Our Client Wanted Something That Had Never Been Done Before...
Their Only Restrictions: No Fire and No Exotic Animals. That's Right Up Our Alley! When Glow Event Design came to us in early 2017 and asked us to help them create a unique, other-worldly experience with over-the-top entertainment for MapAnything's Dreamforce after-party, we couldn't wait to dive right in.
At Entire Productions, we don't just book talent anymore. As our name implies, we're also expertly skilled at producing entire events, with a diverse staff that excels in every aspect of experience design. Team Entire is always keeping our eye on what's new and innovative.
The Dreamforce conference in early November, hosted by Salesforce, takes over most of San Francisco (cruise ships are even brought in to house some of the 200K attendees)! By day, it's a tech conference. By night, MapAnything wanted to create an experience their guests would never forget—something along the lines of an unsettling but exciting dream. It had to be cutting edge, ahead of trend, and a multi-sensory spectacle that nobody had ever seen before.
Our creative experience genius Kate Swee, Senior Account Executive, immediately got to work on a proposal for a sexy, full-of-surprises, interactive "Into the Darkness" themed after-party that would leave guests wondering exactly where the entertainment began and where it ended. The challenge, explains Kate, was figuring out, "How can we get our guests—who will range from San Francisco residents to people flying in from all over the world for Dreamforce—as involved as possible?"
For the desired vibe and atmosphere of participation, Kate and the client were inspired by Sleep No More, an immersive, interactive performance piece currently being staged in New York City. "It's kind of this dark, in the shadows vibe where the guests are part of the entertainment and the performers are touching them and following them, but not jumping out at them in a haunted house kind of way," says Kate.
The final proposal featured entertainment every hour on the hour (more on that below) at Verso nightclub, with each performance building to a cutting-edge, extravagant grand finale. What really set the plan apart was the ambient entertainers who would interact with guests before and between the featured acts. Models, fully body painted as the Seven Deadly Sins, would roam the party, interacting and dancing with guests—except for Sloth, who would melt into his chair, with some of his limbs actually inside it. And five Crawlers would lurk in the shadows and then stealthily tap a guest on the shoulder or whisper something in their ear.
With the plan approved, it was time for our Production Services Pro, Claire O'Neill, to make it a reality. In all, there would be over 40 performers entertaining guests. Concepts, costumes, makeup, and models were all meticulously detailed and approved ahead of time by the client. All of that advance prep could not have paid off better.
The big night, 9 PM: As guests first arrived, they were greeted by two costumed holographic LED Poi spinners with wands, depicting MapAnything's logo in the air. LED Poi spinners are a great way to create the drama and movement of traditional Hawaiian fire Poi dancers, without the actual flames. (Kate later heard that MapAnything's CEO wanted to take the LED holograph Poi home with him!)
At coat check a Black Swan style ballerina, with contact lenses that gave her eyes an eerie zombie look and feel, performed on a small pedestal stage. Guests could order a drink at the bar, where they might run into Envy, who had big, beautiful eyes painted all over his body and a knife sticking out of his back, or Lust, covered in gorgeous Georgia O'Keeffe style flowers. Or they could grab a surprise custom concoction from the Beaker Girl. Her metal beaker skirt was based on the popular Champagne skirt, but we preferred a modern twist, so we had one custom made to carry beakers.
10 PM: The Crawlers started whispering to guests that something special was about to start. Aerial artist Mina then wowed guests with her stunning aerial act on silk. What made that particular performance even more amazing? Claire had originally been advised that the venue had a rigging point to support an aerial artist. Four days before the event, she found out that it didn't! Can you say last-minute panic? "Because we have such a strong network of artists and riggers that we work with," says Claire, "we were able to find a rigger who saved the day and allowed us to have that stunning aerial piece with Mina doing these beautiful falls from the ceiling."
11 PM: Imagine a black wall suddenly coming to life, with hands and faces trying to literally reach through it. That was the backdrop for the custom choreographed If The Walls Could Speak performance piece that Kate conceptualized. A skeleton-faced "puppet master" sought a volunteer in the crowd (a dancer wearing a Dreamforce lanyard had been planted to look like a conference attendee) and mimed hypnotizing him, as the guests wondered whether or not he was a part of the act. More dancers in costume came out and joined the 10-minute engaging performance of acting and storytelling.
Midnight: The dramatic grand finale required a total blackout. Guests didn't know where the three ILuminate (featured on America's Got Talent) LED hip-hop dancers were until the lights on their customized suits started flashing. It was the perfect headline performance to cap off a night of surprises.
Claire couldn't have been more proud that every performance started right on time. "I was calling the show," she explains, "working with the sound and light teams and stage management to make sure that everything went exactly as planned. I was the one counting down 3, 2, 1, GO!" Her biggest challenge? The run-thru for ILuminate's LED dance performance couldn't happen until the sun went down (there's a huge skylight in the middle of Verso). Which meant that she had to stage a full blackout when everyone was busiest, setting up the bar and getting the food and decorations into place. "There were a hundred people running around setting up the party, and we had to turn off all of the lights and pretty much pause everybody in their places for 15 minutes," she says.
We were thrilled when Kate was told by the client that we "killed it" and that they couldn't have been happier with the results. "We wanted to make sure that we delivered an exceptional experience, and I think we achieved that," she says. Claire adds, "People now associate MapAnything with that party, and it's hopefully something we'll do again." She credits her team members with making Into the Darkness run seamlessly. "They were getting each of the artists into place, making sure they were ready and waiting in the wings to get out on time," she says. With so many different components happening at once, everyone on staff had to play their role to perfection.
"That's one of the things I think people really rely on us for," says Claire. "Each and every member brings such expertise and positivity to the event. And that's what people really have come to expect of Entire Productions."
The Event: MapAnything's After-Party at Dreamforce in San Francisco
The Date: November 8
The Venue: Verso bi-level dance club in SoMa (South of Market)
The Theme: "Into the Darkness" - It's dark, it's sexy, and the guests don't know what's going to happen next, but they're excited
The Challenge: Create a one-of-a-kind experience to wow the "been there, seen that" tech crowd