordy. I, too, experienced the joy of Freaknick when I lived in my shoebox/Peyton Place apartment complex behind Fellini’s. It. Was. Unbelievable. Cars parked- PARKED- across all six lanes of Peachtree, during rush hour, while people just hung out and dared you to ask them to move please just one car so you could get home. The response to such a request: I’ll cut you, you cracker bitch. I was never so glad to be past my table-waiting years as I was when Freaknick came to town.

    But I did have Mazie the Magnificent so my car was treated with a smidge more respect. Once I even got to borrow my sister’s “rockweiler”. I cut a wide berth that day.

    • Hot damn, Charlotte Ann! March 22, 2011 at 11:57 am #

      You know, i am absolutely filled with shame whenever I see MTV Spring Break, that I have or have had something in common with those jackwagons. All of the gratuitous making out (and then some), binge drinking in the sun and trashy bathing suits..ugh. Makes my skin crawl with imaginary festering std.s. But the difference is that Spring Break towns expect and court those kinds of shenanigans…it is a huge part of their tourism industry. Atlanta isn’t set up for it…and then the racial overtones were just so palpable. There was nothing good that was going to happen if you tried to get in the mix and segregate. And as a lot of people discovered, you couldn’t even get out, period. If you somehow managed a trip somewhere you were truly in harm’s way. Shudder.

  3. Laurel March 22, 2011 at 11:37 am #

    Um. I just clicked through to the website. It claims to be the “Original Freaknic since 1982” and just underneath proclaims this to be the 20th annual Freaknic.

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