Nick Abarca on the Art of Event Production, Social Engineering, & Sex Parties
I first met Nick and his life partner Arielle at Lightning in a Bottle. He was wearing stunna shades, silver booty shorts, big fur boots and a wolf hood. I had seen him online a few months prior and became immediately obsessed with his aesthetic. After cutting off a few people to follow his crew to get into one of three giant tea pots, my inner fan girl did a backflip as we made friends.
For those of you who don’t know, Nick Abarca was one of the ravers featured in “Under the Electric Sky”. Notably having built the Sensory Overload Chamber, a bass and laser filled coffin lined with faux fur, that fits about eight people. I’ll let your mind wander to why he built such a thing.
I discovered that Nick had founded the Sensory Overload Empire, an event production group built to create experiences that change people’s lives for the better and contribute to the collective consciousness.
Notable installations at his events include Vegetable Juices, Essential oil diffusers, Showers ;), lots of cuddle spaces (which are VITAL), Waterbed with holographic cover, Lasers, Strobe Lights, and Water Beads which is a curious little invention that feels somewhat like Jello that Nick has filled pools and buckets for patrons to play in.
When questioned on what things he feels are most important to invest in, Nick, like most pioneer event throwers, says to invest in the majority of your time and resources into the experience.
Q: How do you begin your event/space creation process? Do you have a solid process? What’s the most important aspect of planning?
A: It always begins with a spark of an idea… A social design, and art piece, the uncovering of a problem, and then from there I take a couple weeks to really think through the idea. I do research and look for different materials. I bounce the idea off of people with trusted palates.
Once I feel my forward progress has stopped as far as shaping the idea, I begin to gather the supplies and enlist the human resources I have available. Then I work on the production until it comes to fruition.
I think the most important aspect of planning is really taking the time to ensure you are going in the right direction before expending effort and resources on a project.
Q: Do you have a mentor? What have you learned? Do you mentor?
A: Not a mentor as for as event production goes…. But I credit my father for instilling the character traits and life skills that have allowed me to excel in this field. I mentor every chance I get. In my opinion the proliferation of EDM culture is the answer to the world’s problems and it’s in everyone’s best interests that we pass our way of life onto others.
Q: What’s your favorite event/space you’ve ever done?
A: I prefer my private events.
I have spent years turning my house into a permanent party space. Everything I have discovered and designed to create the best party, is in my house.
The highly refined environment coupled with strict rules and high quality guests makes for the perfect experience for me personally. Plus things like nudity and sex are possible which I believe must be present for my perfect social experience.
Q: What resources would you recommend (tools/info/videos/etc) for new space creators?
A: Autodidacticism … Learning to teach yourself is the first and most important step to exponential growth. Through this you will find your own information independent of others and become a master at whatever it is you’re are passionate about.
Q: What quality do you see as most important for a space designer/event thrower?
A: Interpersonal skills… Everything in our world is controlled by human interaction. Those who cannot master this skill will crash and burn in a field that requires constant social interaction and management of human resources.
Q: What questions should a space creator ask themselves?
A: Are you ready to spend 90% of your time and money for 3-8 years to achieve your goal?
Those who aren’t truly committed will get discouraged by the lack of monetary return on their work. You have to be doing it because you are passionate about the scene.
Most of the event throwers I know have side jobs, myself included and I’m 30 years old.
Smaller events will never make large amounts of money, if you’re in it for the greed you need to do massive style events.
Q: What does your ideal team look like?
A: Basically my current team, which consists of my life partner Arielle and all of our close friends. I would much rather have people who are passionate and enjoy what they are doing, than paid professionals who are doing it as a job.
Q: How do you maximize $$ at your events? Do you at all?
A: I maximize my money in all aspects of my life by being frugal so I can make my money stretch. I always barter first. I buy everything on sale or off brand for the most part. I make my own shit…
I create friendships with people who have the same goals so I don’t have to pay full price for goods/services. Not a single co-creator in what we do makes even close to normal market monetary compensation for their work. Most of our work-force are volunteers.
Q: What things should each event planner remember?
A: Stay humble. Take care of your helpers and your event goers. When you are worn out and frustrated remember why it is you do this…. The priceless amount of human happiness and connection you have generated.
Q: If you had to make an event/space for $0, how would you do it? $100? $1,000? $10,000? $100,000? $10,000,000?
A: I usually don’t have a large budget due to keeping event tickets low priced for our community. My profit from the event is usually from $500-$1,000. Which goes directly into new art and equipment, along with about $1,000-$1,500 from the salary from my main job….
On the minimally produced end of the event throwing spectrum, I find a lot of value in a space even if it only has a couple hundred dollars of lighting and sound. As long as you are with friends and the guest quality is high. That being said I prefer to invest whatever resources are available to creating a space.
One of the main issues that our (the 2Courtiers) Monthly Music Festival is dealing with is the curation of an entirely new experience each and every event. Nick says “I used to throw 12 themes a year and end up with a half-assed production for each one.” Now, he says, “We only do three themes and invest a lot more time and resources into the specific art for each theme.” Utopia, Dystopia, and Paint parties (because who doesn’t love paint parties?)
By focusing on only three event themes, Nick is able to create much higher quality art and continuously evolve and add to the themes, this helps maximize his profits, which of course, goes back into more art. Nick is a full-time firefighter, which pays the bills.
The Dystopian theme is designed to let people express their natural urge for aggression and destruction in a controlled environment that allows people to channel it appropriately. Nick is providing a healthy space to embrace our inner darkness and celebrating the chaos and destruction that is inherent in human-kind.
The Utopian theme lends more to his long-term dreams. Basically, the goal of creating the perfect social experience that can be easily replicated over and over again so he and all of his friends can exist in the world they have always wanted indefinitely.
One of the most fascinating tools that Nick uses to build his Utopia is what is called “Social Editing” or removing people in a community that do not follow their communities ethical standards (PLURR Standards). It is a valuable tool to use for any consistent event, much like the Bonnaroo code and the Burning Man rules. We are all painfully aware of what is happening to EDC and Hard Summer as a result of their commercialization and the death of PLURR. Another main tool he uses is “Social Engineering”, which is altering the environment or creating social situations that influence people to behave in a more desirable way. Some examples are instilling responsibility to protect others from unwanted behavior and creating a culture that is inclusive of outsiders. One of the main systems for doing this is making the natural undesirable behavior hard to do or displeasurable, and then making the desired behavior easy, rewarding and socially accepted.
Being a part of our community you are expected to behave in accordance with the ethical concepts defined in EDM Cultures mantra “PLURR” (Peace, Love, Unity, Respect, and Responsibility).
Existing without conflict or violence. Collectively working towards a state of mutual harmony between individuals and the community as a whole.
Kindness, Selflessness and Empathy towards others. Giving more then you take. Compersion
We are all One. Intentional disassociation with your sense of self, to embrace that you are a smaller piece of a larger whole.
Having respect for yourself, others and the environment. Tolerance of alternative lifestyles.
Holding yourself accountable for your actions. Responsible intoxicant use. Self-discipline.
Here is the set of rules he uses for his public events:
“The intent of these rules is to create a safe environment for the general public, and to protect people from unwanted negative behavior.”
Complying with these rules is mandatory for membership to SOE: UTOPIA. You will be held accountable for your actions inside and outside of events (including your behavior on social media). Violation of these rules will result in being banned from events and social media groups.
Members will be given 3 corrective counseling sessions where we explain what they did wrong and how they can correct it before they are banned. We reserve the rights to suspend membership for a period of time or ban a member immediately for severe infractions.
- Conduct: Guests will not exhibit negative undesirable behavior such as Jealousy, Negativity, Dishonesty, Greed, Drama, Anger, Infidelity, Disrespect and Aggression Ext.
- Tolerance: You will not discriminate against anyone based on race, culture, religion, age, social or economic status, sex, gender identification, sexual preference, body composition, participation or non-participation in specific activities. What will not be tolerated is intolerance, physical, mental or verbal abuse to members inside and outside events.
- Respectful to property: You will not damage or misuse the venue or event equipment: You will be held personally responsible for replacing anything you break.
- Enforcement: It is everyone’s responsibility to assist in ensuring that other guests maintain the PLURR Standards. Please, remind guests of the rules if they are breaking them and report infractions to Nick Abarca or designated PLURR Enforcement members so they can be dealt with.
- Sexual Behavior: Sexual expression is protected at our events because it is a natural and beautiful part of human interaction. However, you are expected to be respectful of the people around you who may be offended by your expression of sexuality. Sexual behavior must be within legal boundaries (It is illegal to have sex or be naked in a public space) and you must have verbal consent from everyone involved.
- Verbal Consent: You are required to obtain verbal consent from others before engaging in physical contact that could be considered sexual. This includes dancing, kissing, spanking, cuddling, sitting on laps, and massaging, etc. Unwanted sexual advances towards guests will not be tolerated. It is your responsibility to correctly perceive what is wanted or unwanted. It is very important to me that people feel comfortable at our events. Please report all incidents of disrespectful or aggressive sexual behavior so it can be dealt with immediately. Allowing this behavior to go unreported will cause other members to be subjected to this behavior as well.
- Over-Intoxication: Do NOT get so intoxicated that you treat others with disrespect, make poor decisions, are stumbling or falling over, spill drinks on people or equipment, become ill, or become a burden to others. Sloppiness is unattractive, so keep your shit together.
- Intoxicated Driving: Be a responsible human being and make provisions for your transportation if you plan on getting intoxicated. If you cannot, you are expected to remain sober. If for some reason your self-discipline has failed and you need a ride home please see the Support Hub so we can try and facilitate a ride home for you.
Induction into the VIP Party group:
The group is kept private with the specific intent to regulate the quality of people allowed at the party. A lot of issues are caused by allowing low or unknown quality people into a social gathering.
“Ideally I would judge if a person would be a positive contribution to the party based off of direct social interaction. Unfortunately that significantly restricts the amount of people I can screen as possible guests. So the secondary means is to reference multiple trusted common friends about a person’s social proof.
In addition, the review of a person’s Facebook over an extended period of time and who they associate themselves with is another deciding factor.
If you are interested you can contact me but you need to have ample evidence of why you would be a positive addition to the party or be prepared for me to be brutally honest. Generally I will contact someone eventually if I am impressed or keep hearing good things about that person.”
VIP Party guests also have the ability to invite people. Asking one of them to invite you and vouch for your legitimacy is also an option but remember you are asking them to risk their affiliation by bringing you.
Desirable Guest Qualities:
Loves EDM, Bass and Rave culture, Friendly outgoing personality, Enjoys making other people happy, Attractive, Good hygiene, In shape, Has Rave style, Likes to play sexy dress-up, Tolerant, Open minded, comfortable and open with sexuality, Gloving, Orbiting, LED Hula-hoop, Poi, Likes to dance like no one is looking, Stripper pole skills, Desires freedom of self-expression. Wears kandi, Unique and interesting personality, Girls who are bi-sexual, Guys who can bring quality females to the party and enjoy being around half naked raver girls without being a creep.
VIP Party Standards:
And this is the set of rules for his private events; the intent of these rules is to set a standard to ensure high quality guests with desirable traits that contribute to the quality of the party.
- Contribution Rule: Every guest must bring something positive to the party, This can come in many different forms. Lightshows, Attractiveness, Having a Unique, Energetic and entertaining personality. (See list of “Desirable guest qualities”)
- Introduction Rule: If you want to bring guests because you think they would be a good addition to the party you need to inform me who they are and give me their FB so I can approve them. You are personally held responsible for the quality of the guests you invite to the party and ensuring they comply with these standards. If your guest gets removed from the party, you are going with them. Guests of VIP Party guests are not allowed to invite people to a VIP Party.
- Participation Rule: You are expected to go with the flow of energy at the party. *This does NOT carry a sexual connotation*. Being a boring guest that sits in the corner is unacceptable.
- Appearance Rule: You must be well dressed in Rave or Slutty rave attire. Costumes are also acceptable, the less clothing the better. Personal hygiene and grooming are also very important. Girls who are comfortable wearing pasties are encouraged to do so. If you forget to bring pasties, I have a selection of duck-tape in different colors and patterns that you are welcome to use. Full nudity is also acceptable, It just limits the amount of photos I can post publicly on FB.
- Gender Ratio Rule: Single guys MUST bring at minimum of two girls (who need to be approved by me personally and can not be girls who are already coming to the party and are in the VIP group) in order to keep a healthy M/F ratio. Guys who are part of a couple do not fall under this category. Exceptions will be made for the highly skilled creators in various fields that have contributed significantly to building our world.
- Creeper Rule: Unwanted sexual advances towards the female guests will not be tolerated. It is your responsibility to correctly perceive what is wanted or unwanted. You are expected to ask for verbal consent in this space. It is very important to me that all girls feel comfortable in my house and infractions will be dealt with immediately. Girls are expected to report ALL unwanted behavior. It is not acceptable to just allow it to happen. If you do not help correct the problem it will continue to happen to others.
- Conduct Rule: Guests will not exhibit undesirable behavior such as Jealousy, Negativity, Dishonesty, Drama, and Aggression etc.
- Intoxicated Driving Rule: Be a responsible human being and make provisions for your transportation. If you cannot, you are expected to remain sober or stay at my house. There are 14 Beds available and they will be issued in the order they are requested. Let me know beforehand if you are planning on staying to reserve a bed.
- Over-Intoxication Rule: Do NOT get so intoxicated that someone has to babysit you. Sloppiness is unattractive, so hold your shit together. You are held responsible for replacing anything you break. I also reserve the right to restrain you and subject you to mild torture if I decide you are overly intoxicated and annoying party guests.
- Debauchery Rule: You are not expected to participate in the rampant sexual sin that’s going down all around you, but you have to be comfortable with it… There will be nakedness and sex… it will be okay…
- Smoking Rule: This is a Non-smoking party because we hate the smell of cigarettes… If you’re stupid enough to be addicted to cigarettes then make sure you bring an electronic cigarette or some nicotine patches/gum… or edibles if you can’t spend 2 minutes away from Mary Jane… Do not leave the party to go smoke down the street or in your car, you will not be let back in.
- Outside Rule: No one should be outside for any reason without my direct permission… Once you enter the party you must remain inside until you are ready to leave… This is very important to keep from having the police called on the party… I’m not going to tell you twice…
- Photography Rule: We are going to take pictures/video at the party and we are going to post them on FB… If you have any restrictions on what you want posted its your responsibly to tell me. If you don’t want any pictures posted make sure you stay out of the photos. I will use my best judgment to not post any pictures that I think you wouldn’t want me to put up… And I will remove any of them that you don’t like ASAP.
- Enforcement Rule: You are expected to assist in ensuring that other guests maintain the VIP Party Standards or at minimum report infractions to me so I can deal with it promptly. Guests who have been asked to leave politely and refuse or are trying to enter the party when I have specifically denied them entry will be forced off of the premises via bear mace and/or 10 million volt stun gun.
- Rules Rule: No complaining about the rules. They are non-negotiable. If you break them, you’re not coming back
- Media Confidentiality: The explicit pictures and video posted in this group are for VIP group members only. You do not have the right to share posted media with others. Any leak of media that has a negative effect on another VIP Party member will be punishable by termination.
- Leave No Trace: Guests are expected to clean up after themselves and contribute to restoring this space to its original condition during and after the party… If you see something that’s dirty or not in its place you are expected to fix it without being asked… Guests who do not contribute in this way will be replaced by ones that do. Throw your trash away, Do your dishes, keep your belongings organized and out of the way, Put your bed away before you leave.
Periodically I will request that all members privately message me the names of people they think should be ostracized and infractions they are guilty of. VIP party members can message me directly after a party with their input on people as well or tell me in person at the party.
Now to address the sex parties:
What kind of perfect society isn’t filled with hot people and lots of sex?
As a 25 year old man, this is a subject that is keenly on my mind. It is not the most important activity in the world, but I’m very interested doing it more often.
I initially asked him how to build an orgy. He gave a solid answer (he’s thrown them), but let me know that his VIP parties -complete with stripper pole in the living room, multiple bondage bedrooms, lasers galore and several women on a 4 foot black dildo in the shower- were not orgies, but rather incredibly intimate and engaging events full of beautiful souls who are sexually open and socially conscious, with extremely attractive bodies.
His Utopias are full of these kinds of people. People who are intelligent and interested in furthering their education. People who are full of energy and show it sexually and magnetically on the dance floor. People who are passionate and full of dreams, who believe in building the new world with every fiber of their being, who express themselves with vigor and deeply care about their fellow human….. and people who don’t creep the hot chicks out. If you are not these kinds of people, you’ll be kicked out.
A few tips on how to make your private events more sexually open:
- Do not make sex the main focus of the party… It should be a playful side product of a good party. Emphasizing sex makes people feel obligated and interact in an uncomfortable way.
- Creating the space: Slowly add sexualized objects to the party space. Bondage furniture, Sex toys, Stripper pole, Free pasties/condoms. A rapid shift into being more sexually open will make people uncomfortable and needs to be done slowly. Also this may cause a Sluts vs Prudes split in the social scene, which isn’t really a bad thing in my opinion.
- Rules: Creating a sexually open space without rules/enforcement for behavior will eventually result in the failure of your events… Guys will be creepy. It will scare all the girls away, and then you will have an off balance gender ratio which will make the party of low value.
- Comfort: Go out of your way to make people feel comfortable and safe in a sexualized space. Especially women, they aren’t going to take their tops off and run around being cute if they feel like they are gonna get creeped on or not have someone to save them if it does happen.
- Party editing: Since this style of event should have a restricted guest list, you should be pre-filtering guests that would not behave appropriately in this setting. And actively searching for people who would add to the event. Hyper-sexual people to help set the tone (party-starters). Attractiveness is also a parameter but this is socially difficult to filter because you have to reject people based off of unattractiveness and offending people may not be something you want to do.
- Making sexual behavior socially acceptable: Humans are greatly influenced by the behavior of others… Seeing that it is socially acceptable to be sexual empowers people to express themselves freely. You can instigate behavior or bring in party starters that do it naturally.
Thank you so much Nick for all your help and advice!! Maybe we’ll see you out at our monthly music festival soon 😉