I am a novice raver, yet I work for a large Electronic Music publication based out of LA. I received the chance this year to go to EDC for the first time for free the weekend after I graduated college, and the timing appeared to be too perfect. I didn’t really know how any of it was going to work out, where I would stay, who I would kick it with, but I took the risk and bought my ticket the day of graduation.
The trip got off to a rocky start as I spaced on my flight time and went to the airport a day early…and even rockier when I showed up at the right time the next day and it was delayed two hours. Luckily when I landed in Vegas a friend in the industry was able to pick me up and drop me off at a hotel I had a friend staying at. I was promised a spot for the night but didn’t let anything get set into stone just in case I got put in a bad situation.
As it turns out I got put in a bad situation. My friend who set me up with the hotel room didn’t know what he was getting us into, and we ended up with some pregnant 19 year old drinking and smoking cigarrettes with her overweight Czechoslovakian boyfriend and his 26 year old roid-ed out Korean homie along with some other goons I didn’t really feel comfortable getting to know. I didn’t know if I was just being excessively judgmental, or if these people really were wack jobs, so I stuck it out for one night.
I woke up the next day to the foul aroma of cigarrettes ruminating in the room from the 19 year old and a Korean that was pestering me for $25 a day to sleep on the floor of their hotel room…with no blanket…and no pillow. It wasn’t until this crew left me high and dry on a ride to the venue that night and I was forced to take a $60 cab to the venue that I realized I needed to switch the style up. My friend in Vegas was at work and had some incident where his phone broke so communication with him was temporarily severed. I needed to get in touch with him.
Once I got to the venue and the sweltering triple digit heat that comes with the territory consumed me, I was informed from an obese woman at will call that my name was not on any list for a ticket. PANIC. I frantically called my boss who was too overwhelmed with the work he was doing for the fest to handle my trivial issue, and luckily a coworker informed me my ticket was waiting for me at the Cosmopolitan…another $60 cab ride back to the strip it was. I told my friend Mikey who set me up in the hotel room my situation and that I was in dire need of a ride from the Cosmo back to the Speedway. One of his best friends from High School was on his way in from LA and he arranged a pickup for me.
After meeting the first crew of people he set me up with, I can’t say I was too excited to meet any more newcomers, but first I still needed to get my ticket taken care of. I went to the Media/Guest List spot in the Convention Room of the Cosmo and waited to be informed yet again that my name was no where to be found on the list. Fuck lists. I was freaking out that I just came down to Vegas and was about to miss the whole thing. I texted my boss I was in the Cosmo and looking to kick it before the show and he came down to bring me up to his room where he pulled out a huge manilla envelope of all the Guest bracelets that he went to the trouble of picking up for everyone. Not only did I get my ticket taken care of, but it was a VIP/All Access wristband and it took every ounce of cool to keep from erupting in excitement.
I let this kid coming to pick me up know I was ready to go and time couldn’t move quick enough. I ended up talking with him the whole way and we quickly realized we shared the same disdain for Mikey’s nag for getting us into some stupid situations. He also had no hotel and shotgunned his trip, and we rapidly took comfort in the spontaneity we shared. I still didn’t know him well, but at least he wasn’t pregnant…and 19…and drinking and smoking cigarrettes. When I told him that’s the situation he was about to walk into we quickly decided we could do better, but first we needed to tackle the first day of EDC. We pregamed on the hood of his car and finally headed in around 9 p.m.
The night had a weird energy about it. I was in a foreign state, not really in my scene, but kinda, and hundreds and miles away from the people I call my best friends. I was walking into a festival with a kid I met a mere 30 minutes ago and had no idea where Mikey was. We set a meeting time for 9:20 with him, but giant security lines quickly destroyed any notion of that happening. As soon as you walked in phones became useless, not that I was surprised, but it certainly didn’t help ease the tension this stranger and I were caught up in. We spent the first 45 minutes of the festival trying to make meetings happen and soon we just looked at each other and said fuck it, you seem like a chiller, let’s get after it.
Next thing I know I’m dancin’ around and jumpin’ up and down with Jesse and it couldn’t have felt any less weird. We really didn’t care about much, just the fact that we could be around someone else who was down to get buckwild and weird to some of the biggest DJ’s in the world. There was no fighting over who to see, just acknowledgement of another person’s taste and the responsibility you felt to make sure they had a good night too. It turns out Jesse was the ultimate chiller and we tore that first night up. All we kept saying to each other was, “thank god Mikey didn’t set me up with a fuckin’ weirdo.” Although Jesse and I had the best night we possibly could, it still didn’t change the fact that EDC still didn’t feel right.
Something about the main stage was off. The volume appeared to be to low and the scale of production made it seem really impersonal. Some of the live sets we caught were almost better just sitting down on the race track (which served as a natural amphitheater) which gave us some time to catch up and get to know each other. Eventually we gave up on some of the music and went on all the carnival rides, which actually turned out to be some of the highlights of the weekend. It was one of the best carnivals I’d gotten to experience, and the music surrounding it was top notch.
By the time the festival ended we were both in dismay and discomfort we hadn’t heard from Mikey and were more put off that his phone was off. We trekked back to the Monte Carlo where they were staying and proceeded to bang on the room door repeatedly where apparently Mikey was passed out beyond recovery and none of the other hotel mates would let us in. It was infuriating. All my clothes, gear, backpack, everything was in that room, and we had no way in as our knocks were being ignored. It was now 10 a.m. We just partied from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. and didn’t have an ounce of energy left in us. All we wanted was to sleep, and shower, and recover, but that wasn’t an option apparently.
We wandered around the casino’s and food courts forcing ourselves to stay awake and trying not to freak too many people out from our disheveled appearances. I still hadn’t heard back from my friend who lives in Vegas and that was discomforting as well. Multiple attempts at getting in the hotel room filled us with contempt and reinforced the notion that we needed to formulate a better plan. By 2 p.m. we finally got a call from my local friend who explained the situation with his phone and that we were more than welcome to crash at his crib. In a brilliant stroke of luck we finally got into the hotel room to get my gear but apparently had just missed Mikey who woke up and went straight down to get food. We were pissed and probably should have waited but we said fuck it and left him and went straight to the homies crib.
We set up shop, showered, ate, and resupplied for the night where we then informed Mikey to pack up all his stuff and that we would pick him up at 6 to head in with us to the festival. After a severe chewing out we all hugged it out and played a game of pass the fifth of Schmirnoff in the parking lot again until all 750 fluid ounces were accounted for. The air surrounding this night was completely different. We finally had a solid crew setup and we couldn’t be any more excited to take on Day 2 together. It was like a tornado trio of bro’s was unleashed upon EDC. We hit every stage, every set, and danced and jumped until our hearts gave out. I took one break to meet up with my coworkers at the Gotta Dance Dirty “Wide Awake Art Car” we were hosting and got to hop up on stage with our resident DJ’s and overlook the sea of people at the festival and all the glimmering LED lights that transformed Las Vegas into a completely new world. I couldn’t help but feel like all the hard work I put into understanding this industry was really paying off. It was so gratifying and humbling knowing I got myself there through passion and following my dreams that I felt like I was on top of the world. The glue that was Mikey for our group was what really sealed the bond for the weekend and set the perfect tone for the trip. We all pushed each others musical boundaries as we did our best to accomodate everyone’s different tastes and it’s safe to say we all left Day 2 satisfied with all that we’d accomplished.
On our way back to the crash pad we couldn’t believe the end was already upon us. We all had a lot of other friends at the festival and we made it our goal to meet up and make it one giant affair to go out with a bang. We rested up good and plenty and made sure we grubbed hard before embarking on the final journey of EDC. Everything went off without a hitch this time as we crushed our obligatory fifth again easily met up with everyone’s separate crews. Being the three lady killers we were, we decided to put out the effort to make some friends of the opposite gender and were having a blast dancing the night away with a local who dances at UNLV and her friends. Chaos and confusion left us separated but we soon linked back up with some of Mikey and Jesse’s high school friends who proved just as entertaining.
I always laugh at the thought of raver girlfriends, but it isn’t until you experience one that you really hop on board. I didn’t really expect to meet a girl, I go into festivals with my best friends and no expectations, that way I never get let down, but I was fortunate enough to meet someone who apparently appreciated my moves. We bonded over my lack of fucks on the dance floor and the care free spirit I bring with me to these festivals and rapidly established camaraderie. Big brown piercing Persian eyes immediately caught your attention as dark flowing hair flew gracefully with the sounds of the night. Little things like locking pinky fingers while moving through a crowd and checking back to make sure I was close made me feel like the only person at the festival.
We ended up going off and getting lost in the festival for two hours as the group took a break from being a group. We talked, we drank more, danced more, and connected in a way that we knew would be temporary, so we milked it for everything that we could. Everyone met back up for the final set of the festival from 4:30-5:30 a.m. on the main stage. The sun was rising directly behind the main stage and prominent purples and pinks painted the sky in a way that let you know this experience was about to be forever. From front to back the main stage was packed with tens of thousands of people swelling and singing to the final notes of the festival and it put the perfect ribbon on top of the weekend. Every one gave their last bit of energy as they limped away with gigantic smiles on their face and their arms around new friends.
I went into the festival not knowing anything, and I didn’t really know anything that I was doing during it either, and I don’t think I would do it any other way. I rolled with the punches, and took my beatings, but got back up and gave the experience everything I had, and in return I created some of the strongest memories to date, and made friends that I hope I never forget. I can’t believe I spent my whole first day with a total stranger and ended up turning him into a life long friend. I went 48 hours without sleep, and spend another 72 grooving like I’ve never grooved before. I’ve been to other festivals before, but never have I felt such an intense longing to be so lost in that atmosphere. I just want to go back, and I know that I can’t physically, but mentally I will be holding on to those memories for my life and doing my best to stay in touch with the people who touched my life last weekend.
It always sounds so ridiculous and cliché to think about festivals in that way, but it’s real, and so are the feelings associated with it, and I hope one day everyone gets to experience that intense feeling of belonging in such a foreign environment.