Live Nation took its courtship of electronic dance music fans to the next level on Thursday night, announcing its partnership with Dutch party brand Sensation during an invite-only soiree at exclusive New York lounge Provocateur.
The highly produced, international arena tour, perhaps best known for its mandatory all-white dress code, will hit the 18,000-capacity Barclays Center of Brooklyn on Halloween weekend, October 26-27, during the venue's grand opening month. Talent will be announced "a month to two months prior," said Sensation founder and CEO Duncan Stutterheim, with tickets going on sale June 8. Events in other cities may follow in 2013.
The partnership adds to Live Nation's growing suite of EDM properties, including the touring Identity Festival, multi-date I Love This City event, individual tours by artists like Afrojack and Kaskade, and U.K. festival brand Creamfields, which it recently acquired. But Sensation is not a teenaged hoedown in a field: The event is meant to be a 21-plus affair, attracting a more well-heeled attendee -- like the clientele at places like Provocateur (which will be promoting and producing the VIP area, as it has at Swedish House Mafia's large-scale events).
"We are focusing on adults," says Jason Miller, President of New York for Live Nation, who spearheaded the deal. "That was a conscious decision we made together." Ticket prices start at $150, with a "deluxe" package available for $250.
While the line-up will of course be important -- DJs at Sensation's other worldwide events have included Armin van Buuren, Fedde le Grand and Armand Van Helden -- it's not the party's central focus. "The show is the most important of the whole evening," says Stutterheim. "Without music there's nothing, of course -- but that's combined with fire, lasers, dancers. This is a show you can watch."
According to Miller, conversations with Stutterheim first started in 2009, when he attended his first Sensation at Copenhagen's PARKEN Stadium during Halloween weekend.
"I was one of the few -- maybe one of the only, at that point -- people in Live Nation dedicated to a dance music program," says Miller. "I traveled all over to see the greatest events, and learn how they were doing it in other places. The whole scene is so much more evolved in Europe than it is in North America."
"When I came into the venue for the first time and saw the production and the stage, it was one of those 'holy shit' moments. It was really life changing. I haven't looked at events and dance music the same way since."
While no official deal was struck at that time, Miller and Stutterheim started to build a rapport, and to look for the right opportunity to bring Sensation to the States. "We became fast friends very quickly," says Miller. "We share a similar outlook on life, music and business, and we believe in the fundamental truth that when adults come together on the dance floor they have a different interaction than they have elsewhere." When they got the opportunity to be a part of buzz-heavy Barclays' opening month, they jumped at it.
The only question remains: While countries from Australia to Brazil to Russia have gone wild for the Sensation experience, will notoriously picky America do the same?
"We put a 30-second teaser video up on Facebook, and from that alone the U.S. page is already the biggest Sensation page in the world," says Stutterheim. "There is something happening here: Electronic music is really taking over. For us, it's really the right moment to be here."