"Come on Barbie, let’s go party!"
Those are lyrics to the pop song hundreds of Target employees danced to at the retailer’s national sales meeting last fall, says David Baer, the inciter of such a contrarian scene. And that’s what it’s like to go to Level11, the name of Baer’s interactive entertainment company based in Eden Prairie.
"If you would have walked in and said, ‘do you think you are going to dance to the song Barbie Girl?’ They would have laughed at you," says Baer, 39. "It’s being able to bring a crowd to have joy and excitement when they would have never imagined."
Baer started his business-now a collection of DJs, emcees, musicians and dancers-as an independent DJ in the early 1990s and as a bar mitzvah showstopper in the late 1990s.
After hundreds of events where he coaxed the introverted, serious and reluctant to enjoy themselves, Baer has become director of membership for the International Special Events Society. If it goes anything like getting business professionals to dance to, "I’m a Barbie girl in a Barbie world. Life is plastic. It’s fantastic!" the St. Paul native will do just fine.
MNM+E: Since you bought your first magic kit at age 12 and have been entertaining for more than 20 years, what keeps you interested and passionate?
DB: It’s the feeling you get when you are working in front of a group-whether it’s 50 or 500 people-the energy and excitement where you are bringing these people to a different place.
MNM+E: How do you think Level11 brings the energy?
DB: Knowing what to play when is the art.
MNM+E: How can you bring the "experience" to the corporate world?
DB: We’ve found [corporations] are very price sensitive, and DJs are a sort of commodity. … [But] once the buyer … sees the difference that an entertainer can make compared to a DJ, they are significant followers.
MNM+E: What improvements would you like to help facilitate at ISES?
DB: In the last three or four years, membership has dropped off, and I think that is a sign of the financial stress that most companies have faced. … My goal as the director of membership is really to reconnect with those people and help them see the value of their membership.