Throwing a party the Bugged Out! Weekender way: Tips from festival director Charlotte Hotham

Emma Gritt

interviewblogs 300x225 Throwing a party the Bugged Out! Weekender way: Tips from festival director Charlotte HothamBognor Regis is hardly a town you’d associate with outright hedonism, but this weekend it’s giving it a good shot. Bugged Out!, one of the UK’s best loved clubbing brands, is setting up shop at the seaside town’s Butlins for the second ever of their Weekenders.

From Friday to the early hours of Monday morning, the holiday camp (a rather swanky one after a 2009 revamp) will be a celebration of electronica. A line-up of established and up and coming DJs and artists and will be keeping an influx of young music fans dancing all night, and a programme of pool parties and film screenings will keep them out of trouble – and the chilly ocean air – during the day.

Highlights of an impressive line up include The Chemical Brothers, DJ EZ, Huxley, Bicep, Jackmaster and Frankie Knuckles.

With just days to go before the Bugged Out! team starts welcoming punters,  Festival Director Charlotte Hotham, shared some of her tips for a perfect party. And having been with Bugged Out! for twelve years, she truly knows a thing or two about getting people on the dancefloor… and keeping them there.

Who are you most excited about on the line-up in 2013?
This is really hard because we booked all the acts we want to see in the
office so all of them really. Definitely The Chemical Brothers, Heidi,
Jackmaster, DJ EZ…

Are there any exciting new artists you’ll be making sure to check

Not so much new but am really intrigued to see what Disclosure play, and

What are your top 3 essentials for an unmissible chalet party?
Friends new and old, somewhere to sit down if I’ve been working for 20 hours and a quick exit plan for when it gets too much/complaints start/its too late to be up.

Were there any dramas behind the scenes last year?
We were quite green with how Butlins operate their checking in system so all
our guest lists were very late but no massive drama, luckily. Everyone turned up and enjoyed it.

You work with  a lot of DJs, which one is the best laugh?
Jackmaster or the Klaxons, they’re definitely fun and the funniest.

What  are the ingredients for a perfect party?

Throwing the perfect party involves a great deal of organization, creativity, social skills, attention to detail and, perhaps most of all, nerves of steel.

How do you go about picking the perfect line-up for an event that spreads over three days? The line-up is pretty fundamental to any good party, and we start working on The Bugged Out Weekender line-up as soon as we’ve finished the last one. Booking a good mixture of well-known artists and up-and-coming talent that I’m excited about is the key, and is why I’m still doing it after 12 years.
Booking what you want to hear is as good a place as any to start.

What kind of person do you need to be to do your job?
I live and breathe my job, one of numerous clichés I find myself unwittingly
living by, which means being available to deal with anything that gets thrown up, be it losing the venue at the last minute or DJs missing flights/losing their luggage with their music in (incidentally, this happened to 2ManyDJs – Erol Alkan rallied round and everyone played back2back). My life is a series of reminders, so being organized is essential. Being a bit of a night-owl doesn’t hurt either.

What’s on your final check list before firing up the soundsystem?
Before doors open on the night we need to be able to say YES to the following: Is the sound good enough? Can people check into the festival as easy as can be? Are there enough toilets and bar staff? Is the music programmed correctly?

What else does your job involve?
I always make sure there are special touches at the event that people don’t
expect (what touches? You’ll have to wait and see at the Weekender). I
want to see people have a good time, and I mean the DJs (almost) as much as
the punters – if they’re having a good time then it’s usually pretty
infectious. Money’s tight for a lot of people in the current climate, so
it’s so important to make sure people leave our party beaming.

What does Bugged Out! Do to make sure people keep coming back?
We like to have a bit of fun with our events, and Bugged Out definitely
tries not to be seen to take ourselves too seriously. We try to make our
artwork and social networking quite playful, and do our best to appeal to
both girls and boys – having a balance of the sexes always makes for a good

The first Weekender took place last year, how did that turn out?
I love the fact that there is an equal ratio of girls to boys at the
Weekender. The first event last year was really special – watching different
groups of people mingle (new friendships were definitely formed) and hearing
some great music. The perfect fulfilment of all my hard work was watching
Andrew Weatherall and Ivan Smagghe close a stage on the final night (Bugged
Out Weekender) – nothing beats watching the crowd love it either. It’s
important that nice, friendly people come to Bugged Out and that everyone
feels welcome. We try to make it as egalitarian as possible, so no table
bookings or any segregated VIP areas. It’s just a big disco, after all.

What was the worst party you’ve ever thrown?

The worst event we’ve ever done was for a corporate party. We booked a great
lineup that filled a 5,000 capacity venue only a few months later, but only
50 people turned up to this. And then one of them threw a bottle at the DJ. Good times.

Sheesh! What about the best?
The best event would have to be the first Bugged Out! Weekender. It’s the
most exciting yet stressful thing I’ve ever worked on. Being on the third
weekend on January – possibly the worst clubbing date of the calendar year
thanks to people being either skint after Christmas or on New Year detoxes – I didn’t know what would happen.

Thankfully, it was a huge success and I can’t wait for this weekend!

What advice do you have for budding promoters out there?
If I could give one piece of advice it would be to make sure you do a party
you and your friends want to come to. If you can’t even get your mates
there, you’re almost certainly doing something wrong.

Bugged Out Weekender 2013, 18-21 January 2013, Butlins, Bognor Regis

For more information and tickets, visit

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