Last weekend, I had the distinct pleasure of surviving Jaws On The Water, a brand-new BMD Events experience sponsored by the Alamo Drafthouse and the good folks at FandangoNOW. The experience itself was absolutely insane, one of the coolest Drafthouse events I've ever participated in...and given the non-stop parade of cool Drafthouse events I've taken part in since moving to Austin, that's really saying something.
Here's how it all went down...
The first thing you need to know is that Jaws On The Water takes place at Volente Beach Water Park, situated right along a stretch of beach on Austin's beautiful Lake Travis. The park itself kicks ass - you've got multiple rides/slides, little bungalow bars tucked around every corner, and a large covered patio with tables for anyone looking to get out of the sun for a moment.
Since the screening wasn't going to start until after the sun went down, we set up a basecamp on this patio and went marching off in search of drinks and shenanigans. You will not be surprised to learn that both were easily found.
The waterslides pictured above dominated the park's skyline, but one ride in particular - The Sidewinder - immediately caught our eye. We weren't entirely sure how tall this ride was, but the extreme trajectory it offered and the tequila running through our veins told us that it was definitely the ride we needed to go on first.
In short: you and your equally-crazy partner buddy up into a two-person tube and slide straight down and back up the other side of the ride. It's basically a gigantic, water-powered half-pipe. My co-rider and I were brought to the very edge of this thing, which - all things considered - probably wouldn't be the worst way to go out.
The Alamo Drafthouse's own Henri Mazza, on-hand to oversee the evening's festivities, insisted that my associate and I bring his GoPro camera along with us for the ride. If you look carefully, you'll catch a brief glimpse of us confronting our own mortality in the video below.
Having conquered death and gravity itself yet again, we set off in search of (more) drinks. This was easily accomplished, as little bars and food stands were set up everywhere - on the beach, in the shadow of the park's towering slides. On offer was a seemingly-endless supply of Lone Star beer, Infinite Monkey Theorem canned wines, mixed drinks, and (this being Texas) a variety of tacos. Also available: some very snazzy merch.
Also on offer: the aforementioned shenanigans. Cornhole (a game with a long and storied tradition here in the great state of Texas) had been set up on a shady hillside, folks in shark costumes were bounding around, taking photos with attendees, a gigantic Jaws was being sculpted out of sand on the beach...
...and elsewhere, recreations of some classic Jaws signage were on-hand for photo opps.
Elsewhere, a booth had been set up to apply faux "shark wounds" to anyone who was interested. I regret not having a large flesh wound affixed to one of my shoulders. Maybe next time!
Eventually, the sun began to set, and it was time for everyone to pick up their innertubes (included with the price of every ticket, and yours to keep at the end of the night) and head on down to the water.
Side note: these innertubes were really, really cool-looking (and, crucially, highly durable).
Around this time, the good folks at Casper - who also co-sponsored the event - gave away an inflatable mattress to one lucky attendee. Those innertubes kicked ass, but this dude ended up seeing Jaws On The Water in the most baller fashion possible: while laying in a floating bed on the lake. I don't care what you did last weekend, this guy had a better time than you.
Since attending Jaws On The Water, I've had a lot of readers ask me how the drink situation worked out. "How," they asked, "Did one acquire a drink once situated in the water?" As always, the Drafthouse had a plan: turns out, drinks are pre-purchased. You pay your money, and a friendly staff member gives you plastic wristbands in exchange (orange for beer, green for mixed drinks). Once you're in the water, getting a new drink was as easy as paddling over to one corner of the dock - where a pair of makeshift bars had been set up - and handing over your band(s) in exchange for your drink of choice. Brilliant.
As the sun continued to set, the Drafthouse's famous Rolling Roadshow screen was inflated on the beach. People settled in as dawn turned to dusk and a pre-show played. There was plenty of room for everyone (we situated ourselves just outside the dock seen in the photos above and below, hooking our feet underneath the dock's sides in order to stay in place; this strategy proved to be very wise, indeed).
Soon enough, the time had come: Jaws On The Water began in earnest.
This might sound strange, but I swear: once the movie got going and the audience settled in, laying in that raft watching Jaws was one of the most relaxing experiences I've had in years. You bob along in the water, drinking your drink and watching one of the greatest films ever made, right there under the stars. Because a Drafthouse crowd is - above all else - respectful of movies, there was very little chatter or noise - mostly, it was just the sound of the movie itself and the water lapping against the dock.
Oh, and every once in a while there was some screaming, because the Drafthouse had scuba divers underwater, yanking on people's legs to simulate a shark attack. Here's a few of them, getting ready to scare the bejeezus out of the crowd (#notallheroeswearcapes).
And when the end came, it arrived in spectacular fashion.
This entire event was a blast from start to finish, and I see little option but to give it my highest possible recommendation. Pick up tickets to Jaws On The Water and you're signing up for an entire evening's worth of good times: waterslides, beer, tacos, margaritas, fake flesh wounds you can terrorize your friends and family with, more beer, one of the greatest films of all time projected on a giant-screen overlooking a beach, simulated shark attacks, more beer, and - if you're lucky - an eyepopping fireworks display to round off the evening. No one throws a party like the Alamo Drafthouse, and this is one you absolutely need to attend.
Special thanks to the Alamo Drafthouse, FandangoNOW, the folks at Casper, Volente Beach Water Park, and everyone who worked this incredibly cool event. Extra extra special thanks to photographer Heather Leah Kenney for the photos (many more of which can be seen here, at her site), and of course to all the people who came out to help BMD Events have such a great time.
One last time: if you're interested in attending one of our future Jaws On The Water screenings - and, really, if you're anywhere near Austin this summer, you should be - head on over to this page, buy your tickets, stock up on shark repellent, and be prepared to experience the summer's coolest event.
This article is part of B.M.D. Guide To: SHARKS!!!