As you get older (past 21, if I’m honest,) birthdays become more mundane, holidays more regular, seasons mull together.
It’s hard to wake up today. You’d think clubs would help, or festivals even– we’re swamped enough with them to be sure– but I found myself asleep. A dozen festivals with shimmering moments and people, but nothing felt different.
I didn’t feel awake until the week of the house party. Nothing about planning a good house party is tidy or easy– equipment rentals, good-natured “heads up!” calls to the police department, handwritten letters to neighbors, rearranging an entire property, rigging up your sound, keeping the damn keg cool– but I have some reasons to tell you– people, artists, promoters– that it’s worth the experience and worth taking a few notes from.
20 people with no common grounds besides myself and drum bass came together from across states and countries this past weekend for a private house party.
Here is what I learned:
Be Nice To The Locals
This is probably the simplest thing I can think of, but when you host a party, you’re a host to literally everyone that your party affects. You do simple things for your neighbors– you say hello, you write or call (not type,) you say thank you, you make a point to show your guests the locality. These things take a party from risky to secure and welcome, from a spot to a destination, and a night into an experience.
As a club promoter, you can do the exact same thing. Involve your local scene– promoters, businesses, artists, and residents. Extending a hand to the people around you who may not be your immediate audience will yield either new partners, or an allies, and sets a tone of success.
You Never Know Who You’ll Meet
About a month and a half before the party, I had no money and 8 staff members to house. I sat at the VFW in town mulling my woe over beers, looking for a proper place to house the people helping me make this happen.
As I explained my story to the bartender, another member of the club turned to me,
“You know, when I was your age, my wife and I would help run this town’s Jazz Festival. I know how hard it can be. My wife isn’t with us anymore, but I think she would want you to use our home for your guests.”
8 of my friends stayed in his home, cooked together, left memories and notes on the wall, and enjoyed the company together.
He later told me that having my friends around gave him more energy and peace than could be thanked for, and that he felt like his wife was with all of us that weekend.
The answer to your problems could be the stranger sitting next to you on a bar stool.
Just listen and say hello.
This is a big one. Club and festival crowds can be overwhelming, so we go everywhere in groups. Who is there has grown to matter more than who we’re paying to see play. Why? Why are we so afraid of strangers? Why so afraid to go into the jungle alone?
We have to assume you have a safe space– which should be your host/promoter’s number one priority– but we don’t always have that.
Creating safe spaces to make new connections is hard, but when you make the pool of participants small enough, intimacy and trust can occur.
Promoters, imagine if you only sold 100 tickets for what they were really worth?
Most of us won’t take that chance, but if we did,I bet you that 100 quality people would show up to take them.
(And if they don’t… Maybe you shouldn’t be having the party.)
Make your party pool intimate, but diverse.
If you do, people will actually talk to each other.
Who Cares If You’re The Star Of The Show?
No one should care who you are. It doesn’t matter who you are.
I’m not sure how it happened, but a lot of people seem to forget that every single player in a party is a participant, entitled to equal respect, benefits, and inclusion within the party.
The difference between a gathering and a party is that everyone feels like a star at a party.
When you take care of your guests, they take care of themselves,
The commercial party industry is one thing, one kind of an event, which I won’t speak for, but when it comes to throwing a party that will wake you up… Maybe a “small time” mentality ain’t so bad.