Club Q blew up during the peak of the pandemic. Short for Club Quarantine, the Toronto-based collective is grounded in supporting and elevating queer communities worldwide. They’ve invited guests like Charlie XCX, Rico Nasty, and many others to play at their digital events worldwide, including Mexico, Bogotá, Quito, Montreal, Vancouver, São Paolo, Beirut, Madrid, Warsaw, Shanghai, and more! What’s fascinating about Club Q is how they’ve found a way to successfully merge the organic, and physical interactions of IRL events with the safety and accessibility of the virtual space. Since the world reopened they’ve adapted their model to hybrid events having now hosted live-streamed parties in Paris, Toronto, and New York. 

As part of GROW, a Mixcloud campaign exploring all aspects of creator growth, from personal development to the technical skills and knowledge you need, we invited co-founder Ceréna Sierra to share her five top tips and tricks to hosting a hybrid event.

Confirm Your Tech Setup Before Committing 

It’s vital to the success of your hybrid event to know exactly what the venue can actually house and manage. The majority of venues currently lack the infrastructure necessary for high-quality streaming, and many underestimate the setup itself; of having a high-speed, ethernet connection to the multiple computers needed to house the separate cameras, projection, HQ sound, and Zoom. All this requires a lot of power (electricity)… A smoke machine wouldn’t work at the last Club Q event because the setup maxed out the building’s electrical capacity. So make sure you have enough computers and resources on the ground before confirming anything! 

Club Q founders (L-R) Casey MQ Ceréna Sierra, Erin Logan,Brad Allen. Photo by Kirk Lisaj

Designate Fixed Roles

It takes a village. Hybrid events run like a live TV show, so it’s important that everyone knows exactly what their duties are. There are a lot of moving parts happening at once and it needs to be properly managed and led. 

Solidify your IRL, in-person team as well as the URLdigital team. Each team will have its own tasks whether that’s setting up the hardware or moderating the chat. Make sure everyone is aligned on a run of the show, and go over the lineup more than once so it’s super clear.

Establish an easy and streamlined form of communication throughout the event at all times. This could be Whatsapp, Slack, or whatever messaging app your team is used to using. Make sure everyone knows the vision and build a team of people who are just as passionate about actualizing it. 

Prep Your Artists for a Hybrid Crowd

Hybrid means you now have access to a small audience who are tuning in from anywhere around the world in any kind of setting. So, how will you create a dynamic moment that works for both the IRL stage and the URL screen? Acknowledge and honor the people at home just as much as the folks in person… they too deserve a quality experience. 

The best part of Club Quarantine’s URL-only era was seeing the new ways in which artists would create incredible performances from home, using the tools accessible to them and making them iconic, legendary, memorable, and most importantly, an experience for everyone. A real connection can be made online.

Club Q's international team & friends

URL Means Global

Even if your city or town is super homogenous and lacks diversity, the world is not. The URL is global, and it’s vital to hybrid events that we represent. We need to expose ourselves to the entire spectrum of humanity and normalize diversity. Therefore, there is absolutely no excuse for an all-white, all-straight, and cisgender lineup or team. Be mindful of your booking and hiring practices and go out of your way to find talent from marginalized communities. We’re all responsible for dismantling white supremacy in all its forms

All the resources we need in order to make this world a better place for all exist, but it will never happen if we don’t actively move through the world without this at the forefront of our minds. It’s understandable that businesses look to book big acts, but don’t feed into the industry’s obsession with analytics. Instead, focus on the integrity of the experience you’re creating. There are so many artists out there ready and deserving to be seen, recognized, and celebrated. 

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Understand the Space You’re Creating

The fifth and final pillar of creating a successful hybrid event goes beyond the logistics of throwing an event, but it needs to be said. We need to reconnect as species to why we dance and share in the love of music in the first place. 

We currently operate under a profit-driven, business-oriented industry whose sole purpose is to make money at all costs. Thus creating nightlife that is inaccessible, hierarchical (VIP, bottle service, booths, etc.), and caters mostly to heterosexual and able-bodied people. Hybrid events act in opposition to this norm, introducing the real potential for accessibility and diversity. One of the biggest reasons why many straight women run to queer spaces is because these spaces represent much more. The club becomes freedom— from oppression, racism, sexism, and all the toxic elements of nightlife that essentially cater to straight, white men, looking for women. 

But dancing is one of the most simple acts we engage in, unique to the human race. Dancing is grounding, energizing, liberating, and almost always done communally. It’s the body’s way of releasing stress hormones and stagnant energy in a beautiful and healthy way… something that we need in order to function properly. So, if it’s integral to our humanity, shouldn’t we be making sure it’s accessible and safe for all? A hybrid event is a means of doing that, so honor the potential of your space and the relief, freedom, and joy it can provide.

Make sure to discover Club Q’s channel on Mixcloud