“Digital Dumbo” or “The Sweetness of Open Bars”

I have been writing for a local online magazine for about a month now. It is Brooklyn-based and brings its readers closer to all the things going on in Brooklyn, which is a really neat idea when you are new to the City like I am and even happen to live in the borough.
Because of the magazine, I have been sent on a few assignments already. I have also redeemed my pay in ways of free events I was able to attend thanks to the editor putting me on the guest list.
Digital Dumbo was one of these. Last Thursday I made my way out with my coworker to an open bar event in the area around the Manhattan Bridge in Brooklyn. Dumbo stands for Down Under Manhattan Brooklyn Bridge, as I already mentioned in a previous post. We were told that the party over there would be from 6:30 to 9:30PM and that there would be an open bar during this time. Open bar simply means alcoholic drinks for free, with only leaving a tip for the bartender. Since I didn’t have a clue of how many people to expect and I had the impression that this was a more privatized event, I thought it would be okay to show up a bit later, say 7PM. As it turned out, this wasn’t the best idea I’ve had in the past few days. Indeed, it was a very stupid thought, considering that I have been living in New York for a while already and simply should have known better. An open bar event in Brooklyn? Who would ever want to go to this… mhmm, gimme some time to think…!

The crowd at Digital Dumbo

When we got there, we expected to be greeted by a friendly door guy who would check our tickets and then let us through to the bar where we could order a few cocktails and have a nice, relaxed evening.
I hate to give it away but things didn’t happen that way. Instead we couldn’t believe our eyes when we saw the row of people standing in front of the building – all eagerly pushing forward to get into this place. The Dumbo Loft had organized this event on their first floor and there were seven people of staff to welcome the incoming crowd. As we made our way around a winding queue, one of them yanked a black band around my wrist, while my friend got the same in neon-green. We wondered what this could possibly be for and they told us we should wait for more information. Then, when the line finally moved, it was our turn to show the tickets and sign in. Another staff person wrote our names on stickers and we were supposed to wear these the entire evening. Name tags, what a common party idea! At one point in time during the evening we decided to go back and rewrite our names and switch out our company descriptions into something funny. Our story was that we were working for a translation agency somewhere in Midtown (which we do not do, but who cares).
Then we headed over to the open bar and found out that the only items offered were Budweiser (American beer which tastes like cheap dishwash), Pabst Blue Ribbon (Canadian beer which tastes like expensive dishwash), gin mixed with lemonade (proudly presented as the house drink) and soft drinks (water and coca cola anyone?). Not too bad considering this was a free event with cheap but nonetheless drinkable alcohol. We first tried the gin house drink and were mildly impressed. We found that gin and lemonade are not a bad combination after all. We still didn’t want to run the risk of a bad hangover and stuck to PBR.

Open Bar
I with a PBR

After wandering around, we came across an area called the Photo Booth: A corner was decorated with an oversized American flag and various boxes contained wigs, masks, plastic guns, and other nice accessories. This corner was the hit of the party, as many people stopped by, covered their heads with a blond wig or a monkey mask and posed in some insane way or another. After downing a few beers we made our way back to it and got a nice shot of the Yedi and the Steal Man/Woman.

The Photo Booth....
... and its crazy inhabitants
Other crazies

I also got to meet the main editor of the Brooklyn publication and talked to her a bit about the magazine, tips on writing, and what she expects from the articles submitted to her online paper. It was a nice way to get to know my boss, even though it is just my boss of a side activity I engage in once in a while.

We met some very fun guys from a company called Zaarly and had a good time shooting a few pictures with them. Everyone at the party seemed to be related to some sort of digital forms of communication. Mobile texting companies, internet firms – hence the name Digital Dumbo! Finally, the mystery of the wrist bands was revealed as we witnessed a raffle-like game which divided people into four different groups. The groups were supposed to tweet as many messages as possible over the entire evening and the one that had the most tweets would win in the end. What a surprise that my group, the black wrist bands, won the “competition” but another girl took the main price home: A fancy boombox no one else really wanted to have . Congratulations to her!
The evening was meant for networking and getting to know people in the industry, and indeed, my coworker and I met an abundance of interesting folks from the digital sector. I’m not sure if it helped us networking-wise, as I didn’t get any lasting contacts out of this meet-up. But it was a great occasion to get to know a different scene in Brooklyn and it was worth going.

Zaarly's intern
Us and Zaarly's intern
The wrist bands
My coworker and a guy from New Zealand

Around 9PM we wanted to order our last round but the bar only had soft drinks left over. I guess when the alcohol is out the party is over and we found ourselves on the streets in front of the Loft. We ended this fun evening at a random bar in Dumbo with people from Senegal and New Zealand. Thumbs up to networking and more of those word-to-mouth-parties!