Summer Soiree at North Pier

Blackpool Soiree

Claire chats to Les, organiser of The Summer Soiree…

Claire: Tell us about The Soiree its history and where the idea came from.

Les: The Soiree’s inception came about in the wake of the debriefing of our 2011 Blackpool Winter Ball event. Christmas events in Blackpool of this magnitude are just not in demand anymore.  Times had changed dramatically over the past five years with music tastes, fashion and culture so we went back to the drawing board and discussed what it is that people (like ourselves) wanted in this town. We knew there was a market for the House, Soul, Funk and Disco music that is loved in and around Blackpool, so we decided to steer clear from the uncertain financial difficulties that December presents and concentrate on an annual summer music event that people would see as prominent in Blackpool’s music calendar. With this, the Soiree was born, although the name came much further down the line.

The main obstacle back then was re-branding the winter-themed ‘Blackpool Ball’ and getting people to see us as a summer event which we could build on. Twelve months of work had basically been scrapped to make way for the new summer music event and all that remained was our music policy which we believed in one hundred percent. The name ‘Soiree’, which translates in my language to fancy party, fashionable party or evening gathering, seemed like a very fitting name.  Then, without any further complications, we decided that the summer-themed event was to be christened The Summer Soiree. The first Soiree event which took place on 23rd June 2012 was an absolute classic for Blackpool, made even better by the fact we beat the elements of that dreadful summer by putting on a top show for all the people who turned out in despite the weather.

Claire: North Pier is an amazing venue, how did you decided on making it the Soiree’s home?

Les: Yes, North Pier is an amazing venue but it was never our intention to hold it there. In fact, this only came about by a chance phone call to Renee, the pier owner. Prior to the discussion about the pier, I spent weeks, maybe even months, looking at venues all around Blackpool, Fylde, Wyre and even Preston. My first, and probably craziest, idea was to approach Lytham Hall.  The location is fantastic but the reality of holding an event in that building became nothing more than a dream once the management team showed us around the venue. I also talked to the Blackpool Hilton, Blackpool Tower, The Norbreck, The Marine Hall in Fleetwood and 53 Degrees in Preston before one of my sponsors, who knows Renee, told me to go over and check out the Pier’s Sundeck. A meeting was arranged and as soon as I stepped foot onto the sundeck, that freezing cold February morning, I knew instantly that we were onto something. Although summer seemed far away, I could see our massive sound rigs already erected either side of the stage.

Claire: What was the highlight of last Saturday’s event?

Les: The highlight of last week’s event, for me, was without doubt our two headliners: Natasha Watts and the ‘nu-skool’ pioneers, Crazy P who were represented by their producer Chris Todd, a.k.a Hot Toddy. The feedback we have received regarding these two acts has been amazing and it is always good to know what the people attending your event actually think of the bookings you make. As promoters, we don’t always get it right but on this occasion I feel we got it absolutely spot on. Natasha wowed the crowd on Saturday with her amazing soulful voice and it’s no wonder she has made the shortlist for Soul Survivor Magazine’s Best Newcomer and Best Live Act. The Crazy P DJ set was nothing short of brilliant.  Cool grooves mixed flawlessly all night and the dance floor didn’t stop. I was on the ball this year too, making sure the full night was recorded, so all our Soiree followers can relive the experience. Oh, and the sound systems were a bit special too!

Claire: What are your feelings now its over for another year?

Les: I have mixed feeling about the event now it’s over. I am really happy with the way the event went on Saturday but it lacked the numbers we were expecting and to take this event forward to the level that we would like. The Soiree is a big operation, which uses only the finest in audio and lighting.  We book the biggest names on the current club/festival scene that are within our reach. The cost of putting on these events is a huge expense and to make the Soiree work financially, and for it continue for years to come, we need more support. I feel a little let down by certain organisations in this town who only seem to be interested in pulling money in for advertising and I would have thought that The Evening Gazette and the local radio station could have done so much more to help give this a push. The Soiree is something that could grow and grow but without the big players doing their bits for the event, we will always struggle to take it to that level which we believe would make it more of a regional event than a local event.

Claire: What’s next on the agenda for The Soiree and its team?

Les: Next up for us is a long break. Later in the year I will sit down with the venue to discuss our next date which is already pencilled in the diary. We will look to gather as much feedback as possible from people who attended the event, then we start to plan the 2014 Summer Soiree and hope to give them what they expect from us. One thing is for sure, it will be yet another brilliant event come summer 2014.

Claire: How can readers find out more about The Soiree and its associated events?

Les: To keep up to date with all things Soiree, people need to follow us on Twitter: @blackpoolsoiree or our ‘Blackpool Soiree’ Facebook page. There’s also our interactive website which is full of news, latest galleries, DJ mixes and much more.

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