12 May 2007

Looptopia, or a Tale of Underwhelment

Is underwhelment a word?

Last night was Looptopia, a downtown festival of sorts. It was supposed to be providing all sorts of amusement from sundown to sunrise, from museum tours to dancing to music to theatre. Someone got the bright idea after seeing several cities in Europe try the same thing.

I was joined by Cieslak and Katherine and a friend of hers from out of town (others had made plans and either cancelled, ditched, or showed up after I had left. They had varying degrees of interest in the event, but the reason they were with me was to try and bring a little birthday cheer to me.

Now, there were events going on all over the Loop as promised, and some events did stretch until dawn, but all in all, a giant time and money wasting disaster (for the city, not me...it was free).

Some problems.

The Loop is a big place. having events all over it meant walking blocks to get to the next thing. It meant getting lost while looking for this and that. It meant knowing exactly where you were going, or you would be wandering around for ages looking for crowds. "Is something going on there? There's a bunch of people over there."

Things ended at 11-midnight. Not everything, but anything you'd want to do, or at least anything I wanted to do. I suppose I could have stuck around watching movies at the Siskel Center, but I wasn't in the mood. After most things closed, everybody rushed over to the few remaining events, making it impossible to go to anything (the line utside the Goodman stretched down the block).

The music sets were brief. If you're going to have live music at an event that lasts all night, you either need lots of music, or longer sets. Every time I wanted to see music, it was over by the time I got there.

No food. No booze. Two things that contribute to enjoyment of festivals is food or booze, or both. There was nowhere to eat at except for McDonalds and Dunkin Donuts (much to Beth's delight), or Corner Bakery (I had the crappiest sandwich there).

The streets, amazingly, weren't blocked off. You had to wait for traffic lights. When you are inviting a hundred thousand people downtown, you need to block off the streets, or at least some of them. When the sidewalk is being used for performance space, you need to give people room to see them, and if everyone's smushed against a wall trying to see what's going on, well, you lose them.

More events that are worth attending. Much of what was offered was of the type that you'd show up, note was happening, and leave for the next thing.

The idea was good. The execution was dismal. And their website was down, the website advertised in banners all over the Loop. When you can't even keep your site up? You've got problems.

1 comment:

Justin said...

I agree. I thought it was kinda cool at first. Some of the street performance art was interesting, or at least amusing, the music in the plaza was good, the Art Institute event was really great, but a lot of the best things were scheduled on top of each other so you couldn't really see what you wanted. And then things dried up after, oh, about Opera Idol -- which was a cool concept but please they need to get better judges. The drag queen judge was just lame-o. I mean, I want my drag queens to be bitchy and funny. She was taking it - and herself - too seriously.

The last thing we tried to do was at the Cultural Center at about 1am -- but the line stretched around 2 sides of the block. Since that was the only thing going at the time, we decided to leave, disappointed that not even Looptopia was worth staying up for.

I'm hoping that more Loop businesses and artists see that this one was such a near-success that they will commit to it next year -- if there is a next year -- and make it that much better.