E3 – Thursday Night

After hearing about how good the Sony party was each year at E3, I was eager to see it first hand. As it turned out, luck worked its magic and my boss had arranged a meeting for me with a Sony executive after a mutual friend recommended our studio for an upcoming video game based project. After finally getting a chance to try out the Nintendo Wii, I headed over to the Sony booth to track down my contact. A couple hours later and we met up. The meeting went well. Feeling good about our interaction, I stuck my neck out a bit and mentioned the party. She had one invite left she could give me. She made me promise not to sell the invite or to try and bring extra people along. I agreed and she handed me a wristband. At that moment I wondered what the heck I’d gotten myself into.

That night, my media buddies who had invites of their own and I made our way to Dodgers Stadium. When we arrived, security checked our wristbands and gave us each a glass of champagne while they lead us to shuttle buses. We rode up the hill to a beautiful open field area decked out with giant colored circus-like tents. Our wristbands were checked again as we entered and they double-checked that we’d brought no recording devices or cameras. Once inside the grounds I got a real sense of the scope of this thing.

6 or 7 giant tents surrounding a large music area and stage made up the party grounds. Each tent area had its own bar and multiple food outlets. Pizzas, salads, kabobs, gourmet tacos, Chinese food, hot meat sandwiches, even junk food or assorted nuts – almost every tent had a different variety of eats to choose from and all of it was free.

One of the tents was hot reds and oranges and was called ‘Hell’– the Hell Signature Drink was some kind of vodka pomegranate juice mix that went down easy. Another tent of luminous blues and whites was ‘Heaven’ – the Signature Drink there was some kind of pineapple milky liqueur mix. Like with the food, all booze was free, with tips encouraged as a way to thank the hard working staff.

There were three different DJs spinning a variety of music throughout the grounds, all of it quite kick ass. The central grounds had a DJ doing absolutely incredible mash-ups of 80’s and 90’s tunes together at the same time, mixing grunge tunes into dance music or twisting techno with hardcore rap. At one point we started to leave the center to check out one of the other tents when a phenomenal mix of Michael Jackson’s ‘Billie Jean’ mixed with Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ nuked my brain and we had to stay longer.

Sometimes, contortionists or dancers would take the stage at some of the tents and perform. In Heaven these were feather-laden dancers moving to soft music, in Hell they had fetish-esque acrobats laughing and thrashing about to industrial dirges.

Our little crew gravitated towards a bar set up near the center DJ, which we jokingly nicknamed ‘Purgatory’. We asked the bartender there to create a new Purgatory drink on the spot – She crafted up a vodka-citrus combination that refreshed us quite nicely. Behind our bartender a Ringmaster pranced about on a raised platform reciting poetry about the follies of mankind over a megaphone while a toga-wearing man covered in silver body paint posed and spun.

Soon after, the Incubus concert started. No, seriously.

Sony had Incubus play a full concert in the midst of the party. It was downright bizarre seeing multi-million dollar executives, media figures and the video game elite thrashing around to Incubus tunes and screaming.

The only thing that was distinctly missing for the first half of the party was people dancing. With that much alcohol and amazing music it was a damn shame seeing everyone standing around trying to look important. I danced a little bit before the concert, but after it was over I was good and soused and quite ready to shake shit up.

This is something some people know very well about me and others just seem damn confused about. I actually like dancing to good music. I’m not a guy doing the “white dude shuffle” or gyrating like an idiot near every pretty girl in a club trying to impress them. Sometimes I just want to hear some great tunes and have fun. I wish more people would. With enough liquid courage that was no longer an issue, so we started tearing up the dance floor something fierce. Once the tension of that was broken, there was a subconscious “permission” that seemed to quake forth, like everyone realized “I guess we’re allowed to dance now”. I’ve seen it happen a bunch of times at clubs or parties and this was no exception. It always makes me laugh at the weird crowd mentality of it.

The central platform was taken over by another DJ who pounded out phenomenal beats on an electronic beat board of some sort where he actual hit it with his hands as if they were electric bongos. A giant 3-4 storey screen flashed trippy light patterns, video game footage and distorted video of the DJ as he went into a rhythmic frenzy that made the crowd go bonkers. From a handful of people dancing we erupted into dozens, whirling and pulsing to the music and sights around us. Screaming at the end of each set, I knew my throat would be raw the next day but I didn’t care.

As some of the staff wheeled in bags of ice to restock the bar, I realized that I was overheating from the temperature and the booze. With a big smile I snagged one of the large bags of ice and hugged it, issuing forth a surreal-looking burst of steam from my body that made people nearby gasp and laugh. The staff cheered as I thanked them for the well-timed refreshment. It was one of those odd things that made sense then and there but sounds odd as I try to describe it here.

Grabbing the early flight this morning was tough, flying most of the day was tiring and my body is now well and thoroughly beat. My legs ache and my spine feels tight as I’m typing this. Even still, it was a good trip and a memorable night.

2006 has been a difficult year for me so far. All sorts of ups and downs have been keeping me feeling unfocused and exhausted. The Sony party at E3 was one of those surreal nights to just cut loose and try to push into a better headspace. Even if it was only for one night, I just did my best to enjoy the moment.

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