Saturday, September 27, 2008

How It Went Last Night

I really, really enjoyed getting out and watching the debates. It was so much less lonely than watching them just by myself or with G. Politics is so much more fun when in a group. It was great fun to hear the laughter, groaning, or "what did he just say?!" type comments rush through the crowd.

It was a smallish crowd, but a crowd nonetheless. Maybe 18 or 20 other folks. The restaurant was not very conducive to mingling, however. There was the U-shaped bar that was very large and took up most of the room, and then several booths on one side (the far side from the door). When I arrived, all but one of the booths were filled with small groups of folks who had come together. The booth side of the bar (again, that would be the far side of the bar) was also filled with people who appeared to be present in pairs or small groups. Near the arched part of the "U" there were four or five folks standing and chatting, and after I sat down they went over to one of the booths. I would have had to "pardon me" my way through them to get to the other side of the bar. That wasn't very motivating because what would I have actually done once over there? Everyone seemed to have arrived there with people they knew, and were sitting and in conversation with one another. I couldn't even tell who was actually there for the party and who was just there as a patron of the bar.

I couldn't think of a comfortable way to break into conversation. It just didn't have a real "party" atmosphere, with folks mingling. I kept thinking of less shy people in my family and circle of friends, and wondering if they would have thought of a way to break through despite the lack of mingling. I hate being shy!

Anyway, I sat down on the side of the bar with open seats, next to a couple (the only people sitting on that side). They left about a half hour after the debate started. Apparently they were just patrons of the bar, not attendees of the event. A couple of guys sat down behind me and seemed to be watching the debate, but at some point before the end they changed over to the sports channel, so I am not sure they were there for the party either.

I took out my laptop only to find the battery was dead (I had wanted to charge it for an hour ahead of time, but had locked myself out of church just an hour before-- long story-- and that developed into its own issue, so I wasn't able to get to an outlet on time). I had brought along my electrical cord, but couldn't spot a place to plug it in. I ordered a drink and an appetizer and tried to sit sort of leaned back in my chair so it was obvious I was open for conversation. But people remained seated pretty much the whole party through. When the debate ended, I was hopeful that folks would start chatting and mingling, but if it happened, it wasn't during the time I was there. I stayed for a little while, but it was late and I was getting really, lots of folks got up and left.

I bet if the restaurant had provided a simple appetizer or two to party attendees, and circulated among the crowd with those, that would have really helped to make it more of a "party" atmosphere and therefore a good mingling atmosphere. Perhaps they would have had to close off the bar except to those attendees in that case, but that would have actually been better too because then there wouldn't have been the question of who was there for what reason. I certainly would have had an easier time overcoming my shyness if I knew that everyone was there for the party like I was.

In the future, I would want to come early so that I hopefully don't get seated out of where the party is going on. I definitely think I would bring my laptop, and maybe wear a campaign button (which no one seemed to be wearing last night?). Those seem like good visible signals of who is attending for the party. And now that I have an idea of what to expect, maybe I can think ahead of time about some good icebreakers to use with the people who will surely be sitting around me since I will be on the correct side of the bar LOL. Good icebreaker suggestions are certainly welcome!

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