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25th September 2017

What’s the future of Pangaea? An interview with Kitty Bartlett

With the new building works in the SU this years organisers of the beloved Pangaea Festival at the University of Manchester are finding creative ways to keep the night going, hopefully for years to come

As students flood Fallowfield, the beating heart of the city returns. You can’t walk more than a metre without having an abundance of flyers shoved in your face and free Domino’s forced down your throat. This can can mean only one thing: it must be freshers week.

Pangaea is the pinnacle of freshers, whether you are a fresh faced first year or a weary fourth year. It all started in 2006 when some students wanted to throw a big party in the SU, but they probably never realised it would become the massive event on the social calendar that it is today.

I interviewed Kitty Bartlett, the activities and development officer, last Thursday, the 21st of September, to get all the juicy Pangaea info and find out about its future.

How would you describe Pangaea?

“It’s the best thing ever; a night of incredible music, incredible décor and incredible people…It’s a magical event that happens three times a year in Manchester.”

How is Pangaea organisation going?

“Yeah it’s going well; everything is set. We’re just doing final checks and last-minute décor, along with making sure timings are right and artists are going to arrive on time.”

What have you done differently to previous years?

“The silent disco is back. It’s been absent for the last two years but there has been big demand so it’s great that it’s coming back. And this year we’ve hired some giant props, which is going to give to give the décor that extra edge — it’s something we haven’t done before.”

How long does the décor take to make?

“About a month. For the last week and a half I’ve spent every day here in the SU making decorations and being covered in paint! We’ve been limited due to the building works so for one room we’ve only just been allowed in one room to do decorations in. There is a massive range of decorations as we have some really arty people on the team that have made some incredible things from massive mushrooms to top hats.”

How did the theme come about?

“Last year was down the rabbit hole — it was really great. There are always so many great themes that are kind of overlooked. Wonka was a suggested theme in previous years but we decided to do it this year since it’s a little smaller and gives us more chance to focus on décor. The Wonka theme is very accessible and easy for first years to dress up for without having to buy lots of new things for their outfit. The September Pangea is the most tame out of the three in terms of fancy dress. Lots of freshers are reluctant to dress up at first and don’t understand the effort that other people go to in terms of fancy dress.

Do you have a favourite Pangea?

“Lost city was one of mine. I dressed up as a swimmer caught in a net that had turned into an octopus; I still have my outfit now.”

What is there to expect for the future of Pangaea?

“There is only going to be two Pangaeas this year. The ongoing building work will mean that we aren’t able to fully host a Pangea in January. It’ll be too cold to expect everyone to stay outside the Union Building all night so there will be something a bit different this year. It’s all very up in the air at the moment about what it will be but it will definitely be an event in January — it’ll be something a bit different and exciting. It’s a great opportunity to create a new event which may then happen every year.”

How are the SU building works going?

“I’m really liking the new food court areas and stalls but it’s still a bit plain down there at the moment, so I’m waiting to get some art up and make place feel bit friendlier. I’m hoping to get some student art up but that will come with time. The next six months is going to be harder… everything has moved around a bit and many staff don’t have desks so are having to work from home or around the university. But I feel like everyone is mentally prepared for it so it should be okay.

“We’ll be nearly back to full size by June if all goes to plan. It’ll be an exciting time after the current little step back. Hopefully we can grow again and create the hype for Pangea that we had two years ago when it was the event was the go-to and it was all anyone talked about.”

Your best Pangaea moment?

“My first ever Pangaea. I had had quite a negative fresher’s week and was ill; I didn’t really want to go but my flatmates dragged me out and i thought it was amazing from the moment we walked in.”

Photo: Kitty Bartlett

Your worst Pangaea moment?

“I projectile vomited on a radiator in Academy 2 in front of everyone. I was dancing, then felt sick (but didn’t think would be sick)… then it was too late.”

Pangaea top tips?

  • Dress up and get a fab costume. It’s what makes Pangaea stand out from other events and festivals and its even better when people really get involved and embrace it;
  • Although this September’s event will be small r than previous ones, make sure explore all of the spaces you can. Each room and stage has different music, different décor and different vibes;
  • Try the food. The food stalls are good, cheap, and definitely worth it;
  • Try and stick it out to the end if you can. Obviously it’s a long night but the music in final hour is always really good;
  • Pangaea isn’t just for people who drink but is really good and interesting experience for people who don’t. Last year we had students performing in bands on the band stage and that was really cool too see.

How did you get involved with Pangaea?

“After my first Pangaea I enjoyed it so much that I messaged the Facebook page walking home saying how much I loved it and asking how I could get involved. Through working for team Pangaea I’ve realised I want a career in working in events and event management.

“If other people want to get involved, it’s open to all students. Most people don’t know this but it’s even open to MMU students — we had three students from MMU on team Pangaea last year! It’s not technically a society and it’s not really volunteer work, but we want to make it more like a society and organise other events as well as Pangaea. It is also a great opportunity for developing your CV and organisation skills. Working for Pangaea is more than just getting a free ticket; it’s a great chance to get to know some fun people and be a part of something unique.”

When will you start planning for the next Pangaea?

“We haven’t started planning for the next one yet because this week has been a bit manic. We will probably wait a week after this event before starting. We will hold some open meetings to get ideas. All the info for the meetings will be posted on the Facebook page so people can contribute their ideas for the January event.”

And the line up?

“This year we have Wiley vs. Dirty Good which is a UK premier, and is exclusive to only Pangea and Bristol which is exciting.

“To bring Wiley in we used a company called VMH Events Management — they help smaller festivals and students approach bigger artists. Our polls after last year’s event showed that Wiley was an artist that plenty of people wanted to see at Pangaea, so we were pleased we managed to get him.

The other DJs are decided through team Pangaea. They’re either acts that people have seen before or ones that have been voted in. Obviously we have to juggle money and find artists who will play for the right fee, and we have to be extra careful as Warehouse project has exclusivity rights on their artists in Manchester, which means that are options are narrowed.”

“One of our massive pushes has been on getting more female artists to play. Anu is an up-and-coming female DJ and is predicted to blow up in the next six months. One of our more interesting DJs is Jaguar Skills, who is a bit older but plays really good tunes; he was the artist with the most votes from team Pangaea. He plays a whole variety of genres so it will be interesting to see what style he goes for on the night — he always works the crowd really well.

Pangaea should be an amazing night; a lot of hard work has gone into planning and preparing for it. It would be such a shame to lose the beloved festival as it’s one of the events that makes Manchester so special. Make sure you get your ticket here and keep an eye out for opportunties to get involved.

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