review by Trevor Connell
For over a decade Melbourne Convention Bureau (nee MCVB) have a hosted a welcome function that precedes AIME.
This year they took a different tack and opted for a Gala Dinner after the AIME tradeshow closed.
The event took place at the Docklands Central Pier – home to the Atlantic Group venues. But rather than holding the dinner in their signature event space, Peninsular, the event was held in the carpark / dock area that is usually hidden away behind the venues.
Bump in for the event commenced before dawn and the bump out was completed before dawn the following day in order to ensure minimum disruption to deliveries to the venues.
Guests were certainly surprised when they arrived. Most got into the spirit of the evening when presented with a feather boa, and following a few drinks were ushered into the dining area.
Strictly Ballroom The Musical is currently showing in Melbourne so the event was themed Strictly Melbourne. Guests were greeted by MC “Barry Fife” – outrageously played by Nic Yates – who encouraged guests to enjoy the best of Melbourne.
Ballroom dancers mingled with the crowd and encouraged guests to cheer them on when they competed for the inaugural Pan Pacific AIME Ballroom Dancing Grand Prix Trophy.
Once the dance competition commenced many guests really got into the swing of the event cheering on their couples from the side of the stage.
Then a surprise last minute contestant strode to the stage “Karen Sparkles” AKA Karen Bolinger, MCB’s CEO. Karen had been secretly practicing the Paso Doble with choreographer to the stars, Jason Coleman. Of course Karen took out the title!
So how was the event received?
Most people ASE spoke to were delighted with the dinner, the location, the production and the entertainment.
However, many people (especially exhibitors) were unhappy with the change. Not so much the event itself and not so much with the change of day, but because they found out too late. Essentially they were not kept in the loop about the changes and given sufficient notice to plan around those changes.
And let’s face it; you don’t want to get your exhibitors offside because without them there would be no AIME!
Now check out this video to go behind the scenes of the event with Peter Jones who spoke to ASE shortly before the guests arrived.