Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Full ahead

I've been privy to a number of opening nights over the years. They all have their own charms, from super clubs where you're in a team of 20+ to the relaunch of a flagging pub in the charmless end of town. There are a couple of things they all have in common though.
There will inevitably be jobs not done. The timescale of a launch is planned well in advance and all of the contractors are assigned their tasks. Initiations are sent out for the day and the PR machines spring into action. This means that when the inevitable delays, errors and cancellations occur there will always be tasks left undone. Most don't impact the fun for the majority of folks, most don't really have an impact on my work. Some, like the intruder alarms triggering all night, do have an impact but in a 'show must go on' type of way, we work 'round it and get it all running smoothly.
There is always a ludicrous guest list. The press, the local scene, the music, wine or ale specialists that they want to impress and even the contractors. This eclectic mix is inevitably supplemented by the staff, past present and future. All of these have partners and friends. This doesn't even include the VIPs, celebrities and investors who turn up to party. This as well as the high tide flood of punters stirred into curiosity by the promotions and PR drive.
Then we have the failures, things that were working 5 minutes ago stop working, things that didn't do that, suddenly do. This is just normal in a venue of any size, how you react to it usually takes teamwork and experience, not something you've necessarily got when those doors swing open for the first time. What you do then is think fast and solve it, lie, cheat, beg borrow and steal to make it through with the least amount of disruption to the smooth, polished facade your presenting.
The over-riding thing that is common to all of these events is the disappointment. All of the promoters, planners and stakeholders try hard. They commit a large amount of time, money and effort to making it as big as possible. They plan and hope for it to be as big as they can possibly imagine. They anticipate all of their marketing hitting the target, the weather being great, the cup tie not involving the local team, the competitors missing a trick. This doesn't come off and despite the cocaine smiles and sleep deprivation, they are all disappointed. I make it to the end of another shift, maybe stressful, maybe energetic but as long as I make it through and don't make too many mistakes I go away satisfied.