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The Smirnoff Experience is back!

The Smirnoff Experience parties that brought Paul van Dyk (PvD), Sasha and John Digweed to Mumbai, are back. The next one will be held on Saturday, May 8 at the Renaissance Hotel, Powai.

entertainment Updated: May 05, 2010 14:16 IST
Naomi Canton

The Smirnoff Experience parties that brought Paul van Dyk (PvD), Sasha and John Digweed to Mumbai, are back. The next one will be held on Saturday, May 8 at the Renaissance Hotel, Powai.

German electronic dance music duo Cosmic Gate, ranked No 19 in DJ Mag’s Top 100, will headline the event. It is their first gig in India.

Support acts are DJ Nikhil Chinapa, founder of Submerge, his wife DJ Pearl, and Delhi-based electronic dance artistes Jalabee Cartel.

The last time a Smirnoff party was held in the city was in 2008 when PvD played at Poison. It started off in the UK in 1997 as an outdoor electronic dance music festival. Then, in 2001, it went global. The first event was held in India in 2003 when Sasha performed at Kamala Mills in Lower Parel.

“There were no other music festivals when this started, Sunburn did not exist,” says Santosh Kanekar, director of marketing and innovation at Diageo India, which owns Smirnoff.

Since then there have been six events in Mumbai, held at Kamala Mills, until noise restrictions were brought out forcing them to end at 10pm, and they switched venues.

The parties only serve Smirnoff vodka – which you can have any way you like, with mixers, as shots or as a cocktail, as well as soft drinks.

Kanekar is tight-lipped about the rest of the entertainment but hints “there will be very interesting stuff like stilt walkers.”

“We want to create something unexpected for people,” he says.

“The core philosophy of the Smirnoff Experience is to create an original unexpected experience. We haven’t held one for two years because we were trying to refresh the idea and see where we could go. So many venues are bringing in DJs now and so we wanted to see what kind of experience we could create.”

They chose the Renaissance Hotel, he says, because it has a large ballroom with a capacity for about 2,000 people. Cosmic Gate were picked because they are “well known among people who like house and progressive music,” he explains.

It was following the 2006 Smirnoff party at Taj Lands End that Alistair Pereira mowed down seven people on the pavement on Carter Road. “He wasn’t at the Smirnoff party. He was picking up friends that had been at the party,” Kanekar informs.
But he insists they have made every effort to ensure people drink responsibly. “We will have free drinking water all around the venue and spacers, that is soft drinks on sale, plus cabs lined up outside thatcan take people home,” he adds.

Memories of the infamous Smirnoff parties

“The best one was the Paul van Dyk gig. It went on for three days. There was a fantastic vibe. It was packed with
thousands of people with great sound. John Digweed was also excellent. It’s a great way for people to get to know electronic dance music.”

Dilip Joshi, director of Bling
“I went to the Sasha and Paul van Dyk parties. They were brilliant because they were once the only ones that brought down big international acts. Even though more international DJs are coming now, this will be more of an experience because two to 3000 people come to them. I’ve heard of Cosmic Gate but not heard of their music. PvD and Sasha are better known because they have been in the top rankings for a while. But if they promote them well, it will be fine. I think people will go because it’s a Smirnoff party and they have a good reputation”.

Mikhail, resident DJ at Zenzi
“The Smirnoff Experiences are really good, but don’t happen that often. When they started they were known for being really creative and cutting edge and were the best parties in town. Cosmic Gate is into the techno, trance, Armin Van Buuren kind of sound. People into that will know them. Anyway, people know the Smirnoff Experience.

Ma Faiza
We played in 2004, 2005 and 2006 and it was absolutely mind blowing. They were some of the best large-scale gig's I've ever played in India.