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BCC Party #6 Party Report
by DJ Gruby/Oxyron

For many years MacGyver had been constantly encouraging me to come to Berlin and visit BCC Party. Until now I have never found enough motivation to show up, mostly due to the distance between Krakow and Berlin and the lack of convenient flight connections in those days. Upon relocation to Germany none of those impediments remained a blocker for my appearance at the party place, and I had no more excuses not to arrive. So finally in the year 2012 equipped with an own contribution to the demo competition, I visited the party, which I had been being invited to since many years.

On the warm (as in that time of the year) Friday evening of February 24, 2012 I left my workplace and soon arrived at the Hamburg central station, then I got on the IC train which was supposed to take me straight to Berlin. The trip was enjoyable and relatively fast. It took no longer than 2 hours to reach the destination, then I took an S-Bahn line to Jannowitzbruecke, where I switched to a U-Bahn line taking me straight to Hermannstrasse, the end station of my journey on that day. Everything went quickly and seamlessly. With the German manner of describing local train and streetcar routes, there is no way for a tourist to get lost in Berlin.

A little bit concerned what was going to happen to me at the party place, I marched straight and firmly through the streets of south Berlin towards Ev. Philipp Melanchthon Kirchengemeinde. Yes, the party was held in the attic of a big church. And the main reason for my worries was actually not being an atheist, rather the fact that I did not know anyone from C64 Club Berlin, not only personally, but as well via e-mail correspondence. After a couple of months of living in Hamburg I have learned the hard way that Germans are not the easiest people in the world to make friends with, at least not as easy as people in the Central/Eastern European countries. Although I was aware of the fact that two of my friends, DMAgicians: JTR and MacGyver, were expected to appear on the site, I still knew I would have to somehow find myself among those strangers. However, since we all have C64 as a common point of interest, it is never difficult to carry on an interesting conversation even with a complete unknown. Not only once I had learned myself that visiting demoscene parties is actually not such a horrible experience, actually quite the opposite, and people tend to be very friendly and talkative. And so all my concerns were almost immediately washed away as soon as I entered the party place and exchanged the first few handshakes and greetings with the main party organisers, Hoeppie, TheRyk and ThunderBird. No surprises there, without any exceptions all the party visitors and organisers turned out to be extremely nice and hospitable to me. I had a great pleasure to meet and talk and have some drinks together with plenty of positive-minded individuals during my three days stay in Berlin...

There will be no more regular BCC #6 party report in the classical sense of this kind of articles. What I instead decided to do was to have an open conversation with two out of three party organisers, namely Hoeppie and TheRyk/Arsenic/Mayday. All my personal experiences and comments have been woven into the questions asked directly to main organisers of the event. I hope you will enjoy this new way of documenting party experiences and find it entertaining enough to continue reading. Hopefully, it will add some dynamics to otherwise static reports which you usually find published in diskmags. Have fun!

[DJ Gruby] BCC Party #6 is now over. It has attracted around 30-40 demoscene enthusiasts from all over Germany, particularly living in and around Berlin. No obligatory entrance fee, three days of disobliging fun, and 10 miscellaneous releases participating in the competition. How successful would you consider this event when compared with the previously organized editions?

[TheRyk] All in all, and I think Hoeppie and Thunder will agree, BCC is getting better and better over the years and BCC #6 was another highlight. BCC #4 and #5 might have attracted even a few more people at the Saturday nights, maybe also due to the live performance of Thunder's band in those years. However, I particularly like that size of +/- 40 attendants, because it means you will find the time to have a drink and a talk with almost everyone over the three days. But quantity of guests does not matter as much as many other factors. To me it's much more important that we attract the right mix of mere users or gamers, hardware gurus and actively developing sceners. Many guests live around Berlin and its outskirts, however some travel very far every year to attend BCC, a fact which also strikes the quality of this party: most people who once attended a BCC will return in one of the following years. The amount but also the quality of competition entries is another indicator for the increasing standard. Though I am always very proud if true elite hardcore scene groups sent high quality remote entries which boost the level of each competition no matter on which party, I still do appreciate mere fun live coding entries very much even if they're done in BASIC. Unlike some uberleet online platforms, nobody is laughed at or frowned about here. Taking part counts much more than winning, although the prizes were extremely appealing this year, thanks to Hoeppie who did a particularly great job this year in terms of finding sponsors. Since you mention the lack of an obligatory entrance fee, it turned out to be a good decision. In former years there were some debates, although we never charged more than we spent for the party expenses like rent etc. This year I suggested a new way: everyone donates what he or she thinks justifiable and can afford. The result was that some guests' generosity was so enormous that we couldn't accept what they initially offered us. The sum was covering all our cost, any surplus will be invested in BCC #7.

[DJ Gruby] Weren't you at first scared or at least deeply concerned about taking the risk of this donation approach? After all, it could have turned out that you would have to cover the entire expenses from your own pocket...

[TheRyk] That's maybe even a matter of philosophy or general attitude to life. Being rather an optimistic philanthropist all my life, I made only a few negative experiences. In general you should not underestimate people but believe in them. However, knowing most of the guests in person as intelligent people from former years, it wasn't such a big risk at all. The worst case I considered was that I would have to pay one or two hundred bucks - from my own pocket if the experiment had failed - which I didn't.

[Hoeppie] And at least we were more than one person to split the costs.

[DJ Gruby] It is really great to learn that the whole experiment turned out to be so successful. Have you received any feedback regarding your donation project from the demoscene community?

[TheRyk] Ah, c'mon, that idea was not really the invention of the wheel. Organizing parties simply costs money. Good to know that Hoeppie would have taken responsibility if we had it failed, but since I talked to him and Thunder into that idea, I would have been the one to blame. But we just proved that people can be really generous if you just trust them. However, one aspect of the idea was also to make attendance possible for people like penniless students. If those give only just a symbolic Euro but well-off yuppies pay 20, the average is the amount we needed.

[DJ Gruby] Of course, I agree that party costs money. So what was an average entrance fee in the previous years of BCC?

[TheRyk] As far as I remember, we charged people 10 Euro which I find quite normal if I compare it to other parties I attended in the last years. Only apartment guests were charged a little more for the luxury of having their own beds and shower and no non-stop SID music all night long. :)

[DJ Gruby] Have you encountered any new faces (besides myself of course) at the party place this year? Were there any new visitors attracted to come to BCC #6 for the very first time, who were not there at any previous edition?

[Hoeppie] The last years I was normally absent on Saturdays. Shame on me, so I missed the last 3 years the great Saturday events. Enthusi was great to meet him live. Spider-J was a very nice talk and he sent me a macro library for ACME cross-assembler. A great surprise was Kangaroo, one of two CPC-people from Stuttgart [2].

[TheRyk] It was very nice to meet Enthusi. I wasn't aware that he had moved to Berlin. But it was also cool that we could talk Schlonkel from the far west of Germany into attending, although he had just returned from another trip to Berlin some weeks ago. For Spider-J it was also his first BCC, he's the kinda party animal coder I like to meet. At the next party I hope we both have no orga duties or releases to work very much on, so we can focus more on boozing again. Was also good that JTR, who for some reason missed BCC #5, made it again. But having joined Arsenic at the turn of the year, I was of course very curious about meeting you - and wasn't disappointed, you're fun and also gave us some international air provided by the Belgian ROLEs in former years. If I could make a wish, I'd like to see Bugjam and Monte Carlos again at BCC #7 and maybe a few more Arsenics. But of course it's also fine to see all the faces of our most loyal guests again every year. They are one cool bunch of nice guys, always ready to help each other out by lending equipment, repairing or soldering hardware, providing some help with releases, etc.

[DJ Gruby] Talking about prizes. They were truly amazing, great job was done by Hoeppie to organize so many cool items for people actively participating in the competition. And speaking for myself, what I honestly have to admit is that I had felt overwhelmed by the number of cool things one could win. Even to the point that when the prizes were being presented, I had whispered to JTR, who had been standing next to me, that it would be the coolest thing that could happen to me if I got that 4-player games package from Protovision. Soon after that I was picking up my third-place award, and I didn't notice that the prize, which I set my sights to, was still available. And I picked something else. Then Spider-J entered the stage and (of course) he picked up that 4-player games package I wanted so madly. I was really pissed off at myself, fortunately that didn't last long before I realized that I can try again next year, and when the time comes I am going to pay more attention to better choose what I take. My story only proves how amazing the prizes were, and that there was no easy resolution to decide what you really wanted to win.

[TheRyk] It was a rather close competition this year. Speaking for myself, I would have been glad to be #2 in the end, which would have meant that I'd have definitely got one of the two Zoom Floppies. Even winning a competition for the first time in my life felt all the more relieving, flattering and happy. But as far as I can judge, every participant could pick something useful. Even after everybody picked their awards, there were still a pile of useful things left which might be among next year's prizes again.

[Hoeppie] Getting all those prices was not only done by myself. MacGyver gave me his contact list, then I only rewrote some mails and kept in touch with sponsors. And so besides I met Frank Erstling, one of the main faces behind RETURN-Magazin. Schlonkel was a bit tricky to get some of his famous TLC #5 [1]. :) I like to get in touch with people who share the same interests and hobbies. And I will do my very best for BCC #7 (or should I write "The C64 Club Berlin Party No.7!").

[TheRyk] Bah, that damn discussion about whether we may use the acronym BCC or not. Though I appreciate that Berlin Congress Centre didn't set lawyer bloodhounds with actual claims for money on us, yet, but only kindly asked us to stop using BCC, I really think, they should screw up their courage and allow us to use the old name. I really doubt that they can sue us successfully to prevent us from using an acronym, especially as long as we don't use it on our website (which is hopelessly outdated, anyway) anymore - which might have irritated one of thousand exhibition visitors in the past. BCC should be and remain BCC if you ask me.

[Hoeppie] Absolutely... I agree.

[DJ Gruby] That is really interesting to find out how the big business world is vulnerable to people's hobbies and their social activities. If you continued to use BCC acronym, it wouldn't have really harmed their image, I guess. But still, they forced you to do it.

[TheRyk] As I said, they didn't really force us yet, but they "strongly recommended" us to drop the acronym. Do I have to say more...?

[DJ Gruby] How did you share responsibilities for organizing the whole party? Did it come naturally or was there lots of arguing who does what? Did you first carefully plan how to split your efforts?

[Hoeppie] Years ago Thunder.Bird and others were planing the party. I was only making the announcements. After BCC #2 I found the new place and got in touch with the youth club which is a new party location since BCC #3. This year we changed the responsibilities and it happened automatically. I think we all got the same goal: having a good party. TheRyk did a very good job leading the competition, party, and making flyers. Thunder.Bird organized equipment (beamer, sounds), some of the prices and he was as well standing in front as the first contact person. I took over contacting sponsors, signing contract for room, apartment and making pizza. Thunder.Bird made a step back, then TheRyk and me took over what was needed. TheRyk, please correct me if I said somthing wrong here.

[TheRyk] Actually, quite a few things just developed due to random incidents. In former years Thunder and Hoeppie basically organized everything on their own. This time, Thunder found love again just this winter and Hoeppie was just about to become father for the first time in his life. That's why I felt one more BCC member taking some responsibility might not be a bad idea. But this went without saying and wasn't really a burden to me, quite the opposite, it was fun. Apart from organizing a few things via email and some flyer photoshopping, my job consisted mainly of carrying a few tables from the church's backyard building through narrow alleyways to the party room above the church's nave, and there were many helping hands of BCC members and other guests.

[DJ Gruby] Can you say that all the organizational efforts went well? Are there any complaints on your side that could have been made from your perspective? And finally are you close to the perfection yet or is there still some room for improvement? ;)

[TheRyk] Since there were no complaints I know of and we are rather satisfied with how everything went, we can pat each other on the backs and lean back - but only till next autumn or winter. If we take the same location again, of course many things aren't so very difficult to organize after all the experience we made since BCC #3. But no matter where BCC #7 will be, there's always room for improvement, you'll see, won't you?

[DJ Gruby] Of course, you can count me into the group of your most loyal guests to be seen again every year. :) Great to hear there were no major complaints (again, I really couldn't find anything to complain myself, so why would others?). So the whole event went well... However, I assume that planning did not start two days before the party, instead you needed some more time to prepare everything. How much work did it cost you to organize this whole event in terms of time you needed to dedicate to BCC?

[Hoeppie] The date is normally around the 8th week of the year. To estimate the amount of work is difficult. It goes by me in stages. First stage, make an announcement at CSDb an setup fixed date. Second stage, rent room and apartment, contact sponsors, write post on Forum64 and begin with attendance list. Third stage, which begins on Friday, room preparation and signing contracts. Fourth is the party itself and fifth is cleanup, paying the rent, cleaning and giving the key back on Sunday.

[TheRyk] Let's be a little more precise to make sure, no one misses the party due to bad planning. The last four parties were always on the last February weekend, so BCC #7 should be from 22nd to 24th of February 2013 if there are no truly important reasons for changing the date.

[DJ Gruby] Things like Hoeppie making his delicious pizza was to me something totally different from all other demoscene parties I had ever attended. This is one of a few things that make BCC very special compared to other events, truly memorable, and imprinting desire to return to Berlin again. Where do you get your inspiration for those small however significant factors?

[Hoeppie] Next year I will make chilli. ;)

[DJ Gruby] What will be the biggest challenge for you to organize BCC #7 next year?

[TheRyk] That's difficult to answer after a party which went so very well. I guess we'll try to avoid the few minor problems like bringing such a bitch of an uncooperative printer for the votesheets. Just kidding, though I was indeed a little mad about having prepared votesheets which never were printed in the end for hours - time I might have better spend boozing and partying. Seriously, I can't really answer, yet. Maybe maintaining this year's standard will be challenge enough. But I guess, we will just try to surprise everyone again with some fancy little details like the Commodore logo salami slices on the pizza.

[Hoeppie] I think my little daughter will be my main challenge. And to get enough place for hardware.

[DJ Gruby] Alright, guys! Thank you very much for answering all my questions and sharing your thoughts on BCC #6 organisation. I wish you all the best for the future, and I am already looking forward to meeting you again in Berlin. If there is anything else you would like to say to our readers, get your last word now.

[TheRyk] Nothing - except: thank you for reporting about us, Gruby, and come all to BCC #7 next year, Attitude readers!

[Hoeppie] All the best and see you.

In summary, I had lots of fun at the BCC Party #6 in Berlin and I'm already looking forward to another edition of such a memorable event next year. I also hope for more people to come and bring some outstanding stuff to be released during competitions. This nice party series definitely deserve more attention, appreciation, and recognition.

DJ GRUBY/OXYRON

References:

[1] Boulder Dash - The Lost Caves Project http://www.lust-auf-nostalgie.de/thelostcaves/index.htm
[2] Pictures from BCC #6 http://blog.kangaroo.cmo.de/2012/02/27/eindrucke-von-der-berliner-c64-party-bcc/

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