July 24, 2007

A trip to Seattle last weekend brought the opportunity to expand and update our listings in this very photobooth-savvy town; thanks to the enthusiasm of friends and the patience of my wife, I hit ten locations in Seattle and Kirkland, all of which are run by Will Simmonds and Photobooth Services. I was in touch with Will before I arrived, and was able to confirm some locations before heading off on the hunt. Just to update, according to our research, there are no longer dip and dunk photobooths at the following locations that may have, at some point in the last five years, had photobooths:

Hotwire Cafe, Espresso Roma and Retro Viva in the U-District, Fun House on 5th Ave., Hello Gorgeous, Earl’s On the Ave, Tommy’s Bar, The Duchess, Private Screening in Fremont., Pretty Parlor, and Neumo’s.

Now, if any of those places do still have dip and dunk photobooths, please let us know, and we’d be happy to update our listings. Now, on to the booths we visited this weekend:

Our first stop was Re-bar, a bar and club that was preparing for a heavy night of techno when we arrived, but was thankfully quiet and empty. A driver’s license left as collateral at the door was all we needed to avoid the cover and jam into the photobooth, located just inside the club area.

From Re-bar, we headed up to Capitol Hill to the new location of the Cha Cha Lounge, downstairs from Bimbo’s Bitchin’ Burrito Kitchen. Having spent some good times (at the bar and in the booth) at the Cha Cha in Silverlake, I was excited to visit the original, or at least the newest incarnation of the original. The photobooth has some nice Cha Cha-themed decorations inside and colorful blankets for a curtain, and fits right in along with the tiki lounge/Mexican wrestling theme.

goldies.jpgGoldie’s on 45th was on my list, but I didn’t think we’d have a chance to stop by until we were driving by it, on our way to the High Dive. We had some time to kill, so we stopped in, caught the tail end of a tough air hockey match, and snapped some photos in their photobooth.

Our final stop for the evening was the High Dive in Fremont. It had a photobooth, but also happened to be the venue for a band that a friend of a friend belonged to, so I didn’t feel like I was dragging anyone there. We had a great night enjoying the music, and stopped in the photobooth on our way out. It was a fun night, and I was impressed, as I would be all weekend, that all of the photobooths we sought out were where they were supposed to be, and in good working order. Some of them had some messy chem stains in a couple of frames, and they all starting taking photos more rapidly than any other booths I’ve been in — hence the caught unawares look in the first photo of every strip — but they were all working fine, for which Will and Photobooth Services are to be commended.

The next day, we headed over to Kirkland to meet friends, and hit the booths at Waldo’s and The Shark Club, both solid booths in unremarkable locations.

pac_sci_booth.jpgOn Monday, I met Will Simmonds and we headed to the Pacific Science Center, so he could show me his two special black and white booths. The first booth is professionally decorated with a dinosaur theme to match the “Colossal Fossils” exhibit going on this year; it’s also unique as it’s the first dip-and-dunk booth I’ve ever seen or heard of that accepts credit cards, which it did very well.

We headed across the Center campus to Building 3, where we stopped for awhile at the second photobooth on the site, which is a pretty interesting machine. It’s a traditional Model 20 with a twist: the “guts” of another Model 20, the photobooth minus the half with the stool and curtain, attached to the end of the photobooth and encased in transparent plexiglass, rather than the normal lightproof enclosure necessary for processing the photos. This second set of mechanical innards is electrically connected to the working booth, and mimics the process going on inside, complete with flashes, rotations of the spider arm, and everything else that happens to make the photobooth magic. The booth does not contain chemicals, nor does the paper make its way through the process, but the ability to see how the stages work while it’s happening inside the real booth at the same time is invaluable. Will explained that the demonstration booth would be getting more signage and lighting to help better explain the process, but it’s a great start. I had a great time meeting Will and talking about the business aspects of running a multi-state photobooth operation, and I applaud his commitment to the black-and-white photobooth.

Later on that day, I hit two more photobooths, to bring the Seattle-area haul to ten: first, I stopped in the Showbox downtown during box office hours and snapped a strip in their photobooth, and then, on our way to catch a Mariners game at Safeco, we stopped at Cowgirls Inc. to use their photobooth, tucked nicely between the semi-truck cab as dj booth and the Simpsons pinball machine. Nice.

Next up, British Columbia…

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