Ballard is the type of community that reps and respects its own, even bestowing the illustrious title of “Mayor” upon a few, very special residents. So what does it take to become the Mayor of one of Seattle’s best ‘hoods? We didn’t have to look too far for our answer, as our own Chelsea Robinson is one of the few women to hold this prestigious honor. She took us to the legendary Smoke Shop to let us in on the job requirements.
How does one become the Mayor of Ballard?
Essentially, work and hang out in Ballard for like 15 years, make a lot of friends, be hella nice to people, and eventually someone will call you the Mayor of Ballard. It only takes about 15-20 years to earn. Totally worth it!
What are some perks and benefits of the title?
Often not having to pay cover for shows, people will buy you drinks, everyone knows you. I wish there was a sash and crown. There ought to be. I’m not sure if these perks exactly pertain to being mayor so much as being my adorable and rambunctious self. I’m guessing it’s a power combo of the two.
How many years have you lived here?
My family moved to Ballard when I was in high school. I think I was 14 or 15, so I’ve been living in Ballard on and off for nearly two decades now. I leave, then I come back. I moved to Madrona for a year last year. It was fine, but it felt so good to come home. Plus, I live with awesome roommates who are true Ballard kids and just have so much love for this place.
Why do you love it?
I always think I’m going to find something better out there, but this neighborhood is magical. And all my friends are here. The people that make their lives here and make this neighborhood what it is are so wonderful. I’d never really felt like part of a community before this and it’s just so comforting to be in it with other people, especially now that we’re starting to have to fight to stay here and be able to afford to live here and work here and make the things we do here. This neighborhood is a creative community. People make art and music here and they do it together. As long as that ethic is still alive, I will hang on, tooth and nail. Plus, all my favorite bars are here. And making out on the pier by The old Yankee Diner is mad romantic and shit.
Why do you love the Smoke Shop? What makes it a Ballard institution?
Hands down, strongest drinks in Ballard, possibly the universe. You can get real drunk here for like no money at all. And then they soup you! They give your drunk ass some motherfuckin’ soup. It’s wondrous. And the ladies who run this joint are tough as hell. Kelah, Keri, and especially Darlene are a few of the best ladies alive. This is where the old salty fishermen still come to drink. Plus, it’s an oasis from the bros and hoes that drive us out of our own bars on the weekend. Hopefully, they never find this place.
Tell me about the Dirty Shirley?
My friend Danielle and I drink this drink a lot. It’s a Shirley Temple with vodka. It’s fairly disgusting and gives you the gnarliest of hangovers but it’s also delicious and it certainly does the trick.
What advice do you have for young women who might want your illustrious title one day?
First, respect the neighborhood. The only way to maintain mayorship is to truly love and respect this community. Help out when you can. If someone in your community needs help, do what you can to give them a hand. It also helps to be incredibly charming when drunk. Hang out a lot. Meet people, show genuine interest. Talk to people about art and music, there’s a fuck ton of it here. Definitely smoke people out in Sexy Alley. That is an excellent campaigning technique. Always tip well, especially if one of your homies hooks you up because they love you. Never assume you’ll be going backstage, be delighted you got invited every time. It’s not a privilege, it’s an honor. Treat it as such.