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Dance Music and Other Indoor Sports

By Greg Fox (with input from Michael Goldman)
Atlantic City, NJ

Dance Music and Other Indoor Sports

Dragonfly (Jennifer Harper)

More than 15 years ago Pete Werner asked me to fly with him to Atlantic City to produce the Promo Only Artist Showcase at Planet Hollywood – the highlight of the Promo Only Summer Sessions. Not quite every year since then, Michael Goldman, my production partner, and I have made the trip to work on what has become the flagship showcase of new dance artists, helping (and in some cases launching) the careers of Iyaz, Jason Derulo, Mike Posner, Pit Bull, and Lady Gaga (who opened the show in 2008). This is just to name a few of the stars who became huge after appearing in the lineup and performing one or two songs in an event that spans six hours and has had as many as 23 acts.

A while ago, Pete and Jim Robinson, the other founding partner of Promo Only, made the move from Planet Hollywood to the House of Blues Music Hall. Finally on a real stage with resident lighting and sound, the artists being featured could shine a little brighter and the production team could work in a venue that also provided little things like dressing rooms and bathrooms with showers for the performers.

Dance Music and Other Indoor Sports

HOB Venue (Chris Homsley)

Oh, and a sprung-wood stage floor, rolling risers, wings, fly space, moving electrics, shin busters and two lecterns! There are seated and standing audience areas with great sight lines to the stage. Loading in was accomplished by pushing through service hallways instead of dragging gear across a carpeted guest area. Hanging banners were replaced with both HD video screens and video projection. Oh, and a monitor mix allowed full live bands to perform.

Dance Music and Other Indoor Sports

Sound Central (Chris Homsley)

This years annual Promo Only Talent Showcase took place on August 14th. Preproduction started about five months prior with invitations to artists and music labels. Offers also came from artists and labels asking to be a part of the Showcase lineup. Cary Vance (with Promo Only Promotions) handles the direct wheeling and dealing at this level as relationships and past favors are leveraged to not only gain a slot in the show, but also pursue the perfect position in the lineup.

 

About a week from the day of show, the powers that be manage to find one or two…or more…amazing artists who just have to be worked into the already tight lineup. Regardless, Goldman reworks the rundown – for the 17th time – and we start packing for the flight to Atlantic City.

Dance Music and Other Indoor Sports

Show Passes (Chris Homsley)

Once the talent has been identified, the real fun begins. Goldman crafts communications to the artists welcoming them to the show and soliciting their technical needs. These communiqué are tempered to explain that there is only one stage, four dressing rooms (only 2 of which have facilities), six hours of performance time and 22 performers…so some compromises will have to be made. Equipment is shared, as are dressing rooms. Individual catering gives way to a generous but limited variety of cold and hot food, snacks and libations. There is no guest list [admission is free to attendees of the DJ Expo] but as you might imagine backstage access is limited. Even four guests per performer would add almost 100 NEP [Non-Essential Personnel] in a tight backstage area.

 
Dance Music and Other Indoor Sports

Marcus Canty (Jennifer Harper)

The program has evolved into an amazing choreography of people and equipment movements, industry and social events and one very long day of show. On Sunday, the predominantly Orlando based team heads to the airport at o’dark-thirty. It’s a two plus hour flight to Atlantic City. First order of business – the Promo Only “Celebrity Free” Golf Tournament. Lunch at the clubhouse followed by 18 holes of amazingly average golf. If everyone could switch their golf score with their bowling score, we’d all be Pro’s on both circuits. Fact is, it’s all about fun and friends getting together, readying for the battle which is now less than two days away.

Monday day is free time. Shopping, eating and gambling are part of the list of unplanned activities.

Dance Music and Other Indoor Sports

Harrah’s Pool Party (Paul Martindale)

Dance Music and Other Indoor Sports

Harrah’s Pool Party (Paul Martindale)

 

Monday night is the Promo Only Pool Party, an industry gathering offering artist and artist management the opportunity to schmooze with DJs and music labels. There are performances by selected DJs. In the past, this was held at the HOB Foundation Room. This year it took place at Harrah’s Pool. The POOL Party at the Harrah’s Pool. Get it? (Promo Only On-Line – ok, I guess a joke isn’t funny if you have to explain it!) This venue kicked ass over the Foundation Room. Aside from it being a little warm at the very beginning of the night, it was spacious, but not too big. You could get a feel of the entire space as you arrived and then explore your way into the different areas, the elevated bar level and pool locker rooms. The sound was perfect. The goal here is to schmooze, dance and have fun – but for the production team – don’t stay too late. It’s an 8:30AM call the next morning.

Dance Music and Other Indoor Sports

Tech Rehearsals (Joe Caleño Licul)

The House of Blues Music Hall crew is just plain awesome. Pros, every one of them, with the drive to make it happen, and the seasoned patience to understand that this is nothing more than planned chaos. Goldman likens it to “herding bees with a switch.” The first challenge is being ready in time for sound checks and rehearsals that start exactly at 11:00AM. Along with the acts checking and rehearsing, the crew is writing their choreography for changeover from one act to the next. The stage manager, Scooter Miller, charts all of the performer’s plots on his iPhone – yep, there’s an app for that, too.

The nine hours of rehearsal slams right into doors – the venue opening time. This year, we didn’t even have time to change into our show blacks. We just kept going. The final count for this year was 22 performances, with one of the acts missing their rehearsal and coming straight from the airport to the stage.

Dance Music and Other Indoor Sports

Fox and Goldman at work (Chris Homsley)

The night began easy enough. The first two artists were DJs followed by a vocalist. Please find the talent rundown at the end of this article. One act ends and with a little fill music, the next act begins. We also started the night with two hosts. DJ, producer, songwriter, radio and television personality Clinton Sparks and comedian Dave Nunez. We got into the show’s groove and even with a few behind the scenes technical snafus [you do know what “snafu” stands for, right?]; the audience experienced nothing but great music and performances all night.

 

And then the fun began. Our headliner, Sean Paul was recovering from an illness and was under a doctor’s orders not to perform. Being the professional he is, Sean arrived at the venue and committed to go on, but asked to perform before his scheduled slot due to the fact that he was still quite ill. Goldman then begins what ended up consuming the rest of his night – negotiating with all of the remaining acts to reshuffle the lineup to accommodate moving Paul earlier. Which includes an amazing amount of reengineering of the changeover plan to facilitate this brave, new order.

Dance Music and Other Indoor Sports

Taylor Dayne (Jennifer Harper)

Sean Paul was sweating from more than the flu as he delivered much more than the scheduled 30-minute set. We took a stroll down 80’s row with Shannon inviting four uniformed members of the United States Marine Corps to escort her onto the stage and engage in a little precision drill choreography as she “Let The Music Play.” Taylor Dayne belted “Tell It To My Heart,” “Prove Your Love,” and closed with the powerful ballot, “Love Will Lead You Back.” New to the scene Breathe Carolina were great to work with and simply tore up the stage with “Hit and Run” and a kickass rendition of “Blackout.”

All in all – it worked. Amps amped, lights lit, videos…well… videoed. Everything worked as planned. And re-planned. And a crop of fresh new dance artists took the stage before a critical but enthusiastic audience. Budding careers got an extra boost that night, and all the artists, new and not-so-new delivered awesome performances.

 

A special note of thanks to Dave Nunez for closing out the hosting of the show solo, and SEVERE props to Paul van Dyk, Plumb and September for stepping up to close the show in place of Sean Paul. They showed what true professionals are all about and made us proud to say we worked with them.

Dance Music and Other Indoor Sports

Breathe Carolina (Joe Caleño Licul)

In the end, it all came together… just like rehearsal.

 
Dance Music and Other Indoor Sports

LSP members at the show. From L-R, Crystal Eller, Pete Werner, Michael Goldman, Noel Goldman, Jeff Rabouin, Chris Homsley, Colin Cosell, and Greg Fox (far right, in red) (Matt Jylha)

Show Flow 2012:

  1. DJ Leony
  2. DJ Sique
  3. NiRe AllDai
  4. Speakers
  5. Angelique Sabrina
  6. Julissa Veloz
  7. Marcus Canty
  8. Grace Valerie
  9. DJ Scotty B w/ Dragonfly
  10. Gabe Saporta (Cobra Starship)
  11. Clinton Sparks
  12. Jes
  13. Shannon
  14. Breathe Carolina
  15. DJ Larry D
  16. Kat Graham
  17. Outasight
  18. Eva Simmons
  19. Taylor Dayne
  20. Sean Paul
  21. Paul van Dyk w/ Plumb
  22. September

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