8 ways to improve Cafe Fest S’pore next year to make hipsters feel so quaint their moustaches stiffen

Here are some suggestions to improve Cafe Fest, if it happens again next year.

By Belmont Lay | September 9, 2014

The inaugural Cafe Fest Singapore held at the Waterfront Promenade near Marina Bay Sands on Sept. 6 and 7, 2014, has taken one heck of a beating online after angry hipsters went ape on the WWW to vent their frustrations.

Those who are unhappy felt that they had been fleeced because they bought two-day event passes for between $25 and $30 apiece that would have bestowed upon them exclusivity, but ended up mingling with the hoi polloi who didn’t fork out a cent as the organiser in their wisdom decided the event was to be open to the public just because.

The gripes documented — which essentially sound like typical First World Problems — are aplenty, such as how there was a queue for food, it was too hot outdoors and the food and drinks that don’t come at a cheap price still ran out so fast anyways.

Nonetheless, hipster events such as this have proven to be money-making business ideas as more than $100,000 was raked in from selling passes alone.

So, to help out the future hapless organiser of the next cafe fest to avoid the same fate, here are 8 ways Cafe Fest Singapore could be improved that would make hipsters cream in their collective three-quarter capris:


1. Offer a dozen sampler coffee shots for real low prices, say, $12


Hipsters like to congregate. And when hipsters congregate, they cannot help but share stuff.

One reason is because they have this idealised sense of community. So, selling a dozen shots will get them to happily part with their money because there seems to be a lot to go around.

And the other reason is because living a hipster lifestyle can be quite expensive, what with eating organic and planting your own sprouts and investing heavily in fertiliser and gardening tools.

So, when there is an opportunity to buy cheap stuff and save — and share — hipsters will be on it like a dog in heat on another dog in heat.

$12 for 12 sampler shots will allow vendors to sell $12 worth of stuff but, more importantly, also give hipsters the illusion they are being indulgent, even though they just paid $12 and drank like 45ml of coffee and they are savouring whatever little they have.


2. VIP and regular pass holders are given carnival-style food stamps to exchange for food items

Instead of demanding pass holders pay in real world currency, hipsters could be given carnival coupons to pay for items. Such food stamps entitle them to bits and pieces of something to chew on and it can differ from the items the general public non-pass holders get to purchase.

Looking at this scheme from a hipster’s perspective, you can tell there is something inherently quaint about such food stamps and coupons.

To the hipster, being able to use them for transactions gives them this sense they have achieved something great because it is like trading in their own currency they’ve created and it’s so like a non-mainstream thing.

It’s like their idea of what economics should be.

This has the added benefit of actually letting vendors know how many hipsters are turning up beforehand and plan the amount of food that they have to prepare and cook, depending on the number of passes sold.


3. A tent with a Big Ass Fan


Big Ass Fans, with their incredible cooling abilities, ought to be be mandated in Parliament as a staple for all outdoor events in Singapore due to the heat and humidity living in this part of the tropics.

So, instead of promising shelter or tentage or some exclusive turfed grass stage thingy, just inform event-goers that Big Ass Fans will be in place in a covered area.

Plus, these Big Ass Fans will facilitate the windswept effect and this, in turn, will promote the taking of filtered photos by hipsters, who cannot wait to wear their summer dresses, bespoke suits, felt hats and winsome smiles or starving artistic scowls, and pose for the cameras like it is really breezy and feel really like they are enjoying themselves.


4. Give goodie bags and tote bags that contain nothing



Rookie mistake 101: The organisers of Cafe Fest should not have bothered to give away sponsored vouchers or any of the pointless marketing material. They should have just stuck to giving out empty bags.

To normal people, an empty bag is really just an empty bag.

But to hipsters, an empty bag represents space. It signifies poignancy. It is pregnant with expectation.

The rule for hipsters is really very simple to follow: When you give them things they don’t want, such as sponsored vouchers they cannot relate to, they will go rabid on you.

When you give them nothing, they will make something out of it.

Hipsters are essentially meaning-makers.


5. Organise a cafe-hopping trail at some gentrified neighbourhood instead

Photo via inSing TV

Like Tiong Bahru. Or Jalan Besar. Or Tanjong Pagar.

This is actually a no-brainer. Why bring 12 cafes into the bay area when you can ask hipsters to bring themselves to cafes that they themselves have already gone to a thousand times before within a span of two days?

Trust me, they will still see the novelty in it because it is like cafe-hopping and they see themselves swaggering from one to another.


6. Under-promise in all publicity outreach

This is the quintessential hipster way of doing things: Putting in a lot of effort to perfect the look but fake it to look like you are not trying too hard and doing things unassumingly.

Leave hipsters guessing where the next Cafe Fest venue is. Don’t even give an idea what they are in for.

This is in line with a true hipster’s fear of commitment (read: lack of responsibilities) and an embrace of the fleeting (read: flaky, wishy-washy).


7. Under-publicise the event

Never tout your cafe fest as the next big thing or the thing not to be missed this weekend.

The trick is to make it as understated and as under-the-radar as possible. Like “I Am Freaking Wheel & Cloud” chill kind of vibe.

This inverse form of publicity will drive the hipsters wild. The level of exclusivity will be perceived to be so high, it is even higher than Marina Bay Sands.

And they will jizz all over themselves.


8. Do away with the mainstream sponsors



Subaru as a sponsor for a hipster cafe event?

Economy disrupting tech transport giant Uber as a giveaway partner? Hello?

That’s like asking Playboy to sponsor AWARE Singapore’s next D&D.

Or Tiananmen KTV & Lounge to organise my five-year-old niece’s birthday party.

Sponsors for the next Cafe Fest should preferably be one of those co-ops that champions Make Trade Fair type of merchants, where they promote some enterprise that involves a man wearing traditional clothes toiling close to the earth with his artisanal skills.

A hipster and Subaru goes together as well as church and Viagra.

So, if the organisers really want to incorporate the transport component into their event, they should go with two-tired, human-powered bicycles — that are not really practical in heavy traffic, sweaty Singapore.

But this is the kind of incongruity hipsters dig.

Therefore, it would be a much better idea to give hipsters one of those bicycles without brakes but with leather handles and white wheels and tell them they can ride it pointlessly around the bay area for an hour in a carefree manner that appeals to their flower child inside.

They will be so grateful.

Especially when they are wearing their bespoke suits and felt hats while they are at it.


Top photo via ‏theshutterwhale Instagram

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About Belmont Lay

Belmont can pronounce "tchotchke".

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