Melbourne – City of the World’s Best New Years Day Parties

Words: Ringo Thomas and Sam Howard

Still deciding what to over New Years this year?

Melbourne has a bustling electronic music scene and each New Years it breaks the traditional norm by providing you with every option to party in the sun during the day and kick off the New Year in the best way possible.

This year is particularly special and we are excited to see that more options have popped up than ever before for New Years day.

We chatted to the organisers of Picnik Électronik, Animals Dancing, Let Them Eat Cake and Freedom Time to hear more about what they’re up to and what’s in store for their New Years Day parties.

The location of Piknic Électronik 2016.

Samuel Navarro, Piknic Électronik

Autosea: Can you tell us a bit about Piknic Électronik Melbourne. How long has it been going on for and what does Piknic bring to the city?

Sam: Piknic Electronik is a brand established in Montreal and has been around for more than a decade, and features in other cities like Barcelona, Lisbon and more. They’ve been bringing this concept to an average of 8000 people every Sunday for a long time now.

What we are trying to bring is a little bit of difference on the day event picture. We do this through a number of points: firstly, always having low tickets prices which welcomes a wise variety of people, second is the location of the event with a nice environment, preferable in a proper park which we have this year at the Sidney-Myer Music Bowl. Thirdly, it is important for us to offer great food and fourth, ensure that it is a family event.

There are a lot of ‘old ravers’ that have kids and just want to go enjoy music like they used to. That’s why we have a kids activities area and it’s nice to show your kids that you’re a social person by bringing them into this kind of environment. It is possible for the kids to see their parents not just as a single unit, but a connected one to a large number of people. Not to mention the fact that they are introduced to really good music from a very early age and that is priceless; imagine what they are going to do when they are legally able to go out!

piknic-2The line-up for the first Piknic Électronik on the first day of the year.

Autosea: We understand that this is the first time you’re doing an event on NYD. What do you think is special about the Melbourne scene that has such a demand challenging the traditional New Years Eve?

Sam: This year we thought NYD was an incredible opportunity given that we were going to be at the Bowl, with all the history that it has Summerdayze and the like. Melbourne has always had a plethora of events, ranging from house music at over 4000 events, to Let Them Eat Cake, Alhumbra, Animals Dancing, events at the Velodrome and St Kilda that hosts an array of parties. I think the market is really big for New Years Day where pretty much every man and woman in Australia wants to be out. Coming from Europe and knowing that it is winter over there, we used to go out on New Years Eve instead, so it really surprised me how much people in Australia went out on the 1st of January when I was fresh off the boat.

A friend of mine always asks me to play at his festival, Coincidance in Mexico but I can’t leave Melbourne with so many good parties here!

Autosea: How do you feel about the Melbourne scene in general?

Sam: The scene is definitely increasing. More people are aware of what is available and what is happening around the rest of the world. People travel overseas and it pushers the promoters and the DJs alike to constantly develop and keep up to date.

I love the people in Melbourne, both when I am running events and playing at them because there is so much passion involved. Your event, Autosea, is a clear example of what happens when there is a healthy environment musically and people-wise. I get to play some crazy music and people just stay for hours. It takes a lot of work and a healthy scene for people and venues to have an open mind about the music and create the vibe of a party, and not focus on getting a short-term dollar.

The Mercat Basement in full party mode.

Tom Moora, Animals Dancing –

Autosea: Can you tell us a bit about Animals Dancing, how was it started?

Tom: After some years of organising C Grade and a few other things at the Mercat, Nick and I began talking to Daragh of the Mercat and about how we could organise a similar party for guest acts that we wanted to hear play all night. At the time a lot of parties either had a guest play only a couple of hours or happened at a not so appropriate venue with a million promoter DJs. Lewie (Tornado Wallace) was into the idea too, so it just made sense to try it out and after helping us get in touch with agents and artists, Andee (Frost) came on board after the first few parties.

The record label side of things was also something that just made sense. We sent Kookaburra to a few labels who weren’t so keen and then just decided to release it ourselves. I guess if there’s an MO (method of operation) behind what we do, it has always come down to booking acts that we are listening to and familiar with rather than reading RA Top 100 lists and Facebook Page likes. And most of all, we don’t take ourselves too seriously.

Autosea: Animals Dancing NYD sold out in minutes. Why do you think that Melbourne has such a huge demand on New Years Day as opposed to the traditional New Years Eve?

Tom: I think it just comes down to NYE occurring during Summer in this part of the world. Large festivals on NYD have been around in Melbourne for as long as I can remember and people would rather opt for enjoying a daytime summer event than deal with all the bullshit that goes on during NYE in and around the city.

Autosea: Were you surprised that with everything else on there was such a demand for a day party at the Mercat? What’s the vibe you’re hoping to bring on the day?

Tom: With the imminent closure of the Mercat, I’m not surprised that people want to make the most of the last days there and I think we can help the Mercat go out with a bang.

animals-dancingLine-up for the full venue party on the 1st of January.

Autosea: If you were to comment on the scene in Melbourne in general?

Tom: I definitely think there is so much more interesting music in Melbourne now than what was going on 10 years ago especially in terms of electronic stuff. There are all sorts of people trying to put things on from a bunch of different backgrounds, which is nice.

The scene has always been healthy and I don’t think the amount of people going out has changed, but I think that quality has improved in general, and perhaps with more parties people are trying to do different more interesting things rather than follow suit.

The bar of production coming out of Melbourne has definitely risen over the past five or more years and I think the varied amount of parties and shows and open minded nature of the crowds has aided producers to take in influences from wherever without a particular sound that the city is known for to adhere to.

freedom-time-2The last Freedom Time at the Coburg Velodrome.

Edd Fisher, Freedom Time –

Autosea: Can you tell us a bit about Freedom Time? New Years will be your fourth party. How did Freedom Time start?

Edd: Freedom Time started in a car park at the back of Ezra Pound Bar in Perth. The local crew teamed up with the KBI Sound System to present a night of tropical treats and afro-rhythmic rarities from DJ Tako of Redlight Records and The Invisible City DJs, Brandon Hocura and Gary Abugan all on a hand-made sound system.

Freedom Time NYD is set to continue the original ethos of that first party in Perth- to celebrate life through music and the sound system culture in the spirit of the carnival, the block party, the park jam and the BBQ.

Autosea: What is the vibe of Freedom Time and what do you guys hope to achieve through your parties?

Edd: Freedom Time is about the experience as a whole, creating a musical narrative of world class local acts intertwined with heavyweight internationals. We hope to make it about the music and setting more than just the headline talent. Some of our favourite moments from the last two parties have been local acts.

Autosea: Your second party was at the Coburg Cycling Velodrome. Can you talk us through choosing that venue and what the party was like?

Edd: When the opportunity came along to throw a party with Floating Points we knew we wanted to do something special so we worked on finding a unique space. The team behind the Velodrome events had recently found the velodrome and seeing its potential were working towards making it a regular event space. We gave them a deadline to work towards and got to be the guinea pigs. It was an incredible atmosphere at the first party. The sun was out, the crowd of 2500+ were perfect and the music was top notch all day.

Harvey Sutherland even said ‘Freedom Time 2 was the best party I’ve ever been to’.

freedom-time-1Freedom Time’s line-up for NYD 2017.

Autosea: It’s not usual to hold a big event at a velodrome. Freedom Time reflects the originality and individuality that all dance music lovers have created in Melbourne and continue to work together to collaborate and create. What do you think of the dance music scene in Melbourne and why do you personally think it’s so special?

Edd: We’re extremely fortunate to have a strong community radio culture promoting our underground talent. When you team this with a supportive local and state government allowing us to activate an interesting location, we’re able to create unique experiences that promote individuality and diversity. This is the key to the great scope of dance music and parties in our city.

cake1Punters at Let Them Eat Cake 2016.

Walter Juan, Let Them Eat Cake –

Autosea: Can you tell us a bit about the concept and original vision of Let Them Eat Cake and how it has evolved over the years since it started? What brought about the original idea of a New Years Day party?

Walter: We wanted to provide a mature audience an electronic music outing with a difference from the more commercial NYD events of the past few years. It is somewhere where people can start a new year and get lost in the construct of the festival and the beautiful mansion grounds. The biggest change over the years has been attendance figures which has grown threefold, but outside of that the festival is still grounded in its base principles so each year is just about building on what is already there.

This year, for example there is a big emphasis on interactive art and a push to take our food and beverage (particularly cocktail) offerings to an even higher level. As usual, the site has been moved around to incorporate new/different parts of the grounds too.

Autosea: Why do you think Melbourne has such a huge demand on New Years day as opposed to the traditional New Years Party?

Walter: People would rather start the first day of the new year fresh and without a hangover.

Let Them Eat Cake’s 2017 bill at the mansion.

Autosea: If you were to comment on the scene in Melbourne, do you think it is an environment that is growing in terms of both the number of parties and the number of people going out and enjoying what there is to see?

Walter: It might be growing in that a whole new generation is experiencing the charms of the local scene, but music has always been a big part of Melbournian culture and has been for decades. The Melbourne scene is perpetually changing and morphing, and we are very lucky to be part of such a diverse scene filled with many different crews and tastemakers.

There are some tickets still available for all these events:

Piknic Electronik (sold out, check FB for tickets)

Animals Dancing (sold out, check FB for tickets)

Freedom Time (sold out, check FB for tickets)

Let Them Eat Cake