Barcelona, Spain – Step inside the elrow factory workshop and you’ll find the kinds of items that few club promoters would ever get near, much less even know how to work to their full capabilities.
Lathes and their various gouges, EVA materials, aluminum structures, paints, glues, drills and bricolage tools fill up the space – all at the ready to outfit and decorate elrow’s next specialized club or festival event. With elrow, extreme fabrication follows wild imagination.
But elrow isn’t just any club promoter – more than that, it’s an event-production company that throw the kinds of parties usually only envisioned by the most inspired animators or devoted psychonauts. In short, elrow parties are extravaganzas with wild costumes, wacky props, themed mascots (like Rowgelia, elrow’s iconic chicken), extra-special effects (lights, confetti, cryo, etc.) and an upbeat soundtrack, featuring its own elrow residents (like cover boy Toni Varga) and some of the world’s top electronic talents (from Carl Cox to Eats Everything). In the world of EDM parties, there’s nothing quite like elrow.
Currently, elrow maintains five residences. They include: Barcelona, a monthly; Ibiza – Saturdays at Amnesia during the summer and two special dates at Usuahia; New York, four dates a year; Madrid, four dates a year; and Dubai, three dates a year.
Apart from the residences, elrow presents its own festival (“elrowtown”) in three European cities (Antwerp, London and Amsterdam). Additionally, elrow will be part of 12 other festivals from Asia to South America. And on Oct. 6, elrow will debut in Las Vegas, at the Wynn Hotel.
So what goes into these massive productions? ClubWorld caught up with some of the marketing movers and technical shakers from the elrow team: Cruz Arnau (Founder and Marketing Director); Francisco Grande (Technical and Operations Director); Víctor De la Serna (Booking Director); and Manuel Sánchez (Tour Director).
What’s the overall concept for elrow parties?
Manuel Sánchez: We always opted for a different concept from the rest of the industry. When elrow was created, the electronic scene was dominated by a certain darkness that always characterized this sector. Since the beginnings of elrow, we were clear that we wanted to differentiate ourselves from the others and create our own new concept. The concept “row” is given by a summer atmosphere, as colorful as it would be in a daytime party. In other words, we try through the daylight to give our clients the emotion and sensation to move into a colorful world.
For someone who has never attended an elrow event, what should they expect to see?
Víctor De la Serna: If you’ve never been to an elrow party, you need to come with an open mind and be ready to have a lot of fun. It’s a very uninhibited party, very hedonistic and one where we don’t take ourselves seriously. Expect an immersive experience where decorations, performers, actors, stilt walkers, confetti and other effects all happen around you to the soundtrack of underground house and techno. It’s a great experience!
Who specifies the audio and why is that system chosen for elrow parties?
Francisco Grande: The decision of which system will be used for the shows is taken by [CEO] Juan Arnau. In large-surfaces festivals, we usually use Funktion-One audio. The purpose is to offer the highest quality to the attendees and reliability to our DJs.
Special effects play a big part of the elrow productions – is there a strategy in employing effects like cryo, confetti & more?
Manuel Sánchez: The most important thing for us is the synchronization and timing in which we perform the effects. From our company, we have always thought that more is better… so we try to improve and innovate every year. This is elrow’s secret, try to improve and surprise the public. The artistic and technical department is always well-coordinated to give our clients an incredible performance of our shows. This team coordination takes time and involves more than 200 staffers in each show. The combination of effects is one of our biggest secrets.
What’s the difference between, say, elrow’s Ibiza parties and the North American events?
Víctor De la Serna: Yes, elrow Ibiza is a very important show for us and is a kind of showroom to the world, as every week different people from all over the world come to Ibiza. Also, we have a warehouse in Ibiza all year ’round and we are a spit away from Barcelona, so we have lots and lots of production stuff in there. That makes it easy to make the show huge and spectacular. It’s also big and spectacular in other places that we go, but obviously, logistics make it harder for us to bring so much decoration, but the essence of the party is there.
How does elrow’s production approach differ between a festival and a club?
Manuel Sánchez: One of the main challenges for the company is to offer the emotions that are created in a club to a festival. It’s a hard research work that we carry out and test in each event. Of course, elrow performs small and large-format events. In order to carry out these large-format events, we have always relied on our creative team and in different international street-theater companies. Working in large-format shows give us the opportunity to collaborate with international companies which help us to create our shows. The most important thing for us is to wrap the viewer with all the sensations that will not let him forget us.
How closely do the production people and the DJ work together?
Manuel Sánchez: We are working very hard on this. For us, our key thing is the union between the music and the show. This mission led us to work hand by hand with all our DJs in order to prepare some surprises that will be ready for this year’s shows. It’s exciting to create these songs, that sequences with lights, effects, and animation to make the effect that we call wau! This year, we are working with all of our DJs to prepare specific shows.
Are certain types of DJs better suited for elrow events than others?
Víctor De la Serna: At elrow, we are always looking for fun, energetic music. The show itself is very energetic, so that’s the style of music that works. The main styles – house, tech-house and certain techno acts – work well with the concept, as they don’t play dark. Music is a very important part of the show and, as such, it needs to be on par with the energy of the show.
Where do the themes for the elrow parties come from?
Cruz Arnau: The themes for the elrow parties come from the brainstormings between my brother [Juan] and me. Once we have the main idea, the process starts to involve all the departments. My [Marketing] team develops the narrative part and the story we want to tell and the Production team begins to create the decoration and the scene. The Animation team starts to develop characters. Marketing and Design teams create the artwork and the image of the shows. Finally, Communication, where that team takes care to launch it. In all this process, all ideas and crazy things are welcome. I think that the whole company needs to be involved and I could say that all the shows have the contribution or the touch of each one of us. The final result of working together as a team is a thing that we call “Bomba!”
After years of prominence in Europe, DJ culture and electronic-dance music are now wildly popular in America. How does elrow view this opportunity?
Víctor De la Serna: America is a great market for us and so far it has proven very successful. The growth for us has been very organic. Outside of Miami Music Week, where we have been for four years now, we started hosting a small stage at Electric Zoo in NYC, then a small party at a small club in Manhattan, then second main stage at E-Zoo and now we have started or residency at Brooklyn Mirage/Avant Gardner. We are planning shows in Vegas and hopefully soon other U.S. cities. It’s a huge market and there are so many amazing cities and opportunities we cannot wait to explore!
What’s can fans expect from elrow in the near future?
Cruz Arnau: We always try to avoid falling into monotony and we want to improve our product, in order to impact and surprise fans in every show. Now, we promise a crazy summer season with incredible Ibiza shows. Our next step is to develop bigger shows, while we continue creating themes, reaching new continents and creating new surprises for the next year that I still cannot reveal.