You likely know her as DJ Neekola, the popular DJ and event personality with pink hair and a bejeweled laptop/mixer. If you’ve been at a major party in DC in the last decade, chances are she was spinning it. But obviously, with no parties happening, you haven’t seen that cheery rose wig in a while.
But DJ Neekola and her performance company Pelonkey are determined that the music should keep spinning. In an effort to feel like she was making a difference — in the way only an entertainer can — she started a project to help the creative world to get through the isolation of the pandemic… together.
Originally a website of personal interviews, The Show Must Go On detailed stories from Neekola and other individuals in the entertainment and events industry on how their business has been affected during the crisis. But the overwhelming sense she got from these artists was that they just wanted a way to keep sharing.
So she picked eight talented creatives from around the world to produce an online showcase of entertainment for everyone at home. She called it “a LIVE virtual entertainment production experiment for those needing to have fun and experience some human connection and love.”
In the midst of the Livestream comedy shows and FaceBook Live house parties and Zoom scavenger hunts, DJ Neekola’s performance event took place on the evening of March 29, 2020. It included magicians, hula hoopers, human butterflies, digital art, and lots of upbeat music.
“It was a success, mostly because we spread some positivity for the folks at home who attended, and the creatives who participated,” Neekola shared with KSM. “It really brought a lot of hope and inspiration to everyone involved. So that right there was the #1 success!”
As event businesses seek to pivot in these challenging times, The Show Must Go On performance was an experiment not just in learning how to take an entertainment event online, but also in whether this might be sustainable for the future of the industry.
She braved the challenges of shifting online, like synchronization of music to people’s art, time zones, and internet lags. She also braved the costs of taking a multi-format night of artistic entertainment and presenting it as a viewing alternative to a group already bingeing Netflix series in their pajamas.
“We had about 100 in total attendees — a lot of people were given free tickets — but we raised almost $1,000. That’s not a lot of money when you split it between 8 people though,” Neekola said, offering that sponsorships could have made it more profitable. “I would say that this could be a great way to do business during COVID, but with fewer people involved… However, the fewer people involved, the less excitement you have, so I don’t know…”