It's a beautiful late-summer afternoon, and as happens so rarely in this city of VIP suites and backroom stages, the party in East Atlanta Village is in the street. The EAV Strut is an annual celebration of one little corner of the city, complete with a parade, street vendors, drink specials, live performances and even a book sale. It's a family affair. While the beer flows like water from the Sweetwater Brewery truck and the bars, there are also kids enjoying face painting and a big inflatable slide.
The parade is a mix of bawdy and cute. Men in drag take up much of the limelight – one as the baton-twirling leader of the march, another as a Girl Scout cheerleader (full beards not withstanding). There are also after-school groups and pet clubs mixed in with the bikers and roller girls. Man and goat together promote local agriculture. A classic convertible rolls by with a hand-painted sign from the Clermont Lounge. One of the dancers, her gown less revealing than her usual working attire, waves from the backseat as the 5-year-old girl next to her gleefully throws candy to the kids in the crowd.
The Atlanta Police Department makes its presence known. One cop chats with the bikers outside the real-estate office on Glenwood and helps a small child separated from his parents. The other cop, his siren squawking as he rides his motorbike up and down the street, kicks people off the sidewalks and hassles the staff at one of the bars for selling food outside.
By the time the sun sets around 8 p.m., the kids are mostly gone and the street vendors are packing up. The Strut has come to an end, but the party continues in the bars and houses of EAV. Rock bands do their thing, loud and proud in the back room of the Earl. The bars on Glenwood are full inside and out, and rumor passes around that there are house parties where the second-winders can enjoy the continued celebration. A bar fly who has ventured out to a gathering on Flat Shoals Avenue returns and reports that it "sucks – nothing but five tired old queens." Finally, the word comes through that a house down on Gresham is rocking out.
In the average-looking house, the party is open to everyone who wanders by but is filled mostly with twentysomethings. In the main room, dance beats play while a guy directs traffic and sells $10 wrist bands, which entitle you to "all you can drink." He sends people downstairs to listen to the band, an enthusiastic imitation of Sublime. A joint is passed around and some people dance amid the air ducts and layered carpet, soaked through in places by puddles of basement water.
Back upstairs, the first room of the house is empty but for a few couches and a dude who has had enough and passed out. He's been there for at least an hour. In EAV, it's good to know you're not far from home when the party ends.