Usually finding yourself in an alley at night drinking a few cocktails and dancing with strangers is something that the authorities frown upon and can often earn you a very, very dark story to tell — if you even remember it at all.
For the past eight years, though, it’s also been one of the city’s best and most unique cosmopolitan events.
The Alley Party is a co-presentation between the fine folks at Theatre Junction and the equally excellent cats at the Hifi Club, where the theatre company celebrates its upcoming season with a night of DJs, games, drinks and more.
“It continues to grow and expand each year as the word gets out,” says Hifi manager and Alley Party organizer Paul Brooks. “I think it’s one of the most anticipated, end-of-summer events.”
Well, looking at the forecast for the next week or so, it doesn’t seem like summer’s going away any time soon.
But the ninth annual shindig takes place Thursday, Aug. 31 at Theatre Junction Grand (608 1st St. S.W.) and, yes, also in the alley beside it.
“The alley is cordoned off and it’s a licensed area as well, so you can get your drinks, come outside and party in Calgary’s nicest back alley,” says Brooks, noting the weather should definitely help keep things pumping and attendance high.
“It is quite a unique vibe with brick going up on both sides. It’s a very urban feel. And the music sounds really good in the alley, too.”
Headliner for the Alley Party is Montreal-based DJ and producer Project Pablo, with the rest of the lineup featuring some of the city’s finest spinners, including Hifi regulars Smalltown DJs and DJ Rice.
There will also be dancers, performance artists, “surprises” and games brought in from Home and Away, Hifi’s hip, sibling sports bar and restaurant, so kids of all ages and sobriety can play bean bag toss games and Connect Four in a special outdoor games area.
And, that is correct, although there will be liquor for the 18-plussers, the Alley Party is an all-ages event, meaning that from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., there will be an interesting and eclectic selection of revellers, which is one of the reasons fellow Hifi manager and party planner Sarmad Rizvi thinks Theatre Junction first approached them almost a decade ago.
“I think their biggest thing is that they wanted to get to a younger audience and obviously being a nightclub they thought we could help them do that,” says Rizvi, aknowledging that TJ’s programming is also quite in line with what the club does.
“So it leads to a nice mix of people at the event, because you’ve got theatre people, you’ve got older people, you’ve got Hifi people and people on the periphery.”
He continues. “They came up with the idea, asked us to do it and who doesn’t like throwing free outdoor parties? So we were happy to jump onboard and do it with them.”
While it technically is a “free” party, admission is actually supposed to be by donation, with $10-a-head the recommended starting price, and those donations going to the theatre company — in times where it’s much needed and appreciated.
And for those adults who don’t want to wrap it up when the Alley Party shuts it down, you can also head over to the Hifi for their after-party featuring the aforementioned Project Pablo and other mixmasters.
The Alley Party takes place Thursday, Aug. 31 at Theatre Junction Grand from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. For more information please click here.
Mike Bell has been covering the Calgary music scene for the past 25 years with publications such as VOX, Fast Forward, the Calgary Sun and, most recently, the Calgary Herald. He is currently the music writer and content editor for theYYSCENE.com. Follow him on Twitter/@mrbell_23 or email him at email@example.com.