Sensation founder and ID&T CEO Duncan Stutterheim (left) with Jason Miller, President of Live Nation, New York for at Provocateur where the two announced the U.S. premiere of Sensation at Brooklyn's Barclays Center. (Photo: Keeyahtay Lewis, Deadbolt Photos)
New Yorkers have made an art out of rocking basic black. But the white jeans and linen came out on Thursday night, as Live Nation and Dutch promotion company ID&T announced the long-awaited arrival of Sensation to the U.S. - more specifically, Brooklyn's soon-to-open Barclays Center on October 26-27. The highly produced concert/rave mandates an all-white dress code.
The "announcement" didn't offer much new information from what Sensation founder and ID&T CEO Duncan Stutterheim and Jason Miller, President of New York for Live Nation, told Billboard.biz in a phone conversation the day prior. And details about the shows were splashed across TV screens in exclusive Meatpacking District lounge Provocateur from the moment guests entered. Rather, the invite-only event was more about Stutterheim and Miller beginning to craft a Sensation brand for the New York set.
George Hess of Strictly Rhythm and Jamie Krauss of Think PR. (Photo: Keeyahtay Lewis, Deadbolt Photos)
For starters, Provocateur was the perfect setting; known for bringing in top-tier DJ talent, the luxe lounge has co-sponsored events with Swedish House Mafia and David Guetta, and will do the same with Sensation come October. Guests mingled, sticking close to the open bar, and enjoyed hors d'oeuvre passed by models dressed in - what else? - all white. Industry-ites like the business and editorial teams of new dance glossy Elektro, DJ Sunnery James, and Strictly Rhythm Head of Promotion George Hess enjoyed bottle service at banquettes around the room.
An hour into the evening, Sirius XM DJ and head of dance programming Geronimo took to the stage to introduce Miller. The Live Nation exec emotionally recalled the "three year journey" he took to bring Sensation to the United States; his first encounter with the event was in Copenhagen, Germany over Halloween weekend, 2009.
Sirius XM DJ and head of dance programming Geronimo. (Photo: Keeyahtay Lewis, Deadbolt Photos)
Miller said left the event "a better person" - a phrase he used often - and began courting Stutterheim to join him in creating an American Sensation event. The pair have worked closely since, and Stutterheim even relocated his family to New York in the wake of the partnership. "It's very much a family, very much a partnership," Miller said. "It's more than the event itself… it's the most important thing in my years as a promoter that I've had the pleasure of touching."
Miller passed the mic to Stutterheim, whose speech had more of a corporate bent; he spent much of his time thanking Live Nation, Provocateur and Anheuser-Bush, another Sensation sponsor. Speaking in between short trailer clips, Stutterheim hailed "the Provocateur guys," owners Mike Satsky and Brian Gefter, as "the first ones to bring the good music to New York City a few years ago" (seemingly in the face of New York's storied history as one of the birthplaces of dance music and nightlife), and added that Sensation is "really on the same level of thought, about really playing the good stuff," but asked the crowd to just "trust [him]" about the as-yet-unannounced DJ lineup. He touched briefly on the other "insane" elements of the shows, noting that Sensation employs 25 production people "working the whole year on each show." The number one priority for Sensation America, Stutterheim said, is that "it's gotta be a party. It's about a good evening."
Victoria's Secret Angel Doutzen Kroes who spoke about Dance4Life's New York campaign which will be timed to the Sensation shows. (Photo: Keeyahtay Lewis, Deadbolt Photos)
Stutterheim also thanked "the Budweiser people," who are co-sponsoring the event with the Bud Light Platinum brand. Sensation will mark the company's first foray into the dance market, he noted, and "it means a lot that a brand like Budweiser trusts us to introduce [Sensation] to the U.S.A." He then spoke briefly about Dance4Life, the HIV/AIDS prevention charity associated with Sensation, and invited one of the organization's spokespeople, Victoria's Secret Angel and Sunnery James girlfriend Doutzen Kroes, to join him onstage. She didn't say much, but spoke generally about her involvement with the launch of Dance4Life's New York campaign (which will be timed to the Sensation shows); Kroes also made vague mention of a Provocateur-sponsored Dance4Life party after the October 27th show.
The event gave a good sense of the unique mood Miller and Stutterheim hope to cultivate around Sensation U.S.: the pair appears to seek simultaneous egalitarianism and exclusivity. Stutterheim discussed the "white and unite" concept, the idea of fans unifying around a cause and a bassline. Yet he also lauded Provocateur's ultra-luxe, are-you-on-the-list model for consuming dance music. Regardless of which concept wins out, Stutterheim no doubt has impeccable timing in bringing his festival to the U.S. in 2012. "I always thought, 'Not yet, the moment has to be right,'" he said. "But now electronic music is getting at a level" - he paused for a moment - "now we're ready for it."
Post-Memorial Day White (from left): Rosanne Janmaat, Project Manager, Sensation; Renee Portoff, Marketing Director, Live Nation NYC; Emily Sarpa, Asst to Jason Miller, Live Nation NYC; Jason Miller, President Live Nation, NYC; Donna Eichmeyer, Marketing Director, Live Nation NYC; Allison Canzanella, Promotion/Publicity coordinator, Live Nation NYC; Jennifer DiVietri, Marketing Manager, Live Nation NYC; Katherine van Liempt, Project Manager, Sensation. (Photo: Keeyahtay Lewis, Deadbolt Photos)
(Photo: Keeyahtay Lewis, Deadbolt Photos)0
Additional reporting by Kerri Mason