The 10 Commandments of a successful music event

Pictures by Simon Leloup & Annika Wallis

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Planning to organize a party soon? We asked some experienced promoters for tips and tricks!

Now that nightlife events are coming back slowly but surely, we can't wait to get back to the dancefloor again. As any club or festival promoter will tell you, throwing parties is often easier said than done. Sometimes, things don't go according to plan. In anticipation of the tidal waves of loud music and good times that await us, we spoke to a couple of Belgian event promoters who've seen it all. If you ever find yourself in their position, make sure you know the following rules.

1. Always make sure you have enough time to prepare.

"The second year we organized Horst, we had big plans for a new stage. During the second day of construction, we realized there was no way on Earth we would finish it in time. To make matters worse, we hit a gas pipeline, and the whole site had to be secured, costing us even more time. In the end, we just kept improving the stage while the music was already playing". Jochem Daelman – Horst Festival

2. Fix your paperwork before it’s too late.

“A few years ago, we did a huge Trillers event at Kompass. Things didn't start too well because within the first hour, labour inspection paid us a visit, the local authorities did a massive drug raid, and the fire department did a surprise fire safety check. A few moments later, one of our visitors hurt himself, falling down our stage and severely cutting himself. By sheer luck, we just signed a civil liability insurance a few weeks beforehand. I had been hosting events for a while, and I'd never heard of this. If we hadn't gotten that insurance, we'd be in big trouble. Similarly, we were lucky to pass all the inspections successfully, but only because we professionalized our paperwork for the first time, days before the event". Jef Willem - Trillers

3. Always screen your volunteers beforehand.

"I know it's not always possible to do, but you should check the intentions of everyone who works at your event if you can. I once had to kick out a few volunteers because we caught them partying only 30 minutes after the start of their shift. They just wanted to get in for free". Yves Massignani – Contrair

4. Never lose attention setting up your stage or DJ booth.

“I was on production assistant duties on this massive festival while a huge American techno legend was booked to play a live show. As I set up all the equipment beforehand, I suddenly noticed smoke coming out of the power adapter of his limited-edition Roland TB-303 synthesizer. Even though I had used a power converter, I didn’t think about the voltage difference between Europe and North America. His adapter got fried, but luckily, the synth survived! For a moment, I was convinced my career and my life were over”. Sofie Vranckx – Freelance stage manager

“I remember playing Feest In Het Park (a popular festival in Oudenaarde between 1996 and 2015, ed) as a DJ a few years back. I don’t know how it happened exactly, but as I came to the middle of my set, the whole DJ booth and other parts of the stage came crashing down – myself included. Luckily, I wasn’t injured, but I can tell you it took a very long time before the music started playing again. Lesson learned: make sure you test how much weight your stage can take”! Jules Gahide – Amigo

5. Always hide the unique items on the rider of your artists until they arrive.

"Once, I drove hours to a speciality shop for an obscure type of rare cigarettes our DJ requested on his rider. Upon returning, I put them on the backstage table without much thought. By the time he arrived hours later, our crew members had smoked the whole pack, not knowing they were super rare". Sofie Vranckx – Freelance stage manager

6. Make sure you are aware of the electricity situation in case of emergency.

“When we held the first public event at our club, there still were a lot of things we didn't know about the building. While the event was hitting peak time, there was a complete power cut. The real problem, however, was that we couldn't find the fuse box. It turns out it was located in the adjacent building, which we couldn’t access (it was the middle of the night, after all). We had to drill holes in the basement walls to reach it and fix the problem, all while people were waiting for the music and lights to come back”. Jules Gahide – Amigo

“During a Deep In House takeover at K-Nal (now Archipel, red.), we dealt with a sudden power cut. None of us had any idea where the fuse box was located. It took us over one hour – during peak time – to get the electricity running again. Not only was that a staggeringly long time of darkness, but all the ice in the bar had also melted". Tom Brus – C12 / Deep in House

"We had done a few parties in our club already, but for some reason, I had no idea what this certain power plug was used for. During an event, without thinking much of it, I just unplugged it. It turns out it was the power supply of our bathroom water pump. A few moments later, our toilets started flooding, and an unbearable stench took over the whole building. I can't say it was a nice experience". Jules Gahide – Amigo

7. Resist the temptation to party at your event.

“After a months-long, stressful time of preparing and promoting your event, it’s understandable if you want to blow off all that steam right then and there. After all, you created your ideal event. It can be hard to turn down the offer when your favourite DJ asks you to join the festivities after their set. But let me tell you, you don’t want to be drunk when there’s an emergency at the event you’re responsible for”. Yves Massignani – Contrair

8. Always check if the DJ has gone to the bathroom before the set.

“Otherwise, you’ll need to sacrifice an ice bucket and organize some distraction. It happened to us once, but I’m not gonna tell you which DJ it was”. Wouter Bleyen - Fuse

9. Tell security to pay attention until the very last minute.

"A few years ago, we were closing the club down at 6 AM, and some dude tried to leave with one of our huge oriental carpets. He quietly rolled it up while no one was watching and carried it over his shoulders through the exit as if it was a normal thing to do. He almost got away with it”. Julian Leclerq – La Cabane, Play Label Records

10. Never trust a DJ when he tells you “this will be his last one”.

“Because there’s always one more track”. Julian Leclerq – La Cabane, Play Label Records