I had a dream last night that I was promoting a party in 2003. It’s a month and a half away and I’m getting a late start. After I go back and forth between a hard to reach artist on the flier design, I’m down a week. I rush to Pronto Printing, a run down, bustling office filled with posters screaming parties with tons of throwback DJs, reggae booties and general visual overload. I beg the exasperatingly slow receptionist to please have my fliers ready in no more than 3 days? I’ll pay the extra cost. It’s a small party, so I’m torn between getting 5000 or 10,000 fliers. Can I hustle my butt and get rid of all that paper in under 5 weeks with my schedule?
After multiple phone calls with dismissive “call back laters”, I end up with the fliers and a stack of posters 2 days late. I’m down to a little over 4 weeks to promote and I’m panicking. I drive around for the next 3 hours to different record stores, coffee shops, salons and any kind of place that will allow me to dump my fliers. Posters are taped, stapled and push pinned into any available surface, finding company amongst rock shows and fun runs.
LICK THE STAMPS
I run to the office supply store before they close. Armed with 100 envelopes and stamps, I start the laborious task of writing down my friends’ addresses. I’m hoping nobody moved in the last year. Stick the flier in and seal. There’s just no time to include a personal note. My right hand has cramped into a permanent claw.
HIT THE STREETS!
It’s Wednesday evening and there are 2 small House nights I can hit up. One ends at 2am, the other at 4am. I head out to the 2am spot and proceed to hit up the cars all up and down the surrounding streets. I wait for the crowd to start trickling out at 1:45 and take my place alongside 2 other promoters to hand out fliers. Did I mention it’s January and I’m freezing my ass off?
At 2am I drive on over to the 4am spot and start hitting up the cars around there too. I can barely feel my fingers. I go inside, have a drink, mingle and politic. I tell everyone about the event. (And no I don’t hand out any fliers inside the club unless I’m speaking to someone one on one.) It’s 3:40, I stake out a spot outside and repeat the process. People are full blown wasted at this point, so there’s a lot more zombies that walk past my outstretched hand, stumbling boozers and dropped fliers. I hate this part of promoting.
I repeat this every damn day until the party. And when it’s this awesomely cold, the last thing you want to do is head out your house at 1am to stick fliers in cars. But you gotta do it. On the weekends I hit up all the major areas that have parties, and not just House music. Wicker Park, Slicks, the whole North Avenue/Sheffield area with its cluster of bars and clubs, boystown, then the southside…I’m just a numb, automatic leaflet dispenser. Some of these cars have so many fliers in them I try to find sneaky and creative places to put mine on so they won’t be tossed out in one fell swoop.
PICK UP THAT PHONE
I’m down to 4 days before the party and it’s time to hit the phone book. I call the appropriate party friends that live in Chicago and personally invite them. “How’ve you been? Really? That’s great! Listen I’m having this party…” and so on and so forth. If I’m lucky I get their voicemail or a person with a life. If I’m not so lucky, then I get the long-winded-let-me-tell-you-a-story ones that will bend your ear. Because this process takes so long I break it up into 2 days.
WILL THEY SHOW UP?
I have no idea who will be coming. I have no gauge, no Facebook attending numbers, nothing. Only people’s word.
There’s a dog licking my face and I realize I’d just been having a bad dream. That seriously gave me an anxiety attack. That’s a lot of work to throw a party.
Why bother when I can just create a Facebook event page and call it a day.