#FloatCon turns six this year!
If the Float Conference were a human, it’d be beginning to lose it’s baby teeth. It’d be just starting to explore the early limits of language and grasp a sense of time. This is the ripe period when its capacity for play and adventure comes into contact with its fully emergent imagination.
What I’m getting at is that this year’s conference is shaping up to be a blast and we hope to see you all out there this year!
In the midst of all of our blog writing and party planning, I sat down with Ashkahn Jahromi, cofounder of The Float Conference, Float On, and Float Tank Solutions with a few questions:
I only just came onboard last year. Take me back in time – how did the float conference get started and what was the first year like?
The Float Conference probably got started because we like to party. We figured, who could be better party guests than people who’ve dedicated their lives to running float centers? They’ve got to be some of the coolest people out there to hang out with. And we were right.
The first year felt like a tornado to me. I really had no experience running a conference, and had hardly ever even been to a conference, but despite that it all seemed to come together one way or another. All it took was not sleeping for about 4 straight days. In the end, seeing everyone come out and not just connect to improve their business and share ideas, but to genuinely enjoy themselves and each other’s company was so enlivening that I knew we had to do it again.
Do you have a favorite talk or moment on stage from the past few years?
There was a moment during one of the first few years where we had a brief delay before the next speaker came on stage because of some technical issue. I was on stage trying to stall, and decided to do a little dance for everyone to help pass the time. It was the most enthusiastic the crowd got during the entire event.
I think I really missed my calling.
Dancing is bold. People like bold. If you weren’t the Acting Grand Wrangler of the Float Conference, what do you think you’d be doing? Or, asked another way, what do you do in the next dimension over?
I think there is an alternate universe version of me that has become famous for making strange noises with my mouth. Alternate universe Ashkahn is probably making some serious cash composing the scores for weird films and creating new sound effects for when you’re computer is low on battery.
Well, it seems like we’re still in this dimension, so what are you most looking forward to at this year’s conference?
Honestly, giving everyone big hugs. The conference is starting to feel more like a family reunion to me every year, and can’t wait to see everyone again.
The Float Conference seems like a pretty good place to witness the steady evolution of the Float Industry. How has the conference changed since you began and how do you see the conference evolving over the next couple of years?
Well, the biggest difference is that it has gotten way, way bigger. Our first conference had 165 people, and our most recent one in 2016 had 700. 700 people is great, and there’s such a big and vibrant community of people to interact with, but there’s something about the intimacy of a smaller crowds that I found really pleasing and productive as well. That’s actually why we started the Friday Activities, so that people could still have a chance to interact with each other in smaller, more intimate environments.
As for the future, I hope it starts to turn more into a SxSW type event, with tons of side activities and crazy events happening before and after the conference.
I like that future! What’s your hope for the industry?
I hope as an industry we can band together and pass a law in every country that requires the government leader to float before an official declaration of war.
Pretty good goal. Ok, let’s run a hypothetical: You have an operating budget of $5 million for 2018 – what’s the conference look like?
Picture this: The conference is starting. The lights dim and a spotlight strikes the stage showing me, dressed in a suit that has 100 tiny capes coming off of it, riding in on a horse that itself is riding on an elephant. The spotlight widens to reveal an entire 40 piece brass band with all of their instruments shooting flames as they begin to play. Hundreds of trained chimpanzees swarm into the audience and proceed to give every attendee a high-five, all the while the theater is slowly starting to fill with salt water so we can have the single largest collective float in history. And then we’d probably have to all eat bread and butter for lunch because I blew our entire budget.
Well, despite the lack of chimpanzees this year, what do you want Float Conference attendees get out of the experience?
I hope this enlivens people to go back home and make their float centers awesome. Running a float center can be tough, and at certain times (like 3am pump failures) a bit disheartening. The conference is such a great way to share and receive with the rest of the industry, and to go back to your center with a fresh set of eyes and aspirations.
There’s a lot going on at the float conference. Do you have any recommendations for first-time attendees?
There is definitely a lot going on. My best advice is to prepare yourself for the what’s going on during the weekend before you come out. We created the Float Conference Podcast as a way to help people prep so they can get the most out of their conference time. We have interviews with the different organizers of Friday Activities and with the upcoming conference speakers. It’s a great way to really get some context on what you’re going to be experience.
Once you get here, just strap yourself in and enjoy the ride.
Thanks for taking the time, Ashkahn! See you at our conference planning meeting this afternoon. Was it at 2 or 3pm?
Check your calendar, Ben!
For the rest of you, hope to see you in Portland this August for the Float Conference! In the midst of all the research talks, technical demonstrations, and parties, make sure to come say hi over at the Float Tank Solutions booth.