With lockdown still widely in place, DJs and event organisers are moving online to deliver a shared party experience to club-starved audiences. High-key events are attracting hundreds of thousands, even millions of viewers, such as Deltic Club’s Facebook streams or Hacienda’s Easter fundraising event. But size doesn’t matter that much when you’re online – it’s the feeling of connectedness that counts.
“People want the community vibe,” said former Radio1 DJ and Bestival founder Rob da Bank who recently streamed an Instagram Live set from the kitchen of his home on the Isle of Wight. “They can get dressed up and dance around with their self-isolating friends. It’s just a chance to forget about this weird virus for now.”
But the DJs get some love, too: “[Y]ou get a constant feed of people sending emojis or saying ‘love this tune’.”
Lizzie Curious would normally man the decks on a cruise ship during several days of partying off the coast of L.A. or Miami. But last Sunday, she transmitted her tunes from the dry land of her living room in Worthing, West Sussex.
“It’s such a difficult time for so many people. Having the live stream is so good to make you feel connected. I’ve just tried to pick house music that has a really positive message to help people forget about everything for a little while.”
Her broadcast on Twitch was enhanced with visuals, live chat and an image feed from Zoom showing people partying at home.
Brighton’s Piper Hewitt-Dudding, a.k.a. DJ Dilemma, chose her garden cabin to perform not only for an online audience, but also in front of her mom. She described the experience as “a little strange”.
“In the club you get a loud, immediate reaction from the crowd when you drop a great tune” she adds. “But being able to see so many positive comments from individual people come flooding in all at once was just as exhilarating as hearing it collectively from a crowd.”
Hewitt-Dudding’s set was part of a 12-hour online show of DJs streaming live from their homes, organised in response to the Corona-related cancellation of the Hospitality Returns to the Docks festival in London. Thousands of listeners followed the streams in real-time, and thousands more have since viewed and shared the event.
Many more clubs and brands are organising similar virtual festivals, among them record label The Defected, whose owner Simon Dunmore wishes to “connect people online in the hope that they appreciate they are not alone.”
Ryan Arnold, who is DJing on Deltic’s Facebook streams, said: “I like the idea of dropping a track and Sandy or whoever could be in her kitchen in her pyjamas dancing without worrying about who can see her.”
“Something else I’ve realised is I sing to the songs that I’m DJing but normally the music is so loud I don’t notice. Luckily, no one else can hear it though.”