Since this is BizBash’s 10th anniversary, I promised to write something extra special. Well, not all promises are meant to be kept, but at least you are being spared a walk down memory lane, which is what I guess I was supposed to do.
Instead, I have decided to jump 10 years into the future and predict how the world of events will operate in the year 2021.
Raft parties. Once the polar cap finally up and just melts in 2018, event planners will turn their venue-sniffing skills to finding the best floating party spaces. Since all the cruise ships will have been turned into condos for the wealthy, real creativity will be needed. On the West Coast, where Las Vegas meets the sea, Steve Wynn—miraculously preserved after undergoing a full internal body organ transplant—steals the show with his Art Barge. After he has encased hundreds of masterpieces in resin, then linked them all together on top of a Styrofoam parking lot, guests can enjoy looking at the artwork underfoot without worrying about drink spills.
Booming business for security firms. Once the law requiring strip-searching all attendees at any event in excess of 50 people goes into effect nationwide, security firms jump into action. For luxury events, guests are led into individual disrobing lounges with peach lighting and ambient music, and they select their strip-searcher from a screen of photos. For events with more constrained budgets, other arrangements are made. At Nascar events, for example, some fans object to their clothing being placed on a conveyor belt and the intensity of the power wash.
Manhattan locavores go micro. As the great rooftop garden craze peaks, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in his fifth term, makes it illegal to eat any foods not grown on the premises. While in the summer this policy is bearable, winter entertaining suffers as guests rebel about endless pinecone purees and conifer salads.
Ubiquitous seared jellyfish. Foodies shuddered when Eric Ripert’s Le Bernardin began offering seared jellyfish to replace tuna on his menu, just prior to the great fish extinction of 2017. But while caterers everywhere have bastardized Mr. Ripert’s dish, he has secretly come up with a revolutionary new offering to reflect the changing complexion of our seafood resources: steamed plankton cakes.
Name tag implants. While the new Homeland Security rule—which requires all citizens to have a liquid crystal display screen implanted on the back of their neck, powered by a tiny nuclear device—has many detractors, party planners make great use of the technology. At events, scanners linked to giant screens read the implants and broadcast the most interesting and newsworthy personal information about each guest on the screens as they arrive. Later in the evening, as a way to encourage “like mingling with like,” the scanners send “segmentation beams” to the guests, whose implants glow a certain color based on the segmentation. Married people get blue, single guests shine red. Convicted felons get a black-and-white striped pattern, of course. Muslim guests flash vivid orange, and they are escorted—by force if need be—to a holding pen for interrogation.
Gift Bag Museum opens. After soliciting donations for years, the Gift Bag Museum in Miami, sponsored by Estée Lauder, opens on the site once known as the Setai. Billed as the largest repository of gift bags in the world, the museum does not enjoy a successful opening. Curators are horrified as patrons take the gift bags off pedestals and out of vitrines, and discard the unwanted gift cards on the carrera marble floors.
Nightlife goes underground, literally. In major cities where the background radiation continues to prevent surface-level gatherings, young people resourcefully devise underground labyrinths of subway tunnels, steam pipes, and sewer channels so that they have someplace to go at night to pay $40,000 for bottle service.
Museums display advertising alongside artwork. After Vogue Museum of Art (formerly known as the Metropolitan) chair Anna Wintour experimented with placing images from Prada’s fall advertising campaign, shot by Mario Testino, alongside Impressionist artwork in the groundbreaking 2019 exhibit “New Ways of Viewing Art,” other museums raced to sell gallery wall space to the highest bidders. Michelin intuitively picked the Guggenheim as its corporate display space, inflating a five-story Michelin Man outside the Frank Lloyd Wright structure. But the proposed takeover of the National Portrait Gallery by Facebook has some purists worried that placing “like” buttons underneath oil paintings of Revolutionary War heroes may be just a tad much.
Cher and Barbra Streisand announce joint “farewell” tour. After months of rumors, many thought that Cher’s botched latest round of plastic surgery—which some say has left her resembling Kiss frontman Gene Simmons—would jeopardize this “Diva-bration.” But Barbra prevailed upon her colleague. They have promised their fans that all tour venues will feature handi-ramps and oxygen canister rental booths. In a related note, Diana Ross was seen staggering the streets of Detroit in a red sequined Bob Mackie gown, muttering, “They still might call, please let them call…”