When you think of events you most likely think of them from an attendee’s point of view, but for Adefioye and Gbama events are their livelihood. Dare and Jake are friends and business partners who met in BIU (Benson Idahosa University). They’ve gone from working in nightclubs as PR’s to paving a way for themselves as event creators.
Adefioye started out throwing parties in his secondary school and amongst friends in Abuja, while Gbama took it upon himself to bring that ‘Lagos/Abuja energy’ to his city: Benin City. After clashing in BUI and becoming friends, Adefioye and Gbama have become an unstoppable tag team taking the event hosting scene head-on.
Adefioye and Gbama have a couple of events and collaborations under their belt. They’ve worked with brands like Ciroc Vodka, MoetHennessy, Pernod Richard and Ledrop Nigeria; and artists like Davido, Burna Boy, Wizkid, 2baba, Mayorkun and Tekno to name a few. What started as something they did for the fun of it has gone on to become one of the most successful party series in Abuja: the 4U2NV Sunday Party series. With parties mostly within Nigeria’s capital city and Dubai, Adefioye and Gbama have decided to share their story with the world as they aim for global domination.
Can you take me back to when you first picked up an interest in events? Did it happen suddenly or was it a gradual thing?
Adefioye: I started in secondary when I organised an end-of-the-year party, but this wasn’t professional; I was just having fun. Professionally, I started when I was in university (my 100 level). I organised a show called Face Of BIU; it was like a pageant thing. Before university, I threw a couple of parties in Abuja within my circle of friends.
Gbama: Right from when I was in the university I’ve always been intrigued by nightlife. I started working as a supervisor in a nightclub when I was in 100 level in school in 2009. From there I developed an interest in hyping and PR but I wanted to throw my own kind of parties. That led to throwing my first pool party in collaboration with my friend in 2015; that was my first official event. So it all began with partying, clubbing and it’s always been something I liked.
Adefioye what was your first official event?
My first ever official event was when I partnered with Ciroc for Grill At The Pent Abuja series. Every first Sunday of the month I used to hold parties at a place called sky lounge. Sky lounge was one of the most premium penthouses in Abuja at the time, this was in 2015. So I did this from August 2015 to 2018. For three years I was doing that every first Sunday of the month.
How was the experience of throwing a successful first official event?
Gbama: You know how it is for young people trying to start up something that you know a lot of people wouldn’t believe in; you know, having been an entertainment thing. We didn’t have money. We were young and needed money to pull things off. We needed to strategize and meet people. The first time was really tough because that’s what creates your pedigree and standard. Back then we had a lot of limitations because this thing had never been done in my city. Although it’s a modern city, Benin City wasn’t as bubbly as Abuja or Lagos. The vibe got there kind of late and trying to bring the vibe on time you’re going to have some people slacking. We had to collaborate with people that had the kind of money to do what we wanted. We had to collaborate with a hotel for their pool and accommodation for the artists we were bringing. Then we brought Tekno and we had to collaborate with a nightclub because of course Tekno can’t come for free. The experience was amazing. Having to pull off an event that you can say you did on your own and people came and had fun and it was a great time, that’s what makes it amazing.
Adefioye: It was very tough. The university party was the first one and I cried at that one because I was duped. But those were uni days. After uni I started in 2015 with Dewunmi CEO Bankhead Entertainment and that was kind of easier because we had a sponsor. Ciroc was sponsoring the whole event and my own job was to manage, plan, and make sure that we were making sales.
How did you meet and decide to start working together?
Both: We met in school o.
Adefioye: Before we started working in the club together we were already friends in school.
Gbama: We started working together officially when I moved to Abuja in 2019. Back then in school Dare used to manage this guy Caesar and Morphic. We worked at a place called Club Reset for 10 months.
Adefioye: We were doing that for almost a year and it was amazing. From our school days, we already had our own relationship and his move to Abuja was intentional for us to achieve something together. Reset used to open weekends and Jake was the hype man. Before he moved to Abuja I secured the job for him and that was one of the reasons why he was more confident to make the move. I handled the PR and management of the club while he was the hype man. We eventually stopped working with the club and focused on our careers. I was doing concerts in Abuja with Jake; putting him on some of the biggest stages in Abuja, performing alongside Wizkid, Davido and others. We even went to Lagos for performances and all that stuff. Now he’s widely known in Abuja and Nigeria at large amongst industry stakeholders.
What are the most important factors you consider when you put together one of your events?
Gbama: Whenever we’re trying to put together an event, I always tell everyone on our team that we can’t compromise on our standard; it has to look foreign. We invest a lot of money into getting that standard: from the lighting, sound, decor, ambience, and people. It’s not your average kind of event. We pay a lot of attention to the quality of everything. We create an experience.
What’s it like throwing an event with a prominent artist, how is it different from smaller events, and which do you prefer?
Gbama: I think having an artist at a party and making them the headliner is a distraction. For a real party, you need people dancing and having raw fun. We’ve thrown parties for a lot of artists and brands and at the end of the day when these artists come in, everyone who came for the artist leaves after the artist is done performing and that kills the vibe. It’s not like we don’t bring in celebrities, but we don’t make them the centre of everything. But for a real rave, celebrities should walk in and come and join the party. The party should be about you in your corner. So I prefer throwing parties without an artist at the centre of the event.
What’s your favourite event you’ve thrown and didn’t throw?
Gbama: For the one I didn’t throw, there was this Caribbean concert with Burna Boy; I think it was sponsored by Remy Martin. Dare took me backstage of this amazing concert. The seating arrangement was perfect. You had people buying drinks in an area that’s easy to access and exit. You had the regulars in front of the stage without affecting the VIPs. I was like, “This show is amazing. This is the best arrangement I’ve seen in a concert.” And the lineup was good as well.
We have a party every Sunday, but the best one for me so far is the one we threw for our birthday on the 24th of July.
My favourite one that I threw is RFA: Runway, Food and Champagne. What I wanted to do was to bring in fashion brands and create a runway within the party then get these brands to showcase their stuff while we all partied. That was an amazing show for me being my first fashion show. It happened in April, and it was a collaboration with Cointreau.
What misconceptions about event organisers have you heard that you think are just not true?
Gbama: At the end of the day, human beings will be human beings. My team and I try our best not to cheat or owe anyone. We pay everybody what they are due. When greed comes into a venture it usually destroys it. This is Nigeria, I can only speak of myself. No one can say that they’ve had a money issue with my team and me, but there’s nothing we can do to change what other people are doing.
What’s next for you?
Gbama: We like the element of surprise. Just stay tuned. We’re coming and you’re going to love what we’re bringing. We’re just like the peter Obi guys that don’t want to tell you how they’re going to stop insecurity because they don’t want their opponents to know.
What do you want everyone reading to leave with?
Adefioye: Keep pushing. Keep chasing your dreams. Never give up.
Gbama: To the older generation who might not believe in this venture, entertainment doesn’t mean your child is useless. Entertainment is not a death sentence for your kids. I had challenges growing up and the path I chose wasn’t exactly what my parents wanted, but you have to chase your dreams. Young people should also be themselves and do what they love.