There was a line around the block. It was 8:00 p.m. on a Thursday night, and young people in nice clothes were waiting to get into Nordstrom to a bachelor auction called "Shopping for Singles," hosted by Seattle Metropolitan Magazine as a fundraiser for On the Boards. The line was an inauspicious omen—recall the Seattle Met launch party at the Paramount in February, with its overcrowding, paucity of food and drink, and disgruntled comers. But once inside, the food and drink were easy to find—there were several bars on several floors of retail, and trays of finger food carried by waiters wearing black T-shirts with puns like "Hate raisins? How about a date?"
Scoring dates, auctioned or otherwise, was the point. Two women—both tall, both pretty—chatted in a corner. A third ran up and scolded them: "Ladies, this is not good mingling." Around the store, among the high-end boots and belts and jeans, there were short performances: singing by Nick Garrison, dancing by Buttrock Suites, whose set was briefly delayed because, someone said, the dancers were standing in line at the bar. The auctioning of persons was the main event.
Hawking dates for money seemed like taking the art-house theater On the Boards (a Stranger Genius this year) to MTV Spring Break. "We're very grateful to Seattle Met for choosing us," said OtB artistic director Lane Czaplinski while downing an Italian beer in the men's department. "We didn't have a whole lot to do with planning the event." Seattle Met had already organized "Shopping for Singles," was looking for a good cause to endorse, and thought On the Boards sounded right. During the auction, Seattle Met publisher Nicole Vogel gave the winning bid, $2,800, for a package involving a date with three siblings—two boys, one girl—as well as a pedicure, a fancy dinner, and organic-produce delivery. I asked why she thought On the Boards was a good choice for the benefit. "For a singles event, they attract such a wide demographic." There are a few other good reasons: On the Boards brings energetic, polarizing performance to Seattle. The first show of the new season is Back to the Present by Constanza Macras and Dorky Park, from Berlin. Its subject matter is loss and the corrosion of memory, but its aesthetic is a frenetic combination of experimental dance, pop, and trash: Grieg's "In the Hall of the Mountain King" smashed against a karaoke "Shot Through the Heart"; toy cows and eagles; an acrobatic beat-down; a woman in a red dress and heels falling, spinning, and undulating like a graceful spastic; another woman in her underwear, on the edge of a roof, crying, looking like she's going to jump, suddenly hit by a barrage of stuffed animals.
On Monday, Keri Kellerman, development director for On the Boards, said the auction raised $17,500 for the theater, which will cover roughly 1.75 percent of its annual operating budget. Plus, Seattle Met was buying all the drinks. Not a bad haul for one night of playing arm candy.