By Felicity Clarke, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Some speculate if throwing a great party is more an art then a science. There is the delicate balance of music, people, drinks, setting, and the unquantifiable but essential party ingredient, atmosphere.
The potential for disaster is huge, but when it all comes together, you have an experience that puts venues on the map. It’s this opportunity, of making a bar, lounge or club the hot spot, which has led to an explosion in party promoting in major cities all over the world.
Sociable, in-the-know types with bulging contact books and a flair for throwing creative, reliable parties are forging an events industry and carving out a fun, and potentially lucrative niche.
In New York and London the party promoter is a well-established figure in the nightlife circuit, wielding the power to put venues on the map and people on the highly exclusive invite lists. Recently, this role is increasing in the Rio nightlife scene, and it seems to have a bright future.
Fernanda Bencardino is a Carioca promoter who has been putting on parties and events for three years. “I did a lot of traveling and lived in New York and Miami Beach, both real party places, and I got to know the party planning scene. It started naturally, putting on parties to friends and really having a great time! My friends kept telling me: you’re really good on putting people together! You should make a business from it. That was when I decided to make a career through organizing events in Rio and Sao Paulo”.
Bencardino’s recent events have included exclusive parties at the elegant Londra bar at the Fasano Hotel and a pre-New Year’s Eve party at Ipanema’s hip Boox bar. She is also planning a Carnival party in February, as well as events in Sao Paulo.
The setting is important, not just for the actual night but the business arrangement. “I choose between the trendiest, most upscale places that matches with my target public which are the young, international jet-setters. I approach those places and negotiate the terms.”
Fernanda then explains, “It can work one of two ways: either I hire the venue and make my business from invitation sales, or I work with the venue and take a 15 to 20 percent share of the profit on the night”.
Not all of Rio’s venues are open to working with promoters yet though, as the industry is still adjusting to the dynamic. “It very much depends on the venue”, says Camille Richardson who organizes the US Consulate’s Young Professional Happy Hour events, a very stylish, although non-profit, initiative to create networking opportunities.
“Hotels are usually used to working with people for private events, but I also find that the newly-opened venues looking to target a specific market are open to working with us. Basically though, I say to people ‘I have over 2,000 contacts and I will be promoting your venue to them with the event’. Either you’re a business person or you’re not”.
According to Clarice Sposito who organizes parties for her extensive network of local and international contacts, a challenge in Rio is the number of suitable venues. “There’s not as many options in Rio as in other major cities. There’s definitely a need for more upscale places”.
While Rio may have a less dynamic nightlife scene than the bigger and beachless New York or Sao Paulo, party promoters seem to have a new focus. “I’d really like to see more specific, niche events”, says Camille, “Rio is definitely a party city, but I think it’s not necessarily tied to a club scene but more to the events.”