UTAH STORIES: THE STATE STREET BAN

Actual Image of Sign on State Street in downtown Salt Lake City

I don’t know if was

a) the Mormon influence and lack of things to do

or b) the drinking laws

or perhaps even c) The name “The Beehive State” just attracted those with a tendency to swarm

but Once Upon A Time, and by OUAT I mean the summer of 1995, the hot thing to do in downtown Salt Lake City was to “cruise State”. If you lived in Salt Lake City during this era you know what the term “cruise State” meant. You’d pile into your car with your friends and head over to state street somewhere beginning at about 8 o’clock and start what would quite possibly be a three or four hour long loop from Main to 72nd and back that could be as mundane as back to back tracks of the Tabernacle choir or as exciting as a Beatles album backwards.

Now I don’t know about the guys, but us girls would actually get ready for such a night with flat irons, new clothes, loads of make up. I was not going to tell my parents I was going down to cruise state, that would be like saying “I’m going to go try and seduce a stranger who is going to that same place to also seduce a random.” It just didn’t sound good and that’s what made it feel so devious. The first night I went to cruise State I felt like I had literally made it. I was a true adult.

My parents believed that I was at a sleepover with my friend Angie. Instead, I was hanging my arm out an open window at midnight screaming “Show us your butt!” to car after car of equally devious specimens of the opposite sex. They were asking us to show them our tits, so instead of heeding to their demands we made the counter offer. One car load obliged. To our screams they followed us into the parking lot of a grocery store near 72nd, the end of the loop. Were they going to rape us? Were they crazy psycho’s? I was thinking at that moment if something happened to us, our parents would never know until the news headlines “Cruising State leads to teenager’s untimely death” hit the Deseret News.

The boys were just your run-of-the-mill bad boys. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of them picked up straw and started chewing on it. We were full of giggles, with Emily, the most outspoken of us leading the conversation.

Now Salt Lake has a few rumored spots just like every city. We had heard about them, but were still so new to driving our adventures were few. That night we went on a joy ride through the mystic Gravity Hill by the state capital, that, supposedly, when you stop your car on the right spot it actually starts going backwards. Then we went to “hobbit Land” a roundabout in Sugar house that supposedly is inhabited by hobbits. I later learned it was just a spot for junkies to hide out. Last of all we went to Emo’s grave. Emily ended up kissing one of the boys at the grave and it was just the most scandalous thing to have ever happened in our small group. We’d go back to our friends at school and tell the tale as if we’d gone to Europe for a summer. The night ended at a pool hall called “Mr. Billiard’s”. It was definitely a place where kids were testing out their “bad kid skills” before discovering the real bitter world of actual evil.

Anyway, a few years later Rocky Anderson got put in as mayor and “Cruisin’ State” had gotten out of control. Traffic was backed up…if you hit on someone in the car next to you, you’d better have been serious about the offer since you’d be bottle necked for the next half hour side-by-side at a proximity close enough you could blow em. More crime was happening, drugs, solicitation, fatal accidents…word was out that State was the place to be and you’d better hope you didn’t see your wife there. So in an effort to end what appeared to be a super lame thing to be identified as doing any given night of the week, he passed a law that you could only be seen driving that loop twice in a given spot between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m.

So now when you drive down State Street in Salt Lake you’ll see these anti-cruising signs just to remind us of how lame we once were. Oh, not anymore though! Stay tuned for stories about BYU beard cards. I’m sure there’s a metaphor in here somewhere.