It looked like the party of the year — a two-day, beachside shindig in Phuket slated for December 30 and 31 and boasting 50,000 (later changed to 20,000) people and a lineup chock full of famous acts like Tiga and (ahem) Akon. There was an immediate buzz surrounding Sydictive Element (no, I don't know what "sydictive" means) when Paris Hilton popped over to Thailand to launch and endorse the event. What she actually had to do with the party is difficult to ascertain, but sure enough, she it would be the "best Near Year's party ever".
On paper, the lineup for Sydictive Element looked pretty hot.
But somewhere along the line, it all went a bit Pete Tong. For a start, Paris Hilton had nothing more to do with the event and her people got a bit annoyed with the organisers continuing to use her name. In an email sent to the Phuket Gazette, supposedly intended for the party organisers, Glenn “GG” Gulino, Esq. of g2 entertainment wrote:
Your rights to use her name ended weeks ago and since you cancelled her NYE appearance you cannot use her name. Thank you.
Then there was the venue. It was originally to be held at Surin Beach, but widespread complaints forced a move to an 800-metre stretch of Patong Beach. A great deal of confusion came with the move, not least because it was reported that the organisers were forbidden from selling alcohol.
The lineup was another source of bewilderment. To give you an example, Akon's performance had been cancelled since early-December, according to Steve Lin from wonderful artist management:
Akon has been cancelled since early December, Sydictive has been using his image, name, logo, and likeness to promote their festival without permission. Attached is the formal cancellation notification which was both emails and mailed by certified mail to them. The public have a right to know the truth!
The first night of party was reportedly a bit of a flop, kicking off seven hours late and closing early due to complaints from nearby hotels. Set times were unannounced and not all of the DJs showed up, including Tiga, who wrote on his Facebook on Saturday:
Due to factors outside of my control, I will not be performing in Phuket, Thailand on Dec 30th. My apologies to my fans, and I hope to return to Thailand soon.
The lack of communication from the party organisers only made things worse. Complaints flooded into the Sydictive Element Facebook page, many of which were deleted. The New Year party was apparently not a great deal better. A quick look on Twitter, for example, revealed that a Pendulum DJ set was unlikely to happen as the DJ was in Perth and the MC in London. Some of the acts, including Basement Jaxx, did play, but even that wasn't enough to save the party. This complaint from a disgruntled raver on Facebook (comment now deleted):
The bottom line again was last night you promised acts they didnt arrive, the sound was terrible…..You advertised a product you did not deliver, you wont answer questions, your website is gone….in any life thats the signs of a scam.
To make matters worse, tourist leaders in Phuket delivered a letter to the Phuket governor effectively saying, "Never again." This from Phuket Wan:
The organisers of Phuket's private-for-profit two-day New Year party dug a hole in the beach to bury the garbage, Phuket Governor Maitree Inthusud was told today by leading Phuket tourism officials.
Women danced topless, one partygoer almost drowned and alcohol was sold on Patong beach at excessive prices in defiance of the agreement with authorities, they said.
It's a shame it all went down this way, especially with people paying up to 5,000 baht for two-day passes (9,000 for "deluxe" passes). It could have been a really great event and from the pictures it did look a lot of people had a good time, but ultimately it should have been so much better.