May 31, 2018: Oculus Debuts Virtual Venues App With Slate of Summer Events, Event Planners Share Tips for Dealing With Bugs at Summer Parties, U.K. Music Festival Shut Down After Drug-Related Deaths

By Ian Zelaya May 31, 2018, 8:34 AM EDT

1. OCULUS DEBUTS VIRTUAL VENUES APP WITH SLATE OF SUMMER EVENTS: Virtual-reality company Oculus has launched its Venues app, offering users a chance to virtually experience a number of high-profile events this summer. The first live event offered was a Vance Joy concert on Wednesday. Wired: “Vance Joy at Red Rocks isn’t the first time people have been able to watch a live event via VR. That’s been possible since 2015. And multiuser VR platforms have been able to accommodate small crowds of people for just about as long. But as Venues' inaugural event, this will be the first time they’ll be able to do it together, hundreds or even thousands at a time—talking with their friends, meeting new people, seat-hopping at will, and even ascending to a private viewing box if the crowd gets to be too much. Oculus has never done anything like this. Its parent company, Facebook, has never done anything like this. … When you launch Venues from within your Oculus Go or smartphone-driven Samsung Gear VR, one of the first things you notice is how many people there are. Most social VR platforms cap their experiences at 30 or 40 people for performance reasons. (When you’ve got that many people moving around interacting with each other and the world in VR, things get a little creaky on the server side.) But Venues, being designed to work with those headsets, is a constrained experience in its own right—you can change seats, and you can look around, but you can’t move around—which helps cut down on the lift significantly. That enables the app to split its total audience into manageable but still surprisingly big sections of seating Oculus calls 'shards.' Each shard is nine steeply banked rows of 28 seats that are sectioned into curved four-person pods, for a grand total of 252 people.”

2. EVENT PLANNERS SHARE TIPS FOR DEALING WITH BUGS AT SUMMER PARTIES: Despite the official start of summer still being a few weeks away, outdoor soirees are in full swing—which means that mosquitos and other insects will be crashing the party. Event planners recently shared their tips on how to deal with the inevitable presence of bugs at summer events. Washington Post: “Event planners and caterers say bug control strategy is now a standard item on client checklists. 'It’s a timely topic. When a party is out-of-doors, everyone wants to know how to handle it,' says Lynn Easton, founder and creative director of Easton Events, a special-events firm in Charlottesville and Charleston, S.C. 'You don’t want your guests eaten to death.' Easton says she brings insect repellent in different forms to her gatherings. 'I do a pretty little tray outside with sprays and organic [repellent] bracelets, and sometimes herbs and essential oils such as peppermint, lavender and cedarwood,' she says. The bracelet she swears by is the Parakito Mosquito Repellent Wristband, which is made with seven natural oils including citronella, rosemary and clove, and is refillable. ... Mosquitoes and no-see-ums are party poopers that can shut a bash down. 'If guests are swatting themselves all the time, they get very annoyed,' says Bill Homan, co-founder of Design Cuisine caterers in Arlington. 'That doesn’t make for a good party.' For years, Homan has relied on Bounce dryer sheets (in the Outdoor Fresh scent), which scientists have studied for their gnat-repelling properties. The sheets are tied to the narrow legs of his catering tables, under the tablecloths. Allison Jackson, owner and lead event planner of Washington’s Pineapple Productions, has ideas for many different kinds of clients, including those who want to avoid using DEET products or yard sprays. Her strategies include putting fans around the party area and 'incorporating herbs that work naturally to repel mosquitoes—peppermint, lemon balm, lavender.' You can use them in flower arrangements or buy them in pots to help repel mosquitoes and bees. For her parties on hot, sticky summer evenings, she has another natural refreshing idea. 'To make guests feel more comfortable, we take cool washcloths scented with lavender and pass these out. The scent also works as a natural bug repellent.'"

3. U.K. MUSIC FESTIVAL SHUT DOWN AFTER DRUG-RELATED DEATHS: The Mutiny Festival in Portsmouth, England, was cut short last weekend after two teenagers died from drug-related causes. Billboard: “While illegal substances are listed under the festival website’s “prohibited items” section, it was confirmed that the two deaths—Georgia Jones, 18, and Tommy Cowan, 20—were both drug-related by their respective parents. However, the official cause of death has yet to be released by the police. The two deaths are currently being treated as separate and unsuspicious. According to Betts, both were treated by emergency first aid teams at the festival until paramedics arrived to take them to the Queen Alexandra Hospital. Jones and Cowan were only two of 15 individuals from the Mutiny Festival to be hospitalized on Saturday night. A representative of the Queen Alexandra Hospital confirmed to Billboard that those who were admitted to the hospital were treated for a range of issues and were not all drug-related. Several were treated for symptoms related to alcohol intoxication, and others were assault-related. In the past, Mutiny Festival has run into safety issues. The News, Portsmouth reported that behavior at last year's festival resulted in the Portsmouth community banding together in order to demand an age restriction. Their report states that a 13-year-old boy was found a short distance from the grounds and admitting to taking nitrous oxide, cannabis and alcohol. He, among other festival goers, was also a victim of assault. Billboard has reached out to the Portsmouth police for a comment.  The 2018 festival—which was also the fifth anniversary of Mutiny’s creation—took precautions in order to avoid safety hazards, including the enforcement of an age restriction. Although 16- and 17-year-olds were still allowed to attend the event, they were required to buy a special 'Teen Ticket.' According to the 'Terms & Conditions' page on the Mutiny Festival’s website, 'Teen Ticket' holders were required to show a valid form of identification and provide basic details (such as name, date of birth and home phone number) to the festival management team in order to gain entry into the festival. There was also an entrance provided for 'Teen Ticket' holders, separate from the main entrance."


LOS ANGELES:  Greystone Hotels has completed a renovation of the 49-room Elan Hotel in West Hollywood. The lobby and guest room corridor renovations were inspired by the city of Los Angeles, with a collection of large-scale portraits depicting L.A. sports and entertainment icons of past and present. 

Coachella's 20th anniversary will be held April 12-14 and April 19-21, 2019. 

For information on upcoming events in Los Angeles, visit Masterplanner:

MIAMI/SOUTH FLORIDA:  Indoor skydiving operator iFly Fort Lauderdale has launched a virtual-reality application, in which fliers can wear VR helmets to see themselves jumping from a plane to skydive in destinations such as Hawaii, Switzerland, Southern California, and Dubai. 

NEW YORK:  The Cannabis World Congress & Business Expo kicked off Wednesday and runs through Saturday at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. 

Dr. Barbara Ann Teer’s National Black Theatre will have its 10th annual Teer Spirit Awards Gala June 13 at the National Black Theatre building in Harlem. The event, hosted by Rhonda Ross, will honor news commentator and activist Van Jones, Broadway producer Brand Victor Dixon, and actress Barbara Montgomery. 

Cooper Hewitt’s Garden Party will take place June 13 at the Arthur Ross Terrace and Garden. The event aesthetic will be bold colors. 

The 14th annual Joy of Sake New York will take place June 15 at Metropolitan Pavilion. The event will showcase 478 sakes and 19 restaurants serving sake-inspired bites. 

For information on upcoming events in New York, visit Masterplanner:

TORONTO:  The Dundas West Festival will take place June 1-2 on 12 city blocks. The event will feature local art, music, food, and dance, and will feature a preview of the Toronto Fringe Festival. 

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With contributions from Claire Hoffman in Los Angeles and Beth Kormanik, Michele Laufik, Ian Zelaya, and Deirdre Jahn in New York.

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