By Ashley Harrell
A. Anywhere in the Marina.
B. Passed out on 6th and Market in a pool of your own vomit.
C. Passed out on 6th and Market in a pool of someone else's vomit.
D. Standing in a line outside Sea of Dreams, $70 tickets in hand.
We're going with D.
Like the bosom of this water nymph, the pleasures of the 2009 Sea of Dreams New Years Eve party were hidden away from throngs of ticketholders, some of whom had traveled from faraway states and countries. They had been promised the opportunity to boogie in an enchanted undersea fantasy land with multiple stages and inflatable art and the headlining band, Thievery Corporation. But as midnight approached, chain-smoking, shivering, and blank stares had become the predominant activities -- in the Concourse Center parking lot.
"People standing next to you became the enemy," said Neal Rogers, who had flown in from Boulder for the event.
Rob Andrews of San Rafael waited with friends for about an hour in the will call line, but the prospects of retrieving tickets, then waiting in a separate line (which was about 12-people thick and snaked down the block), and getting in before midnight seemed unlikely. Instead, Andrews' crew headed to a restaurant in the Mission and just had drinks and chatted. "Luckily we left, otherwise it would have been the worst New Year's imaginable," he said.
The organizers, Sunset Promotions, anonEvents, and blasthaus had underestimated how many people they'd need working the door, said Sunset Promotions co-director, Robbie Kowal. That's because half of the 6,800 tickets for the show were purchased the day before, and about 100 counterfeit tickets also caused scanning delays. "I don't think anybody anticipated the size of the crush," Kowal said. "But there really are no excuses. We are ultimately responsible for the show."
Rob Andrews and many more who were disappointed with their parking lot New Years emailed the organizers, asking for their money back. Though some prevailed, those decisions were made on a case by case basis.
Kowal spent the last hours of his New Years offering solace and champagne tickets to those still outside. "If they did get it, they would have had a wonderful time," he said. Apparently, the event was a vast improvement over the last year's (with the exception of the door problem). And next year things will be even better, Kowal says. There will be no will call. All tickets will be print-at-home. And there will be increased man-power at the door.
But after a debacle like this one, it's easy to wonder if that'll be necessary.