Virtual events might feel like a consolation prize in this unusual year where it’s difficult to gather safely with those that we love. But if you’ve attended a well-produced online event, you know that they can be really fun. And it almost feels like you’re “there” with the other guests. 

The holidays are coming up and many people who typically host a gathering with family, friends, or colleagues might be grappling with how to take it online. Virtual events are new and the technology can be daunting, to say the least. And let’s face it, we’re all having a bit of screen fatigue. But after hosting dozens of events online, we can say that it’s always worth it to muster through those challenges because, in the end, you’ll feel reconnected with the people you are missing. The vibe may be a little different, but it’s still a warm and fuzzy feeling when you leave a fun virtual event.

Keep it interactive. 

Whether it’s an activity that everyone can easily do together or a game that can be played online, having structure at your online event can keep things interesting. We recommend starting the event off by picking a cocktail (or mocktail) for everyone to make together. If someone in your group is an expert, have them lead the group in the cocktail making. Be sure to send out an ingredient list in advance to ensure people have enough time to gather them and participate. If the cocktail is made from things people may already have on hand at home - or ingredients that can be easily substituted - even better.

Move on to a group activity or an online game once everyone has created their cocktail. What does your crew normally do in person that might be able to be recreated virtually? Think about games or activities that get everyone involved or can include spectators. Jackbox games are a fun option for lots of ages (be sure to look for the family-friendly version if you have children tagging along). 

Virtual events can be as short as one hour or as many as three hours depending on how much fun your guests are having! If you have a larger group of people or people that do not know each other as well, break the larger group up into smaller groups to allow for mixing and mingling. You can assign these randomly, or if all guests have recently updated their Zoom application they can choose their own room. 

Finally, if you're still feeling overwhelmed we are offering a party package to help. After months of hosting and perfecting our clients’ virtual events, we’ve cracked the code for what’s fun (and we left out what’s not). We created an option for you to take the best of the best with our Be There Holiday Hang. You will create your own adventure as you host your virtual holiday party with our platform. This is perfect for families, friends, colleagues, and basically anyone you want to celebrate with right now. Your party includes:

  • games
  • contests + activities
  • virtual photo booth
  • custom DJ mix
  • and more!

Who knows, maybe you’ll have so much fun, you’ll be choosing this online format again in the future even after things improve from the pandemic. Good luck planning and let us know if we can help!

Cage and Aquarium had a blast with all the vendors at Indie Wed 2020! What's Indie Wed you ask? It's a non-traditional wedding expo where you walk around Ravenswood Event Center (a real wedding venue) and chat with a ton of wedding vendors while you eat, drink, and taste all the treats! 

We had our DJs on two floors showcasing our talents. The bottom floor had our typical DJ set up - turntables and the ability to play both vinyl and any new songs. On the top floor, we had our 'all-vinyl' DJ setup. With us you can have the best of both worlds! You can choose an all-vinyl cocktail hour with records sitting out in view for all your guests. Then transition into our typical set-up with the ability to play both old and new, or keep that analog audio going all night. No matter what you choose, digital or vinyl, you can't go wrong! 

Ravenswood Event Center is a three-level venue with vintage cars, neon signs, and beautiful window light. There are models who walk around showcasing wedding gowns, alcohol capri-suns, gelato, ideas for favors, pole-dancers for Bachelorette parties, custom coloring books for the kiddos at your wedding, hair stylists who will braid your hair, jewelry, and the newest addition to Illinois - a bud-tender for cannabis at your wedding! 

If you're bummed you missed out on this awesome event, don't worry, we have another one coming up March 1, 2020 at The Haight in Elgin, Illinois. The first winter suburban Indie Wed! We have comp tickets available for purchase here.

A huge thank you to Ravenswood Event Center for hosting this and to all the couples who came out to enjoy the event! See you at the next one!

 

Vendors at Indie Wed 2020:

 

DJs (vinyl + digital): Cage + Aquarium Productions - (Tyler Huffman, Michael Rodriguez, Kevin Sanabrais)

Venue: Ravenswood Event Center

Plant-based Vegan Catering: Kalish Vegan (also the owner of Ravenswood Event Center) 

Photographer: Shelley Anderson from Cage + Aquarium with her brand new iPhone 11 

Fit/Pole-Dancing Company: Fempress Fit

Cannabis Company: HUSH Chicago

Custom Designed Coloring Books: Paper and Crayon

Gelato Station: Black Dog Gelato

Braid Bar: Blush and Burgundy

Wedding Jewelry/Headpieces: Rachel Andrea Collection

Live Band: Gussied 

Beer: Dovetail Brewery

 

Cage + Aquarium hosted an 80s inspired styled shoot at Wicker Park Inn with an incredible team of vendors. A special thanks to Shelley Anderson and Kristin Parra for planning the whole photo shoot. We're heavily inspired by music here at C&A. The spark that lit the ideas behind this styled shoot came from Madonna's Like a Virgin and (of course) Blondie's Parallel Lines album covers

To our models, Michael and Cynthia - who are completely in love and the most fun human beings we could have asked for!

Our Photography Team at C&A captured the entire day, began at The Wicker Park Inn before we explored the neighborhood. You could say we've been waiting decades to share these photos! ;)

Take a look if you still love neon, rock scrunchies, blast 80s throwbacks, or just need some unique wedding inspiration. 

 

PHOTOGRAPHED FOR: Cage and Aquarium Productions

VENUES: @wickerparkinn + @recklessrecords

FLORALS: @flowersbystem

CALLIGRAPHY: @jessicadrapercalligraphy

STATIONARY: @lullabelledesign

HAIR/MAKEUP: @muaheatherb

BACKDROP: @scenicbackdrops

MODELS: @cinchi_mon + @djmykol

PHOTOGRAPHERS: @shelleyanderson, @jadehullphoto, @hadassahbphoto, @evahophoto, @hannaonlove, @ajabelmanphoto, @thaislovesstories, @garberophotography, @frozenframephotos

 

Meet Ed Clemons!

We’re pleased to introduce DJ Ed Clemons, the new Director of Sales and Networking of Cage + Aquarium’s Chicago branch! Ed’s deep appreciation for what it takes to get a dance floor moving comes from his background as a dancer himself. He connected with the Chicago B-Boy scene back in high school. In 2014 he joined the Cage and Aquarium DJ roster. If you see him out and about in the event scene, chances are you’ll see him bust a move! We interviewed Ed so our community and industry professionals can get to know him.

 

Q: How did you get your start as a deejay?


A: A dear DJ friend and former C&A DJ, Victor a.k.a. DJ Limbs introduced me! We used to be members of the Urbana Champaign Hip Hop Congress while we were students at the University of Illinois. At the time, I was focused on the bboy (breakdancing) element of hip hop, but became interested in DJing after watching DJ Limbs work school events and parties around campus. Fast forward a few years, after living abroad, we reconnected when I moved back to Chicago. Victor suggested I should try DJing given my passion for music as a dancer - I was introduced to Tyler and Shelley, and the rest is history! I have Cage & Aquarium to thank for my official DJ beginnings.

Q: Do you have a favorite DJ moment to share?

A: It's always hard for me to choose "one" favorite DJ moment as luckily I've experienced quite a few. I will say that there is a certain euphoria or high that I feel when playing a song that resonates well with a dancing crowd or audience. Whether it's "Sweet Caroline" that has a family at a wedding, joyfully celebrating hand in hand together, or dropping "Plastic Dreams" to send devoted dancers into a frenzy, that positive energy is the best. To me as a DJ, it's the gift that keeps giving.

Q: What are you most looking forward to in your new role at Cage and Aquarium?

A: First, I'm very grateful for the opportunity to represent Cage and Aquarium at this capacity. I see this as a chance to bridge DJs and other event professionals, to help foster a more cohesive community. Second, I look forward to connecting with organizations across the vast Chicagoland area, as well as continuing existing relationships.

Q: What ways do you give back to the community?

A: I think it's very important to give back, and I donate my DJ services to charitable causes. In 2018, I DJed for "A Breath of Hope", a yoga and social fundraiser for the LAM Foundation - a non-profit funding research and raising awareness about the rare lung disease Lymphangioleiomyomatosis. I also served as a DJ for the non-profit “Daisie Foundation” during their 2018 Holiday Initiative. The “Daisie Foundation” is an event aimed to spread holiday cheer and gives gifts to Pre-K - 8th grade students and overlooked and under-served faculty and staff members at local schools. I am still involved in the local hip hop dance scene. I also am a member of the non-profit group “Renegades of Funk Chicago”, an organization that aims to educate, develop, and nurture the talents of youth and adults through the preservation and awareness of Hip Hop culture. Since the early ‘80s, members have been involved in organizing what has evolved from the "Writer's Bench" to now "Battle for The Eagle" - an annual community gathering at Chicago's Logan Square Park during the summer, which provides a platform to showcase the talents of youth and adults from Chicago through dance battles, DJing, emceeing, graffiti art and more.

Q: If you weren’t a DJ, what would you be doing instead?

A: If I weren't a DJ, I would still do something involved with music. It is a big part of my life. Before I became a DJ, I worked in the tech industry, and have had an interest in electronics since childhood. I could see myself in that field as well. Regardless of which path I would have followed, for me one rule underlies them all - no music, no life!

Q: What are your hobbies?

A: I like to shop for music (surprise, surprise!) - to my delight and detriment, vinyl records have taken over my living space. I regularly attend dance practice at local community spaces around Chicago. Dance is great because I get to enjoy music and stay fit, and that's a double win for me. Recently, I've been involved in a few stage performances with local artists, which is a very interesting experience. I don't think I have a future on Broadway, but I have a new-found respect for those who perform and act for a living. Then again, "never say never.”

Q: What inspires you the most?

A: I would say people inspire me the most. Yes, we are capable of some terrible things, but the amazing things we can and have done inspire me to never give up. Musically, I am inspired by a long list of artists. Behind the music, I receive inspiration from those close to me to strive and do better.


Q: In ten years, where do you see yourself?

A: In 10 years... I see myself as "coming to a theater near you..." :)

 

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