It’s the scenario every parent of a teenager dreads. Leaving their child at home with assurances that their “small gathering” will not get out of hand, and returning to find footprints on the ceiling and the alcohol cabinet drained.
For the parents of 17-year-old Adrian Lopez, the outcome was far worse. After a viral invitation on TikTok, the California teen’s Saturday party drew 2,500 revellers and quickly descended into a scene from Animal House, complete with illegal fireworks, mosh pit and multiple arrests.
On 17 May, Lopez of Eastvale, California, made a digital invitation to his Huntington Beach birthday fete later that week, providing the time, location and date. This invite, which featured the title Adrian’s Kickback, read: “Slide tru this Saturday we finna turn up!!!!” the New York Times reported. “It was meant to be for my school,” Lopez reportedly said of this flyer.
Lopez’s friend Yahir Hernandez put this invite on his Snapchat and later, his TikTok, to create additional interest. “Tuesday morning was when Yahir made the TikTok,” Lopez commented. “I was on my way to school and it only had like 40 likes, so I ignored it.” But this TikTok “took off” via TikTok’s “recommendation algorithm”, according to the Times, leading to extensive distribution.
Then users considered internet celebrities made posts about the party. Before the weekend of this event, TikTok videos featuring the hashtag #adrianskickback drew almost 280m views, according to the Times.
Lopez and Hernandez initially found this attention to be fun, swapping private messages with prominent people. Fun was supplanted by fear, however, as people were making posts about traveling from across the US to attend their event. On Friday night – the day before Lopez’s scheduled “kickback”, about 1,000 people arrived at Huntington Beach.
Concerned they could get in trouble for this mass gathering, the teens teamed up with a popular streetwear and footwear store, Cookies N’ Kicks, to sell $40 tickets for his “kickback” event. They changed the party’s location to a space that would be disclosed shortly before the event. Teens flocked to this store to buy tickets on Saturday afternoon, thinking it would be “the party of the century” and that internet celebs would be in attendance, the Times said.
Trouble unfolded that evening. Lopez and Hernandez, who said they would announce the venue at 9.30pm PT, postponed the announcement to 11.30pm.
Many would-be revelers hadn’t heard about the change of venue, however, and proceeded to Huntington Beach. About 2,500 converged on the beach, according to CBS Los Angeles.
Music blared and a mosh pit erupted. Some partiers ascended a stop light, others, a flagpole. Some attendees lit fireworks and sprinted through nearby traffic, the Times said.
Violence ensued when local law enforcement tried to disperse the crowd. Someone broke the windshield of a police car, others tossed bottles at police. Authorities fired “non-lethal rounds” at the group and instituted an emergency curfew from 11.30pm Saturday to 5.30am Sunday in downtown Huntington Beach.
One report put arrests for Saturday’s ill-fated soiree at 149. CBS Los Angeles reported Monday that there were 178 arrests following the weekend’s gatherings.
Lopez’s official “kickback” did not happen. They never shared the venue with ticket holders. Its address leaked, though, and a group arrived at the venue before midnight. When a police officer came to the venue, the party was pre-emptively stopped.
On Sunday, Hernandez worked to dissuade beliefs that the kickback was actually a scam, coordinating refunds for people who bought tickets via Cookies N’ Kicks, according to the Times.
“I did not start or encourage any illegal activity!” Lopez apparently commented in an Instagram post. “Safety is and has always been my number one concern for both myself and others. I have not made any money related to Adrian’s kickback what so ever but my management team will be addressing this.”