City poised for electronic music evolution 0
Blueprint Events owner Alvaro Prol and a co-worker look over a poster for the main event of this weekend's Seasons Festival. Armin Van Buuren and Steve Angello are among some of the big names brought to Vancouver by Prol's company. (CARMINE MARINELLI, 24 HOURS)
Tucked in a corner of east Vancouver's industrial neighborhood, a security guard, barely visible under dim streetlights, stands outside a nondescript warehouse.
Beyond the door and up a set of stairs, however, a room is filled with dancers moving rhythmically. Eyes closed, their faces are lifted toward a DJ booth bookended by speakers blasting electronic dance music, commonly called EDM.
So driven are they to protect their tight-knit community, few are willing to speak about the clandestine all-night dance parties in city warehouses and industrial parks.
While many fans of house, trance and other sub-genres of EDM have fought to keep gatherings underground, others like Blueprint Events founder Alvaro Prol shine a spotlight on the scene.
Armin Van Buuren performs to a packed crowd
at the Vancouver Convention Centre on April 7, 2012.
His company, started in 1997, launched electronic music into the limelight, selling more than 34,000 tickets last year to well-publicized events featuring internationally recognized DJs.
While Prol acknowleged warehouses and art spaces are alluring, they aren't ideal for an evolving scene that previously has attracted police concern.
"That's something we've been dealing with for many, many years," said Const. Lindsey Houghton of after-hours parties. Some gatherings are organized properly with appropriate licences, permits and security, but many present safety concerns such as underage drinking and drug use, he said.
Prol first started promoting underground events in the mid 1990s.
"That's what I used to love to do," Prol said of the all-night raves at alternative venues. "No underground techno head wants to go to Granville Street on the weekend, that's for sure. But as I got more successful and started dealing with bigger acts, I realized it wasn't a great way for me to do business."
Since then, Prol has focused his business model on big names and top-notch production. It's a method proven to be successful and in demand.
"Do I think Vancouver is ready? Absolutely," Prol said of the genre's growth. "The demand is there, the kids are here and they know the music."
This weekend's Seasons Festival is testimony to the genre's popularity. The four-day music festival will host five parties featuring heavy hitting electronic artists such as Gemini, Steve Angello and Armin Van Buuren.
According to Prol, the city is braced for the revival of electronic music.
"Vancouver is a very educated city when it comes to electronic dance music and it's not new to us - it's just changing," Prol said.