For 6 years now I’ve been organizing the JSConf EU main party. My goal was always to bring a genuine Berlin party experience to our international audience and in the end: To get people dancing!
For several years things sometimes worked and sometimes didn’t with no real pattern recognizable as to why this was the case, but then came 2013 and with it a truly serendipitous coincidence:
Forrest Oliphant who also gave a talk about VJing and data flow programming during the day asked me whether he good do some VJing during the party and I said: Yeah, of course.
So, during our first DJ set Forrest started what was really more of a data flow programming session than classic party visuals… and people were fascinated! The room was filling up more and more with everyone just standing and looking at the projector and at some point it became so packed that it was obvious that if only one person would break ranks and start to dance the spark would jump over to everybody else. Which is exactly what happened.
This is what got my engineering mind going: What if I can reproduce the serendipitous conditions of 2013?
Fast forward a few months, Tim Pietrusky submitted a talk to our call for proposals called “Nerd Disco” and without really reading the description I emailed him: “How about you do this talk to start off our Saturday night party? No pressure.” He said “Yeah, sure” and so I had my personal party experiment set up. The general plan was to start the talk at 9pm after dinner as part of the regular talk schedule and then immediately start the party when the talk was done in the same room. I also asked our first DJ Conny to hold the typical warm up set and just get going right away.
Here are the experiment results:
- Tim’s talk was packed beyond expectations. I didn’t actually get to see it myself because the room was full to the absolute last spot. Not sure how many people, but the room was designed for 300 seats but there were no chairs, so probably about 400-500 people were watching.
- There was a crowd dancing right after. Working as intended.
In summary, if you want to get a bunch of nerds dancing:
Get them in a room, give them something interesting to see there and then make sure getting out is just slightly less convenient than just joining the crowd on the dance floor. To everyone who was there, sorry for being my “experiment subjects” and I hope you enjoyed it ☺