The Party
The Party

The Party – from the beginning to the end of the Scene

The Party - from the beginning to the end of the Scene. Ghandy interviews SauberSound, organiser of the legendary The Party series in Denmark.

The Party – from the beginning to the end of the Scene.
An interview with organiser SauberSound
by Ghandy

In the past, there was no doubt about what to do between Christmas and New Year. The way always led to the middle of Denmark to one of the largest congress centres in Europe.

Die deutschsprachige Version des Interviews ist hier verfügbar.

„The Party“ series has been around since 1991, and although this era was supposed to end in 1996, the last event took place in 2002. But the orgas had to face the fact, that the percentage of sceners decreased over the years. The Scene became smaller and smaller, the proportion of gamers increased considerably over the years. This was probably why this event came to an end 20 years ago, unlike i.e. the Assembly in Finland. Btw.: You can find a lot of statistics and other interesting stuff here at the website of The Party.

We recently spoke with SauberSound aka Søren Døssing, one of the main organisers of The Party. Of course, we definitely wanted to know what happened to all the alcohol that the organisers confiscated each year from us visitors. What have you done with my whiskey, you bloody danish fuckers? Anyway, The Party (TP) was always the mother of computer partys for me. I’ve been visiting it from 1993 until shortly before its end.

At The Party, some visitors have set up their complete kitchen!

JP: Would you like to to present yourself with a few key facts?

SauberSound: My name is Soeren Doessing, and I’m 53 years old. While growing up, I was interested in sound and music. I learned to play instruments, studied music in high school, played in various bands, and eventually took a masters degree in acoustics. At the same time I was also interested in computers, and figured out how to program and make music. Eventually this interest took over, and I have been working as a system administrator my whole life.

the party

Since the late 80’s my friends and I went to demo parties. In the beginning mostly for the social experience. It was fun to load all our computer equipment and hifi gear into a car, go somewhere else, set it up, exchange tips and tricks, playing games, showing off our programming skills etc. And watch the demos being presented on big screens. The demos were fascinating to me.

I know how to program, and appreciated how much effort went into creating these demos and the incredible talent it demanded; the math, the storyline, the effects, the timing, the sound track and everything else. I formed a small demo group with two friends; they were both coders and I made the sound tracks. We borrowed graphics artists from other groups when we needed sprites or still pictures. It was a lot of fun, but we only ever released one demo. I forgot both the name of the group and the demo – it’s a long time ago :-(

My handle is SauberSound. At the time I always used a particular bread in my lunch pack, called „Super Sund“. It’s Danish, and the English meaning is „Super Healthy“. My friends found it funny and mocked me by calling me the same name, but with a German inspired pronunciation: „SauberSound“. I liked this nickname, and since I worked with sound and music, I found it quite fitting to my skills as well. Quite naturally it became my handle.

Originally, The Party was planned as a local event

JP: How did it happen that you took part at TP? Did you accompany from the start in 1991 ? How did you guys come up with the idea to organize such a big party?

SauberSound: For my own part, I joined TP1991 as a visitor. Shortly afterwards, by coincidence, I ran into the main organizers, who lived in my vicinity, and I offered to help plan the next party.

Lights, camera, action: A Danish television crew films a monitor on TP 1993.

My understanding of TP1991, is that big size by itself was not a goal. They just wanted to do a local party. But a combination of circumstances made it big. The timing between christmas and new years made it easy for many people to attend, since they had vacation. Using the exhibition hall in Aars made it possible to accommodate quite many people. Sticking to strictly English language made it appealing to many people outside Denmark. Having good connections to famous demo groups made it credible. Releasing invitation intros well in advance allowed people to plan to attend.

The exhibition hall in Aars with enough space for up to 4,000 people.

Being active in BBS scene made it possible to reach out far and wide. Using the name „The Party“, instead of „Some other random Party“ suggested that this was the most important party event to attend. And finally, we had a quite strong, recognizable and consistent visual style in our communication.

A small core of organizers of the The Party, usually 5 people, are called main organizers. I was one of them. We worked year-round to plan the events, and ensured continuity year after year.

The other organizers were specialists, such as demolab, network crew, information desk, security etc. These organizers helped out throughout the year with particular tasks, and they were the main work force during the events.

The organiser distributed the tasks within the team

As a main organizer I had many duties. I did the overall planning, keeping track of tasks, who worked on them, status and resolved conflicts. And I created the info channel system, where we displayed announcements in between competitions, I created the table reservation system, the contribution upload system and the voting and counting system. I screened the contributions to music competitions. I maintained the website, the archive of contributions and I represented The Party on the internet, answering emails and uploading contributions to ftp sites. And many more things of course. Running such big events, prior to the internet age, was a complicated affair.

the party, 1993
The Party 1993 – the exhibition halls were gigantic!

JP: 1996 was planned as the end of the era TP, but you did continue, how came?

SauberSound: Actually, every single year since 1992, we were convinced that this particular event would be the last one. Financially, it just broke even every time, so we could never make money. The 7 days between christmas and new years were exhausting. We were becoming older, and felt a little detached from the quite young audience, we were having families and careers that demanded our attention etc.

Each year, The Party was supposed to be the last one!

But somehow every year, in late January, when all the positive responses come in, and we have rested, we get together again, and decide to give it one more try.

The End of an Era, had several meanings, not just the end of The Party as an event. For example we felt that it was no longer an Amiga-Only event. C64 became big again, and PC scene even bigger. Although we insisted to be primarily a demo party, many visitors considered it a LAN or gamer party. And finally, many of the shady activities had come to an end.

JP: And why did you stop in 2002? Wasn’t that a good possibility to earn a bit money? Or did your family convince you to be able to celebrate x-mas again after so many years? ;-)

SauberSound: For me, 1998 was the last year. I felt I have achieved everything that I possibly could, and any further participation would be just a repeat of previous years. In 1999 I handled just the online services, I was not involved in planning, and I did not go to the event.

„The organizers tried to make a profit from the events, and still failed.“

The few people who remained from the beginning carried on a few more years. However, gaming was taking over, and the events we planned in cooperation with gaming companies. The organizers tried to make a profit from the events, and still failed. Eventually they ran out of energy, and sold the name to a Norwegian company. Here the brand just faded out.

In 2005 I decided to recover the domain and website, and by 2007 I succeeded. Together with A-Vizion we are the custodians of the remaining artifacts.

I wrote a few notes on our wiki about my involvement. Last updated in 2007 ;-)

Say cheese !!!

JP: In 1991 most visitors were Amiga sceners. But the years the event became bigger and bigger and familys with their whole kitchen and stuff that nothing had to do with a computer party came. Did you want a scene only happening?

„We wanted to appeal to a broad audience“.

SauberSound: We were going for broad appeal. So we had competitions such as best painted computer case, worst hair cut, cutest girl, best food prepared in a toaster, drinking cola the fastest, rave in the sleeping hall, longest distance throwing computer keyboards,tag walls, movie room and much more. And we were international, attracting visitors from the whole world.

At the same time we insisted that we were primarily an Amiga Demo party. Amiga sceners were considered first rank citizens, and everybody else were gracefully allowed into the sacred halls. I would like to think we managed to keep a reasonable balance between Amiga sceners, and the rest of the audience. Amiga sceners were shown the respect that they rightfully deserved, and everybody attended had many options for entertainment, creativity and social exchange.

We were also not locked in a particular format or platform. Every year we innovated and offered something new and fresh. That the Amiga effect got watered out, was a natural evolution around us, but creativity continued.

„We had a private event in January for organizers called The Druk (meaning ‚The Drunk‘).“

JP: At the entrance area everybody was controlled and any sort of alcohol, except it was hidden in regular Coca Cola bottles were confiscated to keep the event clean and chilling. What did you do with those hundred bottles of Whiskey and all the stuff each year?

SauberSound: We had a private event in January for organizers called The Druk (meaning „The Drunk“). Here we tried to drink as much of the confiscated alcohol as we dared. Since most of it was opened, cheap and questionable it was mostly simply disposed in the drain. I don’t recall that we ever had a full bottle of whiskey.

the party
TP 1994: Computer as far as the eye can see …

JP: The scene went down the drain and big partys became a happening for gamers. What do you think about it? The orgas of the Assembly in Finnland don’t have a problem with that fact it seems. They have the oldschool area for a few sceners and the rest of the visitors never had a clue of the cracking or demoscene.

SauberSound: The Party more or less had same attitude. We were in regular contact with Assembly, with the common understanding that they have the big summer event, and we have the big winter event. We insisted on profiling ourselves as a demo party, we funded money prices by selling entrance tickets to gamers, and we offered attractive reasons to both sides to come.

Actually, I don’t see them as two opposing forces. Many people came for a variety of simultaneous reasons, which I have listed above. Everybody wants to socialize, most want to show something off, be it demos, big speakers, the tallest stack of floppies, the fastest ethernet switch in the world etc. And most enjoyed the show going on on the stage and big screen.

After Corona, nothing will ever be the same again!

JP: What do you think how long will it take until Corona will let us out of its clutches? When will bigger partys be possible again, next or even this year?

SauberSound: I have gone to a few local LAN parties. Parties are very different now from what they used to be. Gamers are more coached now than sceners were back then. They speak politely and they are focused. Although several hundred teenagers play violent computer games against each other, the whole hall is dead silent. And clean. And people still come for the same reasons; primarily to socialize, show off gear, now it’s coolers, chairs, led lights and to experience team effort in solving challenges.
Corona has taught us that many things can be done online. Regardless of if Corona is passing, or a permanent condition of eternal mutation, I don’t think the world will ever again be the same as it has been. I’m sure big parties will again be possible – and doubt there will be demand for such.

Sceners from behind sitting around at The Party 1994.
Sceners from behind sitting around at The Party 1994.

JP: Do you plan to visit Revision or another event?

SauberSound: I have no actual plans. And I don’t rule it out either.

JP: Are you still in touch with the scene listening to scene related podcasts, reading news etc.?

SauberSound: I wouldn’t quite say that I’m in touch. In my facebook and youtube feed, I keep up to date on what’s going on. I’m leaning mostly towards the hardware side, such as the 1541 Freespin demo, sound chip reverse engineering, and the occasional new C64 demo or game remake.

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to tell the story of myself and of The Party. Let me know if you want me to provide more details. And good luck with the magazine.

JP: Thanks a lot for your long and detailed answers!

Lars Sobiraj


Lars Sobiraj fing im Jahr 2000 an, als Quereinsteiger für verschiedene Computerzeitschriften tätig zu sein. 2006 kamen neben noch zahlreiche andere Online-Magazine dazu. Er ist der Gründer von Außerdem brachte Ghandy, wie er sich in der Szene nennt, seit 2014 an verschiedenen Hochschulen und Fortbildungseinrichtungen den Teilnehmern bei, wie das Internet funktioniert.