Monday, July 22, 2019

Complimentary Bar serves up something 'much better' than alcohol

Posted By on Mon, Jul 22, 2019 at 4:58 PM

click to enlarge The Indy's July 10 cover featured Robert Albert at the Complimentary Bar. - DESIGNED BY DUSTIN GLATZ/PHOTO BY FAITH MILLER
  • Designed by Dustin Glatz/Photo by Faith Miller
  • The Indy's July 10 cover featured Robert Albert at the Complimentary Bar.

Last week, the Indy's cover was graced by a shirtless dude wearing huge, green-rimmed glasses and a fluffy hat, standing behind the "Complimentary Bar" at Sonic Bloom, a music festival in Rye.

We got an email from the guy on the cover shortly after the story on Sonic Bloom was published. He recently moved to Colorado Springs, and his name is Robert Albert.

Turns out, Albert loved the Complimentary Bar, and he wanted to share his experience (see below).

But first, a little background: The "bar" is actually a traveling installation created by sisters Krissy and Heather Stiver, who live in Texas and travel to festivals around the country. Sonic Bloom was their first in Colorado.

Heather Stiver says she and her sister came up with Complimentary Bar while working at a festival with a friend who has another art installation.

"I think the idea was born out of like, the whole Burning Man culture of giving and gifting and just being kind to others," Stiver says. "It was just a pallet of wood on its side, and we quickly realized people loved it and that it could be a bigger, beefier project, and so we went home and put some more time and money into it."

The sisters built a rustic-looking saloon and began reaching out to festivals across the country. Since last year, they've traveled to about 20 music festivals, mostly electronic dance music and jam band events.

Originally, "we made it to where we would work the bar," Stiver says. "We would be the bartenders, or fun-tenders, or whatever you want to call it, and we would just give compliments... And then we started realizing, people wanted to come back in the bar with us, and they wanted to give compliments.

"And so we were like, 'OK, get back here,' and we realized people like receiving compliments, but they also feel even better when they get to give the compliments and see someone's face light up and that whole exchange — like this interactive exchange of just, love."

Robert Albert was a regular at the bar throughout the four-day festival. He had this to say about his experience:

As a registered nurse working in nursing homes for the past ten years, it used to be very easy for me to both get and give authentic compliments regularly: I would just wait till I got to work so I could love on each and every one of the resident Elders living there. Most of my days consisted of compliments, hugs 'n' kisses, sharing meals together, and just growing in general.

In fact, the exchange of love and companionship in a few progressive nursing homes can far surpass the image most people have of contemporary nursing homes. The best part was, I actually got paid to have fun with the family that I chose to work with. Somehow, I’ve led a charmed life and have always been surrounded by loving and attentive family, friends, neighbors.

I guess it’s exceptionally easy for me to reflect the beauty I see all around me all the time, but constantly restrain myself because some people just aren’t prepared for that kind of thing. Now, I’ve found a place to really push the love forward, a place I had no idea existed until this summer.

I attended my first music festival as a volunteer with Groove Medical Services: a one-of-a-kind full-service medical care company that excels at taking care of festival-goers all over Colorado. Sonic Bloom is the festival where I found the Complimentary Bar — the only bar that doesn’t serve alcohol to make you feel “better.” In fact, the Complimentary Bar won’t serve you at all.

Instead, they have something much better in store for you: The chance to reach out to every person who crosses your path, to reach out and tell them what you really like about them, without fear of repercussion. It’s a place that has no dues, no admission policy, no intoxicants, and certainly no hangovers.

And the premise behind the whole thing is so simple. You (the customer) walks up to the bar, thirsty for a free drink. Perhaps a little something to loosen you up, so you can relax a bit amongst all the other festival-goers. Instead you’re asked to get behind the bar and compliment people as they pass by. That’s it, you’ve now been empowered to make people’s day by stopping them as they pass by and saying whatever you appreciate about them.

“You’ve got a great voice!”

“That is the most badass hairdo I have ever seen in my life!”

“Your energy is making my day!”

Mark Twain once said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” Imagine being able to feed dozens of hungry souls for months at a time by simply speaking to them instead of just letting them pass you by like you do in your normal default life. You may even make some new friends; you’ll definitely leave the bar feeling absolutely ELATED.

At the end of the day, it’s just regular people stopping to appreciating each other for a moment or two. I no longer get to share such joy with my Elders daily because I’m moving back to hospital work, so I relish the opportunity to take part in such a creative and loving activity. — Robert Albert

You can follow the Complimentary Bar on Facebook to see where they end up next.

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