by Ben Shine
Indianapolis is a city full of porches, especially in any neighborhood that was built before World War II. Before we all holed up in our air-conditioned homes in front of televisions and computer screens, the Circle City's earlier summer residents hoped for a bit of a breeze and daily casual conversations on their porches. And maybe that was for the better. Hanging out front with others to shoot the breeze on a nice summer day is about one of the best things there is.
The brain trust at City Gallery and the Harrison Center for the Arts came up with a great idea recently to reactivate those spaces. Last Sunday, they suggested that the entire city invite friends and neighbors for a good new-fashioned porch party. And City Gallery held its own shindig on Saturday, complete with Matthew Osborn's swings made from old church pews and paintings by Kyle Ragsdale and Nathan Foxton, plus David Freeman's tiny faerie swings and Elyce Elder's macrame hanging planters.
The Shine house was all in, right away. We were actually in before we heard about it. One of the biggest selling points of the house we live in was that it came with a fantastic, all-brick porch that is ideal for sitting solo or with a big group. This summer, we've been holding monthly, low-key get-togethers on weekend mornings. There's a different energy to a morning party or a gathering in that in-between space that porches create. Instead of selecting music to enliven a cocktail party, motivate a dance floor or accompany dinnertime chatter, I get to pick out records that match the easy-going mood of the early part of the day and that work well when heard in the sunshine.
To celebrate the porch parties held throughout the city and encourage you to have your own, I made a little playlist with some of my favorite songs from my out-front gatherings. On Sunday, we listened to music on the Peanuts record player I bought on Record Store Day, but this list will stream from any device you have enabled. Enjoy.