Over the last few months I have networked through social media with people from separate communities to get our site ready for launch. Making connections is important in this industry and paramount to any form of upward growth. I have viewed @thesdcollective through the lens of Instagram, we have many mutual friends so they kept popping up on my explorer page, eventually gave them the follow. Word on the street was that they threw these amazing spontaneous parties with exclusive guest lists and creative themes. I reached out to the founder Stacie Daigle and asked to do a profile on one of their events in August 2018. They had just had their Big Bear Camping event and they were taking a small break until Halloween. Stacie told me to be patient because she had high expectations for SDC’s Halloween bash “House of Freaks” I made sure that I got some early bird tickets before they sold out.
Two months went by…
Part I:One Week before Halloween…
Typical Saturday morning; rolling around in bed, phone in hand, browsing, going through everyone’s insta-story before I start the day (sad I know) and I come across @thesdcollective ‘s page. It was a week before the event, they were looking for people to help set up for the party. My friend and I volunteered to come and help the morning before. I knew this would give me a perspective from behind the scenes into how much hard work and planning goes into each detail of these epic parties I had heard about for so long.
Marshall and I arrived at Bread & Salt in the afternoon. We were immediately amazed by the beautiful brick building. Half of the designated party area was inside of what I can only describe as an industrial ballroom. Later that night this would be the site of the the DJ booth, cuddle puddle, sitting areas, and dance floor.
The other half was an open air atrium style courtyard with glass ceilings and natural stone flooring. This would become the bar and outside location of the party. Seeing the sunlight peek through glass openings and reflect off the dust in the air gave the building an organic feeling. There were murals, a network of red pipes, hidden rooms, and locked up art galleries tucked away in the bowels of this aged structure. The building has a soul.
We were greeted by SDC’s Curators Stacie Daigle & Nick Quartier as well as a van filled to the brim with party equipment. After an exchange of pleasantries, it was time for us all to get to work. I told Stacie not to be shy when asking us to complete a task and she took us up on our offer. We started off with simple enough instructions like setting up chairs, tables, blowing up balloons, and moving heavy shit. Things started getting weird when I started unloading Nick’s truck. The dude must have had a check list that rivaled some of Hunter S. Thompson’s best.
Plastic mummy in the shape a human
Bug office diorama
Bucket of Crickets
Dead body in trash bag bound by feet (Mafia Style)
I enjoyed picking Nick’s brain while setting up that morning. He has the true spirit of an artist, fully leaning into his individuality and quirkiness. Nick’s style is more on the practical side. His cognitive process was similar to a sculptor in the sense that he wanted to make his cognizance into an object form not an image. One thing lead to another and before you knew it I was hanging hotdogs by a string from the ceiling at the room’s divide between the courtyard and what would become the dance floor. I’m pretty sure he was going for a “meat wind chime” at the core of his artistic concept. He then pulled out a diorama of a stereotypical office made out of the inside of a an old fish tank. He then filled it up with live crickets and put it near some warm colored light. The plastic mummy was floating over the bar area suspended by fishing lure. The body bag was hung by it’s feet over looking the dance floor. Nick took classic Halloween decorations and reinvented them through his artistic vision. I realized that his work evokes discomfort with and this project fully embrace his love of macabre. His mystique is “what you may find strange, I may feel to be completely normal.”
I asked him some questions after the party and here is a quick little interview.
“J: In terms of curating what does your creative process look like? Where do you look for inspiration? “
N: “The creative process is always different for me. Sometimes, I’ll have an idea to make something and I’ll just make it, not really have a plan of what I’m going to do with it or where I would show it. I just kind of hang on to it until I can use it for something. Most of the time with events for the SD collective, there’s a theme. So that helps me to have some sort of direction. I usually like to stress my self out for a couple weeks and not be able to think of anything, then at the last minute, I usually come up with more ideas than I can accomplish in time. I work best
“I find a lot of inspiration in the alleys. I’m a hoarder and junk collector by nature. I find a lot of
discarded items that I can turn into art pieces. Also, there’s nothing better than a terrible stoner
idea that is seen out to fruition. “
J: “Agreed. Can you explain your costume a little bit?”
N: “My costume I wore came about from two different things I made that kind of evolved and came together. I made the mask originally as a way to have fake ears on my head for a video skit I was doing. I just kept going with it and added eyes and some teeth. A lot of people were pretty creeped out by the mask, so I knew it was perfect for Halloween. I don’t have many other opportunities to wear it, it’s not really something you can wear grocery shopping or to baby showers. The other part of the costume was a naked man suit I had made in the past for another costume party. My girlfriend was out of town, so I sewed up a smaller “twin” doll to be her stand in for the evening.
J: “What was your favorite piece at the show and why?”
N: “I think my favorite thing was the little naked monster doll that I made. I attached it to the top of a Roomba and let it loose in the dance floor. I think most people thought it was funny, but there were definitely a couple girls who looked pretty upset after the doll repeatedly bumped into them. Also, I don’t know if it is considered an art piece, but the hot dogs you helped me hang from the ceiling had me laughing all night.”
After a couple of hours of moving things we all took a break and enjoyed some coffee as well as some bagels that Stacie treated us to. I asked basic questions about the party. How it was marketed? What were the expectations? I was trying to get a grip on what this group’s vision ultimately was aside from just this party. Me and Marshall helped finished up some final touches, or what we thought, and left to go enjoy a beer by the beach. We were going to the party with a group and told everyone to meet at my house before for some pasta. Han Solo, Oscar the Grouch, Alex from Clockwork orange, an Imperial Chinese emperor, and Wesley from “The Princess Bride” all dined at my house that night. We had some drinks and called the Uber.
When we showed up the place looked completely different. I realized that we only saw the tip of the iceberg when we were helping set up. They had all been busy at work to take this venue to the next level. The lights and decor created a very relaxed mood while still staying in the spirit of Halloween. I made the rounds introducing myself and just kept asking basic questions like “how did you hear about the party?”, “who are you dressed as?”, “what do you think about the decorations?”. Everyone was extremely friendly and willing to participate in my interviews. There was a genuine warmth to everyone I spoke with. I found that very endearing.
I named the article “I’m Friends with Stacie” because that was the most common answer to the question “how did you hear about the party?”
That means to me that Stacie puts a personal touch to each event and each of it’s patrons.
Adding a little heart to your passion project never hurt anyone. This event was well coordinated and planned out. Everything fell into place. Stacie is a master at creating a great vibe for a party by bringing the right people and treating them to a genuinely good time. There was such an electricity in the air that night. Halloween weekend always has a certain aura around it. I’m not going to bore you with the details but this was awesome night for me and my friends. By the time we had all left we made some connections and I even got some networking done. Stacie’s vision for The SD Collective was to become a cool social group that had exclusive, spontaneous events leaving you wanting more. That goal has been greatly achieved. I gave Stacie a written interview because I wanted to give her a platform to speak on the party and her company as a whole. I want to thank Her, Nick, and all the other fine people I met that weekend at House of Freaks.
Hope to see you all soon.
1. When did the planning for the party start?
It started around May. Initially, I thought we would do a theme party- like maybe Alien Disco 2, something similar to last year. At that party everyone dressed up as famous duos or groups, but this year I decided to let it be a free for all. We would just do a freak show theme and make elements of the party as weird as possible.
2. What was the vision for House of Freaks?
I attended an art show at Bread and Salt last year with a friend of mine. I was literally walking around the space checking out the bones of it and getting so many ideas so I reached out to the owner about letting us throw an event there. I secured the event early on (in May). Even though Bread and Salt has an extremely small capacity considering its size, I knew after going there that it would be the perfect venue for a Halloween party since it used to be an old bread factory and still has many of the industrial elements inside. The details of our parties are what make us a little different than some of the other event companies. I try to make everything stimulating and interactive so that if you decide to come alone (which many people have and do), you will have talking points and things to play with so you won’t just be standing next to the wall or in a chair not able to converse with people. I come from a family of artists and music and art are my life blood, and each event always has those two elements are the forefront. I wanted House of Freaks to be less Halloween-y and more like a funhouse. I mean, we blew up red yoga balls to use as seats and they ended up being bounced on all night by almost everyone at the party. I want everyone to come to any of our parties to feel like they are at home. I want you to play, period. There is nothing worse than going somewhere and feeling like you wish you hadn’t.
3. In your opinion was this achieved?
I always have the initial vision in my head for each party, but because they’re pop-ups, I have to plan, plan, plan everything so meticulously right down to bringing tape, staple guns, ladders, zip ties, because depending on event location, sometimes it’s harder to go fetch things. I usually measure and draw out a layout of the room or space and decide where things will go. Luckily the House of Freaks location was near our office in North Park in case we did forget something. I also had so many people helping out with the set up this time that the decor turned out better than I imagined. I always get inspired by people’s creativity. I’d like to think I am a very creative person, but seeing how other people think always makes me more inspired. I love just handing someone a roll of fabric and tell them they have creative license to put it somewhere good and they always knock it out of the park. My good friend, Sam Mazzeo, who owns a law firm in San Diego, reached out to me to see if he could help out too. He is the biggest Halloween enthusiast I’ve ever met so I was like, “Of course!” You can deck out the whole front lobby area where people come in and that can be your room. He went all out and did a fantastic job! My best friend, Nick Quartier, is my right-hand person. I don’t know if it’s because we share the same birthday, but he just gets me. Any idea I have, he will be like, “that’s great and we can do this too!” and I’m always in awe of how much of a genius he is. He has been around since the conception helping out just out of the goodness of his heart, that now, he is my partner in all of this. I couldn’t do it as well as I do without him and without so many friends who have helped out and gotten sweaty setting up and tearing down these events. I don’t know how I got so lucky to have the friends that I do; who really want me and the Collective to succeed, but I am humbled and so grateful they exist.
4. is watching a project come to fruition the greatest joy?
I think the greatest joy for me comes from the people coming up to me and thanking me for inviting them and seeing they have all already connected by sharing phone numbers or adding each other on social media. The reason we started this thing was for the people. It’s so hard to make genuine connections and friendships as adults, because most of us are out of college or maybe we don’t want to meet people at bars, work, or Tinder. I think the events are just the EXPERIENCE, but the people are what sets The SD Collective apart. We usually make each event private and invite-only, but it’s not to be pretentious, but to keep the integrity of the guest lists and make sure people are there for the right reasons. It’s almost like a match making service for friendship. Highly curated. House of Freaks was the first semi-public event that The SD Collective has thrown. However, the entire event was sold out to capacity just by word of mouth and people inviting their friends personally. Grassroots marketing isn’t usually done anymore, but I think personally getting invited to something means a lot more. I have sold out every event we have ever done just by this same tactic. Also, I think once you attend one event, you can see the magic and will likely attend again.
5. Anything else to say about the SDC?
We have a lot of fun. I think humans can often get caught up living complacent lives. In jobs that are just okay, in relationships or friendships that are just okay, doing activities that are okay, but I want the Collective to be the antithesis of that. I don’t want your lives to be “okay”, I want your lives to be amazing!! I want you to feel something; to have that sizzle throughout your body. I want you to get out of relationships that don’t serve you and be HAPPY. Happiness is contagious and when you’re around happy people, it spreads like wildfire. I call what we are doing a “happy revolution”. You can call it anything you’d like, but there is no time like the present to toss away your anxieties and get out of your comfort zone, and have the potential to truly be happy in your own skin. We are ready to COLLECT you. Your invitation is in the mail.