When I’m monitoring retail and licensing trends for the office, I love reading about pop-up restaurants and pop-up stores – Target, Marc Jacobs, Barbershop Ristorante. So when I first heard about pop-up parties in San Diego, I knew I had to go. I was supposed to attend one last year, but scheduling prevented me from attending. Finally, this past Saturday night, a few friends and I went to our first PopUp Masquerade Party in San Diego.
And what a blast! I’m telling you now, we had so much fun, we’re already making plans to attend the next pop-up party in September.
What exactly is a pop-up party you ask? Well, basically the planning company provides the venue, tables, chairs, and entertainment. You bring the food, drink, table settings and decor. Oh, and you don’t find out the location until two hours before start time. That’s right, you have no idea where it is until that night. That’s why it pops up. It was hard explaining that concept to my family, as they kept asking where it was, and I continued to reply that I didn’t know. You eventually find out via email, Facebook and Instagram.
The fun part is in the planning — although amongst us busy women (me, Marie and Lynn; Lacy was still sick), we put it all together the night before. Now, many of you know I love to plan parties, or any event really. And quite frankly I wish we had more time to think this out, but we were pop-up virgins and we weren’t sure how far to go. Luckily, I love to collect china, and I had enough table decor to get us by. Oh, and we needed masks.
Picking out a mask is not that easy, how mysterious do you want to look? This was a black and white themed masquerade, but your mask can be colorful. As usual, I go with the color black for a mask, with a few feathers and a silver decorative border. Since my wardrobe consists mostly of black colored clothing, I have every type of black dress imaginable in my closet – long or short, casual or formal, conservative or sexy. I have one white dress. I wore the white dress.
Our menu would be simple and Italian inspired: penne alla vodka, cheese ravioli (gluten-free for Marie), meatballs in a tomato sauce, caprese salad, bruschetta, cheeses, salami, crackers, fruit, and assorted dessert bars from Sorella’s in La Jolla.
By Saturday afternoon, we’re anxiously awaiting the location. I find out while watching my son get knocked over for the umpteenth time at his basketball game (they’re very aggressive): Gaslamp Quarter right behind Horton Plaza. Perfect! A fun location, and Lynn has a parking pass right next to the venue – how lucky can we be. (Remember, I’m still suffering from my stupid sprained ankle.)
As usual we’re all running late, but very excited to go. It’s always an adrenaline rush when you don’t know what to expect. We drive by looking for some sort of drop off spot for me and our stuff, and immediately notice the corner location with the high lofty ceilings and ambient lighting. The PopUp Masquerade logo displayed against the wall and glimpsed through the large side windows was another giveaway that we were there.
We ended up going straight to the parking structure and lugged our stuff to the venue. Many guests were already set up, so we take an available table towards the back. (I later find out this place rents out Segways to tourists during the day.) I’m amazed at the elaborate measures people take to decorate. The table settings were exquisite: high candles, oversized balloons, candelabras, flowers, an oversized loop grass thing, and printed menus.
Oh the food items…some were simple cheese and cracker types, while others brought coolers of food and drink, a smorgasbord of finger foods, gourmet sit down affairs, and chafing dishes full of yummy stuff. I think we had a lovely setting of mixed and matched Noritake china place settings, Waterford crystal, centered by our tiered morsels of Italian goodness.
Note to self: next time know there are sideboard areas to prep and serve food.
The masks and attire worn was magical. When you pair masks with formalwear, it provides such a mystical atmosphere. I loved how the men were dressed in tuxedos and black suits. Something about a man in a suit. The women were stunning in long and short dresses. Everyone looked fab!
One thing I enjoyed was how friendly everyone seemed to be. We were talking with others and finding out what everybody was serving (a lump of crab meat centered in the bowl topped with a creamy bisque), where they got their table decor (Home Goods), and where did they get that fantastic mask (some online site). I especially loved how everyone was sharing food by the end of the night, because most of what they were sharing were desserts!
Although the official dinner start time was 9:00 pm with the waving of the napkins, everyone was munching way before then, and the dancing and drinking was already in full swing. Okay, so I sprained my ankle, but after a couple glasses of wine who cared…we were off to the dance floor. You remember how it goes, everyone dances in a big group, sometimes a guy would saddle up to you and say “How you doin’?” or ask to see your face underneath the mask. A typical night out.
I love dancing, but when the song is saying “jump, jump”, all I could do was sit and smile. Yes, there came a point where my ankle won out and I had to chair dance. Oh well. We had a good time, as did everyone in attendance. Yet, as usual, there’s always that one person that goes a little too far. One of the female masqueraders from the table next to us was passed out on the floor. Paramedics were called and she was taken away in a gurney. We were told a couple stories from different guests belonging to that group of what happened to her, but since they were conflicting, I’m not gonna pass along rumors.
We enjoyed every minute of the masquerade and it didn’t seem like anyone wanted it to end. We stayed til midnight, but these Cinderellas had to go home to kids. I will say that part of the fun was the planning, and the anticipation of where it was going to be. The unknown can be quite intoxicating don’t you think? Many had said they had been to the previous PopUp summer white party, and we’re already planning for the next one in September. I’m planning a beachy theme with a luau menu. Want to join us?
Handmade Events plans PopUp parties in Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego, www.handmade-events.com/