The Hangover 2 followed the same formula as the first movie but switched the architectural backdrop from Las Vegas to Thailand. The result was a familiar sequence of events with different scenery. I imagine that the logic went something like this: Bangkok is crazier than Las Vegas so let's make the sequel even crazier by putting it in a wilder location.
Switching locations had little effect on a sequel that was determined to adhere to a similar sequence of scenes. As someone who is currently responsible for planning a bachelor party, I began to wonder, how important is physical place when it comes to successfully programming a bachelor party?
I have been to quite a few bachelor parties over the last few years and have found that these festivals of debauchery tend to be just as formulaic as the wedding ceremonies that follow. Despite beginning with pronouncements about how epic, wild and crazy they are going to be, they tend to be predictable and controlled exercises that flirt with predefined parameters of wild and elicit.
The planning of this party began with an email chain amongst our circle of friends that explored the typical options:
- Las Vegas: the tried and true center of predictable debauchery is like bowling with bumpers in the form of minimally-necked bouncers that enforce rules and herd the sin into predefined corrals with different prices.
All are nice options but in order for a really wild and unpredictable cornucopia of random, you must turn to the one true center of miscellaneous ... Craigslist!
After a lengthy discussion we asked, where could jaded world travelers go for a unique and unpredictable experience full of random danger and illicit intrigue? The answer is Craigslist and its various competitors. And so was born the concept of the Craigslist bachelor party.
Here are the rules we came up with:
- A friend who is a property manager provided the stage: 2000 square feet of an empty building in Chinatown.
- 10 participants plus the groom.
- We set a 24-hour window where everyone agreed to be on the site without leaving.
- Everyone must spend 1000 on Craigslist or similar sites to procure goods and services that will appear during the time period.
Our initial research into Craigslist has revealed the following affordable opportunities:
- A revolutionary war reenactment group
- An assortment of bands from almost every genre of music
- 6 big wheel tricycles
- Bouncy castle and hot tub rentals
- A tennis ball machine that fires balls up to 70 miles per hour
- A pony for rent (human trafficking bad, animal trafficking apparently not so much)
- A "authentic pirate costume"
- A bagpipe player
- A trombone with only a little rust
- A "martial arts expert" who is skilled in the use of nunchucks
- An assortment of thinly veiled adult services (Craigslist claims not to allow adult services)
- A motorized scooter
- A "flair" bartender (think Tom Cruise in Cocktail)
- Mannequins (creepy!)
- Pretty much anything else you can imagine
In addition to good and services, Craigslist also offers social networking opportunities of the most dubious variety. Each member of the bachelor party was charged with creating a themed invitation to be posted online with the aim of bringing random people with specific social interests into the mix. This endeavor led me to learn allowed me to learn all about "Furries."
What does this have to do with design?
Design should consider the totality of ways in which to add an experience to space. The internet provides travel-eliminating access to all sorts of goods and services already, so why not use it for adventure and intrigue?
If one's intent is for an unpredictable and unforgettable weekend why travel to a place that has specific expectations associated with it? Why not just add unpredictable ingredients to a readily available empty space?
Switching Vegas to Bangkok didn't make The Hangover 2 crazier because the locations are just a way of framing a collection of random unpredictable sequences of characters and experiences. Vegas and Bangkok are chocked full of random opportunities and unusual characters but there is a place in every city that blows these locations away. Craigslist!
The internet is the new red light district.
A bachelor party is like a summer blockbuster movie. It's all about the special effects and the plot/location serves as the vehicle for efficiently delivering them.
Back in the old days, these special effects were created by painstakingly analog process of building physical miniature models. Today a green screen can be set up anywhere and the special effects "photoshopped" in later.
Well, an empty warehouse can be a green screen for a bachelor party and Craigslist is full of special effects at reasonable prices.
Should a bachelor party be a scavenger hunt or a battle royal?
A typical bachelor party is like a scavenger hunt. It is a linear sequence of visits to variety of specialized establishments. The apex of wildness at any one point in the night is limited by the potential of the venues that are visited. The night will seem wild in retrospect because of the volume of experiences rather than the intensity at any given point.
Our proposed Craigslist bachelor party is like a battle royal with all the ingredients are being added simultaneously in a single location.
Tweet at me @benuyeda if you have any ideas or see any funny craigslist posts.
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