Revelers Amid the Ruins

SAN FRANCISCO (04/18/2000) -, a new short-film site, seemingly couldn't have picked a worse night for its launch party: Saturday, in Seattle, the day after Internet companies took a perilous dive on the stock market.

Established tech companies like Intel had suffered, so what would the mood be like at the launch of a fledgling online entertainment company?

Surprise. The scene was positively buoyant inside The Crocodile, a popular downtown music club. After postering the city with fliers complete with removable entry tickets, L.A.-based AntEye succeeded in attracting a full house of young revelers who had nothing to do with the Internet economy. If the stock market really was crashing (though nobody was using the "C" word in Seattle) this party was out to suck the last drops of its sweet excesses. A pad of paper hung over a stage piled with paint and buckets of water. Two nymphets wearing silver lame hot pants sprawled below a guy painting a serious-looking portrait.

Did he work for AntEye? No. Did he work for the Internet economy? No. "I just saw the paint up here, and started painting," he said. A tall, ambiguously-gendered creature in a Warhol wig and Za Za sunglasses pranced about the entryway snapping Polaroids. "Make it dirty! Make it nasty!" he/she instructed, then ordered the subjects to retrieve the photos with their teeth.

On the dance floor the crowd swayed and bobbed their heads to a band called Alien Crime Syndicate. A knot of people in the center of the room looked like they could have stepped out of a Ken Russell movie: a 6-foot-tall girl wearing a white leather helmet, a cowboy guy with muscles, someone dressed like a Geisha. A girl in purple with a dot on her forehead stood in front of the stage with her arms held above her head, pointing a digital video camera at the stage.

She could have been on her boyfriend's shoulders at Woodstock. In fact, the band's singer explained, she was filming their music video. Others video cameras moved through the club, in the hands of AntEye's staff. The dancing cowboy appeared on video screens on the walls. The party was being Webcast on AntEye's site. "Is this 'Hard Copy'?" joked the band's front man. "Is this MTV? Where's Tabitha Soren?" A young man surveyed the bacchanal while waiting in line for a drink at the bar. "I learned what AntEye was five minutes ago, when I got here," he said. "I saw the posters around town and came for the free drinks. They're just another Internet company that won't be around in another five months."

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