Starting July 2015 and into the foreseeable future, we will feature a prominent fan figure within the dance music community. Blogs and other news sources focus so heavily on the artists that sometimes the people that make this community tick are seemingly forgotten. We will try and change that tune…
At Coachella, 2012, a random 6’3 guy with tattoos showed up wearing a huge panda head and partied in the Sahara tent, to the delight of everyone there with him. Soon after that, this memorable dude with the panda head started appearing at almost every single electronic dance music event around California—from L.A. to Pomona to San Diego and even San Francisco. He came to be known as the Party Panda and continues to be immensely popular and well known in the dance music community today.
I got to catch up with Party Panda himself and talk about what he’s been up to lately and what he loves about the electronic dance music community.
Nadia: So tell me, what exactly do you do as Party Panda?
Party Panda: Party Panda is a public figure, that’s what everyone thinks of it as. They think Party Panda is a person that resembles what the dance music community is. Everyone thinks it’s a person that wears a panda head that goes to shows and stuff like that. But in reality, what Party Panda is, it’s the idea of when a person spends $20-30 out of their own pocket on a ticket, that person should experience a show and they should have fun at that show. They should not go to a show and stand in the back and have a beer in their hand and not dance. If I spent $20-30 out of my own pocket, I expect to have a great time, I expect to have a show and I expect to hear new sounds, or something new. That’s what Party Panda is about to me.
N: So it’s just about having an experience and a good time?
PP: Yeah. When people saw Party Panda they were like “Oh my god! Party Panda’s there, it’s gonna be a party!” The only reason I wanted to bring the panda head out to shows is because I wanted to get people amped up. I wanted people to start dancing. I wanted people to start jumping. I wanted people to start moving and stuff like that. I strongly believe that if you’re a DJ and the crowd is going crazy—dancing, moving and screaming at the top of their lungs to every single song—I believe that the DJ is going to play a lot better, and the whole vibe and the whole room is going to be crazier. It’s going to be just positive vibes. N: What are your goals and objectives as Party Panda?
PP: At the time when I started with the dance music scene, EDM was just on its rise. That’s when Skrillex came out and blew up. So in the beginning, my goal was I wanted everyone to see what dance music was. When I first heard Daft Punk and Tiesto and stuff like that it was just something cool. It just made me want to dance. It made me want to like move and feel happy about it.
From there I wanted to expand and that’s when I came out with my Party Panda app. My app showcases every dance music show in California. It also showcases shows in Las Vegas and soon to be in Colorado, then Miami.
My main goal is to show that when you’re at a show, it shouldn’t take me for you to turn up. It shouldn’t take a person in a panda head for you to have the best time. My goal is for everyone that spends money on a ticket to have a great time, to really experience it. I hate it when I hang out with people and I ask “Hey let’s go do something,” and they say no and just stand off to the side. It’s like come on, live a little.
N: How did you start?
PP: When I got back from the military, Coachella was THE festival. It was the one festival that I always wanted to go to. It was something that growing up I heard everyone goes to it, just three days in the desert, having fun. I had heard of other festivals but Coachella was at the top of my mind.
The whole Party Panda thing started because my friend had a housewarming party and he asked everyone to wear a costume. And I had this panda costume so after the party I was like whatever, I’m going to bring this panda head out to Coachella. When I got to Coachella, I took no more than 15 steps without somebody coming up to me and saying “oh my god let me take a picture with you.”
Coming back to when I go to a show, I better have an amazing time: a Coachella ticket costs $360. If I’m spending $360 out of my own pocket I better have the greatest fucking time ever. I better see some shit and witness some shit and go through some shit. So at that time, EDM was on the rise. At that moment in 2012 that’s when the Sahara tent was like THE spot to go to. So my idea going into the Sahara tent was I was going to spend $100 on water bottles every single day, and I basically went in the Sahara tent with these water bottles and I sprayed everyone and I passed them out. And we basically had a water fight in the middle of Sahara tent.
After Coachella happened, I came back and saw how crazy my feedback was from wearing the panda head. EDM was on its rise and I was going to hit every single show in California, whether it’s in Los Angeles, Hollywood, San Diego, wherever. Soon after that I started the Facebook page…And after a while people started recognizing me, DJs started recognizing me. They were just like “oh my god you’re the Party Panda. You’re the best. It’s always turn up mode when you’re here.”
I started getting access to more shows and free tickets and artist guest lists to shows. So that just gives me more time to have fun and less money out of my own pocket. From there I realized I could do something with this Party Panda just because it´s something so unique and different from everything else. So I reached out and basically got my foot into the whole music world and scene, and started working for nightclubs and stuff like that. Then I started helping other companies like LED Presents.
N: What is your favorite part of the electronic dance music scene?
PP: There are two things I love seeing. The first thing I love seeing is, when you go to a major festival like EDC or even HARD, you see people come from other parts of the states and around the world. And they come just to listen and they go crazy over an artist. It’s probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen—how music brings everyone together. The second thing I love seeing is the whole PLUR thing. From time to time I see a person fall down or they’re crying or just hurt, there’s always a person there that’s like “Are you ok? Here’s a water bottle.” Like if someone’s moshing and someone falls, all the bros would actually stop moshing and help the bro up. I love seeing that.
N: How do you think Party Panda has spread positivity in the dance music scene?
PP: First of all, people have been coming to my page to see what’s happening in the dance scene…My positive input is just having fun. Just literally have fun. Don’t even worry about it. Just live your life. Just live every second of your life because it’s so precious. For me, I’ve been through a lot in my life and I’ve realized that every second in your life counts and you have to take it.
Indeed the Party Panda Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Party-Panda/186959731365540?fref=ts) has been an amazing resource for the last 4 years as it is constantly updated with all electronic dance music events and shows, big and small, in major cities. Although Party Panda himself doesn’t attend as many shows as he used to, he still engages extensively with fans and the dance music community through hilarious posts, guest list offers and ticket giveaways to shows. He continues to be a fun, positive figure in electronic dance music, and is an example of how you never know where life will take you simply by having fun and doing something that you really, really love.