Sunset Music Festival founders talk growth of festival; announce official after parties
In the ever-changing landscape of dance music, two men have remained stalwart pillars for the community: Disco Donnie and John Santoro. The two nightlife legends began collaborating on Sunset Music Festival more than five years ago. When you combine their respective talents with the amazing weather of Tampa during Memorial Day Weekend, you get something magical.
“It’s a little ferarri!” says John Santoro when asked about the growth of SMF. The festival grew from 5,000 attendees in its first run, to more than 20,000 attendees its second year. 2016 run will be the biggest on record, drawing an expected 30,000 fans per day.
As the sole Memorial Day festival weekend catering to electronic music fans on the east coast, SMF founders Disco Donnie and John Santoro are amazed at how “everything just aligned.” Held on a weekend many other festival organizers have abandoned, SMF has created a festival that curates an experience with care for the entire person in mind. Every detail is meticulously planned to ensure festival goers have fun, stay safe, hydrated, and access to the top names in music right now.
Donnie and Santoro’s focus on community is incorporated into every detail of the event. “Donnie and I have the same vision,” John says. “We’re friends outside of this, and that shows through in SMF.” This enthusiasm for bringing unity and fun to the community extends to who they choose for their lineups and after parties. “There’s a lot of excitement around The Chainsmokers right now,” says Donnie, “and they bring a lot of personality back to the scene. They have so much fun with everything they do. I listen to their show on Sirius XM and from the tracks they choose, to the jokes they crack, everything is about fun!”
With this year’s lineup, there’s truly something for everyone, with artists from fan favorites Marshmello and Jack Ü, to the more melodic sounds of Seven Lions and Lane 8, to the heavy bass of NGTMRE and Zomboy. There’s even some funky grooves from members of the Dirtybird crew, with Claude VonStroke, Justin Martin and J.PHLP all performing on Saturday.
With so much ahead for SMF, what’s next?
“When we look at the next year, there’s only a discussion about how to make the festival grow, how to make it the best experience for our fans and customers.” – John Santoro
“As long as you keep going down the road of what is important to the fans as far as health and safety is concerned–everything else comes secondary.” – Disco Donnie
You can grab tickets to the festival here. Check out the official after parties below.
NGHTMRE at The Orpheum – tickets
Seven Lions at The Ritz – tickets
Zomboy at The Cuban Club – tickets
The Chainsmokers at The Ritz – tickets
Photo Credit: Rukes