There were no half measures when it came to DragCon UK, just like the queens, the lighting, staging, sound and decor needed to be big, bold and brash. However RuPaul is a businessman so he knows that this fabulous extravaganza needs to turn a profit, so the Merch Stand is a must. Finally, there’s no point in the event looking amazing if it doesn’t run like clockwork, so luckily our bunch of totally talented project managers ensured the event ran as slickly as a high gloss lipstick.
We apply the same approach to any event we create, doesn’t matter if the organisers are sporting a suit or a Telly Tubby outfit, we always go the extra mile to bring it to life. Here are just some of the items on our event creation checklist.
Staging a colourful event
Read how we created stages, a merch stand, light & sound shows, all of which raised our creative and tech skills to the next level. Our planning, logistical and project management expertise were also put through their paces.
In the highly visual world of drag, we knew we had our work cut out for us, but then we’d like to think this was one of the reasons we had been re-selected to help create this event. Take, for example, the stage we created for over 100 queens, we had to make sure it matched the talent that took to it.
So how did we go about the design process?
Before we started creating, we listened carefully at the briefing and asked strategic questions. We also drew on the knowledge that we had picked up from the previous event we had worked on, in particular the high expectations the organisers had for us when it came to creating the right atmosphere. We knew that the sense of drama they wanted would come from our use of lighting & haze and a pounding sound system.
Obviously we had to show off RuPaul when we was DJing, no one puts Ru in the shade. So we created the wow factor by raising Ru 4m in the air above the LED screen, making them the focal point.
Discuss stage presence with Dave
The revenue stage
Making the merch work
The bottom line is as important as the hem line, so obviously there was merch and it needed to be displayed in the right way. That meant getting the merch stand’s design and build spot on. This element wasn’t just about making it look good, it needed to satisfy the business element of the event.
The stand was the first branded element that the visitors saw as they entered ExCeL, so we went big on branding, no time for subtlety here, luckily the brand colours stood out. In fact each shelf had the logo printed on it, just in case the visitors got distracted by all the colour and drama that filled the venue.
The stand also had to be practical, not only did the products need to be merchandised in an eye-catching way, there needed to be a large storage area so the audience could get their hands on their favourite pieces.
Pick the right venue
Ok we admit it might not be the first thing you organise, but picking the right venue should be up there. The venue where your event is held will add its own personality and if it’s not easily accessible then you’ve got an uphill struggle on your hands.
Luckily ExCeL is well connected with public transport and its size and facilities means that it’s home to world class events.
The venue is also now carbon neutral, using 100% renewable energy, sending zero waste to landfill and also is home to one of the UK’s largest wormeries. With the event industry focusing, quite rightly so, on sustainability, selecting a venue with impressive environmental credentials is only going to increase in importance.
We too are focusing on making the events we create as sustainable as we can.
Work the stage
Behind the scenes
Just like a drag queen’s costume, events don’t just happen. There’s a lot of work and talented people that go unseen, doing what they do best to make sure everything runs smoothly. DragCon was no exception.
Pre-event sign-off on all structural elements was a must to ensure no nasty surprises, by utilising our in-house CAD department, we achieved this. We also made sure that we were aware of ExCeL’s procedures, most of which we had learnt from previous events we had created here, this meant no last-minute avoidable hiccups. We worked closely with the ExCeL team to help manage client budgets on rigging and so were permitted to install our own truss systems.
DragCon brings its own particular logistical issues, namely security. We liaised with the security team to ensure the VIP & AVP weren’t overcrowded and safety was top priority.
Branding, centre stage
Your image is everything
When we create an event we don’t go off piste… we stay on brand. For DragCon, they provided us with the designs which we then turned into the stage, the stand etc, but for other events, one of the main points of the brief is to bring the client’s brand alive.
Browse our case studies to see how we bring brands alive