For those who live smaller cities where House is not as prevalent and has little to no air play, it is very difficult to not only find DJ gigs, but to even get away with playing any House at all. So where a scene does not exist, one must be created. But to create a scene out of thin air is no easy task. Here are some steps to take in trying to build a House community.
Over the years I’ve encountered DJs and promoters in various small cities and towns who have been striving to keep their House scenes alive. Cities like Minneapolis, Denver, Indianapolis, Orlando, and Charlotte just to name a few. Some have had great success, some have struggled, and some have seen their scene rise and fall. The problems these cities and others face stem from small populations, limited exposure and resources, lack of radio support, and lack of venues willing to take a risk on House. However, it can be done…but only by someone or a group of people who are willing to accept the responsibility and dedicate themselves to it.
Step 1: Gather friends with similar interests
The first thing you have to do to create a scene is take a look at what you already have. Talk to your friends and see who is with you. If there are a couple of you that all want this then that is where you start. From a group, club or network that identifies you as a House Music based organization. A catchy name and logo would help too. Define your purpose and goals. What are you setting out to accomplish exactly?
Step 2: Create a foundation
Before you can grow you must create a home base of some kind. People need something to latch on to that will also keep them all connected. Consider building a website or at least use social networking such as a FaceBook group.
Step 3: Lure fans
What you’re essentially doing here is building a fan base that will support a new scene. Remember this is about sharing you love of House, not just getting a group of people together. You have to provide the sounds. That means mix CDs. You must also be consistent and update their music collection regularly. This can involve mixes from local DJs and well known DJs. Maybe this can be part of your plan…sharing a new mix CD every week (or month) with this group…..like a book club where everyone is checking out the same mix and then you switch it up every week.. Keep them hungry for more.
Step 4: Take it to church…recruitment
I always say House is like a church congregation. We have to constantly recruit new members to sustain ourselves. Reach out to other friends and family and get them involved by sharing more music. Get them to share it as well but most importantly, get them tied into the network. Its great to have your people sharing the music but ideally you want those new people to get it from the source so that you have direct access to them.
Step 5: Connect everyone
Connect everyone together through a website, an online forum, group or an e-mail list. Use this list to send out music links and alert the group of events when you’re ready. Get phone numbers too for text messaging. Use social networks like Facebook and Twitter to keep people “in the know.” Because this is group of House fans will be under the radar it is considered an underground movement. Being involved in this type of scene can be very appealing.
Step 6: First gathering
The goal is to build a scene, meaning bringing people together for House music events in your community. Now that you’ve found, recruited, or converted House fans in your area, your next task is to start getting them together. You’re gathering of House fans may start with only a hand full of people. Even if it’s 5 or 6 people hanging out in someone’s basement on Sunday afternoons…that’s a start. The idea is to have each person try to bring someone new on a regular basis.
Step 7: Take to the club
If you see results and feel you can bring a nice group of people to venue, bar or club on a regular basis than it may be time for a proposal. Approach a venue about doing a night. Let them know you have several supporters (they will want numbers). If all goes well they will let you launch a night (probably a weekday to start) where you can play House. They will expect people to show up and buy drinks. Once you get to this stage don’t ever stop recruiting. People will come and go and you need to continue to grow your numbers to keep it alive. Please note that negotiating terms with a venue is a whole other blog and it is best to have an idea of what you’re getting into.
Step 8: Don’t quit
Once you build a House scene in your community, no matter how small or large, than that community will become dependant on YOU to maintain it. There will be good times and there will be hard times. Learn how to persevere and understand that people and venues come and go all the time. It takes a lot of work, dedication, time and most importantly…LOVE to make it happen but I have seen first hand many people all over make it happen and you can too.
If anyone out there has been through this, please offer some advice in the comment section on the pros and cons, pitfalls, and most importantly the rewards of building a House scene.