Dance music continues to develop rapidly all over the world, but if there's one place where it's developing faster than most it's in South East Europe.
In the last five years the electronic music scene has exploded, so much so that Bulgaria is now able to host the region's first ever major dance music conference on 18 – 21 May 2006.
Like Miami's Winter Music Conference, the South Eastern European Music Exhibition, or SEEME for short, is a chance for local dance music fans, DJs, and industry insiders to meet with international movers and shakers, all in the name of dance music.
SEEME is being promoted as a networking opportunity and a chance to create new business prospects.
A developing dance music industry needs well-educated experts and professionals to guide it
Gergana Vassileva, SEEME Financial Director
Gergana Vassileva, SEEME's financial director explains the idea behind SEEME: "There was no real dance music business during the socialist time here," he says.
"During the last 15 years the region has been developing very fast.
"A developing dance music industry needs well-educated experts and professionals to guide it, and a platform like SEEME is a unique opportunity for professional development and business networking.
"Artists from the region will have the chance to present their music, learn new things from countries with matured dance scenes like the UK, USA, or France, and meet label managers, and create new contacts."
Vassileva suggests that there's a big demand for SEEME as many DJs and dance fans in Bulgaria can't afford to travel to established conferences like the WMC in Miami.
"Not many people from the region can afford to visit events like Miami Winter Music Conference, Sonar in Barcelona, or the Amsterdam Dance Event," he reveals.
"Therefore we decided that a regional event would be more affordable and useful for all music professionals and fans in South East Europe.
"Moreover Bulgaria and Romania will become members of the EU in 2007, so lots of business people are looking for new opportunities.
"South East Europe is a new market where investments are growing every day, so why not in the music industry as well?"
Festival Manager of SEEME, Jason Petrov, says that the dance scene of South East Europe will benefit greatly from such an event.
More than 20 foreign DJs will perform during the exhibition, which SEEME hopes will encourage local dance enthusiasts to keep plugging away.
"We want to encourage Bulgarian electronic music producers not to produce only for their bedrooms and friends, but to come out into the light of day," says Petrov.
"It's a chance for them to learn things, like how to approach a record label, or sell their tracks via digital downloading.
"Already there's a lot of mainstream media interest, and this will surely help us a lot in the future."
DJ Steven, SEEME's Festival and Conference Director, who happens to be one of the biggest promoters in Bulgaria, explains the current electronic music scene of his country.
The clubbers here know their music, mixing, effects, and vinyl
DJ Steven, SEEME C&F Director
"People are very enthusiastic when they go to parties, and they are really interested in the DJs and what they do," says Steven.
"Ten years ago it was more for the sake of being seen at the party, but now it's more about the music.
"The clubbers here know their music, mixing, effects, and vinyl.
"They know their genres - deep, cheesy, electro, techy - and know what they want to hear."
Sofia's Music Exhibition
James Zabiela, Lee Burridge, Misstress Barbara, Slam, Scratch Perverts & Killa Kella are just some of the names taking part in the first South East European Music Exhibition in Sofia in May.
The four day event, like Miami's WMC, features workshops and panels with some of the world's leading DJs and dance music bigwigs.
Key players from the dance industry will be giving speeches, including Ajax Scott (Editor of Music Week), Peter Harris from Kickin' Music, Serious Artist Management head Sam O'Riordan (Judge Jules' brother).
DJ Magazine will have a stand at SEEME, as will Apple, Smirnoff Experience, Exit Festival, and Nova Radio.
Over 100 artists and DJs will perform over the four days, at Bulgaria's top venues.
But which DJ is the most popular in South East Europe?
"Carl Cox is a real DJ hero over here," says DJ Steven.
"We had 10,000 people at his last gig in December 2004.
"Josh Wink has an undisputable reputation, John Digweed played twice on the Black Sea coast, Deep Dish are popular, and Sven Väth has played four times in Bulgaria – he rocked it every time.
"Desyn Masiello, Omid 16b, Demi, Luke Fair, Paolo Mojo are also very popular on the club circuit.
"We're looking forward to seeing Sasha for the first time in July at an open air party near the seaside."
For more info visit: www.seeme-sofia.com