Monday, September 17, 2012

Plan B.

Summer had just ended.  I had been full time at my current day job working with kids, teaching basic engineering concepts to them with legos.  I had also been doing events as part of another evening gig that I did most weekends setting up and doing DJ and Emcee duty for weddings and corporate events.  One of the bands I play keys in, Gentleman Lizard, had just started doing shows with really encouraging feedback. And the monthly Big Draw event I put together and DJ'd for since January had it's best month yet in August.  I'd even met a lady who was awesome, and was spending what free time I had left with her. So, after a summer at breakneck speed everything slowed down had slowed down all at once.  Both jobs hit their peak business in the summer months, and I was seriously enjoying my sudden extra free time.  I  was taking a nice week long breath out.  I had three artists set up for the September Big Draw, and was really fond of all their work.  I gutted my set list and began filling my Ablelton Live and Itunes with new music discoveries to share in my extended set.

Monday. September 10th--two days before the event--I got a call from the bar manager, Christine.  It was unusual for me to get a call from anyone from The Copper Door.  I usually just did my thing, and that was that.  Communication with the owners was only at the beginning, and that was really only to pitch the event and talk about the details.  Once it got started, I sometimes only rolled in once a month, espec. when I began getting very busy.   So this call was a surprise, hopefully a good one, since August was so good.

She said that the Copper Door had closed; probably for a week, maybe longer.  Because of a broken water pipe, emergency renovations that had to happen now were. . . happening now, and the owners were considering staying closed longer to move up  other planned renovations that were originally going to get started early 2013. So. Suddenly, thanks to a broken water pipe,  I had 48 hours to figure out how to still run The Big Draw, or cancel the event all together for this month.

Also it's worth noting that I was in full relax mode at this point, taking it easy, decompressing from a busy summer, and enjoying being a lazy bum for a few days.  I was even slightly relieved at first. Whew, I thought, I guess I'm getting the whole week off now!  No, the smarter part of me said, this event had been growing for nine months straight, I can't let this go, I gotta do something now.   Maybe I could deal with it Tuesday. . . one day before the event.  Change everything online with one day notice?  That wasn't going to work.
I need a plan.  Now.

I knew that a small number of people would come out of the woodwork every month to the Copper Door for the event.  Since the Copper door is Underground there are two bars directly above Copper Door.  Chapter One, and Proof's Lounge.  If I wanted to do the table mural, I needed table space.  Proof's Lounge was out for a first choice.  But - Chapter One had a 2nd room that was called the Red Room which was about as ON TOP of the Copper Door as you could get.  In fact, when the blinds are opened the inside of the room is completely visible from street level, just to the right of where the Copper Door entrance is at.  I could put a sign with an arrow on it, and people coule be redirected.  Okay.  All that I needed to do was convince the people at Chapter One, that some guy they almost never see was doing an event that they probably didn't know about right underneath them, and that it needed to happen there instead in exactly two days.  How would I sell it?  "Hey Guys, I know this is crazy, but Can I like have your backroom for an event on Wednesday, maybe?"

Okay, so I hadn't done an elevator pitch for the event since I, uh, decided to do it November of 2011.  And I'd already spent a long time hanging out and DJing there before I started doing a formal event.  I guess I could lean on the success of the event.  After all  a lot of people come to Copper Door on the night of the events, and having a good crowd on an off night isn't something that just happened. I mean there was lest space at Chapter One, and I guess I could make it work if I let all the featured artists off the hook for showing art, and focused on just getting all the tables pushed together in the redroom.  Also, they probably had other music and DJ's that night, so I wouldn't be able to DJ.   No problem, I thought, even less work for me!

So I headed down, took a seat at the bar, and talked to one of the bartenders on duty.  He was ncie enough to let me speak with the manager and assistant manager.  I explained the situation, and that we did the event, and that the turn out was pretty big the previous month.  I gave them business cards, mentioned that there were pictures on the web of the event, that it had become a popular night, and that Christine and the Copper Door owners could vouch for me.  They took the card, and said that I should expect a call from someone else who helps plan events the following day.  I honestly couldn't tell if they were taking me seriously, or if they were giving me some epic lip service as  a way to set me loose as gently as possible.  I continued hanging out and talked at length with the on duty bar manager, which ended up being really cool, I learned a lot about beer that night, and racked up a modest tab.  After all, this was supposed to be a day off, right?

Tuesday.  With no call yet, I had to start spreading the word on FB.  The Copper Door was closed, but The Big Draw will be relocated super close by if possible, wait for details.  The show must go on.  Even though the event wasn't anything majorly huge, I'd really liked that we'd been able to keep it going strong for almost nine months, and that it had grown a modest but reliable following month to month.

Late afternoon, still no call from the events person.   I decided to show up at Chapter One in person again around 7 p.m.  Same bar manager, same restaurant manager and same asst manager.  All very cordial, and pleasant, again!  They apologized for not getting back to me.  Okay, I started thinking, so maybe I'm not just getting gentle lip service.  Maybe. . .  they are actually taking me seriously.  Only problem was--that The Redroom was also being renovated.  No broken water pipe up here, but  they were finishing up installations on a second small bar that was in the back of that room.  Even though most of the room was pretty open,  they had been asked to keep the room closed.  Damn it.  The asst. manager mentioned a possible collaboration in the future, or trying to spread the event to two venues on the same night (what? how cool maybe?)  Either way, The Big Draw could not formally happen in their back room.  Okay, so the event was officially unofficial for September.  I had put all my eggs in one basket with Chapter One.  I had no back up Venue.  And was about to let everybody know with only one day's notice that The Big Draw wasn't Going to happen.  So what to do now? The event was pretty much cancelled, unless with 24 hours I could suddenly figure out how, or if, I'm going to even attempt to make this work with no venue.

Fuck it, I decided, we're just going to hang out in Chapter One anyway. If people want to come out, we'll just hang out with our sketchbooks at the bar. It'll be cool, I'm sure some regulars will make the trip, and Chapter One will see that I'm not totally full of shit.

Wednesday.  So fuck it, we just hung out at Chapter One anyway.  I changed the poster for the event, redirecting whoever to Chapter One, printed it out on my home printer, and stuck it in a frame.  When I got to downtown, I put the frame on an easel in front of The Copper Door.  When I arrived at Chapter One, we started out as a party of five, with me and two of the featured artists, and some friends of friends.  We were seated, and more people kept showing up, so we were relocated to a larger table int he back that could seat about 12.  And more people kept showing up!  So three more small tables were occupied by friends, and folks with sketchbooks.  In total, about 20 or so people came out, hang out, ate, and drank, and drew.  Some people nobody had met, sat at the big table with us and chatted it up, drew, and talked about what they did for a living.  Not as big of a turn out as The Big Draw, but we took up a sizable chunk of the restaurant.

The DIY event was a success.  The manager definitely noticed that we were there.  And I still had the rest of the week off after the event to decompress, and get ready for another Gentleman Lizard show at Shanghai'd room on Friday! And now I am currently looking in to doing a sister event at Chapter One to boot.  Hard to believe that a broken water pipe could spring so much unexpected new opportunity. Now I've just got to worry about October. . . .

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