What was billed as ‘Celebrate Life’ was as far removed from truth as it could be. The Amsterdam version of Sensation White that I recollect was by far a superior product to what was dished up to Australian fans this November weekend. The Sensation Australia socials claimed the most spectacular event ever staged in an open air venue. The outrageously tiered tickets that went into the tens of thousands range for a Diamond Experience to a $5k White ticket and other VVIP tiers were a tragic let down for the thousands of dance fans who attended. I’ll agree that in the NL it is an indoor venue but one would think that a company who stages experiences would also avail themselves of information about other countries and what would be appropriate. As Australia is at the beginning of Summer there are certain requirements that are necessary. The mere fact that there was 1 free water station for 30k+ people which I couldn’t find probably as it was swamped with people trying to use it, stands testament to the poor organization. Speaking at length to different people even the entry to the venue kept changing, somehow what was stated on their site as to what they put people through was a joke. Some refused entry for non white clothes others were not, some told to cloak ‘All’ bags for $10 and yet I was allowed as was my friend and a few hours later backpacks were spotted inside which clearly on website were prohibited items. Photo ID was asked for yet oversea’s people were asked for passports, how many of us carry passports everywhere and it was Not advertised as necessary on the site.
I had a VIP Celebration ticket ($250 face value) and the rundown on their site was a ticket with a VIP viewing area (it turned out to be the stadium football seating in the hot sun and impossible to stay there) Four drink vouchers and a food voucher for finger food and nibbles. This is where it gets interesting. When I arrived I was told the drink tickets were being printed as they had run out and to wait, someone was bringing them over to the entrance hall. I and several dozen people waited almost 30 minutes or longer to find out the tickets themselves were as a business card would be and ‘not’ printed out on site at all. (FIRST LIE). When inquiring why we got 3 instead of four like advertised and where was the food voucher, the reply was ‘Oh there are no food vouchers, you’ll need to take that up with the ticket seller’ (Ticketbooth are Sensation’s own ticketseller)
After this delay and finding our ‘viewing’ in the hot midday sun, I ventured a look towards the stage to realize this VIP area was actually behind the front of stage and with all speakers pointed directly towards the opposite end where the “Diamond VVIP” platform was, the sound was distorted to the point you could not distinguish anything except for a reverberating bassline. The DJ’s themselves obviously are not worth protecting from a cancer loving Aussie sun and were provided not one bit of shade and I felt for Fedde Le Grand, Oliver Heldens, Gareth Emery and Don Diablo. All who had to perform in a hot Sydney stadium with temps reaching 90f and humidity at 80% not to mention after being behind the DJ I could see no fans to aid their comfort. Given those conditions I felt the hour sets they all played were under extreme duress and they did it flawlessly as professional artists. Side note is Gareth Emery’s set was song for song a set he played days earlier in NYC (1001songtracks is gold)
As I made my way down to find my VIP bar and food venues I became aware that none were policed and all GA were mingling so why did I pay $250 and they paid $140+? I will keep pondering that one for quite awhile! Let’s now move on to the front of stage experience, available according to Sensation’s page, to VIP’s…well DUH it was available to Everyone! That is until they shut it down at 7pm before Deadmau5 and refused everyone entry despite a lot of patrons streaming out the exit. (Yes I said ‘exit’ there was one in and one out of that area)
I ended up settling in a far shadier seat in GA to view Deadmau5 and lost my mind when I saw he had bought his Cube for the show. It was the definite highlight of an otherwise horrible experience. It’s a shame that the majority of Australian dance crowds cannot fully immerse themselves into what was one of the highlights of my life. The Cube is a massive structure worth according to a tongue in cheek Mau5 in the vicinity of $USD275,000 and he has two of them.
The visuals were probably far superior to anything Sensation provided as backdrop and the tech geek that is Deadmau5 shone bright. He admitted he forgot to play ‘I Remember’ but hearing new tunes such as Monophobia and Seed towards the end of the set, I wasn’t complaining and it probably was the only 90 minutes I didn’t complain for the entire day!
There were two confetti cannons which I saw only once released, the promise of artistic performers and a stage holding abstract structures of modern art that Sensation flashed up on their snapchat earlier, turned out to be 10 fancy dressed performers with light up hula hoops and flags that looped the stadium once an hour and one couldn’t blame them as they had no tent or even a fan at rear where they could change or recover from the heat. The amount of patrons streaming out of the ground after Deadmau5 set and before the highlight headliners of Showtek and Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike was immense.
Each person I spoke with had a story of disappointment and anger over the lack of organization and the broken promises of their advertised ticket add ons. I got one free item, a pair of glow in the dark gloves worth maybe $3 that were handed out after 9.30pm for what appeared to be part of the ‘experience’ or as one guy put it, ‘fans are now the performers as there are none!’
While the soundsystem was sub par the light show was even worse, the lasers were weak and we counted about 15 which did little in a large open stadium. The screens and visuals aside from Deadmau5 amazing cube were like watching someone using a Window’s media display for school. Two dry ice displays basically looked like someone was super vaping now and again and did little to lift the experience.
I hoped it would improve but alas I was wrong. Amid a few fireworks, the plug was pulled on Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike mid song! (a blessing to me) but to others they booed loud and long, I gather Sensation saved a lot of money on fireworks having only used a few! The Festival was over on dot of 11pm and that was it. Turned out that trying to exit the venue wasn’t that easy either. Where most staff told crowd the exit was the entrance, when you arrived there the other staff said go to the left and use that exit to leave. We did and were firmly told that No we were wrong and to go back to the entrance. By this stage it had become comical and also highly annoying.
All I can say is Shame Sensation Shame! You treated the Australian dance public with disrespect and falsely advertised an experience that definitely you did not deliver. You refused questions on your facebook site and removed a lot of comments where it was said the venue was unpaid and more stories from disgruntled patrons. Brenda Munsterman from Sensation had attempted one reply to a fan on their socials but the replies to questions were turned off and later the comments from upset fans were removed although I did save them for this very reason. Staff were in most cases willing to talk off the record with people about unpaid accounts even to the venue itself.
I have reached out to the parent company in Amsterdam to comment on this comical yet sad disaster for the final year of Sensation and discover it was sold to a USA company, I’m almost hoping the third party is responsible for this in the form of DanceNationAust, which I also have reached out to for comment, because I’d always been a fan of the concept in Europe. Obviously once the brand was sold Sensation wiped their hands of it and the USA company is about to ruin the concept completely. I’m not holding out hope of any replies so in parting I’ll leave you with a quote from Deadmau5 during his show which sums it up.
“At least I know what sound levels are”
I now know why he looked so downcast. Forewarned is forearmed and if they think the Australian public will forget this fiasco, they’re dead wrong. My suggestion to them is simple. Don’t come back.
As of 30th Nov 2017 I received this from Sensation via email:
Thank you for contacting us… First of all, we want to sincerely apologize for the fact that Sensation did not meet your expectations this time.
At Sensation, we work with local partners in each hosting city, for most parts we are dependent on their professional execution of the event. We advise, and aim to intervene in issues we foresee, but in some cases (and this happened a lot in Sydney), our advice is not taken on board. Unfortunately, we were not able to intervene in all aspects of the event and we are very disappointed to see how this damaged your experience of our brand.
Concerning the VIP areas, we are very disappointed to see that Dance Nation Australia was not able to provide our visitors with the experience they offered and advertised with. The licensing partner is responsible for the delivery of logistics and experience of the different ticket tiers. We advise our partners on how we do things in different countries and how to optimize the event experience, but again here, our advice was not followed.
As a resolution, Dance Nation Australia is offering partial refunds on a case-by-case basis to Celebration ticket holders who missed out on some of the VIP inclusions advertised. Can you please fill in this form (https://goo.gl/forms/nzVtkxByGuoDbcwN2), their customer service team will be in touch during the week.
Thank you for your understanding and again, and again our apologies.
Please get in touch with Dance Nation Australia for a more elaborate response.