Monday, April 15, 2013

Rubbout 22 Review

Well, another Rubbout is mummified and stored away. Being Rubbout's biggest critic, here is my take on how everything went.

Planning this year ended up being a pretty lonely experience. I was feeling pretty low over the past month as the demands on my time and brain were incessant. I was also trying to juggle a new job and a technical writing course so as each deliverable was completed, I was breathing a bigger and bigger sigh of stress relief. I think the biggest problem I had was that a lot of the decisions I was making myself without any consultation or collective decision making, so I was feeling the weight of responsibility in everything I was doing. I have a hard time with criticism so knowing that if things were going to be falling into failure mode, the blame laid entirely on my shoulders. I didn't like this very much for something I am so passionate about and devoting a lot of my free time and energy to.

As we went into the weekend, I was a lot more mentally prepared than last year but I still found I went a bit stressballs when things were really out of control. I know I'm getting better at this with every Rubbout iteration but I still have a ways to go. All I have to say is that I was blown away how everyone that volunteered, everyone from Vancouver Men in Leather that attended, and Rob, Doug, Mitch and Marc all stepped up on the weekend to amazing heights to ensure our attendees and guests were well taken care of in all senses of the effort.

A large chunk of assistance I got leading up to the weekend was from my graphics and web assistants. Michael and Hans were more than generous with their time and talents getting the marketing materials, and the imagery and posters together. I got a lot of compliments from people about the design of Rubbout 22's poster, some even saying it was the best one yet. Michael seems pretty excited to work on the design stuff next year so one can only predict what we will come up with. Hans went above and beyond all my expectations. He was amazingly generous to let us use his images, then additionally he volunteered for me, helping out all weekend. He and Chris were my heroes at the Play Party, working gear check and front desk the entire night. Marc really went all out on the website the two weeks leading up to Rubbout and by the final week the website was looking content-rich and accurate(-ish?)! ;)

Everyone seemed blown away with what was capable at Pumpjack on Friday evening with a few lights, a hazer and a great DJ (Taffi Louis) playing on a new podium that made him much more accessible to the crowd. There was even some dancing going on, holy shit! The back rooms were apparently quite busy but I heard from a few that the rooms were freezing cold (it was also quite a cold evening and the back doors in those rooms are paper-thin), and that the lineups were ridiculously long.

That was (and is always) my big issue with Pumpjack. My biggest concern about Friday night was that we were going to have untenable lineups outside the door. The reason why I suggested a club invasion later in the night was designed to provide a stress release to the lineups...if we could get 10 or 20 rubbermen to head out to a club at 11:30, it would release 10 or 20 into Pumpjack. As it turned out, the lineups started around 10pm and at the most were an hour or so long. At 11:00 however, the lines had pretty much died down, the party inside was still going strong so I made the decision not to go ahead with the club crawl as that would have just drawn down the vibe of the crowd at the party in progress.

The capacity of Pumpjack is simply getting too small to handle what we want to do with Rubbout now, and with what happened this year, my thoughts are confirmed. I think next year we are going to get the "Greet the Meat" Friday night party - if that's the format we take - into a bigger venue. 150-175 would be a perfect capacity, I think. The Registration and Package pickup still seems to work very well at Pumpjack. I would love to team up with Vancouver Men in Leather again next year to do the Friday night party, as their group brings a great dynamic and welcoming sluttiness to the entire event! ;)

Things died down at Pumpjack around 1:30am.

Shameless rubber whore!
It was great to get into bed at 2:30 or so then get up at 9:30 to go pick up bondage furniture and devices and drop them off at the Red Door before heading to the Gear Swap and Puppy Party for the afternoon. I got down to Davie Village just before two; I stopped in at Junction briefly to see how the set up for the Puppy Play Party was going before heading to Pumpjack to see how the Gear Swap was progressing. Things were busy but not busy enough. I did some raffle ticket selling, visiting with a few people and the volunteers, and then went back over to Junction. The Pups were just starting to Romp after 2pm, so I took a few moments to sell tickets there, make up a placard and head back to Pumpjack. It was busier in both places now; I donned my black hood and gloves (I was already in my catsuit), and walked up and down Davie Street in the Village. I did this again at 4pm; I'm not sure if it did numbers any big boost at either venue but it was a hoot for me to traipse around the village in head-to-toe latex. Several people I know, once they recognized me, had to stop me to talk or take pictures. A lot of passersby were certainly intrigued and now know that Rubbout was going on this weekend.

Doug was continuing to sell additional weekend passes and Saturday night play party passes way beyond our original capacity plans and that worried me a bit since I had collectively agreed with the owners of the Red Door of numbers around 100 attendees and we were already upwards of 130 in sales. I asked Doug to stop sales but requests kept coming in. We had a bit of a disagreement on how to proceed; I felt bad at the time telling guys that we had no tickets left to sell but they could try at the Red Door door at 10pm, when as it turned out, the Red Door could have held 150 guys comfortably. We could have sold more tickets though we had some door sales but we didn't have to turn guys away as we did, so misfortune for this year becomes fortune for next year. This is good to know for capacity planning and ticket pricing next year. I would rather fill the place with 150 guys at $20 a piece rather than under-utilize capacity at $40 a piece. Good to know for next year. I already discussed this with the owners of the Red Door and considered renegotiating pricing structure and accessibility so I guess we'll see which businesses are still around and which one's pop up in the next 10-11 months or so.

We did an interview with Outlook TV/OutTV at 5pm in both venues. This will be coming up on Cable Access in Vancouver (on Shaw) and also nationally in a weekly events segment on OutTV!

Pupwalk 2013 (to the Puppy Play Party from the host hotel)
I helped the guys at the Gear Swap wrap things up. I got to talk to our lone retailer at the Gear Swap, Lori from Ware's and Wears/ and she said she was very happy with how things went that afternoon. I am not sure what that means about interest to return to Rubbout as a retailer again next year but we'll see what happens. I got home around 6:30, just in time to pack bags, change clothes and head over to the Red Door to set up. As the setup crew got there, we discovered that the place was so unprepared to receive guests we had our work cut out for us. The place is six weeks overdue of their opening date, and it seemed that there was still a long way to go as we got there we discovered that construction materials and sawdust had to still be cleared out of the main playroom, none of the rooms were properly set up with mattresses and sheets, the electrician who had been scheduled to finish tooling in all the electrical hadn't shown up so we only had random power in random sections of the facility. There were also not many lights piped in (which we had to string and hang from working outlets) and no TV monitors. At 8pm we were still not even close to being ready to go, so some of the early arrivals (as you would expect, mostly the slutty VML guys ;)) all chipped in and we had the place relatively functional by 9pm or so and fully put together by 10:15. I had to take a break to de-stress and eat and got back around 11 to discover that the party had just peaked, my volunteers were manning the entry door and bag check and there were still a lot of guys having sex and playing in the playrooms we had set up. Some counts had total numbers through the door at around 110 though I think that's probably pretty generous, but even then if it was 90 I think it was still good. As it turned out, there were lots of glitches but everyone was generally happy with the experiences they had there.

I got back to the party, did a bit of cleanup on the electrical and vacuum manifold hack job, checked out the bondage harness play going on in the back room, watched a bit of the lube wrestling competition in the watersports area, then got asked if I wanted to get fisted, which of course was an offer I'd never pass up! After that the numbers had quieted down but there were still a group of guys playing with the vac-equipment, sex was going on in the main playroom, and Mr. P was in a cocksucking circle that I gladly joined. Slurp! The last guys left around 1:45am, we got out of there at 2, went home where I tried out my new catsuit that I bought at the gear swap, played with Mr. P for awhile longer and crashed out around 3:30.

So, obviously there were some issues with the Red Door, which I basically wrote up to 'shit happens', and the owners were apologetic enough. It didn't seem to kill the vibe that much and everyone seems happy with the outcome. I am still amazed how everyone pulled together to get the place set up. It was overwhelming to see everyone just pitch in, take control, problem solve, and just get things done. People at the door when they arrived were basically asked to either help out or to come back in an hour when everything was done and most if not all decided on the former option. There were other issues; towel service was missing until late into the evening, we ran out of beverages, and had we known how things were going to unfold, I would've brought in some beer even though it most likely have been an issue for the owners though I think it would have placated the guys who showed up early and stood around waiting for set up to be done so things could start. There were a lot of toys and extras I wanted to hand out for use that never happened due to the fact I was setting up two hours longer than I had originally planned, but luckily a lot of the guys brought their own stuff and just started using it and getting the party started as soon as they arrived. The vac room was well used and attended, a lot of the rooms where there were slings were well visited as was the St. Andrews cross area, the suspension harness area and the lube wrestling/shower room. I paid a bunch of money to rent a bondage chair, stocks and fisting bench and none of these got the use I would've liked so that will probably be revisited for next year. Maybe it was just me that really wanted to try out the bondage chair? ;)

DJ Richard Priest blew us all away with his playlist throughout the evening and everyone was completely satisfied (as was I) with the ambience created with a real DJ in the space as opposed to canned music in the rooms...which most likely wouldn't have been fully functional anyways!

Sunday morning was the traditional brunch and prize draws. The food and staff at Junction were great, the event went pretty flawlessly. We like this event and will probably stay at Junction next year. A reminder for myself next year: post the food service times and times for the draws. Some people showed up late expecting to eat when unfortunately we were already going into prize draws and the food was gone. Food is always served first around 11:30 and has been the routine every year so people who attend regularly know this but newbies don't. FYI...everyone is supposed to show up on time!

So, beyond the relatively small glitches everyone was raving about the quality of the event and things like the new twist on old tired themes like what we did to spruce up Pumpjack. Everyone was also very satisfied with the proximity of all the venues. I think most would say they got good value for the price of the passes; I personally think we had the price set too high on the one-off events, but that is something that was a huge unknown when decisions and commitments needed to be made so of course I erred on the side of caution.

It looks like my gamble may have paid off. We made a record amount of money at the gear swap (so at this point it looks like having the gear swap when out-of-towners can participate is a good thing), and we made a great amount of money through pass and ticket sales. I am hoping there is enough to pad the coffers enough to give us a healthy amount of money to use when venue shopping for next year. I guess we will see what happens. I am also curious to see what numbers were like at the host hotels and what we might get in commissions from those agreements. I am not sure how effective the advertising and marketing tools were, there were lots of clicks and impressions with the Facebook ads but it will be impossible to see how that translated in sales unless we get some indication through a survey down the road. I'm blown away by the interest in the event from the Seattle and Portland guys. It almost seems that the numbers were even between Canadians and Americans at the event this year. Thanks for coming guys!

It would have been nicer to have more 'knowns' when it came to capacities and pricing but that is just some of the adversity that needs to be dealt with as a production planner. I'm happy with the interest that was garnered from people that want to run with sponsorships and product placement...I have one guy super-keen on connecting us with a lube sponsor, another that wants to exclusively work on a more long-term sponsorship deal with Recon, and another that wants help us establish closer connections to local fetish retailers than I have been able to achieve to date, so we'll see how everything turns out!

I'm happy with the attendance numbers, feedback so far, and the results of the weekend. Are you? I'd like to hear from you! I'm looking forward to seeing pics from the weekend :)


Anonymous said...

You know you realy have written up another great newsletter about Rubbout! I am unfortunately probably never going to be lucky enough to attend one in teh near future but I feel that close to you I can see what happens through your eyes alone.I missout on things like this due solely to my own lack of financial evidence(ie money).But hey.....?
it sounds like you have gotten much more out of this than you ever expected and thats also a great thing, meeting up with new guys, making them realise there is much more to having a kinship with others of our ilk.(if im using oldtime words tell me?) , brilliant time matey brilliant and i bet you get more feedback, or at least I hope you do.
Good luck on your next venture!!

LongShot said...

I have to say... I had a great time. Even though the Red Door was not on schedule with the renos. I feel that Rubbout 22 was a success.

Thank you for your hard work and time into making this happen.


Nrthwnd said...

It was great this year, this Rubbout! Firstm I was surprised how much the Pumpjack could still be a big rubber party for us, even with no "set aside time" like the prev.year. Second I enjoyed the playparty more than I anticipated, even though I did leave after an hour or so (heavy rubbergear DOES heat up, eventually). Great time at the Gear sale and Puppy Play too. So CONGRATS on another successful Rubbout. See you at #23!