July 22, 2014

Giving EDM a Place to Drop the Beat

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Booming bass. Pulsating lasers. Smoke machines, quirky costumes and hoards of excited audience members working up a sweat.

Electronic Dance Music (EDM) has officially hit it big, with HUGE events attended by thousands of excited music fans and featuring some of the highest production budgets of any events out there.

From Avicii to Skrillex, SCC has played host to some of the industry’s biggest and best names, offering a safe venue for people to let loose and dance up a storm.

Behind the scenes, however, these big-budget, high-octane events take some special planning and coordination to pull off.

Keeping Things Upbeat

To throw an EDM event takes a lot of time, planning and consideration, as well as partnerships with local first-responders and the community. Many would-be promoters are surprised to learn the level of involvement the SCC requires to put on an event like this, reports Ed Pilecki, SCC Client Service Manager and concert specialist.

From coat-check to close out, everything is accounted for.

“From the moment the event starts, there needs to be a system” shares Ed. “I’ve done a lot of events – heavy metal, and rock, and EDMs are an easy-going, non-violent audience. It’s really all about having a good time, and most of them really appreciate what we do.”

It starts at the door. Attendees line up and scan their ID’s – a quick procedure that allows police and event organizers to snap a quick photo, track attendance numbers and address any issues with patrons who aren’t supposed to be there.

From there, everyone gets a quick pat-down to make sure nothing is being brought in that shouldn’t be. Events are 18+, so liquor and concessions are available inside along with one critically important precaution: Free water. When you’re dancing in the thick of a crowd who are all doing the same, free water helps keep dehydration at bay.

Bleachers are lit up with spotlights, making it easy to watch your step. Exit signs are also lit up with extra lighting. Outside, the smoking area is monitored inside and out and the fencing is tarped off to keep anyone from passing things through, while inside, security teams makes sure bathrooms stay one-to-a-stall and that the partying stays out on the dance floor.

Dehydration is the most common health complaint. There are EMT’s, EMR’s and a paramedic who can treat guests on site, and an Alberta Health Services supervisor to make the decision if a guest requires transport to the hospital. Police are also on hand to assist the security team, and event staff pitch in to keep it all running smoothly. There’s even coordination with hotels, giving them the heads up that patrons may be coming and going at different times in the night.

It’s a major effort, and SCC is leading the way.

Pilecki recently attended the Pollstar Conference, where managers of major event venues like the Staples Center shared the precautions they’re taking in an event called “EDM Is Here – Deal With It!”.

“As I listened, I thought – we could be up there!”, laughs Ed, “The things we’re doing are even more thorough than these other venues.”

But while it might seem like they’ve thought of everything, Ed is quick to admit that it’s a learning process and that each event brings to light new things to be aware of and consider.

His team meets with the Public Safety Compliance Team (comprising of police, fire, medical and other community groups) before and after every event, sharing what they’ve learned from previous concerts and laying out a plan to make the night a success.

For SCC and music fans alike, it’s all worth it in the end.

Some people ask Ed why the SCC even bothers to put on events like this, given all the challenges. For Ed, it’s all about letting people enjoy the things they love in a positive place that’s safe for them to do so.

“You can never censor music,” comments Ed. “When people ask me why we do these events, I remind them of that. Would you rather have this happen here, with all the amenities on hand, or in a farmer’s field somewhere?”

We’re proud to be that better alternative – a safe place for EDM to drop the beat and a home for Edmonton’s most passionate music fans to bust a move.

See you out on the dance floor!


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