This weekend, I was able to cap off the Halloween season with my favorite immersive experience, as they took me deeper into the darkness with their armless hugs. Of course, I loved every moment of it, but from the ripples out there in the Internet-land, it seems that not everyone did. So, instead of my traditional review of what ALONE had to offer, I will actually speak about some of the issues that folks are bringing up.
I can already hear the cries of But Jeff, arent you an ALONE fan boy? But hear me out on this one. While I am a complete and utter ALONE devotee, I did look at this very subjectively after speaking to a lot of folks who fall on both sides of the fence; they either loved it or they hated it.
Their latest event, Rite of the Anthropocene, was one night only, and held at a location that was only known to attendees after they figured out a brief puzzle. ALONE is well-known for their mind-numbingly hard puzzles, so this one seemed a bit easy (at least for me), and was a great way to start off the event before participants even got there.
Though originally it was only to be one showing, the night was split off into two, allowing for higher capacity. I usually like to be the first to experience their shows, but opted for the later show this time, as most of my friends were attending it.
Dancing on the bar
I honestly had no idea what to expect going into Rite of the Anthropocene, as ALONE eschewed their traditional time slots, instead opting for a single time for people to arrive. It stated on their ticket page that the Rite would “take the form of performances designed to herald the oncoming epoch.” I thought that we would be with people, and sometimes be taken out to do the things by ourselves.
When my friends and I got there, we checked in, and were lead into a bar & lounge area, with a stage off to the side. The description of the event said it would last from 2 to 3 hours, and it most certainly did. During that time, we were treated to performances of many different natures; musical acts, performance art, and the rite itself.
A hooded member of Enola came on stage to read passages from a book. Lovely girls, clad in white dresses, danced about like the three furies of old, pulling people to dance with them to the music. Squeaky Blonde, a performer I discovered during ALONEs opening party last year treated us to their musical stylings.
Meanwhile, the crowd was able to mingle, sit back, relax, enjoy a drink. I enjoyed this all very much, as I got to see some interesting performances and hang out with my friends for the duration of the evening. We laughed, had a good time, and took it all in.
Of course, it wouldnt be an ALONE experience without the typical move you around in the dark portion, and it was there in spades. While all of these performances were going on, people were being taken out, one at a time, to a gigantic warehouse out back to go through one of three paths. Each path lasted 10 to 15 minutes, and was everything youd expect from ALONE. Throughout the evening, everyone was taken out three separate times, to experience the three paths, in a random order. While you friend may have gotten a white mark on their forehead the first time around, you may have gotten a red one. While done in any order, all the paths added up into an incredibly interesting experience, seemingly making up the Rite of the Anthropocene itself.
With 150 people in attendance, ALONE did a remarkable job of moving people in and out of the space, making sure each and every one was able to experience what they had to offer. It was obvious that there were a lot of moving parts here, and ALONE impressed us all in that respect. Between getting pulled out, guests were able to hang out in the bar area again, watching the performers, and have a good time.
Again, a group of my friends and I saw the second show, and had a wonderful time throughout the evening. However, there were a number of complaints about heard from other ALONE-goers that night who did not have an enjoyable time as we did. One of the biggest complaints heard was about the structure of the evening, and how the lack of time slots made for a confusing, and long experience. Others were upset that, for an event called ALONE, they were stuck in a crowded room with many others for the bulk of the evening (for that, I refer back to the original description of the event). While some complaints may be valid, I feel as if those who have been to ALONE shows before should know that they do not cater to the traditional haunt crowd.
ALONE is an interesting beast. It’s a constant, changing, living, breathing organism. I’ve been to plenty of their shows, and each one is incredibly different, while still retaining elements of things they did in the past.
I can understand some frustrations from the people upset with the show, but I refer back to what I just said: ALONE is constantly changing. Every show they do, they branch out and try new things. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. But each one is an experience unto itself.
While they started as a “move you around in the dark” experience, they have evolved beyond that. Sure, they still do elements of that in their shows, but it has become so much more. Incorporating performance art, scavenger hunts, reflections of your own self, and more, ALONE makes you think. It gives you a range of emotions, but it doesn’t tell you WHAT to feel. Instead, it makes you discover that for yourself. It doesn’t tell you where to go, as you are encouraged to explore. It doesn’t make its intentions entirely clear.
At the end of the day, all of that is part of the experience. There is no wrong answer, or wrong move, when it comes to ALONE. Everyone gets something different out of it
I come to these events with an open mind, and go with the flow. I never know what to expect with ALONE, and they constantly surprise me. I think part of the issues here stem from people not getting what they expected from this show. Which is fine, I totally understand that. I heard a few folks say how different it was from last years offering, and I can completely respect that. But I do feel that judging one ALONE event against another is fruitless, since they are never the same. They are ebbing and flowing, always changing it up and trying new things. I enjoy that aspect of it. Not everyone does, and I understand that.
I’ve done more of their shows than I can count at this point, and have loved every single one. Does that mean Rite of the Anthropocene was perfect? No, of course not. Hell, its not even in my top three ALONE experiences, but I did love it just the same.
Part of our group that attended
My group was made up of folks who had done many ALONE shows before, and quite a few who hadnt. Each one of us walked away enjoying it, for our own separate reasons. That said, we did come as a group of people, and were able to hang out with each other throughout the night. Had we come on our own, I could see being bored in-between the experiences, and not having a good time.
Ive said this a few times already, but ALONE is never the same. They do weird stuff, sure, and they arent for everyone. But people keep coming back and that is a testament to what they do. To me, the evening was filled with fantastic performances and an interesting experience in the dark. Your mileage may vary, depending on how your night went.
Rite of the Anthropocene was a fun time for my friends and I. Even though I went to work the next day on only three hours sleep, the fact that I didnt even care says a lot. Perhaps the second showing of the evening, the one we attended, ran smoother than the first. I can only account for what we saw. But overall, ALONE is still my favorite immersive experience in Los Angeles, and I look forward to what they come up with next.
Did you attend Rite of the Anthropocene? Please, tell me your thoughts and your concerns, if any. I want to hear what you thought about the show.