What started as a push to improve nightlife for expats is now an events company that draws in foreigners and Myanmar nationals alike.
‘Events Company’ is more of a de facto label for Full Stop, the one-man organization that schedules parties in trendy venues around Yangon that are large enough to accommodate a stage and dance floor. After working in Myanmar for over a year, Charlie Artingstoll, age 23, started Full Stop ‘just for fun’ as a side project in an effort to boost the nightlife scene which he felt had begun to stagnate. The expatriate community in Yangon is indeed smaller compared to other Southeast Asian cities, like Bangkok or Singapore, with only a dozen or so places frequented by party-seeking foreigners. That said, the small pool of expats is an ideal ecosystem for growing organizations like Full Stop that benefit from word-of-mouth publicity.
By this Saturday, Full Stop will have put on its third event in a span of less than 8 weeks. With building momentum, and the popular Port Autonomy venue booked, the upcoming party is slated to be biggest one yet, according to Facebook.
Being ‘interested’ on Facebook is of course a non-binding agreement to say the least, and typically an unreliable figure. In Myanmar, however, where Facebook dominates all other forms of public outreach, the 300+ tentative confirmations for Saturday’s event could very well be an accurate estimate. After all, over 200 people came to the last Full Stop event on 22nd April when many expats were still out of town for the Thingyan holiday.
The steady rise of Full Stop is also partially the result of an effort to attract more Myanmar nationals. There are well-to-do Burmese folks at any expat event but the turnout is usually sequestered to those with a Western background or fluent in English. To integrate the local and expat crowds, Full Stop got the trending hip-hop duo, Y.A.K, and other Myanmar rappers such as Cyclone to headline the 22nd April show. The bookings brought a dozens of locals who were completely new to the expat scene and their idea of a party.
The plan is to build off of these cross-cultural gains for the upcoming Full Stop event which feature a Myanmar DJ who focuses on bridging the gap between local and expatriate tastes. After the last show, Artingstoll has made an informal partnership with Youk $hi, the Myanmar events company responsible for the hip hop festival that drew over 1000 people on 9th April. Full Stop and Youk $hi now help to cross-promote in English and Burmese in order to better reach the other demographic.
In the future, Full Stop events may begin to institute a two-tiered pay scale that is more often used by Burmese businesses: Foreigners pay one rate, Myanmar counterparts pay a reduced one.
“salaries are segmented based on whether you’re a local or not – so why not do the same with cover charges? If local people get paid less because they’re local, then surely they should have to pay less to do certain things too”, says Artingstoll.
While the well-established Port Autonomy is the host for Saturday, you can expect future events to be held in far more obscure venues. Yangon International Hotel has gained exposure thanks to the the first two Full Stop events (as well as other nightlife bashes) held on their rooftop Sky Bar. Artingstoll is already thinking of venues that would be conducive to both local and expat party-goers… the idea of booking the entire night-train from Yangon to Mandalay with DJ music blaring through the Burmese countryside has been floated. Facebook message Full Stop if you have any other suggestions for the next spot.