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Looptopia: The All Night Party That Wasn't

By Jocelyn Geboy in Arts & Entertainment on May 12, 2007 10:39PM

The night started out fine, except for the weather. We've been running into that a bit lately -- beautiful summer-like days, until we really need to be outside. Then it's fall/winter all over again. But we were not going to be stopped. We went to the press room to get our credentials for the night, stopping briefly to eat a piece of deep-dish and getting recruited to break ranks and do double duty, live blogging for NBC5. With stomach full and brain abuzz, we grabbed our trusty scooter and set out.

We were thinking that Looptopia really didn't do a very good job at getting the word out about the event. That they didn't really utilitze the ad space on the CTA very well or that we hadn't really heard many people talking about it. When we'd mention it to our friends, they had no idea what we were talking about. We later realized this may have been an intentional blunder or perhaps a happy accident after all.

2007_05ouch.jpgWe stumbled upon the sample tables over at Blick Art Supplies after just missing the show by jumprope artist Rope Warrior. We really wanted to make our own mini painting, but we didn't have the time or the space to carry around a wet canvas. Chicagoist had previously signed up for Mark Smithivas' text message updates and swung by the rooftop party at the Plymouth restaurant. That rooftop rocks. A view of the library and the L? Sweet.

Follow us after the jump to hear about the disintegration of Looptopia and how we got minorly injured* ...

We passed by a Redmoon installation on our way to see Chemically Imbalanced, but there was a man who looked like he belonged at a Jimmy Buffet concert loudly telling us that the show was sold out. This was our first omen that things were going to start heading south. That there were too many people for too small of a space(s). At this point it was no matter, for we had to go to the bathroom (we literally had to spare someone a square) and it was good to thaw out some.

Plus, there were only two things we absolutely had to see, and they were Mucca Pazza and TJ and Dave. We have missed Mucca Pazza's performances more times than we can count, and since we are such a horn whore (see if I can say that at NBC5!), we just knew we'd fall in love. And so we did. They are amazing, this "circus punk marching band." Just great. We can absolutely do without Fleetwood Mac's "Tusk," but this band sure knows how to bring the rock. Or something. It doesn't matter. We loved them. It's sort of one of those you kind of have to be there things.

2007_05mucca.jpgIt was off to see TJ (Jagodowski) and Dave (Pasquesi). We knew this was going to be a packed house from moment one. They are amazing improvisers and sell out shows at iO all the time. The foreshadowing of what was to come increased as we went to scope out the scene at the theater where they were going to be performing and found an overflowing crowd that was barely being managed. They were there to see Punch and Judy? They were there to see TJ and Dave? It was hard to tell, and we were glad to have press passes that secured us a seat for their show at midnight (it was only 10:15 p.m.).

When we got out of the show (which referenced TMBG, Tories and Whigs, fratricide, and the intimacy of sharing sandwiches in bed), we got a text saying that everyone was being kicked out of the Cultural Center and that it was chaos. ?? Not by our count, but what was going on? As we walked out the door, a police officer had people lined up outside and was only letting people in as people walked out. It hadn't seemed like there was too many people in there, but there had been people trying to get into TJ and Dave's show through what seemed to be an unmanned side door before the start of the show.

Things started to unfold rapidly after that. The air took on a ... mischievous bordering on rowdy (would it be riotous?) vibe. Dance parties had only been scheduled until 1 a.m. and now things were starting to be closed down. At one point, we were not allowed to walk north of Washington Street on Michigan Avenue. Billed as the first all-night event of its kind in America, how on earth did the organizers not plan for an all-night event? How do you advertise that the North Garden of the Art Institute and Millenium Park will be open all night and then start turning people away? How is it possible that we actually heard someone over a bullhorn tell people at the corner of Randolph and Wabash to "Go home!! Disperse!!??""

2007_05crowdloop.jpgIt seemed counterintuitive to have an all-night celebration of the Loop and not have the Brown Line running all night -- especially when you already have a dissatisfied CTA clientele. To have what seemed like poor publicity, yet not have venues big enough to hold the crowds that came to see the exhibits and performances. To boast of an all-night celebration that left the Loop desolate and under strict police supervision from 2 a.m. until 4 a.m., save for some rowdy, drunken stragglers.

Earlier in the day, we silently speculated that this was probably a showcase event to show the world that we could host the Olympics; that we were cultured and worldly and were capable of throwing a snazzy event just like those Europeans. Oops. This is a perfect example of why some of us Chicagoistas are hatin' on the idea. This was a piss poor showing for sure. We don't have the infrastructure, the knowledge or the manpower (prior to the event, the Looptopia website wouldn't pull up properly most of the time). If we can't pull off a one night event in a small area with people who all speak the same language, what in hell is Chicago going to look like with hundreds of thousands of people throughout the city from all over the world? (Although, they'll probably behave better than some people did last night.)

This event was pretty cool at the beginning, had a lot of potential, but ended up falling flat on its face. Unfortunately, it ends up saying a lot about Chicago's ability to handle events on a much grander scale. Haters -- 1, Olympics -- 0.

*Don't ride your scooter in the dark. We missed a divot in the road, and took a spill. We are a little worse for the wear today.

Photos by author:
Top right: Injury on left knee from fall off scooter in middle of Wabash at Monroe.
Middle left: Mucca Pazza at Daley Plaza.
Bottom right: Crowd lined up outside Cultural Center.