After two years of 'snoozing' due to corona, Jaarbeurs could once again safely host tens of thousands of trance music lovers during a spectacular weekend in the hall complex. Trance, according to the dictionary, is "a state of hypnosis and heightened consciousness". That heightened awareness was certainly noticeable in event manager Hidde Paauw and Jaarbeurs account manager Jasper Peeters, two spiders in the ASOT web. What’s it like to help make an event with such a huge international profile possible after two years of hibernation?
Organising the world’s biggest trance event requires enormous focus
Around 55,000 visitors; tens of millions of viewers and listeners worldwide via the live stream; five different stages; amazing laser shows. Utrecht was briefly the international hub of trance music in early March. Royal Jaarbeurs had the honour of hosting the world’s biggest trance event: the 1000th edition of A State of Trance (ASOT), the show of Dutch pride and top DJ Armin van Buuren.
"The sense of pride is indescribable when you walk into Hall 1, where Armin van Buuren is playing. The energy in that space is incredible. You have to be there to believe it and playing my part has been an absolute highlight of my time at Jaarbeurs."
"It was a bit difficult to switch back," says Jasper. "Some of the routine may have been lost by the various parties involved, but the great thing is that ultimately we’re all used to organising events at the highest level. ALDA, the Dutch events company behind ASOT, has been at the top of the international dance industry for years. Thanks to the combined professionalism, including from our suppliers, we were quickly back in the swing of things."
Hidde: "The last time we were able to host ASOT was in 2020. Much has changed since then and you have to take that into account. For example, the logistics are very different, especially in terms of parking. And naturally we had to take into account the shelter for Ukrainian refugees that we are hosting in Hall 5. Standard procedures and agreements that we took for granted in the past no longer really applied. As a result, many things had to be discussed and coordinated all over again with the client, with our suppliers and within our own team."
But then we were able to put on an amazing event. Hidde: "The feeling of pride is indescribable when you walk into Hall 1 on Saturday night, the main stage, where Armin van Buuren is playing. The place where almost 17,000 visitors are going completely wild. The energy in that space is incredible. You have to be there to believe it and playing my part has been an absolute highlight of my time at Jaarbeurs."
Hosting 55,000 visitors used to generate a mountain lot of waste in the form of plastic beer glasses but that has now been considerably reduced. Hidde: "Together with ALDA, we chose to work with a deposit system for the plastic cups. Those glasses could be used again for the next drink, so you didn't have to pay the deposit again. And you notice the effects immediately when cleaning up afterwards. We used to have to work our way through layers of plastic cups, but now they are collected at the bars and we could easily dispose of them in a sustainable way."
There is of course always room for improvement. For the next edition, for instance, the signage will be looked at. The night security found visitors who arrived later struggling to find the entrance. People who had been to an event in Jaarbeurs before did not immediately realise that the entrance was on the other side this time. Hidde: "Although this mainly concerned visitors who only joined the party later in the night, next time we can definitely look at how we can make the signs even more intuitive."
Be sure to book the lasers for 2024
Overall, ALDA and Jaarbeurs, and certainly the 55,000 visitors, can look back on an unforgettable experience. Jasper: "A lot has changed in the industry and this event really set a new standard. I am extremely proud of that. It's great to be able to work with a top-notch company like ALDA, a real partnership." Hidde agrees: "ALDA runs many big productions at home and abroad, something you really see reflected in its professionalism. They clearly know the ropes and are not easily thrown off balance. It’s also very nice that they involve us as a location in all their plans and listen to us. You feel really included in the entire production, which contributes to Jaarbeurs being part of the event as the venue. It's a very enjoyable partnership where together we ensure that all visitors have an unforgettable experience." Just be sure to book the lasers again for next year.