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Coming up: Main Party 2010
by Axel of Brainstorm

Download the pdf here

Main Party 2009 was a huge surprise to a lot of people. Not only did the organizers manage to convince the local authorities to REALLY push the event, with transport shuttles, signs across the town, and whatnot, but the demoscene also honoured the organizers' efforts with lots of high-quality productions that participated in the various competitions. It can be expected that Main Party 2010 will even surpass last year's event. Taking place from October 1st to October 3rd in Arles, France, Main Party 2010 is one of the largest party of the autumn season. Reason enough for ZINE to sit down with one of the main organizers, H2O of Rebels.

"I saw the massive potential in this offer."

H2O moved to Southern France a few years ago, and he noticed that the local demoscene was quite small there. One day he discovered that there existed a small party called "Main" which was held in Marseille, only located around 100km from where H2O lived. So he thought if there was a chance to meet some local demo-interested people, it was this party that he would have to attend. And so he did. "It was quite well done from the aspect of a cultural party, with bars, meals, music, everything was there," he recalls. "I met only a few sceners there, but I had a cozy time. Overall I have to say it didn't have many similarities compared to the Main party we did last year. One year later - it was Main Party #3 - I knew the organizers Christian and Brigitte a bit better, and I thought, it's time to help a bit. I have to say that Christian (known as Cybernostra) and his wife Brigitte, are geniuses when it comes to talking to politicians, getting sponsors, and doing all this nasty paperwork that is needed."

So H2O helped at the party with the beamer and tried to organize some kind of competition with Silkut, a local and very kind scener. But he realized quite quickly that there is way more preparation needed to make a nice a stable demoparty, so he offered to help them the following year. At that point, H2O already thought about what to prepare, and which kind of things needed to be changed and optimized. "Then Christian called me one day to explain to me that plans changed, that we wouldn't do Main #4 in Marseille anymore, but that we could have the biggest screen of Europe in Arles, and a fantastic hall. First I didnt believe that, but once I'd seen pictures, and was told more details, I saw the massive potential in this offer." So the two quickly decided to split the work. Christian and Brigitte saw after the political aspects, security issues, the budget, and the support from the authorities, and H2O's job was the marketing, design, team setup, the events at the party, as well as the website, PR, timetable and such. This separation between those two organizational areas is still in place today.

"My first task was to find a professional team, which had the skills and could make people believe in us. That would believe that we could pull off a big party," remembers H2O. The first people to jump on board were H2O's group mates of Rebels - Pasy and Vincenzo from Hungary. The team nailed down the requirements for manpower and technical aspects and got moving.

"German long-term planning vs. French last-minute decisions."

After some more thoughts, the team realized it could be done. "The initial experience was that I saw these people can pull things off," says H2O. "They can talk to politicians, they get the official support they need to make a party. If we can mix that power of securing the budget, hall etc., with the organization of the event and my scener team, a really good party is possible. Even though I first didn't plan to make such a big event (I only wanted to make the event interesting for sceners in the smaller hall), we had this big hall project in the end."

So what was the hardest part in organizing Main 2009? "Well, I know that people might scream now, but to be honest the manners in Southern France are hard to understand sometimes for a German," he explains. "A lot of things were decided at the last minute, or suprising changes made me mad quite often. At the end all went fine but I have to admit that sometimes two worlds collided: German long-term planning vs. French last minute decisions. I think by now we all understand each other though. We know our behaviors better and work together well! Everybody adapted way better to each other in the core-organizing team."

Something else that proved to be difficult was to convince people that the party is worth the trip. Often the organizers were told that the town Arles is far to travel to, while people didn't know if the party would be worth it. "Hopefully, this is different this time around," adds H2O with a smile.

One thing that truly stood out was the support of the local authorities, the politicians and the public. All demosceners who attended the party confirmed that. The reason for that requires some explanation: a rich lady built the hall with the biggest external screen installation as a gift to the city of Arles years ago. There is also a university for design, movies, and photography. The main idea was that the universities "feed" this screen every now and then with productions and thereby turn it into some kind of cultural highlight. But as so often in life, plans don't work out all the time. So the city of Arles was very happy as they understood that the scene could bring life to this screen and install a cultural and international event in this city. "Somehow I think we do exactly what this hall was made for," adds H2O. Thanks to Christian's and Brigitte's work, the organizers convinced local politicians of the idea and in return they got massive support from the center and the region. It wasn't an easy task, due to the financial crisis as well, but the hard work of the organizers was rewarded.

Main 2009 wasn't without its problems though. The fact that the organizers moved the party from a small cultural center with full equipment, bar etc. to a big empty hall was quite a step, since now they had to take care of almost everything on their own. "As this was a first for all of us with that hall, I apologize if anyone had bad experiences last year," says H2O. "We were learning by doing!" The three biggest lessons learned are:

- The sunset can brighten up the hall and screw up your timetable
- You need to have a professional cleaning team
- You need to separate the beam team and the compo team

"Personally, I also learned to support the French way of life a lot better," comments H2O. And certainly there were some bizarre anecdotes as well. The most interesting thing was that the Main Party was an open and official event of the city, and in order to be allowed to hold such events, the building needs to be certified but the hall in Arles was not. It took the government five years to discover that. So on Friday around 2pm there was a group of officials (police, firemen, city representatives, security people) discussing IF the party can be held, and the discussion was long and partly hot. In the end we got the permission, but it was a very bizarre moment. Another interesting thing to see was that people were measuring the distance between each chair to ensure that a corridor is there in case of an emergency.

The local government was really satisfied with Main Party 2009, and the representatives are happy that the event is held again this year. "Every now and then, they are still showing the productions on the huge screen on the roof, just to entertain people.

Main Party 2010

So let's get down to the facts. What can people look forward to this year? "First of all, Main Party is a demoscene event where you meet your demoscene friends, share some glasses, have fun conversations, watch good competitions (hopefully), and share a good time," explains H2O. "As a small extra we have Europe's largest external LCD screen on the roof of the building, spanning 3000 m2." Thanks to the support of the local goverment, the city, and the region, the team is getting a huge support to make it happen. "We really invite you to share this moment with us and all your demoscene-friends," comments H2O. "Also, the party place is really in the city center and Arles is for sure worth a visit. For those of you who prefer to go to the beach during the day I would like to mention that the really nice beach with cozy restaurants is only 35km away."

Some new features of the party are a small outside stage and outside bars (because the weather is too good to only spend the day IN the hall). For Friday, a large BBQ is planned. The team also plans to make it possible to darken the hall which will be essential during times of the sunset.

Additionally, the lighting will be improved to give it a bit more of a party feeling. Interesting DJs and live acts can also be expected. All in all there are EUR 4500.- as prize money for the competitions, which isn't much compared to the largest parties where a winning demo gets EUR 7000.-, but for a medium-size party this is respectable. The dream of the organizers is to further develop Main Party to a medium- to big-size party with approximately 500 demosceners spending some fabulous days in the sunny French weather. "I think it's better to grow slowly and raise the number of visitors year by year," comments H2O. "The goal is to make the people happy after a long trip. They should not regret that they travelled this far."

The team will fight hard to make Main Party 2010 a roaring success. It's up to the demoscene how this event will develop further.

Facts & Figures Main Party 2010

EUR 4500.- prize money
EUR 4000.- Travel Sponsor Fund
3000m2 screen on the roof
24 Hours live stream (the team would like to see you attend though)
5 Live/DJ Gigs during 2 days
3 big-screens inside (main one with 85m2)
3 airports with 100% free shuttle service (MRS / MP2 / MPL)
2 stages
2 bars
1 geekshirt store
1 retro computer / console expo
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