From strategic sponsors to early closing times: How Laroc Club is molding Brazilian electronic music culture
By the time Mario Sergio breaks away from his peers, it’s already 6pm at Laroc Club. Having opened its doors two hours prior, Claptone and Kolombo admirers are just now streaming into the Brazilian hotspot’s prodigious grounds at full force.
Considering Laroc is only open 18 days out of the year, it’s no wonder Sergio is in such high demand. Best known as a partner of the club, in addition to being the Production Manager of Sao Paulo-based promoter Plusnetwork, the 32-year-old’s 12 years in the game have afforded him the remarkable chance to produce both editions of Tomorrowland’s South American offshoot, Tomorrowland Brasil, in addition to the Brazilian legs of I Am Hardwell, Armin Only and ASOT 600, to name a few.
The idea of a Brazilian electronic music scene may be difficult to conceptualize for those who don’t frequent Green Valley, Warung Beach Club and D-Edge, but it does indeed exist, and it is snowballing.
“The people of Sao Paulo usually leave the city to find a party because in Sao Paulo, our capital, we don’t have many clubs,” he admits. “The only club that represents us is D-Edge; outside of Sao Paulo we have more greener areas and open-air places. [In the city], we don’t have space like this, which is why we decided to open a club outside of the city. All my partners live here in Campinas, near Valinhos, and they found the terrain here to start planning for Laroc. The region has three million people, and because of that we decided to find an area here. We have people who come from Sao Paulo, but that’s about 30-35% of our audience.”
Three million people. That’s quite the opportunity to make an impression on locals in search of an experience that transcends the darkness and intimacy of the nightclub.
Boasting 50,000 square-feet of sprawling hills, luscious trees and a superlative panoramic view of Valinhos, it’s evident that partygoers come to Laroc Club in part to feel as though they are on top of the world. And they’re not wrong; Laroc’s gated fortress resides on a monolithic hill towering over the D. Pedro Highway. Despite the superclub’s paradisiacal amenities, including a lounge, bungalows, a swimming pool and an open-air main stage whose design will change biennially, Mario makes it a point that the club is an inviting space for anyone in search of an authentic musical experience.
As Brazil’s first sunset club, there’s something to be said about the daytime affair Sergio and his team worked tirelessly to curate for their guests: “The festivals like Tomorrowland happen during the day. It was a great success this year. Everyone likes the idea of partying during the day. And when we decided to open the club, we planned to invite big DJ’s like Hardwell, who would have to choose between Laroc [and other venues]. This was one of the strategic reasons we created a sunset club – so that we could host an artist around 9pm, and that same artist could then perform elsewhere later on in the night. It was a great idea because people can come right after lunch with high energy and stay until 1, 2 or 3am – not until 8am like normal clubs.”
For Larcoc, diversity is key. The club tips its hat to electronic music DJs of all kinds, such as Brazilian native Alok, Axwell, Guy Gerber and Lee Foss. Away from the music, though, diversity can also be discovered in Laroc’s stalwart roster of sponsors like Fusion Energy Drink, Chivas, Absolut and SKOL Beats. Beverage and technology brands are scrambling now more than ever to get their piece of the electronic music pie, and Laroc is a prime example of sponsorship done right.
“Sponsors are very important for us for sure, especially during the first year when we decided to open the club,” Mario says. “AB-InBev gave us a lot of support in the beginning. Of course, this gave us the confidence to invest more because we had partners. They are really important, but in my personal opinion, we only have commodity brands. I think we have space for more brands to create experiences like Samsung, Phillips, Sony, brands like that. Or cars: Chevrolet, Audi…”
As it goes, there’s always room for more. More partners means more dollars, and if used wisely, they can enhance the overall experience for all parties involved.
“If you look at our cashless system for buying beverages, we need tablets,” he explains. “We need computers. Everything can be an experience not only for our employees, but for our guests. We can give tables an iPad and allow them to order a bottle of vodka virtually. We have a lot of space for advancements in technology.”
With Mario and his crew at the helm, there’s no telling what they’ll accomplish in the coming years. A new venue is already in the works just across the street from Laroc, and their very own festival is also in the cards. Perhaps, one day, “Laroc Festival” will be more than just an idea.
“Looking to our marketing and to Brazil, we always want to be a step ahead,” Mario claims. “We have one wish: To be a worldwide club, not just a Brazilian club.”