14 May 2022
Happy Very Big Birthday to an Isle of Palms institution. It’s hard to believe the beloved Windjammer has been around for half a century.
Those of you who have been to the Isle of Palms before, are no doubt familiar with The Windjammer. It’s the fun-loving anchor of the island’s Front Beach, the hopping commercial district of what is otherwise primarily a residential island.
The Windjammer is known as “Charleston’s Premier Beach Club,” where it’s “Always a Jam Good Time!”
There’s live music. Lots and lots of live music. Fun food. Lively libations. Beach volleyball. Special events, stage shows, fundraisers, and music festivals. It’s a neighborhood watering hole and gathering spot, where locals and visitors alike mix together.
An Official Proclamation
Recently, in honor of The Windjammer’s milestone birthday, Isle of Palms’ Mayor Phillip Pounds, along with members of City Council, issued an official proclamation commemorating the occasion. They declared the Windjammer to be “a hallmark for the Isle of Palms, helping to create memories for years to come… a place where island families and visitors can experience our community’s history and culture.”
So if you want to get a feel for the IOP lifestyle, head to The Windjammer. You can find it at 1008 Ocean Boulevard. It’s open seven days a week, from 11:30 a.m. till 2:00 a.m.
The Proclamation goes on to say: “The Windjammer is a South Carolina icon that brings people together, from eclectic to island folks, to families and fun-seekers, athletes, music lovers, old and young to experience the Jammer experience.”
The Jammer’s Roots
The Windjammer first launched in 1972, when Malcolm and James Burgis opened it on Front Beach. It took over the prime beachfront location that housed other popular island institutions - The SurfDeck, dating back to the 1940’s, and the Sea Side, which took its place and lasted until 1969.
When the Windjammer opened, it had a simple configuration: a ground level bar that had a sand floor, a beloved pinball machine, and beach volleyball courts outside facing the ocean.
Hurricane Hugo dealt it a major blow, along with the rest of the island, when it struck on September 21, 1989. The Windjammer underwent a massive overhaul and expansion, reopening to great fanfare on June 21, 1990. The occasion drew big crowds and signaled a return to normalcy for the island in the wake of the disaster.
And the Windjammer’s been thriving ever since. Malcolm Burgis went on to serve as Mayor of the island as well as on committees in city government. Bobby Ross first came on the scene as a bartender, then manager, and more recently as a co-owner.
Music and much more
The Windjammer is known for hosting a wide variety of live music, both indoors and outside on its Liquid Aloha Beach Stage. Rock, country, pop, singer-songwriter, beach, bluegrass, yacht rock, tribute bands - you name it, they’ve got it. Many famous groups have performed here, including Hootie and the Blowfish, who played some of their first shows at the Jammer.
You never know who might show up on stage or film a music video here. Ed McCain is a Jammer regular. Darius Rucker recently did a surprise pop-up concert launching some of his new music. He also threw a special free concert for first responders and frontline workers.
Fun annual events include Sister Hazel’s “Hazelnut Hang” which takes over the place one weekend each August. Then there’s a cool fundraiser for the SC Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital called “Jammin’ for Jammer.” It’s named after a beloved injured loggerhead sea turtle who washed up nearby and was nursed back to health at the hospital.
Check out the live music calendar to see who is playing. And be sure to get your tickets early, because many of the shows sell out way ahead of time. Some cool upcoming performers include The Blue Dogs, Grace Potter, JJ Grey & Mofro, Mt. Joy, Steve Earle and The Dukes with the Whitmore Sisters, Corey Smith, Doom Flamingo, Cowboy Mouth, Moon Taxi, and Drivin’ and Cryin.’
Tune in and watch the happenings on the Isle of Palms, live.
The Jammer also hosts several live web cams on their website, so you can check out what’s going on right now on the IOP. There’s a live Jammer cam on the back deck, one facing the Liquid Aloha Beach Stage, a BandCam showing the indoor stage, as well as the nearby Seaside Inn Cam and the VFW Surf Cam. It’s a great way to gauge the crowds or check the weather in real-time.
So if you’re on the island, stop by The Windjammer and wish them a happy birthday. And stay for a beer, a burger and a good time while you’re at it.
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger