NEW ORBITS, ENDURING GRAVITATIONS
The pandemic had so many trajectories. In the beginning, it was going to be a short journey. “Only a few months”, we said. The quick hop then turned into a full rotation. It wasn’t long before the rotation became an orbit, and for a time, it was difficult to see our path to reentry and a landing back on solid ground. And yet, here we are. Descending towards a location we know so well.
As we return to larger organized events this year, we wanted to share our excitement. But like any great adventure, you don’t return from new locales without picking up a few good stories, new friends and interesting curiosities.
As we build toward the summer, we thought it was appropriate to give our core community a sense of what we have been up to, who we have been working with, and what new ideas we have circling around our sphere.
Here’s to re-entry, new orbits and enduring gravitations.
You weren’t part of the pandemic unless you tried to socialize on Zoom. And try, we did.
Two years before Facebook renamed themselves Meta, and dedicated themselves to the future of human connection in digital worlds, we set out to see if we could translate our passion for bringing people together, while physically apart. We put hundreds of hours into difficult digital experiments. We raised millions of dollars for charities with virtual broadcasts. And we even found energized communities in deep rabbit holes, such as Discord servers and amongst the non-fungible token craze.
We’ve come out the other side with an even stronger grasp of how technology plays a lead acting role in our social lives, what works, what doesn’t, and where we are going next.
While we return our social festivals, you can be sure there are experiments in our innovation lab that might surprise you in the future. Read below for a summary a few of the things we are currently most proud of.
NFT Music Collectibles
Love ’em or hate ’em, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and the broader Web3-branded technology sphere captured our attention during those long pandemic months.
It didn’t take long before we realized that NFTs and Web3 is a new layer of social technology that will be as large, or quite possibly more impactful than was Web2 (better known as social media). Soon after our epiphany, we found ourselves at the emerging global gathering NFT.NYC in November 2021, only to come back with more opportunity than we knew how to handle.
Distilling down our learnings and our fortunes, we partnered with the renowned Railtown record label, Monstercat, on a NFT music collectible project called RELICSxyz. The new venture, which is still in its very earliest days, is a music collectible experience utilizing full-length, complete copyright licensed, digital audio visuals. RELICS are music NFTs that play on their own, but collectors can also pair their RELICS (visual music records) with IDOLS (virtual record players) to create a musical atmosphere in the Metaverse.
One of our experiments that will continue into our post-pandemic days, you can follow along at www.relics.xyz or, on Twitter or via the project Discord.
A Signature Virtual Event Series
Only weeks after the onset of the pandemic, we hosted our first exclusively virtual event. We chose to bring back a long-time favourite from the early days of The Social Concierge, in Candlelight Club.
The first edition of the event brought over 2,000 households together to light a collective candle, raise money for charity, and share a meal across boundaries. It was a strange experience, but one that felt good.
We quickly followed up with a national edition, bringing together restaurants across the country and in multiple time zones for a much larger virtual celebration. We deployed new technology that allowed guests to walk through a digital event space, decoupling them from the dreaded Zoom camera. We were experimenting, and trying to innovate in artistic ways.
In the end, we learned that virtual gathering technology is still very nascent. And the feelings of joy, emotion and belonging don’t translate digitally as well as we might want to hope. At least not yet. But that didn’t stop us.
You can watch the highlight reel of our National edition below.
The National Summer Soirée
Virtual Broadcast Expertise
As the pandemic drew longer, it became clear that our charity and non-profit partners needed support. Funding for critical causes was drying up as uncertainty flared, and we needed to bring a sense of mission and a clear message. Even if that meant it had to be exclusively virtual.
Over the course of a number of high profile fundraisers, we raised nearly two million dollars for charitable causes using a virtual format. And while we are excited at the slate of in-person galas planned for this year, are without a doubt convinced that virtual fundraising is a new tool that will stick around long-term.
We continue to be fascinated by the ways we can gather virtually. Over the past two years, we took it upon ourselves to dive extremely deep to understand the nuances of the medium. What we came away with? An obvious and clear intrigue for virtual worlds, and how immersive realities can be built using technology tools that get stronger, quicker and more user-friendly each month.
We’ve included images from a few virtual world building endeavours we undertook that all centred around the focus of bringing people together.
The Lucky Few
It wasn’t all Metaverse undertakings, and we were lucky enough to latch onto the important trend of small, intimate and outdoor pandemic events.
The combination of less risky-sized crowds matched with free airflow exterior spaces truly worked. These new formats achieved a level of togetherness that was amplified by the intimacy of the events, while mitigating serious physical harm. And in the process, gatherings that never would have been so small had a chance to realize just how magical tiny events can be.
Our crowning achievement in this category was a custom-designed and hand-built hosting venue on the 18th floor terrace of an existing downtown commercial tower. A hospitality space for Bosa to host key client and prospective buyers for the soon-to-be-built Ole Scheeren Fifteen Fifteen building, the program ran for almost 60-days over the summer of last year.
The Social Concierge was the lead designer and production agency for the physical environment, and play lead role in the daily operations of the event space during the run of the show.
We know that intimate, premium experiences will continue to trend even as we come out of the pandemic. The outcomes are hard to argue with.
We wouldn’t be The Social Concierge, without returning a few of our timeless classic festivals over the summer months in Vancouver.
First up in July will be the event formerly known as the Deighton Cup. Don’t worry, you can expect the same ol’ fashionable day at the races. But this time around, our festival will be more inclusive and welcoming to all. You can read more about our inclusivity commitments, and our decision-making around the coming name change here. As always, you will be able to come get fancy.
And of course, the well-known (and in our opinion, most incredible) summer dinner party, Dîner en Blanc will make a reappearance on your social calendar in August. Stay tuned for more information on the date and details for the one night each year where we walk away from a sparkler moment in awe of the vibe.
All of this said, we recognize that many things have changed. In fact, we spent the pandemic writing about the shifting trends and latest happenings around the spheres of gathering design. Through this routine writing, we are certain post-pandemic gathering design will be forever altered:
- We believe that legacy ways of bringing people together have been shattered;
- We believe that the Metaverse and digital ways of coming together had its moment; and
- We believe that the way we organize ourselves has fundamentally changed.
What does this mean? Well, for starters, it means that we are taking on new project styles, event formats and gathering mechanisms. We see an emerging new layer of technology that will rise up to dominate as heavily as social media did in the late ‘00s. If you want to read our long-form argument on how this technology layer will transform events, you can take a look at that here.
As always, we will continue to drive innovate around new technologies, form fresh combinations of artistic outputs and present exciting new ways to inject fun, vibrancy and good vibes into your life. We seek those who share this mindset, and we hope that is you.