kestrel

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2020-04-11 08:17:04 (UTC)

Prompt 068: Party Every Night

68. How would you life change if every evening you had to go to a different party? Would you get partied out? Why or why not?
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A couple real-life anecdotes come to mind.

I spent much of my 20's and early 30's running first a theatre company, and then a non-profit arts venue. For much of that time, if I wasn't rehearsing or performing in the evening, I was running the box office and/or the sound & lights for a gig that came through. It was typical for me to hold down my day job, then work my night job, both for five days a week.

The big picture was that it was something for me to do, and I wanted to be part of the "arts scene" in town. I had long since stopped believing that I was "gonna be an actor" and "gonna make it big," or whatever. I really can't stand New York City and California is not gonna happen. Never was, really. But early in my weird-ass life I had baked a cake that included a theatre degree, so I figured my friends and I had the best thing going: running our own space, putting on the productions we wanted, sometimes actually being paid (more than a free beer) to do that work... Living the dream.

Did a -lot- of shows at the time, and I was just as much a working actor, producer, and director as anyone else in that town who also did not pick up a paycheck and instead received compensation "in exposure." The classic joke is, "You wanna pay me in exposure? Great! My rent is only 800 exposures a month!"

In the end, it was all beaten out of me an inch at a time. The theatre company dissolved after about three years when, in the words of one of my colleagues: "It stopped being fun." I operated a theatre space in the same building for a few years afterward, with an official non-profit status and community involvement and everything, but since it was pretty much a DIY venue as soon as we gained an inch of notoriety the fire marshall came in and shut everything down. A local filmmaker interviewed me for one of his projects with other DIY venue people whose spaces were shut down or dissolved for one reason or another, so that was nice. The rest of the non-profit board of the arts space wanted to turn it into "artist studios," and I threw in the towel. They limped along for a couple more years, but then it was shuttered when the landlord died and his family wanted to close up the building. Whether it was the theatre company or the arts venue, we were the only thing going on in that section of town at the time and when it closed up, so did the momentum for improvement in the area (if I may be so humble as to say so).

I had since moved on to another community venue, this one being an old church built in the 1800's that was converted to a unique community venue in cooperation with the church's congregation. I worked there in the collective as a volunteer, moved away, moved back, and worked for them as a paid employee and board member for a few years. I enjoyed that almost as much, felt good because there was a lot of grassroots organizing going on there, though I eventually rubbed elbows with a lot of people I'd rather not. And hosting/staffing weddings? Ugh. No thanks. I couldn't hack it, so I left.

Still good friends with several of my fellow collective members from the time (though it's interesting to note that I am not on speaking terms with most of the people from the theatre company). I am recognized by being the face of that arts non-profit even years later, at least locally, and many of the artists who came through there are now grown-ass adults that may fondly remember that place as their stepping stone. But beyond that, I have nothing to show for it. I used to play in a couple bands, and people still remember the names and our outrageous costumes (one of them I describe as, "like a low budget GWAR that's an 80's hair metal, foul-mouthed, goof-rock band"). The theatre company and its time is pretty much unknown, and that neighbourhood is struggling to find its footing again. So it goes.

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If I were gonna party every night, I'd feel most comfortable as an event facilitator, I think. I tend to go to events on my own, and as a spectator I feel out of place and anxious most of the time: I roll in, see a band or show or whatever, then roll out. I don't regularly stick around to socialize or meet people. At most, I could see myself as a DJ or karaoke jockey. If those were regular gigs, I might be able to swing it. Not sure if I would enjoy myself as much as I imagine I would. I don't drink much at all (It's been well over a year since my last alcoholic drink, and I don't miss a thing about it), and I don't do any recreational drugs, so it's likely I just don't fit in with that scene at all. Never heard of a "straight edge DJ" in the party scene, even if they do a good job running sound for other acts.

When reading this prompt, I was also reminded of the special event I attended earlier this year: as a guest of the cinema manager for a film screening. I had a seat in one of the upstairs booths, and I spent the early part of the evening chatting with the producers of the event, and then with the manager of a local rock club. All classy, responsible people, seemed to have good heads on their shoulders, and the club owner in particular had also cut her teeth in the scene (as a bartender), so I could relate.

The producer guys (both men) reminded me too much of executives at my old job at the software company, though they were dressed in jeans and button-up shirts. More than once, I was asked, "Would you pay $50 to see this...?" while we chatted about different acts to replicate that evening's event.

I must say that I did push pretty hard to have John Carpenter (director of the original -Halloween- films, -The Fog-, -Escape From New York-, -They Live-, and the immortal 80's remake of -The Thing-) screen something there. He's still around: a scrappy, shaggy curmudgeon playing the -Halloween- theme song in clubs for hooting, drunken audiences easily a third of his age. But his attitude and catalogue of work I almost unilaterally support. I mean, he put Jamie Lee Curtis on the silver screen, for cryin' out loud. The man has taste. Second in line is [Sir] Ridley Scott, who introduced me to Sigourney Weaver in -Alien-.

...I can sense I'm wandering off the beaten path a bit here, so I'll end things quick. Personally find hosting events much more entertaining and interesting than simply spectating events, 80% of the time. When I am a spectator, I still take on some kind of participatory role so I'm not bored out of my skull, or rendered an anxious heap of twitching nerves because I'm supposed to socialize. When I don't participate in such a way, I'll take my leave quickly.


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