Story by Ron Sparkman | Photos by Chino Salas of GenTx
Time goes by fast when you’re moving around a lot. From Houston to South Florida, Dallas to West Virginia, Denver to Austin, this last year has been a whirlwind. So much so, that time flies right by me. I finally stopped to take a breath for a second and realized just how much has happened in such a short amount of time. I’ve got some stories to share with all of you–I’ve barely even begun on my club and D.J. spotlights–but I’m looking forward to catching up a little more. And the one thing I’ve been meaning to get around to, more than anything else, is Pandamonium. The tough part is just getting it all down on paper. It was such an awesome event with friends in a time when I needed to let loose with the right crew. This, 100%, was the right crew.
Many people don’t understand Pandamonium. A bunch of D.J.’s getting together to go out drinking? Don’t they do that enough? And for those of you that have never been to one, you might not understand what all goes into one. Yes, we go out to bars. And this time we went to a very particular one indeed. Industry veteran, PANDA board member, and multi-nominee for DJ of the Year Mark Wagner was going to have the grand opening of his new bar, Wagner Bros., and he was gonna do it for his D.J. brothers. Why? Because he wanted to show what he, his wife and his staff had poured their heart and soul into building. Mark is an inspiration to other D.J.s around him. You’d be amazed how one of the top cities in the country is abuzz about this bar from a “strip club D.J.”. It just goes to show what a dedicated individual can accomplish. So about that bar? It’s f***in amazing! Seriously.
From top to bottom, you can’t stop looking at Wagner Bros. What could top a two-floor concept bar with multiple stages, pool tables, and video games, all with a bicycle hanging from the ceiling? The answer is a a massive outdoor adult playground, including but not limited to a stage, cornhole, and a f***in sand volleyball court! Seriously, this place is a blast. A couple pool sharks showed their game, there was great live music, and more. It was an incredible amount of fun. The best part is watching the friendships that form around each other. Friends that have only ever spoken online, get the chance to wax wise with some of the best in the industry. Topics span format, entertainer relations, experience levels, the top features to work with, that group of girls at work that “get it”…the list goes on and on. There’s so much knowledge in the room you can’t help but be energized by it. And it only gets better everytime.
Some people think that all Pandamonium is is a party. (hint: They’re wrong.) It’s also the development of ideas. What are the D.J.s roles? What can we do to make the shows go smoother? How can we be more intelligent in how we spend and invest our money? Finding solutions to the problems D.J.s face is the prime reason for Panda. DJs helping DJs. None of us know it all, but all together our experience can bring about change in a positive way. For the first time, we were able to put on seminars outside of Expo, as well as bring an open board meeting to the event. The room was packed. Danny Meyers and Ilan Fong crafted excellent speeches to share their knowledge with the varying degrees of experience in the room. We all are trying to improve relations with our operators and hosting staff, so the guys shared tips on how to do so. Finally, Willard Barth motivational speaker, business consultant, and former D.J. and Panda board member, he is the cream of the crop. He educated us on the importance of educating ourselves. He showed us what we needed to look into to live a more successful life. It’s would be another article in itself, but there’s no way I would want to spoil what will be the impressive showcase of knowledge that he’ll be bringing to Expo. Anyone in the industry should attend and I’d highly recommend making sure your staff does, too. I can’t wait to hear it again myself. I know I missed some things! We finished with an open board meeting, hosted by E11even Miami and Inaugural DJ of the Year Jon Harmon, with some of the best D.J.s in the country, all sharing their thoughts on the state of Panda. As always Dane gave a great speech to get the troops riled up. Just a few of the many highlights from our members: Gabriel Mangold, better known as Hot Tub, talking about the importance of the Panda Top 20 charts, the legend himself, Dr. Rock gave his insights on how excited he was to see what PANDA had grown into, and former D.J-turned-club-owner James St James showed up to give us his support and volunteered to join the Panda Advisory Board. It really was an incredible afternoon of learning and growing for all of us. We followed up the board meeting with some K1 racing which was a tremendous show of male competitiveness. I think everyone came away with better friendships and more knowledge that day.
The event wasn’t quite done yet as we still had one more trick left up our sleeves. Mark Wagner had put together an un-friggin-believable Scavenger Hunt on 6th street. We met at Bikini’s, had dinner and then spread out the sheets for the hunt. But before we began, a local bar invited us to try vapor shots, vaporized alcohol to give the buzz but not the calories! Ha! Brilliant. I think the hunt would’ve started sooner had their not been so many fun games to play at this bar. The punching machine made about 200 dollars in an hour, there was some crazy competition on the Buck hunter, and the most epic game of Jenga of all time. From ther the scavenger hunt kicked off and it was insane! From singing, proposing and reciting Shakespeare to different strangers to getting (playfully) arrested by the cops, sprinting around the pubs and clubs of 6th street might have been the highlight of the day. Everything was going well until someone found the most insane blues player in Austin and that was the end of the hunt. We all ended up hanging out and listening to him for the rest of the evening. Truly spectacular.
When it comes to Pandamonium, the most important thing is the networking. The experiences build friendships for a lifetime. Years ago, we wouldn’t be in the same room with each other. Now we can’t wait to catch up and talk shop at every opportunity. Pandamonium is sevolving with the organization into something bigger and better. The connections, the seminars, the comraderie. Something special is going on and I hope that everyone in the industry joins us for our next big event at the Expo in New Orleans next month! Details coming soon!
HA! GOT EEM!