Something Out of Nothing

I don’t remember what I was actually doing on the night of September 19, but I know what I should have been doing. I should have been at the launch of ReSurfaced because that’s where everybody who is anybody was—at least according to all of the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts I saw that night.

As moms love pointing out, blah blah blah, some hypothetical question about what you’d do if all your friends were jumping off the Sherman Minton Bridge. Hype is often just that and nothing else, but it turns out all of my friends were totally right about ReSurfaced.

ReSurfaced is a “pop-up plaza” erected in the vacant lot located behind the facades of 615-621 West Main Street in downtown Louisville, next to Museum Row. The plaza features makeshift bars made from shipping containers, picnic tables for hanging out, public art, food trucks and a stage for live performances.

Organized by City Collaborative and a slew of sponsors, the idea behind it is to transform a space many would consider useless into something vibrant and exciting. As the ReSurfaced site explains, “The idea focuses on the city as the ultimate user interface, where the community can not only enjoy a unique event space, but experiment with the city and begin dialogue about how we can pre-vitalize the current location as well as the multitude of surface lots and underutilized spaces in Louisville.”

The concept builds off the growing open-streets movement, which advocates using low-cost, high-reward events and projects to encourage a sense of community and promote things like alternative transportation, creativity and healthy lifestyles. CycLOUvia, which I wrote about in this column last month during their West Broadway event, is one open-streets project we’ve seen implemented here in Louisville.

PARK(ing) Day is another. Held for almost a decade in cities across the globe, the event features citizens taking over a parking space – typically a metered spot on a city street – and transforming it into a micro-park or public space of some sort. ReSurfaced replaced PARK(ing) Day in Louisville this year, transforming the one-day event scattered across downtown into a month-long event concentrated in one dramatic space.

What your experience is like at ReSurfaced will greatly depend on the time and day you attend. Rotating through the space has been a variety of local talent and awesome organizations. My most recent stop at the plaza was late afternoon on a Sunday during a Bicycling for Louisville benefit. At one of the tables, a few people were half-heartedly playing a game of chess, which should tell you something about just how laid-back and relaxed the atmosphere was.

Naturally, if you stop by on a Friday or Saturday night when there are bands playing, the crowd is thicker, the drinks flow more freely and the space feels like a bar patio or outdoor concert venue. Much of the credit for that goes to Roof Axis, a festival and event lighting company based here in Louisville. The dudes over there did an incredible job lighting the outdoor space with colors that highlight the beautiful brick façade and bring an energy to the space.

Specific aesthetics aside, the best part about ReSurfaced is that it feels purposefully made for both the vibes I just mentioned and everything between them. In a world where people are increasingly trying to attach hyper-specific categories for their businesses and sense of style, it is refreshing to see a place so proudly defined as a mixed-use space for experimenting and being whatever the hell the city feels like it should be this week.

This upcoming weekend will feature a benefit for the Kentucky Opera on Sunday and a lineup of musicians and DJs on Friday. The following weekend—it’s closing weekend—will feature a beer trivia night on Thursday with local author Kevin Gibson and a reading of “Macbeth” by Kentucky Shakespeare on Saturday. Pick your poison and check out this pop-up show before its bubble bursts on the 25th.

Just remember to be aware of ReSurfaced’s staggered opening times. The space is fenced during off-hours, which means you can’t just swing by at noon on a Saturday. If you do attempt to swing by on off-hours, you will be met only with a cold, uncaring fence and the promise of fun on that unreachable other side. (I will admit I learned this the hard way.)

ReSurfaced will be open through Oct. 25. Open Thursday, 11 a.m – 10 p.m., Friday, 11 a.m. – 11 p.m., Saturday, 3 p.m. – 11 p.m., and Sunday, 1 p.m. – 8 p.m. For more information, visit citycollaborative.com/popupplaza.