Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Caricaturing by Lantern in a Blackout . . . on a Mountain!

I worked a very interesting wedding gig yesterday. It was a bit of a drive up Mt. Charleston to the popular Mt. Charleston Lodge, where the couple had planned a rustic wedding reception in the chilly mountain air. I've worked up there before, but little did I know this would be a first for me. Here's the view during the daytime at the lodge . . .

Pretty, right? Well the sun was going down as I drove up the mountain, as I was booked for 6-8pm and was part of the evening entertainment. Everything was going well, the DJ was playing hits and folks were dancing, while I drew busily in a corner off the dance floor, when POP . . . the lights flickered a bit and then went out completely. The music went silent. Someone screamed, and the room was filled with that weird energy you feel when you're part of a semi-emergency in an unfamiliar place.

I was almost done with a double, so I whipped out my cell phone and tried to get some light from it to see my model and then see my paper. That didn't work well. But soon enough the management from the lodge had some battery-operated lanterns placed around the dining area and those lit it up the area passably.

Just passably! The guests were now firmly on my side, ready to help me out, and moved the lanterns back and forth to try and find the best configuration so I could see properly but not get blinded. The crowd just formed a little horseshoe behind me and watched me draw, like the olden days I guess. The cake was brought out and shots were passed around. And guests seemed pretty upbeat about the whole thing. One relative remarked that it was the deceased grandparents' way of attending the wedding and pulling a prank. The bride said that she knew no one would forget her wedding now (she described herself as the opposite of a "bridezilla," and she certainly seemed to be down-to-earth). Both the bride and groom had worked in the service industry--they said they met while working at a sandwich shop--and I swear, that just makes for nice people. Once you have to deal with the public, you get a whole lot more understanding about stuff in general. There's only so much human beings have control over, and once you work in customer service, you realize that.

The staff came out and alerted everyone that power was out on the whole mountain, and they said this happens quite a lot. Just a hazard of working on the mountain. Unfortunately, they also said it would probably be off all night. So, no lights and no more DJ music. The father of the bride didn't get his father-daughter dance, and I felt bad for the guy. Though the bride and groom were taking the sudden interruption of their celebration like champs, they did chafe a bit at the fact that the venue hadn't mentioned the whole frequent-long-lasting-blackouts thing to them when they booked their reception. Yeah, that would have been nice to disclose.

Well, I kept on drawing and was now the only entertainment . . . I ended up drawing everyone there, and folks were so nice and having fun with the whole situation. I noticed everyone's pupils were so large when one draws in the dark, and the couple I was drawing said "Nah, we're just coked out of our minds" and giggled. The bride thanked me for being okay with the circumstances, and I assured her it was my job to make them happy, not their job to make me happy. You gotta roll with the punches. I was just sad I no longer carried a battery-operated lantern in my trunk! I used to! But the lodge had them aplenty, at least. The bride hugged me, said it meant a lot to her that I was undaunted, and added "I saw you trying to draw off the light from your phone! That's dedication!" She sent me off with my payment, plus a little extra, PLUS some cool wedding table gifts they had extras of. An autumn-leaf wine topper and two little scented soaps. Adorable.
Leaving was a little scary . . . mountain dark is definitely different than city dark. No light pollution, just dark sky and dark ground. I had to use my cell phone to guide me through the hallway out and then the small parking lot to my car. On the hour-long drive back down to Vegas, I was so glad to have powerful headlights! And I'm going to start bringing that battery-operated light I own, as a backup for my corded lights, juuuuust in case.


  1. Every gig has an interesting story! And doncha just loooove hugs from happy clients? ;-)

  2. 1. You would think the place was on notice that they should have a large diesel generator, you know, like all the other legitimate businesses use?

    2. You would think the place would be happy to offer this as a service, in case the power went out, they can assess a fee and provide uninterrupted power. I'm just guessing, but I bet if the bride/groom were fully informed, they would have offered to pay for generator 'insurance' or something if power went out a lot. Shoot, even without a full site massive generator, they could have at least been on notice and had they uncle or something bring a portable gasoline generator in his van just to power essentials like DJ and lights.

    1. Very smart, Aaron. I wondered why no generator as well. Just speculating, but there was a huge fire up there not long ago; it could be a provision put in place to avoid fire danger. Generator backup would definitely help their business up there.