'How to make your party positive and jazzy' / Genie Stuart
Dance music is no longer on the periphery. The commercialisation of the rave fantasy has left a big gaping hole when it comes to drug harm reduction, sexual health, equality and inclusion on the dance floor. From my perspective, an open dialogue about rave health and safety is still severely lacking in the Australian music scene.
This dialogue must be opened by promoters. Promoters have complete responsibility over the environment they create. They have the room to educate their attendees and push a social change as well as musical agenda. Additionally, with large and diverse crowds packed in together, a rave is a fundamentally political space. So it’s the promoters responsibility be aware of the social implications of the spaces they create.
I think there are two ways to create a safe and inclusive space: Firstly, is considered planning. And secondly, community engagement and awareness. This includes learning from others and a willingness to address mistakes.
Nightlife remains a vital space for young people to connect, create and express themselves. Lets honour the freedom that comes with these spaces.
The guide below is written to help you get started with your rave, but it can’t replace volunteering at events and learning hands on. Anyway, I hope it gives you the inspiration for your next wild rave. J
Step 1 –concept
Approaching your event from a clear concept is a useful starting point to begin planning your party. I think of this like an aim, inspiration or ideal that you want to channel through the event. Your concept will guide the decisions you to make and help to bring coherence to your space. It’s great to come back when you get stuck at a roadblock.
Step 2 –plan
Even if your party is hip, cool and edgy, it’s important to be professional. This means paying people that help you out plus creating a plan and sticking to it. I like to create a brief - I’ve attached a template at the bottom of this article.
Some important elements of your plan are the budget, environmental and safety plans.
Step 3 –venue
Finding the right venue can be the most difficult aspect of running an event. Try to lock in a venue (or at minimum a back-up) before you lock in your acts. Your brief is also a great document to send to potential venues (plus people involved in creating your space).
It’s also important to know the history of your chosen space. Always remember that you are a guest on the land, so treat it with love and respect. If you are hosting your party outside, make sure that you have the necessary permits… or a contingency plan if the police decide they want to join in on the fun. Know the limitations and potential risks of your site and communicate properly with your crew to make sure you are all on the same page (re concept).
Accessibility is also important to consider. Be aware of the width of doors plus the stair and bathroom situation. There are a number of great accessibility report resources that are available online. Once you have completed an accessibility report, you should inform your attendees. There is nothing worse than turning up to a party and realising that the bathrooms, bar or dancefloor is not accessible to you.
Finally, if you are working within an existing venue, ensure the manager and their staff are on board with your safer spaces policy. It can be as small as a quick phone call to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Step 4 –acts
This is my favourite aspect of the planning process. If this is your first party, you will likely have to approach a booking agent. This can be daunting, but agents are friendly! Keep your email brief and to the point. Let them know your concept, venue and artist fee. An artist fee generally does not include transport, accommodation or food.
Here is a guide to how much you should offer (but keep in mind this will vary greatly depending on date and location of your party):
International DJ: $2,000 +
Big interstate DJ: $600 +
Interstate DJ: $400 +
Locals: $100 +
When planning your set times, you should think about how your acts sit together to give an arc to the night.
Your line-up should reflect the dancefloor that you want to create. Think back to your concept. If you are striving to make your party accessible, you need to think about how your dancefloor is represented on the line-up.
Step 5 – sound & gear
It’s very important that your artists can be heard clearly for max. emotional impact. Allow a couple hours to set up and test your sound. If you can, it’s great to bring in some engineers. They will know how look after your audience’s ears but also pack a punch! Free earplugs are also a great safety addition.
Tech-wise, make sure that you have every single bit of gear on your artists rider! Also make sure it’s all functional. If your artist is using turntables, make sure they are isolated and set up properly! A google search will give you the information you need but make sure that you do the research.
If your party is outdoors, you will need to consider the elements. Wind can impact turntables and sound. And rain can ruin it all. Back! Up! Plan!
Step 5 – lighting
Lighting is great for vibe but is also a great tool to make sure all your ravers are safe. If your rave is outside, and at night, you need to make sure areas away from the dancefloor are well lit. On the dancefloor, lighting can be used to draw focus to certain areas and create a mood. Think back to your concept and how you want people to feel on the dancefloor. This will impact your lighting decisions (i.e. pulling light away from the DJ and creating a dark colour wash over the whole room will encourage people to dance with one another rather than look at the DJ).
For the safety of your ravers, it’s also important to let them know if there will be a strobe or fog in use.
Step 6 – decoration
There are so many bits and bobs you can add to your party to give it some flair and a bit of joie-de-vivre. Here are some recent decorations that have been very effective:
- Table with safety information and practical ways to get involved in your local community (pamphlets and zines are great)
- Fabric hanging from the roof on top of the dancefloor (makes the space feel more intimate)
- Something WOW behind djs (if you want focus on the DJs)
Step 7 – logistics
There are so many logistics!!!!!
Firstly, you will need to get lots and lots of hands on board to bring your idea to life. These people need to be well briefed on your concept. You will need people on the door, to artist liaise, to provide tech support, and be on the lookout for the safety of your ravers.
Secondly, you will need to think about how people move around your venue, and the measures that you need to put in place to keep everyone happy. Water is a big necessity. If you are throwing your party outside, you should provide approx. a litre of water per person. Toilets are also important. They should be within walking distance along a well-lit path. Walking pathways are also a worthy element to consider.
Thirdly, safety officers are the key to a successful night. In the pack below I have included an image by Safe Mates that explains the 5 D’s. Make sure you know what to do if something goes wrong.
Finally, you need to make a run sheet so that everyone knows what’s going on during the night. You will send this run sheet to your artists and it will include bits and pieces like emergency contacts, travel information and set times. I’ve attached one below for reference.
Step 8 – prOmO & tickets
The promotion you do is going to impact the type of people that come to your event. Make sure that your concept is clear in your poster and event description.
When thinking about ticketing there are a couple of things to consider. A lot of ticketing providers take a ticket fee and put it in their pockets. Humanitix are a great non-profit and ethical ticketing option if you are looking to sell presale.
Step 9 – throw the party
Step 10 – pack up
The party may be over, but you will need to stay and pack up. It’s tiring, but you gotta do it A-s-A-p. It’s the best way to show your venue/space that you are thankful for letting you use their space. Esp. if you went big, it’s so incredibly important to revisit your environmental plan and leave no trace!
You can find a template for an event proposal and run sheet here.
Cover image: Yavuz Sariyildiz/Shutterstock