28 Jan, 2013
A bit about Nature Nocturne
Posted by andrea tomkins in: Ottawa
ETA: Now with video!
On Friday night Mark and I went to check out the first Nature Nocturne event at the Museum of Nature. (Transparency alert: the Museum is a Fishbowl patron.)
Imagine a party, after hours, at a place you’ve been to dozens of times but with dancing, music, food, and oh, 2000 people. It puts a very familiar place (at least for many of us) into a whole new perspective, doesn’t it?
As Mark and I drove in we speculated WHO exactly would go to this kind of thing. Would it be:
- older folks who secretly want to check out a dance floor again, especially at a place they’ve been to a MILLION TIMES with their kids (but without the kids)
- younger folks who like to dance and see this as a unique addition to the club scene
Mark went with the former. Frankly, I had no idea what to expect. I thought it was a great idea, but would many other people want to see what a museum looks like after hours? And dance? On a wintery night in Ottawa?
We pulled up around 8:30 p.m. to see - SURPRISE - a few hundred people lined up outside the door. (The doors opened at 8:00.) I couldn’t believe my eyes. I didn’t expect THAT kind of crowd so early in the evening, especially given the weather.
It was bitterly cold outside. I hopped out while Mark circled for parking. To my joy and relief I realized that the line was to buy tickets, so, as a lucky ticket holder I got to bypass the line and scoot into the (relative) warmth of the foyer to wait for Mark.
I knew I was going to love Nature Nocturne. And I did. After all, what’s not to love about a grand ol’ building filled to the brim with music?
The music was fabulous, and it didn’t take long for the dance floor to fill up. The dancing took place in the “lantern” part of the building, right under the whale. We had a pretty good view of the action:
This was a prime people watching opportunity! I really enjoyed myself. And I even liked watching the people who were watching the people. :)
Here’s a snap I took right as the photographer fired his flash. Holy illumination batman!
Here’s Trish, one of the hoopers.
The hoopers and non-dancing bystanders were standing on the different levels of balconies overlooking the floor, watching the action below. The whole place was electric.
Just to put things into perspective, I should point out that us old folks were outnumbered 12 to 1. (A conservative estimate in my books.) Here we are! Make way for the old folks!
Speaking of old, this is one of my favourite tweets from the entire evening. (By the way, “OH” is textspeak for overheard.)
OH at #naturenocture “It’s kinda fun that there are random old people here. I can’t wait to be that person.”
— Chloé Fedio (@cfedio) January 26, 2013
As one of those “old people” I felt a little bit like Jane Goodall among the chimps, but it was all good. ;)
Speaking of tweets, the social media-related component of the evening was pretty cool. A huge screen displayed Tweets and Instagram pics that were tagged with #naturenocturne, and Museum staff were retweeting all night long. More events need to do this kind of thing. I thought it was pretty smart. Not only does this appeal to a very tech-friendly target market (I have never seen so many iPhones in one place before) but it created some great buzz.
Unfortunately, the event planners seemed to be caught under-prepared for the massive turnout. The lineups for drinks were long and there was some grumbling. There needed to be more places that served alcohol in the building, and more servers roaming the floor with trays of beverages.
I think part of the issue for some people was that there were multiple lines: one to get in, one for food and drink tickets, and another for the actual drinks, and this left many people - especially those who didn’t get there early enough - feeling impatient and out of sorts.
The food was a bit of a loss for me. It SOUNDED good. Fried mac and cheese balls? Cheeseburger spring rolls? Popcorn shrimp on spicy popcorn? The latter was what enticed me, but the shrimp was soggy and the whole thing (two servings in fact) went straight into the garbage. In hindsight I wonder what kind of foods could have been a better choice for munchy party-goers: Popcorn and candy floss? Hot dogs? BeaverTails? Hot beignets? They aren’t trendy or “cool” choices, but I think it would have worked.
I don’t think the food and drink availability will be an issue at future events. It’s the kind of thing that is easily remedied. I do hope that people go back, and that new people will check out the next Nature Nocturne coming up in February. It was a blast, and despite a few little speed bumps, I think the Museum of Nature is fast-tracking to the kind of event that’s totally world class.
Did you go? Would you go?
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