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Quick study in partying

Newcomer BTE makes a splash with College Night. Books are left at home.

January 25, 2013|By Jessica Gelt, Los Angeles Times
  • A typical College Night put on by BTE draws a crowd of about 1,000 to the Fox Theater in Pomona.
A typical College Night put on by BTE draws a crowd of about 1,000 to the Fox… (Arya Zarifi )

Dom Prieto will graduate with a degree in public relations from Cal State Fullerton in May, but that hasn't stopped him from forging his career in advance.

Over the last six months he's worked to establish an up-and-coming event production company called BTE, which stands for Beyond Tonight Entertainment. BTE produces a monthly themed party at Pomona's Fox Theater called "College Night." The parties draw more than 1,000 revelers who relish dressing up according to the given theme and dancing the night away to music Prieto and his team carefully curate.

Prieto isn't thinking small, either. He wants to grow the company so that it is in league with giants Insomniac and Golden Voice. (Prieto has fostered a solid relationship with Golden Voice, which holds events at the Fox Theater and helped him get his foot in the door at the venue.)

"When Golden Voice originally started they were throwing warehouse parties for punk rockers, and Insomniac was throwing warehouse parties for electronic music fans," says Prieto. "We want to do the same thing for college-aged kids with hip-hop."

The next College Night takes place Jan. 31 and has a toga party theme, which means party-goers will have to dress in their "Animal House" best or risk being turned away at the door. Featured entertainment includes Bay Area hip-hop artist Clyde Carson, whose catchy tune "Slow Down" has garnered nearly 2 million views on YouTube, as well as the hip-hop crew Starting Six, which has had comparable success with a catchy, ribald tune called "Thirsty."

"We're booking people that students get excited about," says Prieto. "We're not working with anyone major yet, but we want to book the next big thing, we want to be brilliant at booking talent."

Prieto's BTE team consists of team coordinator Vince Cisneros, Power 106 DJ Justin Credible, marketing director James Cardenas and creative director Adrian Hernandez. As a group they are keenly aware of the dangers associated with college-age drinking. Their events are for students 18 and older and special wrist bands are provided to those of legal drinking age. As an added precaution, they have added shuttle service into the price of a ticket.

"The CSUF shuttle pass is our bread and butter," says Prieto. "We charter a school bus to take students to and from the event."

In addition to shuttles from Cal State Fullerton, which usually deliver around 500 students, shuttles are also deployed to Palmdale, Santa Clarita, Santa Fe Springs, Ontario and Rancho Cucamonga.

When he graduates Prieto plans to expand College Night to Orange County, Chico and San Francisco, where he grew up.

"I want to keep building the brand, although the name 'College Night' might change," says Prieto. "A while ago I started a company with a really cool name and a fellow student trademarked that name. So I learned a valuable lesson to keep those things to myself."

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