Last Wednesday. September 16. LIVE at 10th & G. Were you there? Have you recovered yet?
Did you miss it? Are you still crying yourself to sleep?
Our Grand Launch Party was aMAHzing. What a night. What an awesome group of people and unbelievable support. Who's down for a little recap?
If you were at the party, you either met me, your Pelonkey Eagle Eye, or saw me walk awkwardly on stage to accept Nicole's thanks and give her flowers - I'm not on on-stage person, I'm a BTS, other-side-of-the-computer person - and this was my day-long Grand Launch experience.
Early morning reveille. Especially considering last night's office work lasted til 10 pm. Not including my 1.5 hour commute back to VA.
Showered, hair prepped, bags packed for later.
Have to finish making name tags using a template that doesn't work. The bane of my Grand Launch prep so far. Found out my color printer at home is working again, so I don't need to rush to the office to print the leftover tags.
Simultaneously scheduling a Staples run for extra name tags, Costco run for green room beverages, pickup of the Step & Repeat, printing more signs, scheduling social media posts on Hootsuite, and finalizing a slideshow. Oh, and my gas tank is chilling on Empty.
I was wrong; color printer not working. Name tags took way longer than expected (everyone better wear these). Plan B!
Out the door with everything stuffed into my car in record time considering 20 minutes ago I wasn't wearing pants.
Step & Repeat acquired! Success #1 of the day.
The rest of my errands went smoothly, and I can take off for DC.
For the first time maybe ever, I am actually relieved to find traffic on route 66 because it is the first time I've been forced to slow down in about a week. Here I have my second freakout of the day; the first was that damn printer, the second was the enormity of the impending event. Nbd.
I will skip over the boring details of arriving at the office, receiving two packages, running out of ink the second I finished printing my last name tag, and getting a $16 parking ticket for only one hour in the garage.
It's venue time, baby! All eerily quiet so far because an event is going on upstairs, and we can't start setting up yet.
I am trying unsuccessfully to iron table cloths and runners on a plastic table with an iron sans water on low heat. Machines: 1, Eagle Eye: 0.
Setup can begin. We are tackling the Step & Repeat first, which was a workaround to begin with, so trying to construct our own stand has been an ordeal. And when I say "we," I mean Nicole and her friend Cenk, while I sit at a nearby table assembling name tags (seriously, everyone better keep these forever). Ciera is running around like a crazy person and it's not even 2 pm.
So far, so good! Setup flowing smoothly, vendors should be arriving now.
Chaos. Vendor load-in times never end up how you originally scheduled.
This place is actually looking like a party site. Some performers are starting to arrive, green room is looking lived-in, and Ciera is officially going to put holes in her shoes with her running back & forth.
Nicole's makeup is almost done, downstairs & registration are set up, photo booth looks amazeballs, red carpet has been rolled out, and we are making sure vendors have what they need.
Holy crap, no one has chilled any of the white wine yet. To the freezer!
If we leave this in the freezer too long will it explode? We may find out...
Somewhere in here I have managed to throw on some makeup, curl my hair, and put on my dress.
I have my comm device (think secret service agent meets trench soldier) hooked up, and it's off to the races. Eagle Eye to Unicorn, do you have eyes on Neekola? Over.
Doors open. Let's do this.
So. many. people! So many, in fact, that I have already found and lost half our performers three times trying to get them to the green room. I'm checking on current entertainers, chatting with guests, making sure the kitchen isn't on fire, the usual. Ciera has flown by me at least twice on one mission or another. I sigh again with relief because what would we do without her? Perish, surely.
A lot of guest networking and problem-solving later, and it's time to relinquish my comm. My life will never be the same. But the sound manager for the theater needs it more than I do, I guess... Theater doors also open at this time, and guests are being pulled in by the sounds of LJ MTX and the sexy DystRucXion dancers.
A word from our sponsors... And let me take a minute here to thank them. Each of them. For our success was due to them.
VeeKast, for providing the performance slide show and live tweeting action. Travelling Bean, for the specialty barista station of our caffeinated dreams. Eco Caters, for organic, fresh food that is still making our mouths water. SkipperFilms, for making sure we didn't miss a minute of the magic. OM Digital, for the best party favor ever. Sugar Rim Bar, for sangria and stellar service. Zelos Trading, for beer (three cheers!). Event Farm, for the ticketing service from which you all received our beautimous emails. Beat Refinery, for appointing two DJs to the battle and partnering with us always. Carlos, for an unbelievable sound & lighting setup. And Tommy McFly, for Emceeing our event and lending his charisma and energy to the show.
Before the show even began, Nicole took the stage to welcome everyone, and before she could get a word out, she was met with a standing ovation. A testament to how beloved she is in this community. And for good reason. That woman is a rockstar.
A little behind schedule (if we're being picky, which Ciera is), but I can promise nobody in the crowd cares because the best show ever is about to start. Max Major to take it away, followed by an epic lineup of DC talent we also want to thank now. You guys have no idea how amazing these folks were. Over the next few weeks, we will be spotlighting each performer who took the stage (or party room) and represented themselves and Pelonkey. Look for that on our social platforms.
Max Major - Mentalist, Kelly Jo Stull - Circus Performer & Dancer, Chicago City Limits - NYC Improv Troupe, Ben Hoyt - Violinist, DJ Sean J, DJ As-One, Michael Rosman - Comedy Circus, Chip Han - Beatboxer
DJ Foster, Anna Pineapple - Circus Performer & Dancer, DJ Gavin Holland, DJ Phlipz, Dan Lamaestra Jazz Trio, Brian Curry - Magician, DJ Heather Femia, Joe Goldman - Voice Artist & Announcer, Rajan - Artist, David Meneses - Magician
Party time! The show was great, everyone is having so much fun, and Ciera, Nicole, and I can finally take a breath, have a drink, and talk with our guests.
I've been giving the VIP room some love, marveling at the Dan Lamaestra Jazz Trio & Ben Hoyt transform the upstairs into the classiest act ever. Schmoozing is not my middle name, but when in Rome (and when it's my party), I do as the Romans do... ;) When in Rome, I also consume more than my fair share of Duck Confit Johnny Cakes c/o Eco Caters. These things were heavenly. And made fresh by Chef Robbie. Just like the rest of the bomb food.
The time, it flies. I have had so much fun, met so many wonderful people, and rubbed so many blisters onto my feet. The latter is usually a huge indication of the former.
All the guests have left - reluctantly, I may add - and it's breakdown time. The party may have been glamorous, but I'm looking around at all these trash bags knowing the next steps will not be.
Thanks to helping hands from our vendors and friends, we have finally gathered all the trash bags into the kitchen. The venue looks a little like a frat party came through, but I'm taking that as a successful sign. Except for the trash cans that look like beer troughs. I was really hoping I left that in my freshman year of college, but alas...
During load-out, we have managed to lock ourselves into the garage. Let me paint you a word picture. The glass door into the elevator room is shut, the gate to exit the garage is shut and only opened with a parking ticket, we are three floors below ground with no cell service, I have run through a maze of stairs only to lose myself in a neighboring building, and we have decided to cram three of ourselves (one ex-football player included) into the front seat of Ciera's teeny car in order to bust ourselves out. Finally Nicole comes down to find out what the hell happened to us, and we are freed. Exhausting doesn't cover it. Slaphappy might.
The venue is empty, the car is loaded, our eyelids are heavy, and it's time to leave. What is a great party without a calamity of events before and after?
What was that tip my drivers' ed teacher told us to do when we were tired and driving? Sing along to the radio? I did. To every song that played from the corner of 10th & G St. to my driveway.
I don't remember getting out of my car or into bed, but I do remember falling asleep with the sounds of Pelonkey ringing in my ears. (Not trying to be cheesy; I was seriously delirious from fatigue and could only remember that something big regarding Pelonkey had just happened, but I couldn't tell you what.)
I wish I had had the sense to take photos throughout the whole day to illustrate every tiny detail of the party, but I didn't know I was going to write a diary account of the launch until after the fact. Like many of my great ideas, this one occurred to me too late.
We want to take this launch party city to city as Pelonkey grows. After doing it once, I can promise that the second, third, tenth times will be just as hectic and crazy. And thank god for that. Because the alternative is downright boring. And Pelonkey doesn't do boring.
Ps. The wine never exploded in the freezer. Take that, science.
Pps. Thanks to Shimeng Tong, Alexander Morozov, and Vithaya for the photography.
Ppps. 82% of the name tags ended up in the trash. Mine is displayed proudly above my bed.
TL;DR - The show and party were a great success. Be super jealous you weren't there. Or proud that you were. Either way, don't miss the next one.