No Guest is Bigger Than the Party

… and that includes the DJ!

If there’s one thing I’ve noticed when it comes to the world of dance music, club events, and festivals, it’s that the ones which are the most fun are the ones in which the music and atmosphere is the focus.  Sure, there’s some merit to the inclusion of a headliner act, and maybe there’s even merit to VIP service.  But, events which focus more on names than how well the actual event was put together is a recipe for fluffed-up boredom and fake enthusiasm.

Around here, it’s a bit of a catch-22: you’ve gotta bring a big name in to pull in people, but you need to have a core of supporting people to justify pulling in a big name.  Especially from my perspective of a U.S. small town, it’s difficult to determine how much money you should invest in order to get people out.  Typically, it’s a question of “will I lose a little bit of money, or will I lose a lot of money?”  I’ve experienced it first-hand, and all of the promoters I know experience it often as well.

What happens is that there are only a handful of people that support the scene on the regular.  There are a lot of music and scene fans, but not a lot of people that are coming out just because it’s fun to come out.  So, if a promoter wants to throw a knock-down drag-out event, their choices are:

  1. Bring in a name too big to afford, but will bring people out, and lose money.
  2. Bring in a semi-famous or up-and-coming name, which doesn’t bring a huge draw, and lose money.
  3. Get a venue with multiple rooms and load it up with all of the local DJs you can find, without any real thought into the progression of the night, who will play for cheap/free.  Promoter may o(r may not) make a little money, and pretty much nobody else does.

Of course, people in big cities like New York, L.A., and Miami may not have the same perspective (though that’s not to say they don’t have similar struggles!).  But why is it so hard to get those of us in the middle out to support events?

My observation is that there is no attention paid to how fun the event is.  I don’t mean hyping it up to ridiculous lengths and talking about how awesome your event and sound system is.  I’m talking about something much more fundamental.  In my town, the clubs were packed 7 or 8 years ago. Now, it’s like pulling teeth to get people out.  Why?  There’s nowhere good to go.  There’s nowhere fun to go.

So, instead of providing an awesome place to go on the regular, with attention to detail given to the atmosphere and the general enjoyment of the night, promoters are tempted to rely on the names on top of a flyer to coax people into coming out.  Some of them will come out for that event, and then you won’t see them again until the next big event.  Each time, you lose a few of the “heads” who stopped caring along the way.

I’m not saying I have all the answers for this situation, but the actual problem seems clear: there’s no substance.  People should work on making their venues and events FUN before they start trying to use tricks to get people out for temporary support.  Promoters and club owners should try to determine how to make their city’s nightlife worth participating in.

I would kill to have a venue or two in my local town where the mangers/owners of clubs, bars, and lounges actually gave a crap.  I almost forget what it’s like.  I would love to have a regular spot where everyone is having a good time, the venue is well-kept, and the DJ is buried in a corner of the room somewhere… as opposed to the one or two good events we get per year when a well-intended promoter decides to lose a little money and  brings a decent name into town.

No guest is bigger than the party!