Ain’t no party like a Murderboat party, because at a Murderboat party, you might end up dressed like a giant banana. Or dancing on a grounded airplane in the woods. Or trying to build the world’s largest blanket fort.
For real, there aren’t any promoters in Portland throwing parties like the ones Shawn MacArthur and Victor Rundbaken put on. In a city whose nightlife options are often split between Old Town bro-downs and arty navel-gazing contests, the events the two present as Murderboat Productions (facebook.com/shawnandvictor) are silly for the sake of silliness—the kind of stuff a group of kids might dream up after chugging Slurpees at a sleepover, only with adult budgets and much louder music.
Before starting the company a year and a half ago, neither MacArthur nor Rundbaken had a background in event production—or even event attending. While Rundbaken dabbled in the rave scene back home in Hawaii, MacArthur, a web developer who previously lived in New York, avoided clubs altogether.
“I didn’t really understand it,” he says. “Why am I paying a lot of money to see some DJ I’d never heard of and then paying for overpriced drinks?”
When he moved to Portland in 2015, MacArthur’s social life depended on him leaving the house. A friend had a banana costume hanging in his closet, so MacArthur hatched the idea of a fruit-themed bar crawl. It turned into a monthly event, which is how he eventually connected with Rundbaken. Together, they decided to try their hand at an all-banana warehouse party.
“We had one rule,” Rundbaken says: “No monkey suits.”
About 400 people showed up. The ideas got bigger from there. After seeing local news stories about a man in Hillsboro living in a decommissioned Boeing 727, MacArthur and Rundbaken persuaded the owner to let them host a rave on his property; they’re doing another one in September. Their most recent New Year’s Eve bash featured a ball pit, a chill room full of teddy bears and a silent disco held around a 23-foot working sailboat.
The most ambitious project, though, involved turning the Oregon Convention Center into the biggest blanket fort ever constructed, an endeavor that required fireproofing 500 blankets in the span of two weeks. Guinness has yet to report back. But even if they don’t end up with the record, it still would have been worth it—because it’s pretty much always worth it.
“We like a challenge,” MacArthur says. “So anytime we can grow something and take it to the next level, we can’t help ourselves.”