When I ask Miguel Risueño what he thinks partying will look like in 100 years, his response is pretty bleak .
“In 100 years, a slap of dystopia will be awaiting us unless we start caring and there won’t be parties”, he replies via email. “So, we better wake up right now.”
Miguel is the Creative Director and co-founder of LA studio Production Club. In May 2020, Production Club went viral online after announcing a Covid-19 proof party hazmat suit called the Micrashell.
“The pandemic hit and every single event in the world got cancelled”, Miguel explains. “We hated it, so we started brainstorming how to preserve physical human connection in a safe way. Micrashell came out of that brainstorming.”
A creative studio that works in the events and live music industry, Production Club branched out of its comfort zone to create its viral partying PPE.
The Micrashell itself includes all the essential safety features you’d expect, including air filtration system and adjustable ventilation system, but it also includes many features which facilitates the users partying.
Wearers are able to drink alcohol and vape via a disposable canister system, while the suit also has a built-in internal speaker. The Micrashell is a ‘top only’ design, meaning that people wear the suit over their regular clothes, so can still use the toilet and have sex while wearing it.
As it stands, a functional research prototype of the Micrashell exists. However, with the vaccine drive in full effect and nightclubs reopening worldwide, Production Club have “halted the sprint” with regards to producing the Micrashell. They plan to instead continue with the project in a “more paced way”.
“We want to make sure that human contact doesn’t go away ever again”, Miguel says. “Additionally, we love sci-fi and non-dramatically understand that the future will only get more and more dystopian from here, so we need to be ready to design a healthy and happy society no matter what comes at us.”
While Production Club prepare for an uncertain partying future, here in England, another company is trying to actively shape the future of partying.
EcoDisco is a London based sustainable nightlife consultancy who help those in the industry reduce their carbon footprint. In addition to consultancy, they throw parties, and have designed a reusable cup, and reusable cup cleaning scheme, to help reduce waste from single use plastics.
I talk to founder Hadi Ahmadzadeh. The 26-year-old, who was raised in Camden and now lives in Hackney, chats to me from his home. We talk over Zoom, Hadi with his camera off (“I don’t have a video set up sorry!”) and me, housebound with a Lemsip in hand, trying to battle the Covid-19 that I’d caught over the weekend.
“EcoDisco started as a concept party”, Hadi tells me. “I used to run events with friends in 2017/2018 and I got disillusioned with the amount of waste we were producing. I felt like we needed to be more progressive and just better at what we were doing”.
Throughout 2018 and 2019, EcoDisco began researching ways to reduce their waste and become a more sustainable event. After navigating the murky world of greenwashing, Hadi settled on reusable cups as an area of focus. “I came up with this mad idea to use steel cups with fabric holders, and straws made from wheat”, he says.
After drumming up publicity by hosting an event at Bethnal Green venue Oval Space in June 2019, Hadi had big plans for 2020. “Everything obviously got cancelled”, he tells me. Instead, EcoDisco pivoted to consultancy, and began advising others in the nightlife industry on how to become more sustainable.
“It just became clear from the amount of emails I was getting, from other people in the industry asking how can we do this, I want to do this, can you help us me”, Hadi explains. “I thought, We’ve got probably a year without events now, let’s turn this into a consultancy and then whenever the club nights come back we can always start again.”
In December 2020, EcoDisco received funding from non-departmental public body Innovate UK . This enabled the company to design and produce their own reusable cups, whilst also piloting a cup rental system.
“We won two grants from Innovate UK. One was to design a cup; it’s got like a clip on the side of it and it hooks onto a pocket. It’s an extremely sustainable cup”, Hadi explains. “On the other side was this reusable cup rental system. It was something that kind of started as a joke. When we were throwing the parties at the beginning, I was thinking the only way to do this was if you delivered them (the cups) and washed them off site. The first name I came up for it was Narcups, like narcos. This crazy network of vans delivering and collecting cups across urban areas.”
For Hadi, sustainable nightlife practises must to be introduced in order to secure the industries future. “We are protecting the longevity of nightlife”, he says. “We want these spaces to continue to exist, and they won’t be able to exist if they don’t catch up with what we need to be doing to maintain the health of our planet.”
Introducing sustainable practices is something that industries across the world need to do. In a 2021 UN report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a ‘code red’ warning, stating that human induced climate change had already caused irreversible damage to the planet.
The report did say that it’s still possible to limit climate change, but this would require a ‘strong and sustained reductions in emissions’ . Unless others start following EcoDisco’s lead, we could all be wearing Micrashell suits sooner than anticipated.
But as far as the nightlife industry is concerned, Hadi is optimistic. “Events and nightlife will definitely become more sustainable”, he predicts. “Emissions will go down, and waste will go down. 100%. I have no doubt about that. If anyone wants to hear some positivity, it would be that.”