Johnno Burgess on "How to throw a perfect party"

Words by: Cila Warncke
Posted: 9/12/09 10:12

Johnno Burgess Johnno Burgess is one of the renaissance men of dance music. There is little the veteran club promoter, DJ, journalist and A&R expert (he's helped popularise bands including Justice and Late of the Pier) doesn't know about getting a party started.

Now, he is set to mentor the winner of the Seriously Social competition which gives one aspiring promoter a £30,000 budget to throw their dream party. I Voice caught up with Johnno to discover what really makes a party tick.

How did you get first get involved in promoting?
I used to edit Jockey Slut, a club magazine I founded in the 90s, along with Paul Benney. We wanted a night that reflected the content of the mag and I'd promoted a few parties as a student, so I had some experience.

Bugged Out
started as a weekly club in 1994 which was the height of techno emerging, with DJs like Richie Hawtin and Green Velvet, and acts like Chemical Brothers and Daft Punk. It was good timing.

How did you get involved with the Seriously Social competition?
3 approached me due to my work as a promoter over the last 15 years. As well as Bugged Out I am also involved in various festivals, and some unusual nights like Guilty Pleasures. They thought I would be right due to my experience and scope.

What challenges face the Seriously Social competitors?
The party is in late January so there is no time to book a big name DJ - and most big DJs take January off to go somewhere hot! So the theme will be key.

Do you have a party-planning reality TV show in your future?
Ha! I don't think I have a poor enough hair-do to become the new Simon Cowell. And I'm too nice.

How to throw a winning partySeriously Social
1) Start with a bright idea
"You need original ideas. The pop night I run, Guilty Pleasures started five years ago in a club that held 100 people. The idea? To play pop records you love but don't usually admit too. It was original and it caught on. Now the night plays to 1500 people every month."

2) Plan ahead
"We usually work on events six months in advance. That way you can book the right venue and the right headline DJ. Once they are in place the rest falls together relatively easily."

3) Be realistic
"If you hire a venue that holds 2000 you are going to need a headliner to pull the party off. And support DJs you can afford that will make the party enticing. The budget will temper your ideas. Someone [in the competition] wanted to Daft Punk to DJ. They haven't done that for eight years and the budget wouldn't cover it!"

4) Build relationships
"The talent is the biggest part of the budget. I don't think that will ever change! So it is good to build relationships with a DJ early on. We have done this with the likes of Erol Alkan and Boys Noize, so there is a degree of loyalty."

5) Do it for love
"You should not do things just for money. Whenever we have done that, we have ended up losing money! There has to be passion behind the nights."

6) Keep it fresh
"You need to make sure you evolve and stay cutting edge. For example, in 2001 electroclash came through and brought a load of DJs like Miss Kittin, Tiga and Erol Alkan to the fore. Bugged Out would have been crazy not to get involved. It breathed new life into the club."

7) Turn it up!
"The sound system is vital. We don't over-use lighting or visuals. You can't bet a big sound system, a laser and lots of smoke."

The winner has now been announced for the second 3 Seriously Social Party competition. Will Fraser, a student from Liverpool University who is originally from Harrogate, has won the competition with more than 3,500 votes for his "7 Deadly Sins" party theme.  He will now be awarded a £30k fund to put his idea into practise along with a full production team to help prepare the party in January 2010.


Lauren Lo Sung
Erick Morillo
Valentino Kanzyani