Digital DUMBO Drinks #7, 76 Front Street, Brooklyn
July 30, 2009
How about this humidity, huh? Wooo doggy, I think I lost 10 lbs just writing that. I prefer this to snow though, and I kind of like the visceral ooze of just perspiring uncontrollably. It's as if all the toxins are making a mad dash for the pore door. Walking to work from my East Village apartment rendered me almost transparent by the time I got to my desk. Everything and everyone smelled like an 8th grade locker room after basketball practice. And guess what? I've become "early girl" for some reason. Maybe it's the heat, but once again I was 30 minutes early to last night's event -- DigitalDUMBO #7 ---or, as I like to call it, "Group Schvitz."
I love my monthly forced escape from Manhattan. I'm noticing more and more Manhattanites making it to DigitalDUMBO which speaks to its success as a laidback good-vibing professional networking event. That's right, I said professional networking. Under those jeans, in those tattered Converse, and through that messy floopy hair, we're all professionals whether we want to be grownups or not.
I arrived at the location of 76 Front Street and didn't know I was there. I thought I had forgotten to write down the name of the place. Luckily, I recognized the looming silhouette of Matthew Caldecutt of Trylon PR blocking the setting sun from Jocelyn Borgner, job hunting publicist and almost birthday girl, while Jenean Chapman of Agent16 feverishly thumbed her phone. Not a rotary phone, in case you were unsure. All three looked cranky and reported the missing link of the evening: air conditioning. Oh lord. I peered in through the glass and saw beer being shuttled in and splooshed into buckets of ice -- where early digitalDUMBO guests were already hovering. From my outdoor, above-ground vantage point, the venue looked basement-cool: lots of cement with huge columns supporting the floor above. However, from my vantage point I could also see the telltale glistening foreheads of the people inside. Big hearty gulp -- and in I went.
Kristin Maverick was flitting back and forth in her seersucker smock, sporadically poking at her iPhone while Chrysanthe Tenentes, community coordinator at outside.in, coordinated the community. On one of her final days as Director of Communications at Carrot Creative (she's heading to AttentionPR and they are lucky to have her, she works her butt off), Kristin was lugging boxes of beer from building to building -- sort of like reverse hazing.
While developing a bathroom strategy with Josh Sternberg of Sternberg Strategic Communications, I caught a smiling blond in my peripheral crosshairs. Danielle Nuzzo, formerly of Porter Novelli and currently Digital Publicist at 360i, had arrived with her boyfriend, Jason. The place was packed with lots of Laras: Lara Lebeiko, fellow Ohio gal, bike shop rat, and smartypants mobile nerd (and excellent writer) for hire was on the opposite side of the room of Lara DeSignor, Account Exec at Dogmatic,Inc, who was sporting a very serious croc-on-croc belt and sharing some space with Anthony Kraus, owner of Noisy Neighbor Productions.
Right inside the door, I was surprised to find Joe Ciarallo wearing his Horn PR hat talking DUMBO chocolates and icecream with Arun Krishnan, VP, Marketing for Pontiflex. Rob Blatt of the only-slightly- sometimes-potentially-offensive-but-not-really-so-just-laugh podcast "Put it in your ears" was also there AND he was excited to share that he just landed a studio in Vinegar Hill. If anyone has a little Vinegar Hill history (nomenclature and all that), please share!
I think the event organizers made an unfortunate discovery last night. And that is that a panel might not be the best format for DigitalDUMBO. So far each previous gathering has been a super fun chilled out cocktail chatterfest, and that formula gelled. Sure they've thrown in a presentation or two before, like the attention- nabbing HUGE slideshow, but the yawning space was an echo multiplication factory that, when coupled with everyone talking and laughing, made it really hard to hear the panelists. And that inspired the auburn-coiffed TuneCore founder and CEO Jeff Price to go all Mr. Belding by yelling at the burbling crowd to keep it down for the 200 other people trying to listen to the panel. He concluded his knuckle-rapping scold fest with "That's right, I'm the a**hole here today."
So, I'm conflicted here. On one hand, we're all adults, so it's no secret that when featured guests (one of whom graciously supplied the free bevvies) are presenting, it's important to be respectful and give them our attention. On the other, "I don't need to be talked to like that" side (btw, I was at the front, quietly taking notes and sipping my ice cold can of PBR), it's probably not a good idea to yell at a really loyal group to shut up or leave -- because the amount of guests was more than halved after the tirade. And that sucked, because it probably impacted the World Record we were trying to achieve of "The Most Photos Taken At A Party And Posted To Twitter In An Hour" (thanks Universal Records Database dudes!). You see my conflict. On the one hand, yeah, keep it down, on the other hand, everyone was hot and enjoying the opportunity to catch up and cool off with some drinks and adorable little cupcakes, which is to me 90.97349% the value of coming to these things.
Other delightful people I played with were Nater Kane of NOM, Karen Ram of DiGenarro Communications, Mico "I ride my bike to Bay Ridge" Mercer or LaunchSquad, Blond Rebecca, who does Marketing Research, and a petite dog.
I'd say this was one tiny hiccup, and dare I say, growing pain in what I know will be a long path of awesome. As always, I'm looking forward to the next one. Thanks to all involved for giving me something to write about (smiling!).
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Oh and the headline today? Blatt and I were talking about how it smelled like someone's basement after a rousing cool down session post Dungeons & Dragons. He laughed, "...smells like nerrrrrd."