The bartenders bar is worldwide institution.
One day a year, nearly every city throws the party for the pros,
those that can drink enough to kill a man. A year's worth of party
favors in pocket, Bartenders blitz themselves while designated drivers
and taxi’s wait outside. Most major cities add to the fun
by giving their bartenders the opportunity to express themselves.
The "Best Booth" is a coveted honor . . . I can’t
seem to win. But I will tell you what I can do, leave an impression
no one can forget.
I love the bartender’s ball. I seldom get
the opportunity to show off in front of that many potential clients
at the same time. This year I designed the booth for the Alleycat
and Pravda. The theme was TV land. Unfortunately my client seldom
lets me stick to the theme. They are more interested in impressing
the guest. How do you impress bartenders and guests? The professional
drinker and bar owner isn’t impressed with excessive expense.
Unnecessarily spending on a booth means expensive drinks and amateur
nights. What they are impressed with is style and creativity within
is Charlotte’s only ice bar; the chill zone of Charlotte’s
most famous dance club, the Forum. Literally meaning “Truth,”
Pravda is a reference to the infamous Russian newspaper of the Communist
party. So we decided to go Siberian. Huskies and the snow man aside
we had to make a statement without being cheesy. We decided to use
an ice bar as a center piece uplit in bright color changing LED’s.
It was a great choice but everyone has seen an ice bar these days.
In fact, the bartender’s ball had at least a half dozen. We
had to improve the delivery to get the impact we wanted. So we created
In a crowded room full of booths, venders will
try about anything to get noticed. Although this next trick is used
at almost every major event from sports to concerts, most bar owners
overlook the obvious for the bartender’s ball: sky trackers.
Taking it to the next level, we used two moving heads with custom
gobos to scan the ceiling above in pure white light. The prism of
snow flake gobos swirled overhead bringing attention to the bar.
As an extra step, we added a literal effect: snow machines. These
bad boys filled the 16 feet of ceiling overhead with gently falling
snow for 20 seconds every 5 minutes. If they didn’t notice
the snowflake gobos, they noticed the snow. A much bigger success
than anticipated, the snow machines created a buzz unrivaled at
the bartenders’ ball.
the movers, the snow machines, and the ice bar, we had a recipe
for Siberian success. Now we needed packaging. Erin Olsovky created
a 12x10 shimmering white curtain to put behind the booth which I
promptly uplit with 10 LED cove fixtures. The color changing LEDs
sparkled with baby blue flicks over a rich blue landscape. A snow
bank of Buffalo Snow was placed in front of the cove fixtures, concealing
the mysterious origin of the blue hues. The snow bank was extended
around the ice bar and base of the two truss towers holding the
moving lights. The Buffalo Snow covered all the myth busters: drain
pans for the ice sculpture, power cables, base plates, wireless
DMX receivers, etc. Moving from the ground, we wrapped the truss
towers in flocked garland. To hang the snow machines, we created
a goalie post out of 1 ½” schedule 40 pipe on 50lb
base plates. The goalie system was approximately 10’ x 10.’
Nesting both snow machines and 4 Par 30s, the wiring disappeared
under the garland wrapped around the poles.
Nearly perfect, the scene is missing the key ingredient:
the bartenders. Dara and Jackie, Pravda’s hottest bartenders,
gracefully worked our booth. Lined with polar white fur, their tastefully
exposed skin teased the guest as they approached the bar. All this
planning and alluring was to gratefully serve a deserving patron
a single shot of vodka on ice. Like a fine martini, Pravda’s
booth demonstrated balance, confidence, and class.
Now to the polar opposite side of
the room, we set the Alleycat on fire. I decided to create contrast
in order to bring more attention to both booths. The Alleycat is
a fusion venue melding live music, food, and DJs. With more bar
space per square foot than any bar in Charlotte, the Alleycat brings
rock & roll to downtown. Pushing the envelope of the dance club
and the live music venue, the Alleycat is creating a unique path
through Charlotte’s nightlife. We needed a booth to state
we need to attract the guest's attention. Two TV’s with video
advertisements for their new Wii gaming night were anchored to a
goalie system built from 12” box truss. Above the TV’s,
three enfernos simulated massive flames. In front of the bar, two
scanners atop of 8’ box truss scanned the room, again advertising
for their Wii Sin Night on Mondays. Spinning out of control the
dominate yellow light from the movers contrasted against the red
water effects oozing like hot lava across the back wall, stretching
up into the ceiling behind the booth.
At the base of each truss surrounding the bar,
a Chauvet Colorado 1 pushed fiery flicks of yellow orange and red.
Expanding from the truss bars abstract shadows danced on the ceiling
overhead. The warm hues and the dance of light created a height
and depth unmatched at the ball. The bar itself was made of solid
wood with rectangular stretches of Lycra concealing LED fixtures.
The color changing panels mimicked the lighting effects of the surrounding
fire towers. Traditional and sturdy, the bar could easily hold anyone
who wished to stand a top and dance.
final touches carried this bar to the final levels of rock and roll
hell. Two giant subwoofers were used as dance boxes to host charlotte’s
hottest go-go dancers (GoGirl! Entertainment). Splitting it, ripping
it, and shaking it. These girls mesmerized every man and woman in
the building. Just before the guest went blind, three of the Alleycat’s
vixens offer them a drink on the house. Of course every drink at
the Bartenders Ball is free but with this kind of presentation who
wouldn’t be grateful. Guys could barely speak when finally
making it through the lines to get their favorite elixir.
Everyone thought Pravda would win but alas I didn’t
even notice the booth that actually did win. The judges hated the
Alleycat’s booth, and then they had the audacity to ask for
theme relevance. I say the theme is f*** the theme this is rock
and roll b****. I may not have won the competition but I sure got
noticed competing. By the end of the event, everyone that mattered
noticed. The contrast between the booths captured everyone’s
attention. No patron left without the Alleycat and Pravda stuck
in their mind, and no bar owner left without wondering if they need
to upgrade the lighting in their bar. Everybody wins! Now that's
what I call that a cold day in hell.