What I've Learned in My First Year Producing Events Part 1: Unexpected Beginnings
The last years has been a challenging, yet highly rewarding experience in event production
I admit, as a 32-year old, I never possessed the ambition or solid mindset to become an event producer. In college, I had MC'ed a comedy night at a local bar, with the sole mindset of gaining more experience on stage and having a weekly platform to test my latest material.
The idea of organizing and producing events in any substantial fashion was far from view, never gaining significant real estate within the corners of my mind.
Quite honestly, I would have been content to simply remain an audience member watching from the sidelines, showing up to the latest popular festival, concert, or gathering without any desire to be an active participant or organizer.
And then, I began to run
Yes, run as in move my body in a forward motion to get my heart rate elevated and my 31-year old frame back into some semblance of agility. I was in a funk, a mild depressive state, fueled by self-doubt, career uncertainties, and an overall feeling of stagnation.
To change my state, I decided to actually give exercise a chance, testing out the widely-held notion that exercise doesn't just improve your physical state, it positively alters your mental health as well. It turns out, motion does lead to emotion, as my continuous push to get off my ass also boosted my mood.
It was on a run with my roommate where we discussed the idea of hosting a 5k with friends, as I had intended to run in some type of organized, group event. And then it dawned on us. Why not put it on ourselves? And hey, if we're running a race, we might as well turn it into a spectacle, complete with live music and art to boot.
The Lavender Lounge, our playful yet semi-professional house venue, was born.
The first event, aptly titled 'Bands of the Run', was a smashing success. For an early November Saturday afternoon, the weather gods gifted us with a gem: 75 and sunny. 11 people ran in the race and a total of five acts graced the 'stage' of our garage venue, comprised entirely of our close friends' musical acts.
Turnout was solid, maybe a total of 50-60 people throughout the day, including our neighbor across the street who stopped over on a whim to hang and take in the music. Thankfully, we have some of the most agreeable and live-and-let-live neighbors you could ever ask for, especially when putting on a live concert that was certainly loud enough to draw a noise violation.
I performed a minimal amount of MC work throughout the day, though introducing the last act brought me into my element and revived my passion for getting on stage. Whereas I tend to overthink my words when speaking to groups of people, this moment felt unrestrained, loose, and carefree.
For anyone who has experienced the feeling of killing it on stage, whether through standup or some form of the spoken word, you understand the intoxicating feeling of connecting with an audience, especially when you are speaking extemporaneously without a strict script or plan.
The itch had made itself known, and I needed to find a way to scratch it
Reconnecting with my former stage presence and propensity to host large events lit a fire in me to continue pursuing event production in one form or another. I knew we would host further house shows, as the birth of the Lavender Lounge wasn't meant to be just a one-off party destined to fade into our collective memory bank.
But I also wanted to pursue event production outside of merely hosting badass, over-the-top DIY house shows. With the number of musicians within my social circle, I embraced my place as someone who could help further the careers of artists close to me.
I've always been somewhat of a connector, a person who thrives on bringing different groups of people together to create memorable shared experiences. It was my college-era party house that introduced me by a 7-degrees-of-separation instance of fate to my partner of 9 years, a consistent reminder of the understated effect killer parties can have on one's life trajectory.
Following 'Bands on the Run', I began my search for a venue in Denver that would be open to having me curate a regular music showcase, offering me with a continued education in event coordination/production/ceremony mastering and providing my musically-inclined companions with a regular stage to connect with larger audiences.
It turns out, coordinating music showcases isn't always a smooth process...
Putting together a house show, especially one with little to no expectations, was a largely stress-free experience, one that slightly set me up for a more rude awakening. My unrealistic perception of event production was skewed by having such a bump-free ride my first time in the arena.
Unsurprisingly, events often don't go as planned, requiring last-minute improvisations, furious searches for replacement acts, and dancing with unplanned scheduling conflicts with the venue. Serious learning often requires a fair amount of stress and anxiety, and I've had my fair share since dipping my toes into the field of event production.
Tune in for Part 2, where I discuss the ups and downs of putting shows together and what I've learned from my first year in event production
All uncredited pictures from pixabay.com or my personal account
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