Luigi Canali had a vision of bringing electronic dance music straight to the kids who were true fans. As a finance major at UMUC and co-owner of Dojo Promo, a promotion company specializing in electronic dance music events, Canali decided his best bet would be to bring the party to College Park, which he described as a “wild campus”.
Now the Dojo Promo team, which includes Canali and partners Mark Figliozzi, Pat Ricci and Bobby Allcock, is collaborating with the Barking Dog bar on Route 1 to provide the 18+ crowd at Maryland with a fun and different alternative to another average house party: CP Dub.
“For the past few years, I've been trying to work with the Thirsty Turtle to arrange something, but then they lost their license,” Canali added. “I saw the venue, the lights, and the sound system. I reopened the idea to the Barking Dog and spent two months working with them prior to the first event. They put a lot of trust in us.”
Though Canali said he really liked the bar as a venue, local talent was also huge motivation to bring Dojo Promo to College Park. Canali got to know Jeff Gratton, a Maryland graduate who spins dubstep and goes by DJ Knoxbox, and met other DJs through him.
“I've known Knoxbox for a long time, and he showed me the talent that I could get in College Park,” Canali said. “All the DJs I brought on for CP Dub came through him.”
There also appears to be a big EDM fan base in College Park. “We don't want kids to take the metro into D.C. and spend a ton of money,” Canali said. “So we bring the party to the customers and to the fans.”
The first few CP Dub parties have been 18+ for girls but strictly 21+ for boys. However, the most recent event, which was an all-white highlighter party on Saturday, Dec. 3, was open to everyone over 18 for the first time.
“Alcohol will be served on the bar's first floor, and only patrons 21 and over will be allowed in,” Canali said. “18+ patrons will have to stay upstairs, where the bar will be serving only water, or they can go outside.”
Canali said that these rules would be implemented for all such 18+ events.
According to Canali, Dojo Promo and the Barking Dog were hesitant about opening up the events to 18+ for everyone, especially with all the fights and incidents of underage drinking that had occurred at the Thirsty Turtle last year. The Dec. 3 event would be a trial run.
“I wanted to give this party to everybody but I gotta be careful because the Barking Dog is under surveillance as a result of what happened to Turtle,” Canali said. “When there are more guys then girls, there tend to be more fights and the ratio doesn't look good. We wanna put on a great show and we don't want any trouble.”
“If someone took a step back and observed how students acted in bars here, they'd understand from a manager's stand point why we want to play it safe,” Canali added. “If the campus functioned in a more mature manner, the party would have been 18+ a long time ago.”
Canali and the Barking Dog management team said extra precautionary measures are always taken to prevent problems such as underage drinking.
“There are wristbands for 21+ people, and anyone 18+ gets big black X's on their hands,” said Dave Bowen, a manager at the Barking Dog. “Security personnel or myself are constantly patrolling through the bar to make sure no one under 21 is drinking. If they are, they're kicked out immediately.”
As the first event that has ever been 18+ for everyone, the highlighter party may have been the most successful event so far. The line of people waiting to get inside the bar was already beginning to stretch down Route 1 early on in the night.
“By 10 p.m., there were 500 people,” said Ryu-Howie Grob, a junior criminology major who was one of the four-featured DJs. “By midnight, we had to turn away over 100 people because we had hit capacity.”
Canali said his Dojo Promo team and the Barking Dog definitely plan to continue throwing such events, and are even working on planning parties strictly for people under 21.
“Next semester, we'll start having events for people who are 18 to 20 years old, and no alcohol will be served at all,” Bowen said. “This will not only to give students an opportunity to go somewhere and do something, but it's also good customer service and good for future business. Once these kids do become 21, they will have good memories of the Barking Dog and being allowed in for underage events.”
Maryland students are also grateful for the safe alternative these events provide.
“The 18+ nights provide a safe environment for students who are under 21 to go out and have a good time,” said Leyla Babaturk, a 20-year-old junior psychology major.
Ultimately, it appears that Canali and the rest of the Dojo Promo team have been successful in achieving their ultimate goal of bringing EDM parties straight to the fans, judging from the excellent turnout of their first few events.
“I'm trying to give music genres a party that they want,” Canali said. “I want to do something no one else is doing in Maryland.”