Party like it’s 1999: The Shift "State of the Net" party, part 1

The annual Shift magazine “State of the Net” party took place last night at The Guvernment, a large warehouse dance club complex by the lake, just east of Accordion City’s downtown core.

(Yeah, I know, silly name. There’s sillier: the part of the complex where they hold concerts is called Kool Haus.)

Our cab pulled up to the entrance at about 10 o’clock. The word amongst the club kids was that the Guvernment has spent dump trucks of money on renovations, and it was readily apparent from the outside. The facade had a fancy new paint job and they’d installed a large number of spotlights and a some kind of projection lighting system that flashed a kaleidoscope of Shift magazine logos on the club’s east wall. The place looked like a scene from a movie or a beer commercial; they’d certainly put a lot of effort into the part of a club that people ignore before they get in and are to drunk to notice when they leave.

There must be a fashion magazine — or perhaps a cloning facility — for bouncers. They’re starting to look alike. If you’ve been to a club lately, you probably know the look: a barrel-chested build, hair either very close-cropped or cleanly shaven off, goatee or van dyke beard, black boots, black pants, black jacket and either a black or white shirt. If it’s cold out, they throw on either a black baseball cap or black toque. With the advent of cheap two-way radios, many of them sport those earpiece/microphone combos, which makes them look like paramilitary operatives from an action film.

A line about thirty people deep were presenting their paper invitations to one of the bouncers. I’d signed me and my guests onto the guest list online, so I had no such paper. No problem, I thought, they probably have list of signed-up guests printed out.

I walked up to one of the bouncers.

“I’m on the –” I started before the bouncer interrupted.

“I believe you. You and your friends can come on in.”

This was unusual for a Shift party. During the heyday of the dot-com boom, they took great pains to keep the uninvited out and I had to take great pains to secure enough invitations for me and my friends. Even during the recent 10th anniversary party only a couple of months ago, you couldn’t get in without an invitation.

“You’re not going to check the list?” I said. This would’ve been a dumb move had I not been on the list — asking the gatekeeper to double check my bona fides after I’d scammed my way in — but I was a legitimate guest and had nothing to worry about.

“No. If you’re not on the list and you show up with that,” he said, pointing to the accordion, “I figure you’ll be thrown out pretty quick. Get in.”

Very well, then.

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