"WE SEE LIONS IS a collective of prophetic curators, manic creators, and invasive weeds. We believe that creatives can be disruptive alone, but downright devastating together. Our goal is to bring these Lions (see 4th definition) together.
We're not party promoters, we're not event planners, but we have a few of both in the team. The goal of our events aren't profit, although we're savvy enough to always break even. Honestly, we just want to produce functions and gatherings that we wish people would produce. We believe in a genuinely good time and expanding horizons while bringing like-minded people together, even if they don't yet realize how similar they are."
It’s not as if those girls don’t typically enjoy themselves at parties - I’m sure they always have a great time. But The Late Skate has an element of “unchecked cool”. You come and you don’t have to posture. It’s a pajama party because we don’t want you to care about what you look like - unless you specifically want to be silly and wear a bonnet or a superman onesie. And it’s roller skating because - well - honestly most people aren’t that great at it. It forces people to accept that they’re not about to look cool. Not to be cliche, but it just becomes good, pure fun. And all of that is happening to a soundtrack of music you know you love, music that you forgot you loved, and music that you suddenly fall in love with.
The Late Skate! D E S C R I B E T H E V I B E At the first Late Skate, there was a group of friends who - we ran in similar social circles - I had barely ever seen crack a smile. One of them was wearing a onesie with the arms tied around her waist. The arms slipped down, got caught under her skate, and she busted her ass, bringing the five other girls down with her, and they all just bust out laughing for a good 15 seconds. The venue staff had to help them off the floor because they were laughing so hard. Meanwhile, DJ K-Meta was mixing “Double Bubble Trouble” by M.I.A. into “Work” by A$AP Ferg or something, our friend Tay was live painting by the snack bar, and our friend Anna was losing endless quarters to a brutal level of Galaga. That’s the vibe, right there.
And this is the second annual event? Technically, this is the second annual Late Skate, although this is our third year producing it. We had our inaugural event in 2013, when we were more of a group of friends than an organized unit. Last year, though We See Lions was more organized as a collective, we approached it with the same casual and carefree attitude as the first year. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, right?
That came back to bite us. There was information we weren’t given, but there was also a thoroughness and seriousness that we didn’t realize we needed. The first year brought out a lot of people, and the second year our marketing reach put us on the radar of the county government which realized we didn’t have the necessary permit that we didn’t know we needed. We found out we wouldn't be able to have the event literally as doors were slated to open.
It was tough. But it was a growth experience. Countless lessons were learned that night. We thought that there was no recovering from the hit of canceling at the last minute. But we realized that there is, and that things happen. This year, we had to be professional and organized, which meant much more work and led to an entire conversation about brand and what we got out of it. We decided we love bringing people together, and we’ve thoroughly checked every aspect to make sure The Late Skate is watertight both for our patrons, and for the powers-that-be.
Parties are like museums: they’re nothing without great curation. And DJs are those curators, so we think of DJs as important partners and collaborators. We’re coming together equally to set the tone for an experience. They can single-handedly dictate both the vibe and the quality of a party: you can go to the same event with the same crowd at the same place, but two different DJs can create two completely different experiences. One DJ may make it feel like a traphouse party... another would make it feel like an art gallery in SoHo. Our DJs can make it feel like an art gallery in a traphouse.
DJ K-Meta has been with us since the first Late Skate. We’ve known him for a few years, and he has a command over audiences and the vibe of a room that stands out to us. He has a poise and composure to him while he is performing, but he will still take risks and throw people off guard in a great way. He can mix obscure and niche sounds with mainstream and hugely popular music, and how refined that bridge is may be why we like him so much. On top of that, we admire how humble and professional he is on the back end, and he always shows up in game mode ready to work. It’s just so much more enjoyable to work with people like that.
Ayes Cold is someone we’ve recently been made aware of. I first heard when her she opened up for Paperhaus at the 9:30 Club. Everyone - including staff - was saying “Who’s the DJ?” “Her set is sick!” and so on. To say that crowd was diverse is an understatement, and her ability to play so well to such a broad variety of tastes speaks to her talent. She structures sets on energy instead of genre or sometimes even sound and because of that her eclectic arrangements simply work so well.
On top of that, it’s clear that she’s [driven]. She has regular gigs on U Street, she played at the Kennedy Center, and she was on the Trillectro lineup. Her drive isn’t why we booked her, but we’re ambition always excites us.
"THANK YOU FOR NOT SNITCHING - they’re partners, extended and intermingled squad, homies… all of that. They’ve been instrumental in our promotion process, and they provide much-needed perspectives, especially when group-think starts to set in.
We believe in long-term relationships, and we starting becoming aware of them months before we even started thinking about the second Late Skate in 2014. When we decided that we were going to do it again, that was honestly our perfect excuse to reach out to them and work with them. We feel that they truly have their finger on the pulse, not only locally, but on a broad level as well. Honestly, no one that we know of in the area has better coverage to that underground urban scene than they do. They have a high level of taste across all senses - in design, music, visual arts, and in general. Combine that with their relentless work ethic and you have the makings for a potent assembly of young tastemakers. Who wouldn’t want to work with them? We’re just glad we got there early."
You guys have obviously put a ton of work and creative energies into the promotion. Our experiences start when the first teaser or most minute and obscure form of public announcement is released. We say we're event "producers" because we think of the events themselves as the climax to an extensive narrative. The entire thing is a carefully orchestrated story arc, and has to be engaging throughout.
Everything is subject to discussion. We spent 30 minutes in person, and then another hour via GroupMe discussing ticket prices. 50 of those total minutes were spent debating between $7, $8, or $9 tickets. And not just because we stubbornly couldn't agree, but because we know that ticket prices - and all other things we discuss - have an effect on brand, turnout, perception, and a half-million other factors.Maybe it matters, maybe it doesn’t, but we strive to always be “on purpose”.
We love marketing and promotion because they - by necessity - combine creativity and strategy. We go into our planning knowing that there are huge agencies dedicated to this process. Although they probably wouldn’t be working on campaigns for small skate parties, we respect the art form and we consciously challenge ourselves to make our promotion as effective and efficient as possible. As a result, we approach it with both a fun/playful and a serious/pragmatic attitude.
The trailer itself is more or less the sole vision of the director Bria James, and of course is driven by bars from Kosi Mkame and Nia Keturah. We think Bria is the next Tarantino, and she we’re so excited for the world to see the visuals and narratives that she’s shared with us, as well as all those that she’s working on. She just has vision and storytelling sensibilities that are jarring and dynamic, and yet so smoothly relatable.
If there’s anything we’re most proud of about the trailer, it’s that there’s a level of professionalism and polish to it, despite the fact that Bria was really the only one - cast or crew - with any sort of film experience. We take our creative endeavors seriously, even while we’re having fun. That professionalism is ultimately what made the trailer what it was: Bria had a treatment and worked through a shot list, we had a casting director, we had a producer, we had craft services, we recorded the verses in a studio, etc. There was a call time, a wrap time, and a shooting schedule. We almost made call sheets. Don’t get us wrong, we’re all still very much babies with much to learn. But we all want to work in our respective creative industries full-time; we show up ready to work any chance we get.
And the Drake scarecrow that's been popping up around town...TELL US MORE? “Experiential marketing" is a hot new jargon-y buzzword for a reason. It’s effective, and it’s engaging. Flyering and putting up posters can be effective, but require manpower and resources that we just don’t have. The Drake Scarecrow (a.k.a. "The Drake Skate”) is an effort to engage and promote without being abrasive or overly aggressive. In a way, it “rewards” you for looking at it, with humor or amusement at the least. It’s funny and a little bit creepy, and people were very engaging about it. They'd ask us about it, they’d take pictures, I almost smacked some guy for kicking it. And it was honestly a great time just carting it around the city.
We're proud to be media partners for this. It's good clean fun on wheels and there should be more events for the sake of getting up, getting out, and just having a great time with your friends. What can we expect from you guys in the future? Thank you! We're proud to have you as media partners. Since this is - thus far - our one and only event, we need to sit down as a team after The Late Skate and debrief before really diving into our next steps. That meeting will determine the types of events we produce, and how often we produce them.
With that being said, we definitely have big ideas in the pipeline.
We just recently announced that Soul & Ink will be live printing We See Lions x Thank You For Not Snitching collaboration t-shirts on site, as well as offering a few of their own designs! We love all of what they're doing - such as raising money for a mobile screenprinting studio on wheels - and we're ecstatic to have them activate at the event.
Hopefully we've been able to show that The Late Skate - and all of our endeavors - are insanely collaborative efforts. It is not the work of one, or two, or even twenty people. It takes a coming together of idea people, execution people, big-vision people, "foot soldiers”, DJs, security, directors, cinematographers, extras, all of the attendees, and everyone in between to make our events a success.
We’re so grateful for the hard work, and for the support, from everyone involved. We’re working hard to deliver engaging gatherings both this Friday and in the future!