Beach music will rock Concord Street in front of the U.S. Customhouse tonight as the annual Piccolo Spoleto intern block party invites thousands of guests to dance the evening away.
The free event is the culmination of the efforts of more than two dozen college students who are interning with Piccolo. They organized every detail, from picking the "Beach Music Bash" theme to arranging sponsors.
"I think it's going to be a lot of fun," said Craig Budde, a 20-year-old College of Charleston student and one of the interns helping to organize the party. "It's free and family-friendly, and it kind of represents what Piccolo is all about. We have local bands playing, local vendors selling food, and everything's cheap."
The block party will kick off at 7 p.m. and feature music from DJ Mike Hart and the Panjamdrum Steel Drummers, the Explorer's Club and Palmetto Soul. If the tunes aren't enough to get bodies on the dance floor, local shag instructors will be around to show off their moves and give lessons.
More than 4,000 people attended last year's block party, according to Coles Williams, one of two City Arts Management Fellows helping to lead this spring's intern class in its block party preparations. There are no designated lots for the event, but there are several nearby parking garages, particularly around Market Street.
"What people do is basically walk to the event because of the traffic and it being a touristy area next to the Market," she said. "I suggest finding a parking garage close by and then walking."
Williams said that the block party also will have police on hand to block off Concord Street and help with crowd control. It's one of countless details the interns have worked on, giving them valuable real-world experience. In addition, the block party project helps to draw younger audiences to the festival.
"It's very hard to interest people their age into coming to a lot of the events that we plan," said Ellen Dressler Moryl, the executive director of the city's Office of Cultural Affairs, which organizes Piccolo each year.
"(The block party) works every time," she said. "People step over the line a little bit and they suddenly are hooked on the festival and go to other things."
The party has required a lot of effort from Williams, as well as Lucy Nicar, another Fellow. Williams recently graduated from the College of Charleston, while Nicar just wrapped up her junior year there. As Fellows, it's part of their job to run meetings and delegate assignments to the other interns.
"We're the go-to people," Nicar said.