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Enter Gatsby's world... virtually Filed on July 30, 2020 | Last updated on July 30, 2020 at 09.40 pm

How a Dubai-based duo is adding zing to our virtual celebrations with quirky themes

At a time when interactions have mostly shifted to the online space, it was only a matter of time before someone added that much-needed zing to our virtual celebrations. With even defining occasions, such as marriages, having an online avatar, event planners have now come up with themed online parties to make them just as much fun as live events.

When Covid-19 posed a serious challenge to their events firm The Big Night, Dubai-based Kunal and Gauri Rupani decided to plan themed virtual celebrations. From The Great Gatsby to Gossip Girl, the couple has been carefully curating themed parties for those who love the dazzle. "Covid-19 has drastically impacted our business. As a family-run company, it has been challenging to find a way to survive," says Gauri. "Our main concern is the safety of our community and society, so we decided we had to change our approach and find a way to celebrate events like never before."

So far, Kunal and Gauri have already come up with Gossip Girl- and The Great Gatsby-inspired virtual theme parties. The process, says Kunal, is pretty similar to how they would plan their offline parties. "We speak to the client virtually, and try our best to understand their likes and dislikes. We then go back to our drawing board and dive into the world of storytelling, as we are a company that creates time travel-inspired events that transport you into another world. We come up with ideas and concepts, such as entertainment acts, singers, bands, DJs, dancers, customised catering options that will be delivered to their respective homes, personalised giveaways for guests who attend and surprise mystery boxes, to name a few."
Creating a fantastic ambience is easy during live events, but on virtual platforms like Zoom, it can be quite challenging.

Kunal and Gauri's first themed party recreated the world of Gatsby. They remember it as being "a unique journey" where guests were greeted online by different characters who guided them through personalised entertainment acts. "Think of it as magic or immersive theatre and film," says Gauri.

Virtual events have opened a brand new segment for those in the industry and its possibilities are not just limited to webinars. Elaborating on how such an event typically works, Kunal and Gauri say, "Guests first received personalised invites to enter the Zoom party; they had to crack a code to find the meeting ID and password. They were then greeted by a professional live actor who narrated to them the story they were about to experience. Personalised polls and quizzes kept the guests engaged. We had dancers, mind readers, sketch artists, a scavenger hunt, and many more performers who performed from their respective homes to create a unique experience for the guests. We even had an international talent joining us all the way from Florida."

Being a guest at such a party means watching the entire event take place from their Zoom screens. Does it leave a lot to be desired? Gauri and Kunal say that the level of engagement and the big smiles prove otherwise - as does the novelty of it!

Anamika Chatterjee

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