Sean Dickerson has made a mark in the nightlife scene with weekly parties at The Highlight Room and Bootsy Bellows, annual pop-up events and can’t-miss events surrounding fashion weeks around the world.
The nightlife tastemaker and creative director of The Made Group has had a hand in curating popular events that bring out everyone from rapper Saweetie to NFL superstar Travis Kelce. Recently, Dickerson even received a shout-out from rapper 21 Savage in his song with Drake “Spin Bout U” on their joint album Her Loss. It was a moment Dickerson says he took as a sign he’s on the right path and a reminder to “keep going.”
Relatively lowkey, the mystery man behind celebrity curated parties, hails from Baltimore and humble beginnings. As an only child with parents who worked in theater, he found himself spending a lot of time with adults. “I was always attracted to that element of creative people hanging out with each other,” he explains. “I was always attracted to dive bars and nightlife in some capacity.”
The attraction grew as he attended John Marshall High School, which is best known for alumni like Leonardo DiCaprio and for serving as a set location for Grease. Soon after testing out of high school, he enrolled in film school to follow an interest in writing, acting and directing. He credits music for also inspiring him, especially during the tough times he experienced in his youth with homelessness and financial instability.
“For better or worse, we looked at a lot of these guys in this culture as superheroes and they had big influences on us,” he says. “So hip-hop had a big hand in raising me. … It shaped a lot of my outlook on [the world], the way that I’ve carried myself for most of my life, and how I interact with people.”
When first starting out in his career, Dickerson says he didn’t have any connections or cosigns in the nightlife ecosystem, and experienced people walking past him on the street when promoting parties. But it was his skill of interacting with people that would eventually be used to forge relationships that fill up a room.
“If your relationships are intact, I think you’re always going to be good,” he says. “I think part of the relationships I have that are beneficial to my business are because people trust me to create spaces for them to be safe, to be comfortable.”
The result of this approach is formed friendships with people like designer and actress Draya Michele. “It’s always good vibes with Sean,” she says. “Gratitude runs deep when you have someone like him throwing your events.” And rapper Wale says, “Many parties we’ve been to, but it seems like [Sean’s] are the gateway to LA high life. … Kind of like the stuff you imagine LA to be when you’re a kid from the East Coast.”
Dickerson’s commitment to keep going, was because he says he enjoyed all the things that he was embarking on. “If money doesn’t exist and you don’t need to do something where you wake up every day to financially support yourself, what would you wake up and do every day?” he asks. “Usually, whatever answer somebody gives to that, my response is always, then that’s what you should do with your life and figure out how to monetize it.”
The tastemaker now likens his workflow to the 1996 Chicago Bulls because of how many talented people it takes working together to find success. “I think as a unit we all kind of form like that, and then there’s overlap where some people are good at multiple things and so we can kind of pick up each other’s slack when we need to,” he explains, adding that genuine relationships are the backbone of the job. “I respect money as a tool, but I’m not just trying to do anything just to make money, and I value my relationships more than the money. Because there’s certain relationships that you can’t pay for.”
The success of Dickerson’s SaadiQ, the Highlight Room’s Wednesday night R&B party, is a product of connecting with people and trusting his own taste. “I’d like to believe that we’ve had a little bit to do with [influencing] people’s tastes when they go out … the music format being up-tempo and sexy,” he says. “I grew up on Baltimore club music. I also grew up on a lot of Bad Boy … so the idea of taking hip hop records and putting singers on them, that’s something that we tried to do along with being up-tempo.”
Even with all the elements in place to create a good night — like, a perfect guest list, the right venue and a good DJ — Dickerson admits the right perspective is key. “I try to stay really even keel,” he says. “I’m a big believer in if one has no expectations, one can never be disappointed.”
That philosophy stems from his childhood, one where his father always told him not to get his hopes up. “There was a lot of disappointment when I was a kid,” he says. “I try to disassociate until it’s done and then we can celebrate and then let’s figure out how we can do it again.”
While he enjoys curating social events, the creative director believes nightlife and hospitality are a great way to bridge relationships into his other interests. “I have a concept for a restaurant that I’m working diligently to get off the ground, really just looking for the right space for it in order to do it,” he says. “But for me, the focus on the goal is going to the next iteration, the next tier of where we can take our relationships and give people experiences that fit with getting a little bit older.”
For now, the tastemaker will be producing rapper Offset’s album release party on Sept. 29 in Paris, where he’s spent time creating parties during Paris Fashion Week. “If you would have told me when I first started, when I was standing in front of the Popeyes on Hollywood and Cahuenga that, ‘Hey, stick with this and you’ll get to a point where people will pay you to go to Paris and throw parties there,’ I would’ve said, ‘Well, that’s amazing.’”
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