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
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