Space, the final front-ear etc..
Time’s not the problem, it’s money!
Or how to stop hopelessly hemorrhaging my precious and limited supplies of the greeny bluey browny pocket-candy.. Please send any suggestions on a stamped and addressed brick to the Vantaa Airport R-Kioski shoppe..
Why the discontent CiH? Will there be an explanation, oh surely, yes there will!
It’s 17.30, the 22nd October, and another Alt Party opens its doors. There are lots of live performances promised tonight, and apart from the sound of something 8-bit being tortured slowly over an open fire further down the hall, the general ambiance is right now, can we describe it thus, as restful….
Yea I think we can..
Anyway, the story so far.
The journey started off uneventfully enough, a sane o’clock start from the residence of the Felice translating into an uninterrupted journey and timely arrival at Gatwick airport with sufficient spare time to be able to set light to it and run away whilst claiming that someone else did the deed. The compulsory airport-based faff-around period was nicely filled with eating and browsing. I managed to browse both my extensive brunchtime selection and half of Felice’s thick meaty yummy leftover Spanish omelette into my stomach, so there are no complaints about the food from me. A single malt purchase of something amber-coloured and lovely for the afterparty from the World of Whisky premises nicely dealt with my remaining UKP and pence.
The first indication that the day was not going to go 100 percent to plan, comes when an airport employed vocal genius with a gift for making another completely different place name sound like ‘Helsinki’, disturbed our reverie about twenty minutes before the official gate opening time on the Gatwick announcing machine. Duly misinformed, we hied eagerly in the direction of our supposed departure gate, only to find a bunch of people wearing Mediterranean touristy facial expressions and clothing, completely contrasting with our Nordic climatic mode of being. After a little while, the pfennig dropped that we were not at all in the correct location. So cue some slightly panicked dashing back to the main terminal building, to get our re-orientation to the correct gate, and hopefully not miss the damn flight.
Anyway, we found the correct place, fortuitously, halfway back, joining the rear of the Helsinki bound throng. Squeezyjet was variously, busy, on time for departure, and I learned a whole new en-route skillset of being able to doze sitting bolt upright in an aisle seat that did not allow you to do much of anything else. Still, a painless flight, before the monetary pain taking place, once we landed,
Felice had a sensible idea to purchase tourist travel passes before we left the airport and took the airport bus to the city centre. For non-users of Helsinki, these are travel cards that are purchased pre-paid for a specified number of days and locations. In our case, we opted for a dual-zone (Helsinki and the outlying suburb where the airport is) for 36 euros. Felice duly received his and paid for it, I did the same and bundled what appeared to be the travel card enclosed in the instruction booklet. Upon closer examination after we had left the airport and were waiting at the bus stop, this turned out to be just the instruction booklet with no travel card.
Unfortunately, the option of going back to the Kioski branch to point out their error was not available, it being the most inaccessible branch of the whole R-Kioski chain in Finland, nicely screened by several layers of customs and security checks on the airside part of the airport!
So I won’t be able to get back there to register a complaint until the day we go back.
Subsequent inquiries with another R-Kioski branch at the central station, and the customer service office also located there didn’t really help. Which leaves a last chance to get the missing money back on the day of the return flight, or else putting up the very expensive instruction booklet up for auction on Ebay, with the sad story I’ve just described as a prominent part of the item description.
For accommodation, one of our usual options is travelling abroad exotically and expensively, so there is no stay at chez Wiztom this year. He’s taken Baggio with him. There are no other Dead Hackers, as they are on scene vacation and have no new demo this year. In fact there are very few non-Finnish faces at this early party state. (Well there’s another UK scener, Dotwaffle, a Sundown face, with a promise of Ne7 later on.) The live sound stage has had mournful Gregorian chants and sad violins checking their vibes before some kind of performance later, so we’re feeling a bit more diminished in mood than usual right now.
Anyway, so come back to accommodation, this year, not having Wiztom around and with no other suitable options, Felice has booked us into the very convenient and comfortable, but not exactly inexpensive Holiday Inn, nearby to the party place. This has the nice benefit of being able to ditch potential sleeping bag nightmares from our 2010 campaign travails. Also we are hoping to vastly cut down on the pointless unfocused random travelling around town in expensive taxis as well. The second financial error took place at the nicely appointed hotel reception desk, where we found out that we weren’t eligible for the special Alt Party discounted rate, so we’re paying £80-odd euro’s extra than expected for the accommodation as well.
So yeah, nearly 120 EUR down before the party even starts on the first evening, without really trying at all, like falling off a bridge, a tall bridge, falling through icy clouds, tensed up and waiting for that sudden jarring terminal impact. And just for the record, I’m not blaming anyone apart from our mutual misplaced optimism for the latter issue.
Mind you, Dotwaffle ran up a 47 eur(!) taxi bill from the airport to the very same hotel where we are. So it’s not just us that are suffering a “Not so easy to come, easy to go” financial glitch.
Well it’s 18.30 now, that’s a lot off my not inconsiderable chest in one go!
We just won one back! We finally bloody won one, yeah!
Shortly after the last batch of text glopped from fingers to keyboard, a text message shouting “FREE FOOD IN THE VIP AREA!” arrived from the direction of Felice. No known measuring instruments were able to properly record the me-shaped blur that followed on from receiving the text, apart from a split second reappearance on state of the art recording equipment near the entrance, when I slowed to turn towards the entrance before resuming warp speed.
I’m still not sure how this happened, but Felice was in the company of heavyweight sceners Sir Garbagetruck and Nosfe. One of the party organisers bade them all come inside the VIP area for a share of the expensively appointed nosh due to spare places being available. Felice passed the good news on from there to me. A momentary issue at the security checkpoint was resolved when Truck waved an organisers pass at them, and I was thusly joining the Alternative Party 2010 Space Dinner. A menu is included below for reasons of reflection and accurate party reporting, not to mention gloating purposes with some suitable foodie comments from me reviewing the different parts of the menu.
Apertif – Valiformosa Cava Brut.
(Sparkling Spanish Champagne, yum!)
Starter – Gazpacho shot
Salmon ceviche bread
Serrano ham and manchego cheese
Balsamico marinaded mushrooms and olives
Roasted Bell Pepper
Green rucola salad and vinaigrette
(The starter was the most substantial part of the meal, it was very easy to fill your plate from the selection there. At first I thought we had been invited in to partake of some of the leftovers, and that this was the one and only course. It only occurred to me that this was not the full meal once the main course was served.)
Main – Roasted chicken breast with chorizo beanpan and polenta.
(The overall texture was very pureed, apart from the chicken, so much of the meal was a bit like a thick soup. I guess this is the current odd fashion in haute cuisine, but there was nothing wrong with the taste or combination thereof.)
Dessert – Dark chocolate mousse cake with coffee or tea.
(My favourite bit of the whole meal, it was a close thing though, chocolate cake was om-nomtastic! I had left enough room for a second edition of this one.)
A selection of liqueurs, Cognac, (Felice forgot to get his, I got it and had it for him! What a thoughtful guy he is!) amaretto and creame liqueur were also on offer.
Also a selection of red and white wines served during the meal.
So it appears the bottom of that metaphorical long long fall, from the tall bridge mentioned a few paragraphs ago, is lined with delicious food and plenty of drink, to cushion a soft landing after all.
So yes, I’m in a very happy place right now. For the first time since arriving here. At last, Major brownie points fly out to Felice for being in the right place at the right time, and remembering to invite me to the party.
We’ve caught up on the following since our well-fed and lubricated return to the main hall. Nerve arriving with an STE, but without his still undelivered Firebee development board. Pity, we were looking forward to having a close-up guided tour of that. Marycloud, the lovely fragrant Marycloud who was pleased to see us. She has a pregnant cat in her household and was on her way back home. Which is pretty much a semi-permanent condition there as I recall.
Oh, and the opening ceremony included the Gregorian chanters and violins combined together with some spacey trancey visuals on the main screen These sounded a lot less mournful when combined together.
This year’s theme is ‘Space, the forgotten frontier‘. The arts and competitions are all space-age themed, and asking the question, “Why aren’t there massive rotating double-torus space stations in low Earth orbit by the year 2001?” and “Whatever happened to huge menacing big-box computers that threatened to cut off all your life-support half-way to Saturn?” On the other hand, I’m glad they aren’t asking about the unsurprising lack of popularity of food in pill form. Otherwise the VIP dinner we enjoyed earlier would have sucked mightily and been over a lot quicker if they had rigidly stuck to that part of the romantic retro-futuristic script!
Interlude(s) from Felice …..
(“What happened ? – Lainie Diamond, Dream A Little Dream”) – (“I dunno ?” – CiH, Alt Party 2010..)
The meal opportunity was all fair and above board, for a change. Basically I was in the middle of a conversation with Truck & Nosfe, during that Suvi (Beeta – head organiser) approached us and invited all 3 of us to the dinner as there were some free spaces left. I mentioned to Truck about CiH so was able to send the text which sent him towards us at warp speed, towards the VIP dinner area. What can I say about the dinner except – Yum !🙂 It was a seriously lovely meal with great wines too. Turns out Nosfe also appreciates good red wine and he was doing that with this one.
Viznut is sitting close to us, he is coding what looks like an entry for the demo compo on the C64. (Erm, Vic 20 actually – Ed.)
Felice over and out for now … may be back soon …..
21,58 – CiH back, mmmkay?
Did I mention chocolate mousse cake earlier? Nom nom nom! OMM NOM NOMM! (I guess I did.)
The party hall has a selection of retro arcade machines as in previous years. This year’s star turn is the original and best Williams Defender. I had a stab at ritual lame score humiliation along with everyone else having a go. It seems to play more sedately than I remember, but on the other hand, there are definitely way too many buttons and I am easier to confuse than back in the olden days.
01.29 – Saturday, and we’ve been a long time away.
After the food related excitement reported earlier, a few new developments have occurred over the last few hours, the live acts have played their stuff, Aavikko provided a Jarresque experience but with some unique twists specific to that artist.
There have been some people awaited who have now turned up, Pahartik, the short fella from Tampere arrived and unfurled himself on a table next to us, apparently unchanged from last year, as if he had been kept in storage from then until now? We also have Sundown attendees and UK sceners Ne7 and Glittermouse who hoved in on a late flight tonight, and they are setting up an exhibit in the arts display area, as fast as they can, speed being limited only by a late arrival and nocturnal bleariness.
Oh I forgot to mention, in accordance with the ‘space’ theme for this year, there is a amateur rocket society exhibiting, with some examples of pointy things that they have launched into the Finnish wild blue yonder. Evil me stops to consider what kinds of warhead and targetting systems you can fit to those babies! Also where they can be pointed. For some reason, an R-Kioski shoppe at Vantaa airport keeps drifting back into my mind (Evil grin!)
I seem to recall from an earlier conversation that a daytime meeting with Martin of the Q-Funk might be in the offing for tomorrow, erm, later today. It is on record and signed on a legally binding written contract that no wardrobe shifting to other countries is required this year. (See my Alt 2008 report for the full and gory details, whenever that one escapes to a publication somewhere!)
I’ve also been away from this text for another reason. Apart from the above happenings and arrivals, I’ve managed to kick out a completed article for whatever publication is interested, based on the different methods and experiences of sleeping, or not, at demo parties down the ages.
Put that together with this report, and the 90% finished Sundown party report, and I’d better get something on the TalkTalk 2 demo written, then we’re well on the way to sorting some submissions for the next issue of Low Res mag. I seem to remember a suggestion that they try to get an issue out in August, but that only remained a suggestion. Never mind, if I keep things going, then I can act all virtuous and productive the next time a release date is mentioned!
So summing up the first 24 hours of this latest visit. Mixed fortunes it is then, sucky to start with, but with a drastic change of luck later on which goes a long way to cancelling out the sucky part. Plus some nice people turned up who were expected, but seemed to take a while to get here, but they’re here now. Let’s see what the new day brings.
15.52 – A lot lot lot lot later that same day..
There have been not too many new adventures, and the ones that we had were filed under the category of pleasant and easily managed.
The blackout curtains in our hotel room were certainly effective at keeping light away, perhaps too much so, as a 10.30hrs alarm call was disbelieved by our still sleepy brains as the middle of darkness was still going on. Perhaps having Pahartik come back to our hotel room for an hour’s pleasant chat, reflection on the previous day and sharing out of peppermint liqueur didn’t help with the time confusion issue. It was around 04.00 when he returned to the party and we finally hit our comfortable sacks of rest.
Still we’re better off than Ne7, who chose to party-sleep for a bare hour underneath a collapsing art installation. When we found him again this afternoon, he was shaking and drooling. Glittermouse appears to be in much better shape, so probably did something sensible about her sleeping arrangements. I’ve also taken a tour of her art installation, including her trying to trace around something I wrote on being projected onto a screen, in spite of me wobbling, swaying and moving generally with a less than millimetric precision.
We managed to meet with the Q-Funk and his ladyfriend, the same one from last year, which is progress of a considerable sort. We repaired to a Thai restaurant in the nearby Ruoholahti centre and enjoyed a session of lunchtime spicy noodles and such. A slow trip back to the bar around the corner from the party place followed, with more caffeinated refreshments to wrap up. Right now, I’m sitting here and we’re in the period before any competitions properly kick off. Felice having gone back to the hotel to collect his gear and procure some alcohol flavoured liquids for the afterparty tomorrow evening. Finnish Alko booze places tend not to want to be open on Sundays, so a degree of forward planning is necessary.
A few random wanderings, and wonderings have grazed in the realtime graphics competition, somewhat flexibly removed from its original timescale. I guess this will set a pattern for the rest, with a start time for the main demo compo at 22.30 being optimistic to say the least.
Also there is a version of episode IV of Star Wars, Star Wars Uncut, which is a version of said famous late 20th century cultural event made up of the short clippings of hundreds of amateur versions of variable quality, but all somehow gelling together to still be able to tell the story. Yes, there is a web link, and an incentive for me to check it out properly when I’m back home.
I also take back my remarks about the Williams arcade cabinet Defender being gentle compared with how I remembered it. It isn’t super speedy for sure, but the difficulty level sure ramps up a lot after the first level. Very few people even manage to get to level 3 before it is all over in a cloud of glittery neon stardust and swarming mutants picking at the carcass of your disembowelled starfighter.
I managed it, once, late last night, whilst the expensive muscle relaxants I’d consumed from the VIP dinner were still taking effect.
I forgot to mention something else which happened from yesterday. The hotel is close to the main power station for Helsinki and we heard a continual low growling roar when we emerged into the world yesterday. At first we thought this was a jet flying very low and slowly, but a huge cloud of steam suffusing the air around the power station revealed the real reason for this racket.
We’re still not sure if this was part of their normal operations, or they were venting off steam as something had gone wrong. Still, the Alt party hasn’t been consumed in a massive boiler explosion, so I guess that one went well enough?
The reason for recalling this event, was because Nosfe was in the same locality, and decided to record the event with his mobycam, which then became the wildcompo entry ‘Power Noise'(!)
There have been a series of smaller competitions, nothing really outstanding just yet, and a talk on the origins and evolution of the demoscene from Marq of Fit who has written a thesis about it. He kindly interspersed the talking bits with a few choice demo showings to vary the presentation.
Obscure music competition, an idea which was revived from the 2000 Alt Party, where I had an entry. This time, I don’t think the platforms were that obscure, Amiga 500 Protracker and MSX soundchip?
C’mon, that’s just oldschool music and chip music. We made horrible noises on real random crap back in the day. I was using a prototype softsynth for the Atari Falcon, which had a sort of working control panel, random things which you could easily mess up with to require a swift exit and restart, and no means of keeping any patches or sequences that you made on the day, unless you recorded the sound output directly out as you created it. So with that and some comedy samples from Jody Smith, a one-time Maggie contributor and super cool media person clearly destined for greater things, I stitched together a totally obscure track from it. Other people managed to be even more obscure with some completely ‘analogue’ creations for the competition.
So in my view here’s a clue, if you can recognise the computer it’s made on without too much of a memory fart taking place, it’s not really obscure music.
We’ve just watched the talk from special guest Casey Pugh, It was he who was behind the Star Wars Uncut production. The great idea is to get hundreds of dedicated Star Wars fans to remake fifteen second segments of the whole movie, the resulting stitch-up being put together to create a wildly varying mish-mash of styles to make a coherent whole.
A chat with Glittermouse and her interactive art exhibit took place in the time since the last log entry, also a quick competition using the Nokia QT moby toolkit to make a couple of odd little demos. There are beginner demos to come at 22.30, so we’re just half an hour off the official timetable. The beginner demos are supposed to lower the bar to make life easy for newbies otherwise put off by the harsh elitism and free “constructive” advice given by parts of the mainstream demo scene. I’ve got hopes for this, hopes that the entry bar hasn’t been lowered to Dildo Fatwa levels of achievement mostly!
INSERT TOKEN TO ACTIVATE FREE COFFEE – FREE COFFEE ACTIVATED, CIH, YOU ARE CLEARED FOR CAFFEINE INTAKE…..
Beginner demos had a long and varied selection, some of which might qualify for a celebration of Dildo Fatwa-ness, others might only be told apart from the main competition by being a little bit too oldschool in places or a little rough around the edges. More detailed impressions to follow of a morning when I can get to a keyboard which isn’t shrouded in dark shadows throwing my wobbly touch typing into sharp relief, he said, getting that last bit down almost flawlessly…
The main competitions are to start after a short setting up period, so time to go back to where I was sitting shortly, I have a horrible feeling that they may struggle if there are many oldschool entries, as the projector for the main screen provided proved to be very resistant to taking a video input from an MSX.
00.37 – Sunday
We’ve managed to finish the main competitions in a reasonable time.
There was very little that could be called ‘oldschool’ this year, although Viznut was back to form with his latest Vic 20 piece of 3.5k unexpanded chesswhackery, This provided the typical PWP storytelling element where a lonely chess piece attains self consciousness, works out what E = MC squared is and leads a mad dash to freedom from the restrictive world of the chessboard. I think it might use another more considered ‘cold light of day’ viewing to get all of the story elements down properly.
The organisers sidestepped the whole vexatious ‘trying to connect old hardware to a sulking projector issue’ by running it under emulation. Not that they didn’t have a few problems with screen modes on the way with some of the other entries. There was only one dynamic entry which ticked all the boxes for ambient and noisy, therefore challenging to tired audiences late-viewing entries and trying to keep awake. Thankfully there were far fewer of these in general this time. Farbrausch managed to keep to the ‘space’ theme and returned somewhat to form after the yawn-a-thon they released at Outline earlier this year. There were a couple of promising 4ktros, and a few other nice enough demos, one of which demonstrated various time-worn demo effect classics in several different and often non-scene languages.
I might get around to writing a bit more in the morning, but this seems a good point to stop writing about the competition. In other news, delayed from earlier this evening, Nerve appears to have misplaced his Mac laptop at a venue he went to a lot later the previous evening. Fortunately his non-portable and therefore less able to be placed in drunken peril Atari STe is still here at the party. Which is the really important thing, as we all know.
02.22. – I love symmetrical things!
I’ve spent a fair bit of the time away from this mobile outpost of the CiH writing machine. Time has been spent with Nerve, Setok and a guy who knows Wiztom quite well who put in an Atari 8-bit entry to the beginners demo compo. Also Topy and ze Germansch, Topy taking me on a tour of his EE-PC 700 and talking of things musical and coding. Nerve is definitely awaiting his Firebee most keenly, Hopefully he will be reunited with his laptop soon?
And how are you at this late juncture, CiH? Well I’m fine, considering the lateness of the hour. I’ve mostly stayed off the booze wagon, apart from some bison grass vodka and apple juice that turned up in the camp of ze Germanschzes, so yeah, pretty good thanks. At some point, the words, ‘hotel’, ‘room’, and ‘bed’ will start to feature in conversations, but not just yet?
Ah, Felice just mentioned the subject, hopefully just enough time for one more attempt at Defender. Current high score around level 3, or the 16,000 mark, but not enough to get on the high score table yet.
We might be going back soon. Felice is powering off, and it is generally very calm around the main hall.
Still stuck on level 3 of Defender, even with the help of some apple juice flavoured special space juice. To be honest, I wasn’t really in control of that last game, just scrambling for bare survival. Anyway. See you later in the morning.
News? Not too much at this point, some relaxing background music, a lot of small people with their parents as this is the ‘family day’. There will be an afterparty sauna later on. In hypochondria news, the mild cold that I brought out with me is still uncertain as to which way it will go. We’re feeling slightly worse for wear about the back of the nasal passages this morning, so just a question of waiting it out.
There was a minor glitch on our return to the Holiday Inn earlier this morning, as the key-card room passes had decided to expire two days before our booking did. Issue was soon sorted out at reception though.
Now for the closing and prize giving ceremony. Viznut was the expected and confirmed winner of the main demo competition, even beating off the epic Farbrausch production. The ‘Babel’ production managed to beat them into third place as well.
Afterparty details have been confirmed, so time to pack up and pick up on this in a non realtime sense later.
A non-realtime part, somewhat later on..
As with previous editions of Alt, the end descends rapidly on the party once the prize ceremony is over like a big black shadowy cloak of dodgy metaphor. Anticipating this, we have repatriated our laptops back to the hotel and collected our afterparty sauna attending gear. Well in my case it took two attempts once I remembered to pick up the whisky which had stubbornly stuck itself to the hotel bedroom the first time round.
This year, the afterparty is located fairly close to the old cable factory, about a ten minute walk away, even less when going back to our hotel, which was very handy later on. In the meantime, whilst carrying out a final check around our desk area, we end up ‘winning’ another free prize. This one being an extra Alt Party 2010 official t-shirt, which someone had purchased and left under the table. An enquiry with the info desk reveals confused faces and a negative report of loss, so I claim the missing shirt for myself.
At the time of writing, I’m hoping to locate some images of this year’s shirts. These depict the party logo, plus a picture of a planet and astrological information about that planet. Of course there are different planets, according to the size and gender of the wearer. Female shirts are Venus, naturally, I’ve got the largest one possible, Jupiter, and the spare under-desk foundling, is the next size down, the hilariously named ‘Uranus’. Which fitted nicely enough, thanks for asking.
The weather, after being relatively benign, especially compared with last year’s attempted drowning by cloud, has decided to turn damp. Rainwear has been retrieved, which was helpful later on. A smallish group of us are collected by Sir Garbagetruck and walked to the afterparty sauna location, which turns out to be a couple of blocks down from the Ruoholahti centre.
We arrive at an office block, this has a sauna on the top (9th) floor. After considering the best way for heavy duty and heavyweight sceners to make use of the limited lift, we are shuttled upstairs to a smart corporate locale. This strongly reminds me of the business class sauna that we enjoyed at the second Alt Party in 2000. There is a medium sized electric sauna which can seat ten or so people in one go, no wood-burner this time around. However, this time the organisation and catering easily overcomes any element of missing rustic authenticity.
There are generous amounts of beer, with more arriving all the time, Felice and I add our supplies to the mix. There is also, very welcome at this time, an ample sufficiency of food, as someone has carried out a subway visit and cleared out their remaining stocks of vari-flavoured sandwiches, not to mention the mountain of wonderfully exotically Finnish-branded junk food that also came along. Much of which had not been consumed by the end of the party.
More people arrive as time goes on. Mr Setok himself turns up with a welcome donation of cider. He’s only around for a short time, as he has got to get himself ready for the first round of his ‘Travelling Salesman’ fifty-day trip. This is a northern and nordic round trip, meeting and evangelizing with nothing more than a Landrover Defender. There is a link http://travellingsalesman.mobi/ which tells a lot more about this story, as we’re concentrating on telling the Alt Party 2010 history in this article.
By the time the sauna is in action and people are heading there in various states of undress, Nerve has reappeared with some good news. His missing laptop has been found and recovered, so the smiling Norwegian is properly happy and not having to put a brave face on a shitluck situation. We find out some other things in conversation (from the Sunday morning before we went to bed actually, I just remembered it now), Certain demo-ish activities are still going on with higher end Atari’s being targeted. These are properly awaiting the arrival of a brand new piece of kit mentioned earlier in this article so these can be included along with the more familiar CT-series. We will just have to keep on being patient.
Other memorable sauna guests include Nosfe, who was helpful with the whisky consumption, Topy and Ze other Germans, and an English guy whose name I don’t remember, who was connected with the party but had been living and working out in Helsinki for some time. He compared his situation out there favourably with the likely conditions to work in the UK. Pahartik had also come down with us to make sure he did not miss out on the sauna this time. There were a selection of assorted females who may have been girlfriends of people who also came into the sauna with us, which was nice.
There was one American (Brooklyn) girl in Finland called Alli who had also rocked up, and was holding a conversation with about half the people in the lounge area about her adventures since she got here. Other bodies were entering and leaving the sauna, and a few brave nicotine-enthralled souls even ventured onto the open, rain-lashed top balcony.
Sauna quote – “The only thing that the Finns are afraid of, is the alcohol running out at the sauna.”
Certainly there was plenty of drink to lubricate the occasion, Felice had purchased a 2 litre cardboard container of wine. Much of this, and probably some white wine which also sneaked into the party had stuck to him. By the time the official after-party was winding towards a conclusion, and preliminary plans laid for an after-after-party, Felice was barely able to string two words together, and was also generating considerable sideways motion when he stood up.
Eventually, barely formed words and phrases tumbled out that he was interested in going on with the after-after-party hardcore. This final event was in the hands of Sir GarbageTruck. Confidence in any further adventure dropped away sharply with Truck’s suggestion that “You can get on the cross-town tram without paying, no-one’s looking at this time of night.” I declined to go on with the rest of the merry band, and as Felice was already in a semi-liquid state and could not be easily poured as it was, let alone a few hours later, I declined for him too. We walked back to the Holiday Inn, head down into the wild and driving rain.
We got back without mishap, Felice then proved that he had definitely had enough that evening by promptly falling asleep where he had crashed down on his bed. Which seemed to be a satisfactory point to close the narrative for Sunday.
Monday started very slowly.
Today we have to leave our hotel, the moment of reckoning being around 12.00hrs, which we are determined to wait until the last possible moment. Our departure from Finnish soil is not until some time later in the evening, so we have rather a lot of time to kill as it is.
Some people, after their exertions from the previous night, aren’t in any great hurry to leave anyway (hem!) A slow round of cleaning up, packing and final checking follows. We leave it until shortly before the room reverts back to the Holiday Inn’s control before finally dragging our bags out into the lobby. Pleasant receptionist takes payment for room, I manage to perfectly control any monetary anguish related spasms, at least until we’re out of the hotel and out of sight.
One final service which the Holiday Inn renders for us, is the provision of a left luggage area where we can leave our bags for a few hours and take an unencumbered wander into Helsinki centre.
So we do.
The Helsinki for people waiting to go home edition. As lunchtime was leaning hard on our list of things to do, one pre-planned event came to pass, namely that we met Martin Eric R. once more. He was at work, but on a generous or flexible lunch hour. We took ourselves off to an eating place made famous in previous Alt Party reports. This was the Indian restaurant combined with an opticians premises. Only the Indian restaurant part of it seems to have grown and enveloped the opticians, winning that small battle for retail dominance. The proprietor is a very happy man, and so he should be.
A boozy night really needs a curry at the end of it, and this was the case here, even if a night’s sleep had got in between the drinking and the eating. The food was excellent, and provided very quickly, living up to the ‘express’ part of their name, the Indian Express. A leisurely coffee at a smart coffee house a little further on concludes our gathering. Q-Funk returns to his workplace and we are left to kill the remaining hours until we have to leave.
A long interval for some retail therapy for people with no money follows. Exploring the central department store Stockmanns and a few other surrounding premises nicely mops up the time. I blanch at the prices being charged in the Apple store there, and conclude that customs and excise coming home won’t have any issues with duty-dodging electronic goods purchased from this part of the world!
The afternoon wears out, and just as we are at the tipping point of finding activities just for the sake of displacing unwanted time, we head back to the Holiday Inn to reunite with bags and to commence the long journey home.
The number 615 is waiting and manages to leave with us on board in a timely fashion. The journey back to the airport is straightforward. However we are a little bit early and have the sheer enjoyment of a timeless end at Vantaa airport.
Time passes in that fingernail-dragging manner which it likes to do. Eventually the checkout desk is opened, and clever online bookers like ourselves go into the smaller queue for the quick version and a bag drop, handily missing the big queue which only appears to have one check-in desk person attending it. There is a small issue at security as Felice forgot to unpack a batch of screwdrivers from his big pack before coming to Alt. Amazingly this was not picked up by the otherwise super-strict Gatwick security, but they were found and removed by their Vantaa counterparts.
The screwdrivers in question exceeded a permissible maximum length and were judged reasonable stabbing prospects by the security man. Therefore they weren’t allowed to go on in the hand luggage. Offered a choice of binning them, or getting then added to the main baggage, Felice wisely chose to bin them. He remembered the mighty struggle to get the case closed and zipped in the first place, therefore the possibility that it might decompress with explosive force if carelessly opened by the airport staff!
Once we were finally through, there was the final remaining niggle from the start of the trip, namely the expensively provided instruction booklet for the travel card with no ticket which you will recall being told earlier in this account. We approached the Kioski in question and carefully explained the sad story. To their credit, they listened and offered either a replacement card (no good now) or a refund for the 36 EUR which was gladly accepted! So a thumbs up at the end to the R-Kioski chain for first class customer service.
A final meal of weird Mexican burger (does putting nachos inside it constitute nothing more than a posh latino crisp sandwich?) and troll around the diverse and mostly closed attractions of Helsinki airport shopping, and we were on the way,
Gatwick, ho-hum. No hassles getting out and back on the road to Felice’s place in Cambridge. As our eventual arrival was at 01.30 adjusted for UK time, and I had cunningly booked an extra day off, I stopped overnight and made my leisurely way home the next morning.
And that was the end of that one.
Just a small number of things to wind up this report about the 2010 Alternative party.
This was the first Alt Party without the direct involvement of Setok. He was in an executive producing position but not directly involved in day-to-day running as he is occupied elsewhere.
Personally, I experienced some variable fortunes, not so good to start, but with other things going better, and even the not so good stuff put right in the end. One fun new experience included the VIP meal on the opening night.
There were several familiar faces, we spotted Nerve, Pahartik, a number of UK sceners who we got to know better at the Sundown Party, such as Glittermouse, Ne7 and Dotwaffle, we came across Martin of Q-Funk in an out of party sense. Also other familiar figures such as Nosfe and Sir GarbageTruck were prominent too.
But some people were missing too. There was no Dead Hackers presence. They did not have a demo to bring this time, which is fair enough. We also saw nothing of Baggio and Wiztom, who are engaged on global adventures, and they are normally an established presence. Wiztom may even get around to finishing and releasing something one of these years?
The competitions were of a good standard and were running efficiently with little delay. This is even taking into account some awkward projector interactions with competition hardware. There was a fairly low oldschool presence, confirming a sadly downward trend, although Viznut managed to win the main demo competition.
The live acts were good, no better or worse than other recent parties. There was a lot less smoke machine, which was a definite improvement. The special guest Casey Pugh was enjoyable but a little bit more lightweight than some we’ve had in previous years. Front 242 in 2008 and Sophie Wilson/Jeri Ellsworth the following year were hard to beat.
The Ruoholahti Holiday Inn hotel was a new experience for us. It was not a cheap option and we missed out on the Alt party website booking discount. On the other hand, it ticked both boxes for comfortable and convenient. We also managed to cut down on the excess travelling which has been a feature of recent parties. The loss and refund of the 5 day travel ticket worked to my benefit in the end, as I only paid for the travelling I actually did.
So yes, we enjoyed the 2010 edition of the Alternative Party. We will just have to think carefully how to go about things for next year.
CiH for Low Res Mag, Oct/Nov 2010.