Once upon a January Friday night, back in 2009 when we all had less bags under our eyes and less baggage in our emotional closets, I sat scheming with Lauren and Chas in the living room of the apartment we lovingly called “Four Reasons.” Lauren and I had many a raucous event in that disproportionately large living room in Mt. Vernon, Baltimore but on this particular weekend, we were bogged down by January-ness. We needed to do something, something irrational, something adventurous. And in that scheming session, “Seacrets in January” was born.
A week later we gathered some of our most irrational, yet lovely friends and hit the road for Ocean City, Maryland with the goal of spending a January Saturday at Seacrets. Also known as Jamaica, USA, Seacrets is a bar that spans several blocks, spreads likely numerous easily contractable diseases in the heat of the July sun, serves a few palatable alcoholic slushies, and attracts a crowd of summertime twenty-somethings, looking to sin. Seacrets’ Tagline: “Find us and get lost.” We figured the pits of January would be less contagious, less offensive, but just as much fun. Maybe we’d find the spirit of summer.
At the time, the Ebys had a beach house (they don’t anymore) and my dad had a Honda Odyssey (he still does). We snagged the key with directions on how to turn on the water and the heat. Without any expectations, we had a few liquids at the house and then cabbed to Seacrets.
We were greeted by a live band, not good, not awful, but live and entertaining enough for some early-twenties wanderers from chilly Baltimore with an agenda that contained only “fun.” There was confetti and there were balloons and there was perspiration. And a tradition ensued.
On February 9th, we will make this trek for the 11th time. We were scheduled for last weekend but Seacrets is mysteriously “closed” which we can only guess means that they are doing their annual cleanse–scraping chlamydia off of the toilet seats. Seacrets in January has, in the past few years, become “Seacrets in January in February,” which is fine. We will adapt. However, this last minute reschedule has cost us some loyal soldiers–Tim and Maddy, who are both valued core attendees.
Over the decade of Seacrets in January (in February), we have gained and we have lost. We have gone from the Ebys’ house on West Way to the Sea Bay’s finest accommodations on 61st to the Best Western in the 50s.
We have had drinks and we have brought a pregnant (read: the pregnant put up with us). We have danced and we have stood awkwardly to the side of the bar. We have eaten late night pizza and we have wrestled strangers in the hallway. We have remembered and we’ve certainly forgotten. Some have fallen asleep at the bar and others kicked out. We have stood on a “bouncing” dance floor and allowed confetti to tumble into our drinks. We’ve welcomed balloon drops at midnight and stayed until the very last one was popped ceremoniously. And we have always eaten breakfast at Layton’s on 92nd, where they have that good ice.
People have come and gone, the tradition has been adjusted, revised, and adapted. Each year, we wonder, will this still be fun? Are we too old for this yet? Valid questions, but fortunately, Chris Eby, our archivist, has kept track of attendees. Although, 2019’s was created for the January 26th date and is subject to additions and subtractions.
Because Chris keeps this note on his phone, pay careful attention to the alternative ways of writing Chris L’s name (my own spelling: Lochdawg) and do not pay attention to the capital letters, or lack thereof. Blog continues below the list.
Seacrets in January Attendance List I (2009): 8 total chas amanda lauren kyle girl kris pj chris eric II (2010): 9 total chas amanda lauren kyle girl kris pj chris mike g jamie antonious III (2011): 13 total chas amanda lockdogg eric sam k pj mike g brittanie stuber/g kyle katie lauren caitlin schultz mike (caitlin's bf) IV (2012): 19 total chas amanda lockdiggidy dogg aubrey kyle katie chris amanda b lauren sean brady sam d jimmy dustin girl w dustin jon manger brendan alex o aiello V (2013): 18 total chas amanda chris amanda b lockdeezy aubrey lauren jesse jimmy brady sam d brendan alex o tc phrank aiello robbie kelly VI (2014): 21 total chas amanda chris lockdog aubrey mike g brendan kyle katie jimmy matt tozzi (jimmy's friend) brady sam d robbie kelly tc phrank maddie beth eric sam k VII (2015): 20 total chas amanda chris gabby lock aubrey jesse lauren robbie kelly brady tc maddie phrank beth hanley jimmy laura aiello sara VIII (2016): 23 total chas amanda chris gabby lock aubrey lauren jesse tc maddie phrank beth hanley aiello sara brady karen mike kayla alice tri matt stacey IX (2017): 17 total chas amanda chris gabby lock aubrey lauren jesse tc maddie hanley aiello sara eric sam k alex keller pj X (2018): 15 total chas amanda chris gabby lock aubrey lauren charlie tc maddie phrank beth sierra jimmy hanley XI (2019): 16 total chas amanda chris lauren charlie tc maddie phrank beth miguel kathleen brendan sam d jesse jasmine anna
On this trip, Chas first told me, “I love you” (SIJ ’09). A participant smashed his face on a curb and had to spend the early morning at Atlantic General (SIJ ’16). Another participant decided cops were after him, ran from them, went to the wrong hotel where he, for reasons we do not know, left his wallet, and lost his car keys in a construction site on Coastal Highway (SIJ ’15). It was his 27th birthday.
We’ve seen burst blood vessels in eye sockets (SIJ ’17), enjoyed many early morning prank phone calls (SIJ all years), and watched as someone booped a security guard and charged the stage (SIJ all years).
We’ve tracked the growth and orthodontia of The Benderz. We’ve heard one participant sing Greek pop music to an audience of extremely ungrateful ears (SIJ ’18). We have encouraged a pregnant to tolerate us (SIJ ’18), permanently banned consumption of Double Dog IPAs (SIJ still standing), and watched a new couple form (SIJ ’14)–they’re getting married this June.
Seacrets in January is not normal. It’s magical, it’s lovely, it’s bananas, it’s absurd, it’s irreverent, and it’s so much more. And in the morning, we eat at Layton’s on 92nd. Consider joining this year, find summer in the middle of January in February, and make your mark on the list, and on history.