Yakkity-Yak on the Yacht Club

If you really want to know how to party – you need look no farther1 than the Santa Barbara Yacht Club. No need to joke about drunken sailors here – these guys are hyper just drinking ginger ale – and they have the parties to prove it. Everybody dances and is up on the dance floor at their shindigs.

Probably the reign of 2006 Commodore John Demourkas will be remembered as the Year of the Great Parties. Demourkas – a local Greek – just finished out his year with a Commodore’s Ball highlighting his achievements of the past year, including his pantheon of parties.

One of the great theme parties was My Big Fat Greek Wedding – that’s probably all you need to know about it, and I am terrifically sorry I missed it. Then there’s the annual luau. This year party chair Sharon Wolfe – who can never leave wild enough alone – decided the theme should be “circus” luau. So if you‘re saying to yourself, “Hmm… ‘circus’ and ‘luau’ don’t go together,” then you haven’t been to enough Yacht Club events.

To set the mood, as you entered thru the parking lot, there were Hawaiian Isle decorations right along with a big carnival dunk tank – with our beloved Commodore Demourkas sitting on the dunk seat. Big burly guys were lining up, winding up and throwing the ball smartly and expertly – and missing. About six feet ahead of the guys at the “wussy line” were the women who – not surprisingly – threw like girls, and missed by a mile. Well, until one little gray-haired lady lobbed the first happy hit in an hour. Wham! down went Demourkas in his Hawaiian shirt and shorts. So that set the opening of the Circus Luau.

On the lawn our carnival luau theme continued – here was a carnival bell-hammer thing, and then a magician and many bird of paradise plants. See, Circus Luau indeed!

In the building, lush tropical vegetation sprouted from the corners and along the walls to set a Maui motif. But then in the middle of the banana leaf or fern – there would be a clown.2 Yep, a clown.

To dress the part, folks such as Jack and Karen Byers sported circus styling, while Gail and Bob Young were in tropical attire and Tahitian grass skirts.

Time to dance. The room crowds the floor – some hot dancers, some happy dancers, some hippity-hop dancers. Did I really see our demure Mrs. Young hoisted by her friends upside down in the middle of the dance floor.

So now it was the Commodore’s Ball – the members’ opportunity to welcome incoming Commodore Bud Toye, and to roast the outgoing commodore.

“Demourkas accomplished so much in his year as commodore,” said emcee Doug Ewins, “and in typical Greek fashion – having fun all along the way.” The roasters put a robe on Demourkas and a wreath of leaves, and hailed him as part of the Greek pantheon of deities – the god of parties?

“John has turned parties into an art form – and consumed enough beer to receive honorary membership at any UC fraternity,” Ewins cracked. Still, others saluted Demourkas for giving much of his time, money, support – and family Nexus products – to help out on the many endeavors of the club, which included everything from the Youth Sailing Foundation to the charity regattas raising funds for the community.

In addition to his wife, Deneen, and darling daughter, Marisa, Demourkas had his extended family in tow for the fun – sister Rosemary Towle and hubby, James, and his talented nephew Jheri Redding with wife, Gabriella.

There were a great many past commodores in attendance – going back 40 years to Russell Roberts (Commodore in 1967), through John Berryhill (2005). The group also included Llew (1996) and Marilyn Goodfield, Harry (1971) and Elaine Iddings Jr., Cork and Sally Otis (1978) and Peter (2003) and Shirley Churchill.

Chapman Ford Found Framed

The fabulous show of Henry Chapman Ford went up this week in the gallery at the History Society. This retrospective celebrates the art of Henry Chapman Ford (1828-1894), the first artist of significant stature to call Santa Barbara home. His paintings come from the Society’s3 own permanent collection, and many of them tell us a lot about how Santa Barbara looked more than 100 years ago, including the coastline and Sycamore Canyon.

This Mission painting is one of the few watercolors Ford did. A shingled roof and dormer windows were removed about 1886; this painting was probably done soon after and shows the return of the red-tiled roof.

The majordomos house and tanner’s house can be seen to the right, and to the left is a row of houses of the Christian Indian village. In the foreground is part of an adobe wall, which would be the intersection of Los Olivos and Laguna today.

The exhibit is up through spring, and admission is free.