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Imagine all the people

Iris EDM fest returns to look beyond the club

As a former New York City break dancer and club-goer, Glenn Goodhand has always felt inspired by the dazzling and multicultural atmosphere of storied Manhattan clubs the Tunnel and Limelight. So much so that he wanted to recreate a bit of the same scene in Atlanta when a career in commercial real estate brought him here in the early '90s. "Peter Gatien, who owned those clubs, was a genius in the club world," Goodhand says. "I wanted to replicate that customer service, really big sound, really big lighting, and have a lot of different environments inside the clubs. There'd be stilt walkers, jugglers, some of the rooms had these furry bubble pillars. You'd see people in suits, B-boys, drag queens, and by the end of the night everyone is hanging out with each other and enjoying the music. That drove me to get different types of people together to entertain them."

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But Goodhand didn't stop there. Over Labor Day weekend 2014, Goodhand along with his wife and business partner Madeleine, took their vision higher when they launched the first annual Imagine Music Festival. For two days a spectacle of beats and swirling lasers transformed the Masquerade's Music Park and adjacent Historic Fourth Ward Park into a beacon of psychedelia. This year, the Goodhands let their imaginations run wild again from Aug. 29-30. Acts such as Chromeo, The Glitch Mob, Crystal Method, Ying Yang Twins, Leah Culver, and more fill out the lineup for a flourishing homegrown EDM extravaganza that has grown larger than its creators could have imagined. "It's a clean slate for us," Madeleine says. "There are no restrictions on fire performers or fireworks. It's open air, so we're not limited by capacity for bigger acts. It's a fully immersive experience, even when walking from one stage to the next."

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When Glenn Goodhand first entered Atlanta's nightlife scene around 1996 he began throwing raves and after parties throughout the city. Soon, he established Iris, a promotions company that hosts weekly Saturday night EDM parties at Buford Highway's Rush Lounge. Each week, Iris brings innovative electronic DJs and producers from Orlando, Fla.'s DJ Icey to British dubstep luminary Caspa to perform for throngs of dancers under a massive laser light and sound system.

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While the Goodhands, who keep their age off the record, used to enjoy simply attending these kinds of parties, they now find fulfillment pushing the limits of creating immersive environments. But they also want to highlight the sense of community that ties the EDM scene together. "We try to provide something that gives people a warm family feeling when they're there," Glenn says. "We truly care about every single person who comes through the door."

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He goes on to say that he understands that some people coming out didn't eat lunch that day just so they could buy a ticket. This kind of dedication only makes him want to work harder. "That philosophy is what brought us into the festival world," Madeleine says. "We went to events and weren't satisfied, which is why we started our weekly. Then we went to festivals and weren't satisfied, so we created a festival that's about the customer."

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With Iris already giving local DJs and producers such as Eddie Gold, Ployd, and Stranger Candy a stage to perform alongside national acts each week, Imagine provides an even bigger opportunity to play to a vastly larger audience. "Last year was the first time our name was displayed behind us on a huge stage, which was absolutely gnarly," says Stranger Candy's Andrew Levene.

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Even with some of the bigger names on this year's lineup, Atlanta's presence on the bill remains strong. Hometown rapper Lil Jon says, "Atlanta has grown so much musically with all these big festivals coming to town, it's great that I can perform on a big stage in my old stomping grounds."

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There will be more activities to stimulate the senses at this year's Imagine fest: acrobats, clowns and other circus performers from Cirque USA and GL&M Productions will be on hand. There will also be live art, meditation sessions, and yoga held in the Lost City of Imaginarium. Free yoga is offered to non-ticket-holding members from the surrounding neighborhood from 9 a.m.-11 a.m. both days.

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Even Le Castle Vania (aka Dylan Eiland), whose Fuck Yesss parties at MJQ and the Drunken Unicorn helped shape Atlanta's EDM scene before his career took him to Los Angeles, returns to perform. On Aug. 29, Eiland revives Fuck Yesss for a one-night after party in Hell, inside the Masquerade. More after parties with surprise performances by Imagine Festival performers are taking over the Masquerade's other rooms on Aug. 29 and again on Aug. 30, and at Iris' weekend Buford Highway home base, Rush Lounge. "Atlanta is an incredibly diverse city and that holds true to the music scene there as well," Eiland says. "The lineup for Imagine fits that diversity perfectly. It's going to be one hell of a party."




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