“You should go to this,” my friend texted, as he forwarded me an invitation to an upcoming art show, where both established and emerging artists had contributed works, all incognito.
The thrill was that they were only $100, you could only buy a maximum of three, and the artist would only be revealed after purchase when you turned the work over.
What fun, a thrilling art lucky dip! I scanned the works online and looked up the address. It started at 8am on a Saturday. It would be cold. I immediately called my son, thinking this was something useful he could do for me, for once. Queue. I’d shout him a painting.
He was keen until he realised he was going away for weekend to sip wine by a fire in a vineyard or something equally vexing, so it came back to the idea of me lining up on Oxford street, wearing a puffer and beanie, maybe with a fold out chair. A thermos. A space blanket.
I just don’t queue if I can help it. Sure, for a vaccine, for a show, for a bus, but I would never line up to buy a particularly ‘hot’ fashion item or put my name down on one of those performative waiting lists for the chance to buy some expensive and over-hyped handbag.
I don’t understand why you would camp outside when a new iPhone is released, or a Yeezy sneaker, or a Supreme/Louis Vuitton collaboration, Gucci/Northface whatever. Its counterintuitive. They should be lining up to show me their goods.
I know it’s about the scarcity factor and creating brand buzz, but it’s a creepy type of capitalism that makes people queue for non-essential items. This art show was intriguing though, there were beautiful works to be had, and it was designed to benefit emerging artists.
So, I set my alarm for 6am, woke and checked social media. People had arrived at 4.30am. The line was already snaking down far down the street. It was dark and chilly. I couldn’t raise the enthusiasm. I waited until 10am, headed to the markets, and noticed a long, long queue going into a new café. I had noticed a big crowd there the week before and wondered what was so special about this establishment.
It was one of those nondescript cafés that are just white and stark, with a couple of baristas with cool tattoos and a small letterboard spelling out what is on offer. You could fit out your new café to look like Marie Antoinette’s hameau and people will still queue for the one with the letterboard.
So, I joined the queue. Just before I got to the counter, which took about 15 minutes, I turned to the couple behind me. “What am I here for, what am I supposed to be ordering, what’s the hot item?”
They were a bit taken aback by my cheerful FOMO-induced herd mentality. “I don’t know” the woman said. “The bagels are pretty good”.
So, I ordered a lox and cream cheese bagel, and as it happens, it was worth queuing for. Much more so than for a sneaker.