Sundown 2015 - Party Report

I’ve never done a party report, but it seems like something I can do and others might be interested to read it. It’ll also head off the potential tons of “Did you like it?” questions. I apologize for any misspelled handles as not all are easy for me to verify.

Before I get too into this I should say a quick bit on travel. It’s hard to have problem free travel going any great distance and crossing countries. There’s always delays, clerks calling upstairs for every person with connections beyond Frankfurt, a twelve hour layover in Frankfurt, or Bristol airport not announcing gates until boarding starts. Fast walk from gate 1 to gate 34? ✓. However a party is not 100% travel. I’m not letting this sour the experience.

This party takes a few firsts for me. It is my first small demoparty, first demoparty other than Revision, and first demoparty outside of Germany. Unlike Revision, the schedule was pretty lax. This doesn’t mean the compos didn’t start about on time, but rather there was plenty of time for going around and talking with people or doing something with some people and not feeling like you’re missing out on something else. I like Revision a lot, but sometimes it seems like people always have something to be at or go do.

In regards to that, the impromptu Fibbage XL game we got going in the hall was great. Whoever bought the game on Steam, money well spent! I think people quite enjoyed that, after we joined it the first time to try and figure out exactly what it was. I believe thanks are in order to CrispyK for that, especially for agreeing to start another few games on Sunday morning before prizegiving. There was someone who even wanted to get on a game of Cards Against Humanity—I apologize for forgetting your name—but I don’t know if that ever happened. I almost brought something myself but decided my luggage was full.

main hall on Friday night

There seemed to be at least forty people there by a quick headcount I took which is a great turnout. The hall was quite nice and was able to keep everyone and their gear without feeling packed. Having the kitchen there and being within walking distance of some shops, including a very delicious place to get fish and chips, were nice perks. You can obtain breakfast, snacks, or heat-and-eat meals from the local co-op and use the hall’s microwave. Though based on anecdotal evidence, make sure to get your beer there early on Saturday. Apparently they had run out of “the good stuff” sometime before the compos. There's also a Chinese takeout place nearby, but be aware they might be out of chicken balls.

If you choose to sleep in the hall, it is straight forward. There are plenty of places to sleep and even a separate roomy unisex bathroom if you need privacy for a moment to change. Everything also quieted down around midnight so falling asleep was just a matter of the last time I’d had any caffeine. Just keep in mind there are no showers available. My only note to self is next time I need to bring a sleeping pad in addition to my sleeping bag. As I sleep on my side my hips will thank me.

The atmosphere there was great, and I can even include the weather. It didn’t rain until Monday and it wasn’t too hot or too cold outside. England does have a reputation though, so I did have a jacket and a rain coat, the former of which I only used down to the beach.

The beach was only a short walk past the shops and quite close to the party hall. There’s a definite lack of sand for being a beach, but that’s my fault for not paying attention to the photos on the party site. Most went down there after the competitions on Saturday and while there wasn’t any bacon, people still seemed to have a lovely time chatting there. m0d was definitely having the time of his life sampling himself and others to our great amusement, producing great mixes people wish had been recorded. Some enterprising guys even scrounged up bits of wood and the remains of a cardboard beer case to get a small fire started, which the last to head back appropriately extinguished with some Irn-Bru and covered up with rocks. Being one of those stragglers myself, I helped in picking up our bottles and trash so I hope we left the beach at least as clean as we found it.

However visiting the beach is getting ahead of myself. Before that, we had the compos. What wonderful compos they were. Some categories like New School Combined Intro, New School Demo, and New School Executable Music were a bit lacking in entries though not in quality. The most submitted entries were for the photography, wild, and two music compos. The ones that stood out the most for me from the party were “Bus Noise” by Slipstream—mostly because of the bass and wobble fade in effect they did for the demo’s logo—, gasman’s showing of Quake III on a ZX Spectrum via a helper server, Subi’s wonderful track with bass, and Gumboy’s Riverwash invitation video. Sorry if you didn’t make mention, but if I tried to cover everything I’d never finish writing this thing.

In between some of the compos we got to see a rather memorable multidisk demo for an Amstrad CPC, by Slipstream, playing back frames from the A-Ha music video, “Take On Me”. Unfortunately it wasn’t able to be finished before the compo deadline and so was excluded from voting. We also had the pleasure of getting to watch a recording of the final version of Pulse, an Atari ST demo by Checkpoint, which was very polished and well done. I’m glad they chose Sundown to show it. The demo was added to Pouet shortly after it was shown.

people standing by their disks in the disk throwing compo

In addition to the previous there was a floppy throwing competition held in the park next door earlier in the day. I had a pretty good throw that was taken in by a tree, netting me around 5th place out of at least fourteen entrants. As we had to stand by our floppy to know who won, this was also a chance to practice our ability to dodge incoming flying objects.

Sunday was fairly relaxed and saw people playing a game on the big screen and later several rounds of Fibbage XL again, because it’s hilarious. Unfortunately some had already left by then to catch trains, planes, or whatever they needed to get home. Everyone remaining helped with teardown and packing their own stuff after prizegiving finished. That all done, true to tradition, most headed down to a pub in town called The Feathers for a drink.

sceners chilling at The Feathers pub in Budleigh Salterton; From left to right for the front two tables: ?, SunSpire, Polynomial, Zeb, Bex, and Joey. From left to right for the front two tables: ?, SunSpire, Polynomial, Zeb, Bex, and Joey.

Before I wrap up I’d like to give a shoutout to Zeb. He not only picked up me, DeathBoy and Bex, but drove us down to the party hall, returned someone to the train station on Sunday, put up Bex and me for the night, and then helped us get on our way on Monday. I also want to thank psonice for the local drink swap where I received five beers and one cider in return for just the one beer I gave him. I was able to drink the cider at the party and gave away two, but I did pack the remaining three in to checked luggage, all of which seem to have survived the trip home. Finally thanks to rc55 and other organizers in making this happen for ten years.

In the end, it was a great party. I really loved the people, the atmosphere, and the location. If things allow, I can see myself figuring out how to return. For people who only get to see the results of the proceedings through the photos people take, I definitely recommend hopping on a plane next year and coming on out. Just make sure you check Facebook so you find out the dates more than a month before the party.

– Art / Starchaser