The Gramcery Theater marquee. (Photo: Emmanuelle Saliba)
The first night when hurricane Sandy made landfall on the east coast, Parag Bhandari, CEO of UG Strategies walked from his Brooklyn home to the Park Slope Armory to help with relief efforts. He was shocked to see the number of cots lined up and the conditions in a room filled with hundreds of Hurricane victims. It hit him then that he could do more for the relief efforts and he proceeded to get in touch with DJ/producerTommie Sunshine about the idea of throwing a charity event to help victims.
"My parents were affected by this Hurricane, Bhandari explained. "Their basement was flooded; they lost power for 10 days in South Brunswick, N.J. I have friends in Point Pleasant, Seaside Heights, in Manasquan and literally their houses are gone. All of us, we tour around, we DJ, we get paid to play music; we have to do fucking something!" he exclaimed.
So Bhandari and Sunshine got together and within a week organized the EDM For Sandy Relief Benefit. The event was thrown on Nov. 19 at the Gramercy Theater in Manhattan. "Electronic music is now at its biggest stage in the United States in decades," DJ/producer Drop the Lime (a.k.a. Luca Venezia ) told .biz, "so it feels like because of that, we are at a pop level and can have a bigger impact and help bring people to be aware and inspire more people
DJ Alexander Technique starts off the night . (Photo: Blaqwell)
In addition to Tommie Sunshine and Drop The Lime the night featured a diverse roster of DJs, including The Crystal Method (dj set), Run DMT, Alexander Technique, and Blaqwell -- who all waived their fees.
"My grandmother lost her house in Rahway New Jersey. She's 93 years old and she can't go back. It touched me personally," Blaqwell told Billboard.biz. "I had to pull all her personal items from the house."
In addition to DJs donating their time, a number of sponsors helped defray expenses: Live Nation helped cover the costs of the venue and Ticketmaster waived ticket fees; Morgans Hotel Group provided rooms for the traveling artists; and Dubspot, an electronic music production school, provided sound equipment. Other sponsors included Sol Republic, Armani Exchange, Blaze Electronic Cigarettes and Mercy Beverages. Live Nation also pledged to donate $1,000 on top of the amount raised for the evening.
A silent auction was held earlier in the night with items ithat included a Crystal Method VIP package and a Costa Rican vacation. Tickets cost $20 with 100% of the proceeds going to The American Red Cross to aid those who lost their homes in the Sandy storm.
Bhandari expressed hope that the New York benefit would be part of a string of events, "After tonight, we are trying to do three more shows. One at Stone Pony in New Jersey, one in DC and one in Baltimore."