The rise of immersive events

What is the secret of immersive events?

There are two types of attendees – spectators and participants. Spectators attend your events to observe, take the back seat and enjoy the event whilst participants are the polar opposite. They expect so much more from your events and their customer experience. They want to be entertained and most importantly they want to be a part of the show. This type of attendee craves to escape the reality. So what is the secret of keeping them hooked?

The rise of immersive events – Glastonbury and its ‘naughty corners’

Immersive events started booming in the early 2000s with the rise of the infamous Lost Vagueness. Lost in Vagueness was an after hour party area at a world-renowned Glastonbury or in other words its ‘naughty corner’. You could find everything in there – an exotic cabaret, peculiar costumes, semi-nudity, champagne, pop up casinos and even a ‘Chapel of Love’ (in case you felt like getting married or spending your honeymoon there). Everyone wanted to be part of it. But why?

Because this ‘festival within the festival’ attracted those who wanted to participate, who had no fears and wanted to break the social norms. Previous attendees remember entering Lost Vagueness and feeling like kids in a sweet shop. It was full of surprises. Every corner of this festival area had something new to offer, something they have never experienced before. It was an original and anarchic idea. Festival organisers agree that Lost Vagueness was born at the right time. It literally saved Glastonbury from financial ruin.

However, it didn’t last long. The Lost Vagueness was an idea which didn’t have a solid business plan and wasn’t able to cover its costs. It died at its peak, in 2009. However, festival organisers knew that their attendees were craving immersive experiences hence why Lost Vagueness was very quickly replaced by a new side venue – The Shangri La.

Remembering the Snake Pit and why it was so unique?

Our very own director, Sorcha Rogers, was lucky enough to see the rise and fall of Lost Vagueness as well as the birth of the Shangri La and its side venue – the Snake Pit. She grew up in the alternative arts culture of the late 80’s and 90’s, where artists were organising free underground parties and creating immersive experiences without expecting any financial gain. Sorcha was part of this movement before Lost Vagueness was even born, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that she became an integral part of new Glastonbury’s ‘naughty corner’ – The Snake Pit.

Originally she joined the Snake Pit in 2009 as one of the cabaret performers. At that time she was already a well known figure in London cabaret underground scene and she had previously worked with brightFX, the crew responsible for conceiving and running The Snake Pit. They very quickly  noticed her talent to create extraordinary performances and offered her to run Snake Pit’s cabaret shows. She came back in 2012 to work with them as their Venue and Cabaret Manager. Over the next three years she produced the infamous Snake Pit cabaret which featured diverse artists such as beautiful Feeding the Fish glow shows and more provocative burlesque acts.  Sorcha remembers the Snake Pit as a venue that broke all the barriers. She says that ‘things like front nudity were never planned, however that’s what Snake Pit was all about’.

Sorcha says that in order to produce these shows she had to go back to her roots and take inspiration from edgy 80’s and 90’s art and turn it into something that would thrive in a more mainstream environment. She realised that the venue like Snake Pit could only survive if it keeps creating immersive experiences which connect back to their creative source, hence why ‘Snake Pit wasn’t just about the attendees but also about the artists. It was a venue which nurtured them and gave them a platform to express themselves. It sounds like a cliché but in the midst of this chaos you could almost feel the love the crew had for each other and their work.’ Believe it or not, the clients and guests could feel it too, even if they couldn’t put their finger on it. And this was the secret of Snake Pit.

The future of immersive events

The Snake Pit closed its doors in 2015. However, does this mean that the era of immersive events is coming to an end? Definitely not. As the saying goes ‘the show must go on’ and people want these events to continue growing. Our team at Sorcha Productions has been part of this industry as artists as well as producers for a long time and we know what makes a great immersive experience. It’s not just about skilful acts, beautiful costumes and modern venues, but more about that secret ingredient – a free and creative idea which catches your attendees’ eyes, draws them in and makes them forget the outside world. Even if it’s just for a moment.

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