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FREE PARTIES: ARE THEY REALLY FREE?
Every summer, dozens of free parties are organized in Montreal. Whether the music is Psytrance, Dubstep, Drum & Bass, ravers gather by the hundreds in remote, isolated fields to party all night long. But how do they make it? Are free party organizers stupid, rich kids with no friends, or actually brilliant and successful promoters? Trevor Thibault, an obscure yet prolific free party organizer, gives us a glimpse on the free party business side. This is his story.
"On a good summer night, I can easily pull in $2,000", says the 21 year old man. "At first, we organized a few pay parties, playing mostly psy trance and dubstep. Even if we attracted a fair amount of people, we would systemically loose money. DJs would ask to be payed, venues would cost thousands of dollars, sound systems, deco, police fines, etc. People would constantly try to sneak in for free. It was just not worth it. Then at some point one of us just came up with this idea: Let’s throw a free party!"
In early 2009, realizing the potential, Mr Thibault and his team planned their first summer of free parties. "After some discussion with local crackheads, we managed to secure an abandoned warehouse that wouldn’t cost anything. Using the free party argument, we convinced a bunch of wannabee DJs to spin and promote for us all for free! As for the sound system, we convinced a local philanthropist to lend us his equipment and generator for a 12-pack of Blue Ribbons."
People came by the hundreds. "We could not estimate the attendance, because we were too busy with our hot new groupies or counting all those Elizabethan faces. Yes, MONEY! We had the Ketamine man, MDMA man, speed man, etc. We even had the water and red bull guys!!! On our first free party, we pulled in close to $800. Hot girls would send us friend requests on Facebook by the dozens. DJs would beg us to spin at our parties. Sound systems? Rich kids would take care of that. Realizing we hit the jackpot, we hired more reliable trade-men and negotiated with bikers for better prices. One local biker even eagerly provided us with free Ketamin in exchange of hungover underage girls. Our refined business model made the summer of 2012 particularly prolific, allowing us to cash in close to $10,000 in pure profit."
Some of the more traditional promoters received this new wave of competitive free parties with skepticism.
Stephen Virtual-Darkness, one of the local psy trance promoters, never believed in free parties. "Before those free party people came in, I could easily cash in $3,000 in a single night. Hell, I could play the same track 3 times in a row and people would not even realize! There was nothing else in the scene. Now, all my events loose money or barely break even. It is even impossible to get underage girls anymore as they now attend free parties. The way things go, I will probably have to go back to school soon." This promoter is however optimistic his artisanal online psychedelic candle business will flourish in upcoming months.
Another local purist, Osama Ketanim, believes that free parties kill the spirit of the rave scene. "These people don’t understand what this is all about. Our events are all about quality and the spirit of trance. Them, they have shitty sound systems, wannabe DJs, shitty drugs. I never saw them bring an international act in Montreal. Us? We bring Bizounesque Records artists in this city every month! Most of the underage girls they promote their free parties to were introduced to the rave scene by our high school recruiters."
The next season will be interesting to watch as free party promoters and more traditional ones clash once again!
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