“If you drink, don’t drive – do the watermelon crawl,” as country singer Tracy Byrd puts it. Well, that just might be the case with all the margarita drinking, Tex-Mex eating and watermelon-seed spitting expected at the 19th annual Watermelon Dance and Summer Social. The festival, which is held at the Last Concert Café at 1403 Nance, will begin on Saturday, July 30 at 5 p.m. and last until 2 a.m.
This year’s concert lineup boasts 10 local bands, including Plump, High Tailers, Pot Roast and Carolyn Wonderland, whose musical varieties range from funk to blues rock to “Gulf Coast Rock ‘n’ Roll,” with everything in between. Performances will alternate between two stages, while festival-goers can also shop among several tents of vendors selling homemade jewelry, leather goods, hand-blown glass and more. And the kiddies aren’t forgotten. At the Kid Zone, youngsters can color and make arts and crafts, giving their parents a little break.
The price of the night is only $10 per person, and proceeds will benefit 90.1 KPFT, a listener-supported radio station that pushes the envelope on conventional music and style. In previous years, Last Concert Café owner Dawn Fudge has benefited the Special Olympics, The Rainforest Action Network and several women’s organizations, but for the past eight years has donated to 90.1 KPFT because it addresses issues faced by all Houstonians.
When the festival began in 1986, it was somewhat different than it is today. Its origins trace to the first year Fudge owned the venue. She bought it from Elena Lopez, who had opened the Mexican restaurant in 1949 and named it Last Concert Café to signify that it would be her last endeavor. There’s no sign on the door, and customers are still expected to knock for entry. Many patrons try to protect the integrity of the hard-to-find retreat, keeping mum about how awesome the backyard sand pit and dancing hula-hoopers are.
Although 19 years ago festival-goers might have brought their own “spiked” watermelons to the first Watermelon Dance and Summer Social, the event remains true to its roots by offering watermelon juice by the glass. Last year, more than 5,000 people attended when the festival was held over two days. However, just as many are expected to attend this year’s one-day event as they can come and go as they please. – Meghana Kulkarni contributed to this story H