Unless you’re heavily into the electronic dance music scene, you probably didn’t have a clue that Atlantic City was the center of the EDM universe on New Year’s Eve.
Five of the world’s top 10 EDM DJs were spinning in Atlantic City as 2012 turned into 2013. And one of the biggest wasn’t even within spitting distance of one of the casino nightclubs where you’d expect to find him.
Steve Aoki, who’s become a regular in Atlantic City during the past couple of years, was the primary reason why 6,000 young people spent the last few hours of the year gone by in a heated tent at Bader Field. Aoki was the headline DJ at Life in Color, the electronic dance music extravaganza where guests are showered with music and sprayed with gallons of colorful, water-soluble paint as part of the festivities.
The event was such a success that the promoters are already thinking about staging a similar event at the former airport over the July 4 holiday.
“It just goes to show you that if you think outside the box ... that with a little ingenuity and some hard work, you can get things done,” says Bobby Laws of Media Mogul Group, one of the event’s promoters. “This was a way to introduce younger people to our city and the wonderful things it has to offer.”
Laws, whose career has included a stint as director of player development for an Atlantic City casino, said the marketing strategy for Atlantic City today is a radical departure from the types of guests he was trying to bring to Atlantic City during his casino days.
“We were always looking for an older audience,” he says. “Nobody seemed to think about what the future of Atlantic City was going to be.”
Laws admits EDM wasn’t necessarily his type of music when he got involved with the project several months ago. He says his familiarity with EDM was similar to early 1950s DJ Alan Freed, one of the early radio pioneers of rock ‘n roll.
“I’m the older guy, but I think I’m embracing the young people and their music,” he says with a laugh.
While the city supported Life in Color – a party that had its roots on college campuses seven years ago – he also said officials were erring on the side of caution as the event drew near. They wanted to make sure the thousands attending the show would be safe.
For instance, the tent that went up for the party could have held far more people, but the city asked the promoters to keep attendance below the tent’s capacity.
“The tent could have held up to 10,000 if need be. But the fire marshal and the public safety director felt we should keep it to around 7,200 just to keep it safe for the young people,” Laws explains. “And they were right, so we kept the number low, and everyone had plenty of room.”
The city also required the promoters to submit the chemical and molecular makeup of the paint to make sure it was safe when it came into contact with human skin.
“They weren’t taking any chances,” he says.
According to Laws, Life in Color generated over 23 million views when it was streamed live on the Internet on New Year’s Eve. So the event introduced Atlantic City to more than just the 6,000 people who attended.
“We have so many people wanting to come back to Atlantic City to experience that,” he says. “Or they saw it on their computers. They weren’t able to make it, so they watched [online]. They’ve seen it, and now they want to be a part of it. And that’s the great thing, because now those same people who couldn’t be here are going to make it their business to be here next year.
Laws says it’s premature to reveal specifics about the show he and his co-promoter, Josh Kessler of LineRocket in Los Angeles, are hoping to produce in July. He also says he’s got offers in to some A-list artists hoping to entice them to play Atlantic City.
Although he wouldn’t name names, he did drop a very big hint.
“I’ll just say that [Gov. Christie] has been trying to get [this entertainer] since Revel opened, which I probably shouldn’t even be saying,” he says with a laugh. Laws is referring to Bruce Springsteen, whom Christie was hoping would perform in Atlantic City last Labor Day to wrap up the summer of 2012.
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