Berlingo: "I'm a Promoter"

The experience of putting on my first party in Berlin lived up to its name - Mind Smear - because it left my mind feeling pretty smeared.  Anyone who's thinking of 'making party' for the first time in Berlin should do themselves a favour and read on, to find out and what I learned from my mistakes.

1) There are no norms in Berlin's party market.

I was given venue rental quotes ranging from 60 Euros to 2000 Euros per party, and the venues ranged in size anything from a 20 sq. meter cellars with leaks, to sprawling, hypermodern spaces that rivaled Tate Modern. Unless your bestie owns a cool space, expect to spend up to half of your organizing time finding a venue making it just right for the guests.

Also unique to Berlin: there seemed to be no universal method of getting in touch with venues.  Some club managers are contactable by telephone, others by email, Facebook, SMS, YouTube video, telepathy, interpretive dance...  At times, I seriously considered spray-painting my name and phone number on their front door and hoping for the best.  You will, too!  

2) Be honest.

It's a Berlin cliche: every second person in the city is a 'designer' an 'entrepreneur' a 'producer' or 'business manager'.  But are they?  Are they really??  You rarely hear them admitting, 'Hey man, I'm just an underemployed tour guide and amateur, wannabe promoter'.  Let me just say straight up that I definitely belong in that latter category!

However, some people working in the party scene are less than transparent about their qualifications.  A bit of honesty goes a long way.  As I quickly learned, if they don't know what they say they know, then working together can slow you down, big time.  In the course of organizing this party, I met 'graphic designers' who couldn't recognize layout errors, 'club managers' who hated techno, and 'promoters' who struggle to communicate with their own group of friends, let alone the city of Berlin.  (At least two of those statements also apply to myself, by the way, but I have no qualms about admitting it.  Must be cause I'm a bit female self-deprecating by nature...)

Personally, I found that sticking myself with the 'amateur wannabe promoter' label early on was much more useful, in the end.  When I met people who really were qualified to help out they were more willing to give me a hand.  (Thank-you Rachel, Dylan, James, Katie, Dave, Alenee, Zoe and of course the headline DJs!!)

3) It's the end of the world as we know it. I feel fine.
When Northern Europe was abruptly plunged into a mini-ice age in the middle of March, this did not seem to bode well for our semi-outdoors spring party.  Ditto when I was rushed to hospital for an urgent operation right at the peak of our epic 4-month search for a venue. Still, it was something of a relief to realize that I am not personally responsible for sorting global climate change out by April 20th. Goddess grant me the strength to change what I can and the wisdom to accept what I cannot, etc.  The codeine pills from the op definitely helped me to foster whatever sense of acceptance I might have been lacking.

4) Printing the flyers is the last thing you should do. Period!!!
An oversight by the "graphic designer" who QC'd our first batch of 
5000 flyers resulted in them being misprinted. Like, every last one.  And after painstaking efforts were made to ensure that the second flyer batch was correct (this time, I consulted a professional designer who had an actual degree in his hands) I sent off our new, improved flyer to the printer.  The next day, we had a venue change.  Another handful of codeine pills later, and I felt almost fine.  Only then was I duly informed by a more 'experienced' promoter that there was never any rush to get the flyers done in the first place. Cheers, guys.  This brings me to my final point...

5) Delegate the responsibility and the stress.

As this was my first party, I made a fair few mistakes. I was prepared for this.  What I wasn't prepared for was the wall-punching frustration of being given 'helpful' advice by nearly everyone after things went wrong. 
But like those people, I possess 20/20 vision in hindsight, so looking back, I now know that it would have been smart to hire someone who knows how to avoid mistakes, and ask them to take a few jobs off of me. That way, I could have just gotten on with popping codeine pills and pimping my new Facebook fanpage matters of global importance.  Trust me: it's much less painful than punching walls.  And your pharmaceutical stash lasts much longer that way, too. 

6. Enjoy the Party!

The one thing that this party organizing experience didn't teach me was that having a good party makes everything all better again.  That, I already knew.   Finding time to dance for a whole hour to a set by Chris Liberator who is (obviously) one of my favourite DJs, and catching glimpses of friends having fun all night, made all the stress evaporate faster than a sheen of wall-sweat on a sub-zero spring night. 

Would I do it again?  YES.  If it's true that you learn how to avoid mistakes by making them, and how to avoid pitfalls by stumbling into them, then the next Mind Smear party should be perfect.

Join Mind Smear on Facebook or check back on the party website for the details of the next one!

*Thanks very much to Katie for taking the above photos of the party.

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Berlin, Germany
...is NOT a fashion blogger! I write about underground music, activism, social media rights. Other publications that I have written for: OpenDemocracy, Urban Challenger, Siegesaeule, Alternative Berlin and Sensanostra.