Scrolling through Instagram one day I came across a promo for San Jose Blvd Nights – a meet up and cruise starting on the east side of town in a strip mall parking lot. Mainly Lowriders on the poster, CJ and I knew it was going to be a cool evening.
So we loaded up and went out with cameras in hand. What unfolded was four hours of unscripted Saturday night street scenes. Impala by Impala (with the customary Lincoln’s and G-Body styles thrown in) slowly appeared on the scene coming from as far away as Sacramento and Fresno. Soon, the parking lot was overflowing with homies, hotties and candy colors. It was bitchin!
What struck me most about this happening was its organic, unscripted flow. There were no trophies, no ropes and rock salt – it was straight up OG car fun.
With a large crowded event like this, you can imagine the liability that would come with attaching a name and phone number to the flier. Nobody was in charge. There was no promoter – it was just a flier and word of mouth. It also had years’ worth of momentum as this is an annual cruise.
We arrived at the event’s epicenter around 5:30pm. The parkin’ lot party raged on with cruising and tire kicking. In a sense, it was like a family reunion, everyone bonded by their love for Lowriders and cruising them on the street.
I asked a regular “What time does the cruise to the other side of town start?” His answer was simple: “Whenever the cops show up and shut us down here!”
But when the cops did show up and I was surprised by their sense of respect and community. Instead of blasting a PA from their car telling everyone to “get out,” they simply blocked the entry points of the lot once it reached capacity, not letting anymore traffic in. But after they sealed off the scene, they walked the lot, wowed at the colorful creations just like the rest of us. They were in step with what was happening and it was refreshing as hell.
Nightfall came and things got real. The “Blvd” part of the show was about the commence. Car after car exited the parking lot and headed west toward a soccer stadium which just happens to have an In & Out Burger in an adjacent lot. This served as the “second stop” but not before an endless procession of sweet rides cruised down Santa Clara Ave through downtown San Jose. It was electrifying!
Once we reached the In & Out parking lot, things took on a completely different feel. You could sense competition in the air and soon, we witnessed our first ever “hop off.” What a trip! Mostly G-Bodies, they squared off, facing each other to see who could go highest. By standers would push the airborne cars if they got out of shape to make sure they came down safely among the standing-room-only crowd. Having never seen this in person before, I was blown away at how much fun it really is. Almost like an Old West shootout!
Only this time, there were no cops, and nothing that stood in the way of this full blown car party. It went on until the wee hours and then everyone saddled up and dispersed.
Underground, unscripted and free flowing, San Jose Blvd Nights reminded us all how cool California car culture really is.