Encounter: Summer Street Partiers

Established: Early 2000s — Come for the mouthwatering barbecue. Stay for the classic motorcycle eye candy.
Just one neighborhood block party per year isn’t enough for folks who live on and around Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street. Instead, unofficial Sunday cookouts and gatherings keep the social scene lively here all summer long.

If the weather’s nice, the scent of grills smoking succulent ribs and freshly husked corn on the cob is positively heady. Party central is the American Legion post at 25th and MLK streets, where tricked-out bikes are lined up, their owners wandering nearby to taste what friends are cooking up or to order a plate of ribs, pigs’ feet, and sweet-potato pie at Bar-B-Q Heaven, a local fixture since 1952.

Keep strolling up MLK Street, and you’ll find the party doesn’t stop—it stretches on for a good quarter-mile, up to around 28th Street. Along those four blocks, old-school motorcycles rev their engines—classic black Harleys, three-wheelers, bikes outfitted with TVs, air rides that park and drop to the ground.

“Anything you could think of that you’d want to see on a fully dressed-up bike, it’s down there,” says Wayne Davis, who can often be found along MLK on these long afternoons that stretch into evenings until everyone heads home around 10-ish.

“It’s a hidden secret, but it’s not,” says Davis of the near-northwestside scene, which he says kicked into gear maybe 15 years ago. “It gets bigger all the time, and
people come from all parts of Indianapolis and other parts of the state, just to experience it.”