AGA Refinery Party: Danse Macabre

A republishing of my less-than-flattering reviewi of the Art Gallery of Alberta’s late-night “Refinery” art party sub-titled “Danse Macabre,” which took place on Saturday, October 29th, 2016 :

It having been a few years since I’d attended a Refinery party,ii but having very fond memories of those early few where tickets were sold-out well in advance and scalpers on Kijijiiii could command a hefty premium for them, I decided to attend the “Danse Macabre” event at the invitation of a few friends this past Saturday. Holy shit talk about a lifeless party! Yes, the costumes were meant to be sombre and “dark” and were generally well executed,iv but I’ve never in all my days seen that little energy – that little excitement and joie de vivre v – at a party so well Absolutely no one was dancing, no one was drinking too much ($8 + $8 = $16 double hi-balls certainly didn’t help), and no one was doing anything resembling having fun in any manner whatsoever. It was seriously the lamest, most lacklustre event I can recall attending at the AGA (where I was married and had a spectacular event, it so happens) or anywhere else for that matter. I’m not sure that the DJ (LA Foster) can be entirely blamed either, it’s not her fault she had all the charisma and crowd savviness of a wet cardboard box – the AGA hired her! If that’s the best the AGA can do, the venue that started it all in downtown has fallen far further in relative status as a central destination than I could’ve possibly expected.vii

In any event, I’ll be declining future invitations to Refinery parties, of that there can be little doubt. Where once the AGA hosted the hottest parties in downtown Edmonton, with the new arena and attendant construction projects bringing new life to the core, the competition is simply too stiff for me to waste any more of my youth on such soulless, dead-as-a-doornail gatherings. Sorry for your loss.viii

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  1. Submitted to the AGA via their waaay-too-long surveymonkey but I was already going to write my thoughts here anyways so I figured I’d give them the courtesy of a direct cc’ing because a) it’s the considerate thing to do, and b) they can’t pretend they didn’t know their whole themed art party schtick was in such a sorry state of disrepair now. Win-win!
  2. I went to a couple of them early on, probably 5-6 years ago now.
  3. Including yours truly! I was even enticed to buy a membership to the AGA so that I could buy pre-sale tickets, an expense that I readily recouped, such was the popularity of and demand for those early Refinery Parties. Today, the AGA itself has put scalper out of business, charging fully twice what they did initially. 12% inflation FTL!!1
  4. TBH the costumes were way more overdone than I’d expected. I showed up dressed not in a costume just… dressed well. There’s no bringing back the college-era glory days for me so I largely don’t bother with Halloween these days, not that I have 10+ hours to sink into a costume anyways given that, y’know, my time is actually worth something.
  5. Elan if you will.
  6. There was an easy 450+ in the building.
  7. Waiwut ? Little Naive Pete honestly expected to have fun where half a decade prior he’d had some memorable evenings… Ha! In computer times, where fashions come and go like so many pop pulp fictions (shades of gray anyone?), this is akin to trying to have a good time in Africa however many millennia after your ancestors left the godforsaken sandhole. And yet a show no more exciting than a package of frozen vegetables “sold out.” I should’ve guessed that the ship had sailed by the fact that tickets were still readily available just a couple of days before the event. After all, the math on this is simple :

    No scarcity = no cool kids = no fun = no profit.

    Just as Twitter is now selling for a bag of doritos and a sweaty handshake, so too will the AGA, which is already living hand to mouth, and it won’t be long before the populist “experiment” in the elitist tradition that is art finds itself on the chopping block and the leaky Randall Stout design makes for a fetching private residence for an esteemed citizen.

  8. SFYL yo.

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