I ran a quiz recently in a London night club, which isn’t a particularly weird place to run a corporate quiz. Quite often clients arrange for their quizzes to be in rooms in clubs – sometimes this is ideal, as we can just plug into a perfectly set up DJing booth.
On this occasion, there was one little problem: the “separate” room we were in had swing doors through to the main dancefloor with nothing in between – I fought a battle with the cheesy hits coming from the adjoining room all night – I think I won the battle, but ended the evening a little hoarse and a little deafer than I was before.
It got me thinking about the stranger/less ideal places I’ve run quiz nights. It’s one of the main differences between what we and most quiz masters do: we travel around and set up ad hoc to run quizzes in many, many different venues. We always get it to work, but sometimes it’s easier than others.
There isn’t, as such, an ideal venue. What we’re looking for, roughly, is a room where everyone can see us/the screen(s) (so columns, nooks and crannies and L-shapes are usually a bit of a no-no), where either portable/in-built speakers can be placed where they don’t deafen participants or give feedback, where there’s enough space for everyone, where there’s at least enough light to read and write, where there’s atmosphere rather than sterility and, above all else really, a distinct space where there isn’t noise from somewhere else seeping in and likewise where we don’t have to worry about disturbing other people who aren’t taking part in the quiz. Different kinds of rooms can suit different events, and, like I say, we can make it work even when it’s not perfect.
Generallym, our clients choose the venue and we help them in advance as much as we can – it’s very rare that we say a venue they’ve chosen is really impossible, but we do sometimes advise a repeat client that a venue they used one year really shouldn’t be used for a quiz again.
It usually works very well. There’ve been some tough ones though. Open courtyards in the rain, while 100s of office workers looked on from the outside, bemused. Sections of restaurants separated from the rest of the venue by no more than a bench. Nightclubs where the light could not be raised above a dim twilight. Riverboats with very small indoor sections. Private member clubs without chairs or tables. Downstairs rooms at curry houses where I had to set up on a fridge. Tiny alcoves where our helpers had to sit on the floor, under the table. Such a severe lack of space that our helper had to sit on the other side of a closed door. Space museums with teams in separate exhibition rooms. Leith Dockers Club at 10pm on a Sunday after karaoke night (that was probably my all time favourite). Those are just the ones I can remember. Often, though, a room which ought to be fine has some surprising problem, but rarely anything which can’t be solved out of the QuizMaster’s bag of tricks (both literally and figuratively): vast lengths of cable, an ingeniously positioned speaker or two, huge amounts of duct tape, auxiliary cables, standing in exactly the right spot and speaking at exactly the right volume. It’s all part of the fun, I suppose.