Reflection (noun): An amount of energy thrown back by a body without absorption;
a thing that is a consequence of or arises from something else.
While standing in a crowded bar, with the noise of the band roaring in my ears, the woman in the red dress leaned closer to me and whispered Are you ready to begin the next part of your story?
I absolutely was, and I embraced it with an armless hug.
This past week, ALONE presented the third index of their Unweave the Rainbow storyline, Reflection. And with three of them under our belts now, this one included, the story has become a bit clearer.
ALONE is known for their bizarre, sensory offerings. What one event is does not reflect (no pun intended) what their next will include. They often like to change things up a bit, and keep us on our toes. Reflection was no different, offering (as they said) a one to three hour, multi-site, real world experience. And before I get into the nuts and bolts of the review, I have to say that this was, by far, my favorite of the indices so far, and it even volleys for the top slot of overall ALONE events (with 2014s ScareLA offering edging it out just slightly).
When the dates for Reflection were announced, they made it known that this would not be just be the standard go to XYZ location, experience the event piece. Instead, it really WAS a journey of self, taking you to places in Los Angeles to find out what unweaving the rainbow consists of. Leading up to it, they began posting photos on their social media. Subtle, at first, but it didnt take long to realize that there was a puzzle to be had, and a special phrase was gained from them, which we would need during the experience itself.
In addition, they sent out a soundtrack days before, and asked that we downloaded it to a media device, for use while driving and experiencing the event in the real world. In typical ALONE fashion, there was more than meets the eye with the soundtrack. While switching between calm and comforting to crazy and disconcerting, the music added a little bit more to the experience. In fact, they greatly enhanced it. It not only went along with our actions, but of course, contains clues as to what was needed to continue, if you listened carefully. On top of that, the production value and music overall is fantastic, and is something that I can see myself listening to again and again, because of the feelings it invokes. But thats getting ahead of myself. We should start from the beginning.
She grabbed my hand, and looked into my eyes deeply. Tell me, she said. What is the earliest memory you have?
Because of the description of Reflection, we assumed it was a scavenger hunt of sorts, much like Januarys event that finished up ALONEs Enola Foundation storyline. Of course, the usual team banded together for this go-round, and decided to take the journey together. Myself, my fiancée Martina, fellow HorrorBuzz writer Taylor Winters, and his girlfriend, Tay, decided to work together as a team to crack this egg.
Taylor and I have spent many hours discussing ALONEs events and puzzles at length, and we analyzed much of the soundtrack before we even showed up at the starting location. Which, speaking of, once we arrived, we were asked to fill out a questionnaire about ourselves. While not out of the ordinary to do so, we noticed that everyone else in the room awaiting their experience were NOT asked to fill one out. In fact, when we asked other participants about it later on, they had no idea what we were talking about. Perhaps, because of our frenzied devotion to unweave the rainbow, they decided to give us an extra challenge? Maybe. But we soon realized that the questionnaire doubled as a puzzle to be solved, which would lead us to our next location when the time came.
After figuring out the solution, and catching up with other waiting folks, we were called, one by one, into a darkened room, where the typical haunt experience began to play out. A solitary process, I interacted with some of ALONEs terrific talent in the dark for 10 minutes, figuring out human-based puzzles (Ill never look at pole dancing quite the same again!), getting my face painted, and then being thrust back onto the street.
I want you to go back to a time, even before that memory, before life, before death, to think about a memory you might not even know exists, she told me, making sure I was listening intently. That is where you need to go next.
It was then, after my three companions also went through the same, with varying degrees of difference, that we embarked on our journey. What followed was a trip to some interesting places all over Los Angeles, leading us to second guess ourselves and reflect upon our own inner beings.
The thing about ALONE is that, in the time leading up to, during, and after, you always wind up questioning what is, and is not, part of the experience. Because of their multi-site puzzles, and interacting with their actors out in public, you are never quite sure who, or what, is and isnt part of the experience. For example, at one point we were walking down a darkened sidewalk, and there was a woman with a pushcart coming toward us. We were all so sure she was part of ALONE that, as she passed us, we tensed up, waiting for her to do something. However, she strolled right by, never once glancing at us, and we all felt foolish for thinking that. It was moments later that the innocuous person we were meant to interact with appeared from nowhere, causing us all to double think our interactions over the last hour. There were many moments like this throughout the evening, and the way they were all organically inserted into the world was impressive. ALONE really goes out of their way to find these tipping points, and hold true to their exploration of human emotions.
To me, these real-world bits are the best part of the experience. One of the tensest moments for me didnt happen within a darkened room, but while walking alone, through a long tunnel in Downtown LA, with their soundtrack beating in my ears. Here I was, out in the open, with nothing around me but the dirty, white tiles of the tunnel, and the cars passing me by, that I was anxiously awaiting something to happen. It was an incredible response, and again, the music they provided made it that much better.
It also goes to show some of the amazing, and weird, places that ALONE takes you throughout the course of their events. From hole-in-the-wall bars to hydroponic fish & sculpture places, these guys know their city inside and out, and want to make sure you explore it. Hell, one of the locations we went back to after the show was over, and while speaking to one of the bartenders, he expressed how grateful he was for ALONE bringing some new folks into their place.
Towards the end of our experience, after driving for a period of time, and having crazy interactions with the locals, we wound up at a bar. We were greeted by someone as soon as we walked in, and while the real-world continued to live their lives all around us, he separated us again, handing us off to women who were integrated into the crowd.
What followed was a deep conversation, one of many that evening, but one really hones my next point home: ALONE makes you think. About yourself, your actions, your life, and those around you. The woman in the red dressed asked me things about myself, reflecting on my personal experience, to really get into her larger message.
Even when you are within a group of people, she explained, you are always alone. Do you understand that? That is the key.
The talent they have at ALONE is always top-notch, and they all deserve kudos for their fantastic performances. But especially her, the woman in the red dress, stood out. Never once did I believe she was acting. Never once did I see an ulterior motive to her actions. She was genuinely interested in my answers, my life, and my memories. She expanded upon them, relating them to what was to come next, and explaining more about the four indices, more in-depth than I had ever thought before. She was wonderful, and really got me thinking. The roar of the crowd melted away into the white noise, and her voice mesmerized me.
She brought me into a hallway just next to the bar, and wished me luck on my journey home. She led me to a staircase, and told me to queue up a track to listen to, before sending me on my way. It was here that the end began, with the second half of the alone experience took place, finding my way through the darkness and into the light. I really like how they began, and ended, the experience with these alone in the dark scenarios, as they were perfect bookends. As per usual, I wont get into the exact specifics, but true to the reflection nature of this index, they had a bit with a mirror that was so perfect and so incredible that it kind of sent me reeling.
Again, as I mentioned earlier, this was one of my favorite ALONE events. They really did an amazing job. Devon Paulson, Lawrence Lewis, and the entire ALONE team, from talent to technical crew, pulled off a fantastic experience. I cant even tell you how many people I spoke to after it was over who had nothing but high praise for it. From top to bottom, it worked, and completely won me over. I know I sing their praises all the time, but I really am a champion for ALONE and all their offerings. While not a typical haunt experience, they do provide a wonderful avant-garde, performance art experience that has a deeper meaning to many.
To learn more about The ALONE Experience, and find information about their final index to Unweave the Rainbow, Absorption, please visit their website.