The truth about bringing Eastern Electrics Festival to Hatfield House

Win tickets to Eastern Electrics Festival

The truth about organising a music festival

Rob Star

DJ Laura Jones will be performing

Kerri Chandler

First published in Music News
Last updated
St Albans & Harpenden Review: Photograph of the Author by , Features Writer

How do you transform an all-night party in a grungy Southwark warehouse into a full-on dance music festival at a picturesque Hertfordshire estate?

That is the task Rob Star undertook when he launched Eastern Electrics Festival, which comes to Hatfield House for the first time this summer.

But while a job organising what are essentially days of debauchery and escapism may sound like a dream, making an event of this scale a success has meant more than a few headaches along the way.

The Leicester-born raver, who started going to dance music events aged 14, organised the first Eastern Electrics in 2008 for about 2,000 people and says: “We were supposed to have that first one in Shoreditch and then that fell through at the last minute so that was a little bit stressful.

“But then we found another venue and it sold out and we were at capacity for all the New Years events from then on.

“The fourth year we moved to the O2 arena, on a bit of wasteland in Greenwich, but after the Olympics it wasn’t available so we were effectively homeless.”

That didn’t stop the 36-year-old, who started organising parties as a teenager.

“We looked at using sites in London but there aren’t many that are right and the parks didn’t have any availability so we started looking outside London.

“We decided on Knebworth for 2013 because it had a 6am licence and it was great but quite expensive to put the event on as it was the first year we did camping, and with hindsight it was too much and we lost money.”

The psychology graduate, who also runs pubs in Bethnal Green and Hackney, had to completely rethink the festival for this year.

“We made the decision to just do a one-day event and not to put ourselves under so much pressure,“ says Rob, who knew Hatfield House was the perfect new venue as soon as he set foot there and hopes to make it the event’s permanent home.

But scaling it back so much has brought its own problems as the festival went from having slots for more than 100 DJs to just 35, but Rob still needed to attract punters from across the country.

“I have a wish list of people I want to book and it can be quite a lengthy process,” he says of organising the line-up.

“The biggest obstacle can be other festivals because DJs often sign an exclusivity contract meaning they can’t perform at another festival that summer or within a certain amount of time.”

Rob clearly has a passion for electronic music, having worked with Space in Ibiza, Homelands festival and Universe, the company behind Tribal Gathering.

“The people that go to dance music events are always really friendly and the music is constantly changing as well,“ he says of the genre.

“My life isn’t all party, party, party, there’s lots of work to do but I do go to a lot of festivals to find inspiration for my events, so rather than just going for a party I’m a bit of a geek and am there saying ‘oh look how they have got the stage set up’.“

Hatfield House, Great North Road, Hatfield, Saturday, August 2, 12noon to 11pm. Details: easternelectricsfestival.co.uk

We have two pairs of festival tickets for Eastern Electrics Festival (worth £129 per pair) to give away. To enter, answer this question: Where was Eastern Electrics held in 2013?

To enter by phone: Call 09011 510281 and leave your answer and details when prompted. By text: Send your text to 80360 starting with EASTERN leave a space, followed by your answer, name and contact details.

Calls cost no more than 51p per call from a BT landline. Calls from mobiles and some other networks may cost more. Texts cost 50p plus your normal operator text charge. Telephone and text lines open 23/07/2014 and close 27/07/2014 at 23:59. Call 020 7998 0549 for help and advice on phone and mobile services.

For full terms visit http://www.newsquest.co.uk/terms Service Provided by Newsquest Media Group. For details regarding free postal entry to the competition, visit www.stalbansreview.co.uk

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