THE PAST FEW YEARS, even as Portland transformed itself from Boise West to our current global mecca for under-funded hipsters, a few questions remain. Where was MTV during all of this? Why should Portland never be mentioned along with Spring Break? Isn't it about time we had a beach party downtown?

Waving aside all meteorological common sense, a few tons of sand shall be dumped upon Southwest Ankeny this weekend as Berbati's Pan, in association with Soul Of Fire and Hunab Ku Consulting, throws the largest urban beach bash seen around these parts since, oh, that flood a few years back. Friday afternoon, a motorcycle gang will ride through the sand and inside Berbati's to light the eternal (60 hours, at least) flame--testament to the beach gods and perhaps the organizers' desperate plea for sun. Jesus Presley, Joshua James and The Runaway Trains, and everybody's fave rockabilly icon, Ray Condo, will play a surfers-vs-greasers-themed show inside the club. A large drive-in-style movie screen will be stretched across Ankeny for quick-cut, genre-hopping film clips.

This is all true. Honestly.

Saturday morning, the concrete Venice beach expands to include muscle contests, vendor booths, Dahlia, fire dancers, Enrique and the DNA Frequencies, jugglers, beach bunnies, and a Polynesian dance troupe. Massage therapists and tarot card readers share space with body-painting booths and the dunk tank. Tai Chi begins at 10 in the morning. That evening, Sho Shot hosts MC Good Wax, DJ Jay Solo, and DJ Style from, respectively, Jamaica, Los Angeles, and, yes, MTV, for another soul-infused dance fest.

On Sunday, amidst the lingering carnival, Dizzy Elmer, Bossamba, The Dusty 45's and festival mainstay Curtis Salgado will close down the celebration. The eternal beach party flame will be ceremoniously extinguished and, presumably, the tribal council will vote Berbati's booker Tres Shannon to be King Survivor. Whatever the weather should bring, this is an inspired and wholly unexpected venture for a town famously lacking in spectacle. We may have lost the battle for spring break, but Portland may yet be king of the autumnal equinox.