It takes more than just a big name, a social butterfly, or the spotlight natural to take on the events’ industry by storm. What started out for Marc Wahba in high school as an amusingly relaxing leisure activity, led to his future career path. Always eager to organize school carnivals, proms and of course provide the entertainment by playing music, Marc’s enthusiasm unlocked a gateway to his career in event’s planning industry. As the party scene penetrates the capital further nowadays, eniGma’s Laila Rostom and Mahmoud Al Badry sat with event planner/DJ Marc Wahba to shed light on a truly and humble perspective caught in the midst of the evolving party scene in Egypt.
Starting out his career as a DJ working at Electrum Records with Samba, Marc’s name was immediately recognized. As he continued playing the role of a DJ, the spotlight in of itself was not of Marc’s interest. To him, the limelight was an idea that never went well with his personality. His idyllic pleasures of life rested in the company of very few people, or during his personal surroundings at home, downloading music or producing art. As a firm believer in philosophy, Marc’s perpetual love grew to a university degree in philosophy, taking on a huge role in the way he perceives life today, and building on an inner identity more ingenious than what meets the eye. One of his many interesting stories was finding inner peace during a creative block at a point in his life. He explained that while he generally doesn’t look for peace of mind in calm places, a certain study that he follows described three types of personalities; the Radiators, those who lead a conversation, and always provide information, the Feeders, those who are more at peace with life, they sponge the information in and apply it, and the catalysts, the ones always caught in a weighty dilemma. Marcs theory was, to find comfort you need to have a healthy back and forth relationship with people, therefore surrounding yourself with Radiators and Feeders conveys the approach through a healthy manner of providing and applying a sort of notion.
“I try to avoid certain characteristics in people. Our minds already separate us in general but once you understand why it’s important to avoid certain characters, you find plain happiness.”
Philosophy became the ideal key to his own mind, and a gateway to several concepts. Consumed with his own identity as an over thinker and a control freak, Wahba became more than overly obsessed to always progress. He focused most of his energy on penetrating the company and slowly managing it. Wahba found his passionate self in what he did and four years later, he was running the show at Electrum Records, finding his true calling as an event planner.
With that in mind, Marc’s craze for event planning and entertaining people became a vision that inspired him to open his own event-planning agency, ‘Heart Soul & Mind,’ introducing a whole new concept to Cairo’s night life that offers more than just going out and partying. “I felt that if I just open my event-planning company, then I wouldn’t be contributing to the night life in Egypt. It’ll be like any normal party-planning company like the ones found in any country. So I thought about starting this agency that delivers event-management solutions. So if you’re an event planner and need concepts or events, if you’re a bar, restaurant beach club, or club, you’re perceived to be in the hospitality business, then I design a sort of bouquet, let’s say, that generates more income and hypes up things in general. Basically, any kind of service that will make your business more interesting, focusing in perspective on the concept, event itself, or the type of marketing needed. I thought that if I work with the industry’s big names, I would be able to influence some of these people and maybe the overall picture.”
Wahba’s modest traits and easy-going nature showed his lucid intentions towards the industry. His goal was to not lose hope in society’s expectations or to somewhat influence the industry’s perceived lost humanity. “I feel like you should focus more on the hospitality because people like having a human touch in their parties. I’m generally good with people, very down to earth and people like me for that. I get so involved because I want people to have fun and be happy. I treat everyone as the king of the party really, which makes a bigger difference than you would think. I like to eliminate the things that we mostly see that make the crowd uptight. I get too involved because I care about making people happy.”
Marc’s vision for event-planning has proven to take on a different angle than most. To him, the core of a successful event to be directly reliant on being hospitable and capitalizing on the very basic needs of entertainment, rather than losing the product’s authenticity to big shows, celebrity endorsements, or crowd segregation.
“I think event-planning is exactly like having a good sense in cooking; if you’re welcoming to people and hospitable, there will always be a certain positive effect that I’d like to give at my events. I think many party planners that are way more advanced take it more as a business, losing the human touch in the process. People think the nightlife is developing; I think it’s just getting bigger, using more fireworks and bringing three entertainers instead of one does not necessarily mean we’re evolving. I think we have a lot to do in terms of getting the basics right, but developing is not the right term to describe the industry at the moment.”
Marc’s idea of the industry is not just seen as a business but more of a pleasurable task. His prim path is to take on a basic idea, and add meaning onto it, for people to enjoy it in the simplest, yet most significant ways possible. When asked about the best event he’s ever organized, Marc’s answer, while obvious in choice, still carried around an added meaning due to the context behind it. He explained, “one of the best projects I’ve ever worked on was with Electrum Records, the Student DJ Competition. I think the finale was one of the most fun events we’ve done. Personally, what grabbed me the most was not the event itself; it was the concept behind it. Knowing the story behind the DJs, and sending them to Gouna for BootCamp, I liked that there was an idea behind that helped people and gave them the chance. The educational process was very enjoyable as well. International DJs from across the world were there to teach the local talents. For me, this was the perfect combination, because it was entertaining and educational and well thought of. I can definitely say it was the most fulfilling project yet.”
The party scene has proven to widely evolve through generations. Nowadays, the challenges faced when associating with the party scene involve typical social issues that conflict with the purpose of the event and the aim of going out. Wahba explains that these challenges come hand in hand with people’s attitudes towards the partying scene in general. The idea that people don’t go out to have fun any more and enjoy an event, or give respect towards this entity and towards people who work in service or even take pleasure in the music, has long been buried under societal concerns. Practicing the activity of going out in the manner that was once called ‘cliché’, to escape and let go in a positive environment, is merely the case today. “You should be able to change your attitude towards life and party in a proper way. I’m confused on how to influence such a massive group of people, however”
There’s no doubt that the party scene has been developing though time in Cairo. We see it growing daily through new-breed DJ’s, enhanced equipments, and renovated venues even, yet many mainstream concept are being affiliated with stereotypically taboo ideas, impacting the development of the industry on a slower note as well as limiting the space for creativity. Marc clarifies, what is present today and making a huge impact on the world as a whole, are the underground scene and electronic music. While music and partying has always been part of our culture, many in the industry are not yet open minded enough to practice or understand the mores of clubbing conventionally and therefore preserve its label as the underground scene. “When you go to a party abroad in a park or anywhere, selling alcohol is a norm, the fact that you can’t sell alcohol because it’s taken as a taboo here lessens the creativity in the places you can host a party in. It’s sort of like the elephant in the room. People that throw parties here only care about making money for themselves and don’t really care about the impact. I feel like we have great potential to be like any other European country that has an active nightlife, yet, this is probably the only thing that makes us not develop quickly.”
The city is clearly not short on events or parties; while you can always find some sort of festive gathering to head on to, most of the time you’re sure to find the same theme, the same people, and the same music even. We can only say that the party scene is getting tired of repetition and it doesn’t only relate to what the industry has to offer, but because it’s in our natural norms to get used to a secure habitat and lock it down, there’s an inherent difficulty in allowing new ideas to penetrate the norm. Wahba’s confidence in the industry, however motioned, still shows that while we might be on lock down, new concepts with diverse purposes are beginning to emerge. Trending right now are Fusion events, which generate the concept of one event that combines all elements such as ‘FunknPop’
“It’s attracting people of all ages and segments to the same place which is more interesting than just going to a certain party with the same people, seeing the same faces and doing the same things. This is helping us grow socially and especially in business since it shifted the idea of just going out and getting drunk or socializing on a small level and not enjoying yourself to getting out of our comfort zone and enjoying everything the atmosphere has to offer. I think people in the industry should be responsible in bringing different people together to do different things. They need to stop thinking it’s just a business and become more creative and sentimental towards helping the business and not restraining it.”