I was, to say the least, addled. Since my brain blew up ten years ago, I haven’t dealt very well with crowds, noise and non-stop sensory stimulation. So the last party of the last day of BlogHer’13, the Boombox B(l)oomers Party, is still a bit hazy.
In retrospect, I have to ask myself: what did you think you were going to?
If you’ve ever been to BlogHer (or any other conference of that size), then you know that the last party of the last day is meant to be the “hanging from the rafters” one. Was the Boombox Network, which is a social marketing agency, the first one actually, to broker relationships between midlife/Boomer bloggers and brands, looking to put on such a shindig?
The venue–the Catalyst Ranch–seemed to me to promise bales of hay and handsome cowboys. I was so deep into my Western fantasy that when the cab driver pulled up at an office building in the middle of Chicago, I thought surely we had the address wrong. But no, the Catalyst Ranch is actually a –well, it’s a meeting and event space in an historic downtown Chicago loft that offers a creative spin on the typical business venue. The five fully–and wackily–furnished rooms only added to my addle. Instead of being in a cowboy movie, I was an extra in a 50s romcom.
As I recall, the elevator was just lacking the ubiquitous white-gloved operator. And then I saw this, the Aquasana fresh infused water bar: I would like to think that if I lived at Downton Abbey, I would always drink water infused with fresh herbs. But I don’t and I don’t, although I do now occasionally as Aquasana gave me my own personal infusion bottle.
From there, I wandered into a large room with some seating areas typically placed at the perimeter and some tables and chairs untypically scattered around the room. I wasn’t sure what the latter was about, so I went to the former where a large handsome Frenchman (are there any other kind?), was holding court. I listened for a minute or two and poked around the material spread on the table in front of him. He was Francois Roland, author of Being French: A Frenchman’s Guide to a More Sensual Life, which only added to my confusion: why was he there? what was I supposed to say to him? When other midlife bloggers, clearly more conversant with the required conversation than I, came up to chat, I moved to the next table.
There Ruth Curran of Cranium Crunches was holding a digital scavenger hunt: find the different QR codes scattered throughout the Catalyst Ranch to earn points. Even addled that sounded like something I could do, so for the next half hour or so I rushed from room to room, flashing my iPhone at each QR code I saw. I didn’t think about why I was doing it, what the purpose was–in fact, I’m still not sure–I just wanted to get my points. And I did. Until there was a glitch in the software, all my points disappeared and I totally lost heart.
By now I needed to sit down, and over there in the corner was a lovely sofa and chairs. Ellen Dolgen came over to talk to me. About menopause. I thought it an odd party conversation. “I went through menopause so long ago, it’s just a vague memory,” I said. “But you must know other women who are going through it now,” she insisted, “a friend, a niece, a daughter, a cousin.” “Nope,” I answered. “No one at all. It was only much later that I realized that Ellen’s Menopause Mondays was a sponsor of the party; I had plopped myself down in her territory and that’s why I was getting the sales pitch. And much much later, I gave the Menopause Symptoms Chart I got to my niece, who is, as she confirmed now going through her own private heat wave.
Turns out, I totally missed the point of the party: to meet and greet with brands who were interested in creating relationships with the midlife blogging crowd. I thought The Wine Sisterhood were there just to show off their selection of wines (which I did enjoy). I also had a sample of Lake of Bays Brewing Rock Cut Baysville Lager. And I certainly more than sampled the Fat Boy Cookies. But it wasn’t until much later, much after the fact that I realized there were a lot of sponsors there that I totally missed.
Like Dropcam, who I wish I had talked to, and Foxcroft Blouses. I did say hi to the folks from Theraderm and Tracy in Suburbia--but I knew them already from another event. When I got home and went through my goodie bag, I found a stunning pillow cover from Gudrun Sjoden, who is known for Swedish design “with a green soul.” I never even knew she was there. And a trial kit of Murad’s Resurgence Youthful Skin Renewal–they were there too?
I am not normally so dense, but then I don’t normally spend my days on the go from one event to another as I did for the time I was in Chicago. I was, as I said, addled by the time I got to the Boombox party, and it has taken me till now figure it all out. So I apologize to the principals of Boombox Network and to the sponsors I missed.
Next year–if you invite me again next year, I promise I’ll know what I’m doing.