Fedde Le Grand on Sensation, ID&T, EDM's U.S. Invasion: "America Is Ready, Especially Miami"
Imagine 10,000 people descending upon American Airlines Arena, every single one of them dressed entirely in white and ready to dance for hours.
Inside, they find themselves transported into another world filled with pyrotechnics, giant plastic marine animals, and all manner of spectacular things. Now, add some of the best DJs in house, techno, and electro and you've got yourself a real Sensation.
Actually, you don't even have to imagine it, because Sensation: Ocean of White and promoter ID&T will bring that whole fantastic scene to life this Saturday with an arena-sized electronic dance music extravaganza at the AAA starring Fedde Le Grand, Nic Fanciulli, Prok & Fitch, and many others.
This is the first time Sensation will put on a Miami show, part of the Dutch event's inaugural tour across the United States, but it's been one of the biggest brands in EDM productions since 2000.
"It's actually been around for so long," says Fedde Le Grand. "And it was something I always looked up to, because it was one of the biggest things we had in Holland.
"I've not only seen Sensation but also ID&T evolve over the years," he points out. "And in my personal opinion, they're among the best in the world."
ID&T is behind a number of big-name EDM productions, including the recent TomorrowWorld festival, which took place just outside Atlanta. But Sensation is something truly unique.
"Sensation is all about people uniting in white, dancing on the same beat, getting a total experience," explains ID&T creative director Gérard Zwijnenburg. "Everybody works together to tell one big story from the beginning until the end."
And yes, that's right -- the all-white dress code is not an option. If you show up in black, they will make sure you get a white outfit before heading inside, but you should just take care of that yourself.
The point of this Sensation uniform: It makes the audience part of the show, equalizes everyone, and creates a feeling of togetherness. "Especially," Le Grand says, "when they add the stuff, like, everybody has illuminating gloves or illuminating wrist bands that can be synched to the music. It's kind of unreal. It's a little bit magical.
"Even when you're walking to the venue," the DJ adds, "you can immediately recognize who's going and who's not going. It's very visual, so that gives you a connection to everyone that's in there."
Of course, Sensation isn't only about white costumes and glowing high-tech bracelets. It is an absolutely huge production -- a full-on takeover that travels with a crew of 50, then works with hundreds from local companies to transform a space over the course of two or three days into something between a music festival and Cirque du Soleil. Ultimately, the idea is about redefining a cavernous arena and immersing the fans in the most welcoming dance floor they've ever seen.
"We always work with big venues," Zwijnenburg says, "and being able, with all these things, to bring such a rich, decorative, and warm feeling to a big venue is great."
It's obviously important to everyone involved that the atmosphere be intimate. And it's equally important not to let the real reason -- music and community -- for the celebration to be smothered by sheer scale or gratuitous flash.
"I think the Sensation events are very good because they are fun to watch, but it's not so distracting that you forget that you're actually at a party," Le Grand says. "I think that's always an important thing -- the music remains the most important thing, and the rest is just icing on the cake."
With music as the focus, Le Grand and his fellow DJs become integral parts of the creative process, and that's something that brings him back on tour with Sensation time and time again.
"It kind of operates like a small family," he explains. "We talk about everything -- what fits best to what, what set times, the musical lineup in general. So you really feel part of a concept, instead of only dropping by for the one and a half hour you're playing."
As far as his own set is concerned, Le Grand promises to bring some new productions to the table. And he guarantees to bring a fresh vibe for his die-hard fans.
"Sensation has a very clear perspective of how they want the night to progress, and that's something I really love about it," he says. "Every artist can play its role without going too far.
"If you have a festival, it doesn't matter; it's always full-on. But basically, this is like a big club, so it's just very nice when the night just progresses musically as well."
Of course, though, Sensation is always evolving, and it assumes many forms. There's a Sensation White, soundtracked mainly by house, trance, and the more melodic side of EDM. And then there's Sensation Black, which deploys more aggressive styles like techno and hardstyle.
Meanwhile, Sensation White itself can come in a few different incarnations, including Ocean of White, a fantastical minifest featuring more dancers, more goodies, and more mesmerizing visuals.
"I think the Ocean of White is certainly one of the most interactive and one of the most beautiful shows," Le Grand enthuses. "For me, that's definitely one of my favorites."
The production hopes to not only make a debut in Miami but to make a real impression. And why wouldn't it -- our city is one of America's dance music meccas.
"I've been to Miami a couple of times, loved it," Zwijnenburg says. "I do think the mindset of the people and our mindset with Sensation, those two combined, will make a brilliant show. I do have high expectations regarding the party crowd. The people love dance music."
Similarly, Le Grand believes that Miami is the perfect place for a Sensation invasion.
"I really think that America is ready, especially Miami," he says. "I've played everywhere, from Space to LIV to Mansion to Ultra, and I think Miami already has a lot to offer. I think, musically, Miami is quite diverse as well, which is great. I think the fans are going to love it for sure."
So yes, Sensation: Ocean of White should be unlike any party you've ever experienced. And hopefully, you have the sort of night that you sit back and remember with your friends for years to come. This is a party where the partier is the guest of honor. And it just wouldn't be the same without thousands of people, jumping up and down, dressed in white from head to toe.
"We hope the crowd comes in open minded and ready to party," Zwijnenburg says. "They really should expect a massive show."
Sensation: Ocean of White with Mr. White, Fedde Le Grand, Michael Woods, Nic Fanciulli, Prok & Fitch, Sebastien Leger, Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano, and MC Gee. Saturday, Oct. 12, at the American Airlines Arena, 601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Ages 21 and up. The party starts at 7 p.m., and tickets cost $175 to $279.20 plus fees via ticketmaster.com. Call 786-777-1000 or visit sensation.com.
Follow Kat Bein on Twitter @KatSaysKill.
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