January 12, 2016

8 Lessons David Bowie Could Teach Event Organisers

The time has come, a time where a legend has been lost. For David Bowie, a ‘normal’ life with a 9-5 job was definitely not something up his street. As early as his school days, he earned a reputation for being gifted and defiant. He challenged the norm, took great interest in the American culture and blew people away with his talent and style. Even when dressed like a freak, he knew how to be the centre of the party.

bowie mural

As you’re all working hard to plan your events and make them stand out in the crowd, we can’t help but think, in such a time, “What would David Bowie have done? How would he have made his audience happy?” There is a lot that Bowie has taught us about creativity and staying ahead of the game.


Be distinct

Do things differently, but be yourself. Whether you’re throwing a party in a cave or mashing up boxing with chess, always stay true to yourself. Despite David Bowie’s various costume changes and stage personas he always remained authentic and recognisable. So whatever stunt you pull, make sure your audience can always tell it’s you.


Be creative

Bowie took inspiration from various cultures, music, artists and art forms. This concoction of knowledge contributed to his great stage persona of Ziggy Stardust and his albums Low, Heroes and Lodger, where he worked with Brian Eno to create a hybrid of electronica and funk. Think outside the box, look deep into what inspires you and find a way to apply it to your event. Look at artists and art work and use it to give your attendees a subliminal and immersive experience.


Capture the Zeitgeist

Whatever Bowie did, he did in response to the current culture. In 1969, when people were watching the moon landings on TV, he wrote Space Oddity, giving people a way to relate to space travel with Major Tom.

Always make sure you’re up to date with the latest, whether it’s event technology, social media networks or the most popular hits people are listening to. No doubt, Bowie’s tracks are on repeat at the moment!


Don’t do it for the sake of it

Bowie produced works of art with soul and meaning. Whatever he did, he did for a reason. He even turned down a knighthood from the Queen, telling the Sun, “I would never have any intention of accepting anything like that. I seriously don’t know what it’s for. It’s not what I spent my life working for.”

Give your event life, know what you’re aiming for and automatically you’ll find a way to give value to your audience. Don’t do something because everyone else is doing it and because it’s ‘expected,’ which brings us to our next point.


Do the unexpected

People want to be surprised even if they think they don’t. Give them an event to talk about and don’t bring an artist to your event because all other organisers are using him/her. Do your research, find artists with a knack and who know how to entertain their fans. Take Kink for example, he’s not just a musical marvel in the EDM world, but he even gets his fan to contribute to the gig, letting them play his instruments as he….drops the bass!   

After many years of not producing, Bowie came back with two albums within the space of two years. He didn’t even tell anyone about his illness and went out with a bang, with his latest album Blackstar.


Take risks

Whoever got very far by playing it safe? One of Picasso’s most famous pieces, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, is a fine example of this. For the time, it was totally controversial and highly frowned upon. But it was thought provoking, remembered and talked about. It’s now worth millions.

Bowie’s album, Let’s Dance, was also a complete gamble. He worked with producer Nile Rodgers, who at the time wasn’t much of a favourite. But the collaboration proved successful and worth the risk. If you don’t get it right, that’s also perfectly fine. If you don’t fall you’ll never get up.


Steal ideas

Don’t mean to give you a Picasso overload, but as the great artist once said, “Good artists copy, great artists steal.”  Bowie wasn’t great just because of the people he worked with, but because he took ideas from various people and places and merged them together to make something new and original. Afterall, Ziggy was inspired by taking bits and pieces of different artists.

Do your research. Visit similar events and organisations to yours, look at various artists’ work and put together their ideas to offer your attendees something unique.


Be ahead of the game

Even though very masculine, Bowie wasn’t afraid of approaching androgyny. He explored popular culture, sang and danced around in face paint and sparkly gear, all whilst ensuring people of his masculinity. These days androgyny is something we’re constantly catching glimpses of in the news and media. You could certainly say Bowie was ahead of his time.


Rest in peace David Bowie. You will forever be missed and will always be an inspiration to many.