You sure know how to throw a party! Except not really. Last night I attended the well-known Calgary event (except not really, since half the people I mentioned it to didn’t know what it was), for the first time in its sixteen years of running.
It was an auspicious start what with the red carpet rolled out down the Jack Singer steps and the raucous commentary by the local DJ’s. Eighth avenue was shut down with onlookers and attendees, the costumes were colorful and faux paparazzi added a fun touch of glamour. There was a party spirit in the air as the crowds mingled outdoors and inside with their complimentary bevvie. The elevator music played inside didn’t help any, of course, but spirits were still dangerously high as everyone people watched and imbibed. The costumes were fantastic and all too soon it was time to pile inside for the awards ceremony.
The MC’s for the event… didn’t suck per se, but weren’t necessarily that great either. As a friend pointed out later, her church has teleprompters, so to read off folded pieces of paper is needlessly archaic and smacks of a lack of planning. They didn’t really work the crowd, didn’t really have jokes and our local theatre crowd could’ve done better. The pacing of the video awards was a touch too fast – they hardly had enough time to announce the names of contestants before the speedily reeled commercials kicked in, and an extra twenty seconds between each one would have made all the difference. Some cool lights or music would have also helped rev up the crowd, but it was an okay gig – if a bit tame.
But it’s the post-show mixer where I really felt you dropped the ball. I’m not going to bash the details without giving constructive suggestions for next year – no one likes a whiner, so here’s my take on what you should do next year:
· First rule of party atmosphere – DIM the lights! Seriously. No one likes to dance in a brightly lit room. This is not a ballroom event, but even they dance on dimly lit floors. Not only does it make everyone look better, and feel less self-conscious, but with some colored spot lights added it can go a long way towards promoting a party feel.
· Pick up the freakin’ music! The band incidentally was great – the singer could really sing, but they started out slow, the lights were bright, since people weren’t allowed to drink at the show – they were sober, and then… the band took like a forty minute break. And the crowd was standing around to some more quiet elevator-ish music. Sober.
· Serve the food BEFORE the awards show not after. If half your attendees are standing in ten mile long lineups on a different floor to get an appetizer, it’s not a party. Nor a celebration, nor a good time. Feed everyone before the show, flow the booze after. This is common sense.
· And last but not least, the tickets are 100 bux, and I know it’s for charity, but you’re a brewery – can’t you just charge 125 and include more than 2 drink tickets? I’m sure it would only cost you like two dollars per person. I’ve had company events that were more generous. Two tickets over the course of four hours is not very much. We had one drink before the show, and two after, and to have the second round of drinks you had to go buy some more vouchers from some people far away from the bar, which made no sense.
I love Big Rock and we have a special relationship with many of their beers, (hello Grasshopper, Trad, Rock Creek, HB…) who have a permanent if short-lived residence in our fridge. But a party that celebrates LOCAL BEER could and should be so much more. I have a friend who specializes at throwing corporate parties. Hire her, she’ll do you right.