From organizing some of the most unforgettable parties in Dubai to bringing down top international acts such as Hardwell, Martin Garrix and Armin Van Buuren – Nicolas Vandenabeele has done it all. Currently heading Envie Events, the brand responsible for making us party harder every weekend, we decided to sit down with Nicolas to talk to him about life, success and of course, his wildly popular Meydan party, Sensation.
Tell us more about your background.
I struggled a lot during my school days since I wasn’t really interested in what they were teaching us there, I was more interested in entertainment. I started organizing my own parties at a really young age. Once I finished high school, I took up a job in a warehouse for construction materials. I stayed there for four years and in the meantime, I continued organizing my parties. I was also quite active in Belgian’s nightlife scene – I was partying around five days a week. At one point, I decided to quit my job and focus on my dream, which was to work in a nightclub. I gave myself 12 months to achieve that goal. After about 10 months, I got the opportunity to start working as a VIP Manager for the biggest club in Belgium. Six months later, I had worked my way up to senior management, which was a dream come true. After five years, I resigned and moved to Dubai to start a new and exciting adventure.
How long have you been in Dubai?
I arrived in Dubai on the 5th of December back in 2011. The first few years were tough. Let’s say, I went from being a hero in Belgium to a nobody in Dubai. But I learned that if you have enough passion, and you believe in yourself, everything is possible. I have big plans for Envie Events; it’s a never-ending journey. I’m very happy here, and I’m convinced that we’ll be bringing more and more amazing experiences to this city.
Tell us more about Envie Events.
Envie Events is the proud producer and promoter of some of the most spectacular, immersive and innovative dance music events in the Middle East. With over 25 years of combined experience in the entertainment, hospitality, and nightlife industry, our events continue to captivate and inspire a unique level of fan interaction. This is only further enhanced by our state-of-the-art lighting, pyrotechnics and sound design, large-scale art installations and theatrical performers.
Having hosted two open-air editions of Sensation in Dubai, two ‘Mega Night Club’ operations in Europe, and various annual partnerships with globally-renowned concepts such as Sensation, Tomorrowland, WMC Miami, and Summer Clubbing Ibiza – Envie Events aspires to become the ultimate choice for events and concerts not only in Dubai but also, the whole MENA region and beyond.
What can we expect from ‘Armin Only Embrace’ on May 20th?
‘Armin Only Embrace’ is a show that’s unlike anything Dubai has ever experienced before. You can expect everything – innovative world-class acts, cutting-edge technology, breathtaking show elements and dance acts, and of course, only the best in music. During this unique world tour, Armin will be embracing different styles and genres of music while combining them together in a powerful way. Think of it as an amalgamation of trance, EDM, rock, pop, classic, and many more styles in complete harmony. This is one show that is bound to leave you amazed.
What made you want to bring Sensation to Dubai?
There is a long-lasting partnership between ID&T and Envie. We came to Dubai with Sensation in the back of our minds. It was just a matter of time before we would make it a reality. Sensation is about uniting people, and what better place for it than Dubai right? With many different nationalities living here in peace and harmony, there’s also a great influx of tourists from across the globe here. Dubai seemed like a natural fit for Sensation as it allows freedom of expression and a one-way ticket to self-actualization.
What are the main challenges of organizing events on such a large scale?
There’s a great deal of preparations required to organize an electronic dance music show of this multitude. From getting the venue ready, to building the stage, preparing marketing strategies, sound systems, setting up lighting, food and bars, etc. – the whole experience is always an unpredictable one. Luckily, at Envie Events, we are fortunate enough to have a very supportive and creative team.
As with any other large-scale project, there are challenges along the way. For instance, last year, we had unexpected rain showers the day before the event, causing many problems to our setup, furniture and bars. But with a strong team in place, we were able to overcome this. I think the key is to be prepared..for anything.
Describe a typical day in your life.
I wake up around 50 times during the night, and on a good day, I’ll get up around 9am. The most important moment of my day is having a cup of hot chocolate first thing in the morning – I can’t start my day without it. I’ll drink it at home, in front of my computer while reading all my emails. Around 10am, I’ll head to the office and join the team. If there are any meetings lined up, I’ll finish those off first. Apart from that, I spend most of my time in front of the computer. We deal a lot with professionals in Europe, so Skype meetings are normal in our company, and sometimes at crazy times of the day. There are a lot of laughs during the day and we try to keep a fun work environment. When I’m home at night, I hit the sofa and order food, prepare some work for the next morning. After that, I’ll either watch TV series in bed or meet friends in town. But most often, I’ll just fall asleep. Yes I know, I’m boring.
What’s your personal secret to become as successful as you are in the events industry?
Success is a relative term. I like to measure everything with the yardstick of happiness. As long as we bring smiles to people’s lives and make them forget about the craziness, stress and monotony of everyday life, I consider my day to be successful. As long as people unite, dance together and feel the love, I consider my job done. That’s what motivates me to go to work everyday.
What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
I don’t like the term failure, there is no failure in my opinion. There are only lessons to be learned along the way. As I stated before, it’s a journey, there are no shortcuts. Apart from believing in yourself and your passion, it is also necessary to be surrounded by amazing people. This goes for both your professional and private life. I’ve learned to avoid negative energy, and push it far away from me as much as possible. Not many people are allowed in ”my space”.
What has been the best moment in your career so far?
Bringing the first edition of Sensation to Dubai. I remember thinking to myself the day after, “We really did it!”. I’m sure there’ll be many more such moments to come. We have so many more exciting plans up ahead. We will raise the standards of event management in Dubai to another level. I can tell you that for sure!
What’s your opinion of the concert scene in Dubai as compared to the rest of the world?
Middle East has undoubtedly become the ultimate entertainment destination. Dubai is a city that works hard for long hours and longer weeks. Most consider the nightlife scene here to be their safe haven where they get a chance to blow off some steam after a hard week at work. We are here to make sure this is done in the most spectacular way possible. You can expect the dance music scene here to evolve to even greater heights in the near future. The people of Dubai are truly unique souls who appreciate art and music unlike the rest of the globe. This love for music is what feeds our passion for events.
Where do you see Envie Events in the next 10 years?
In 10 years, or possibly much sooner, I see people associating Envie Events with music, dance and happiness. Our aim is to become synonymous with everything that music represents: unity, love, passion, soul and respect.
**Edited For Clarity**