GUEST BLOG WRITER jonathan a. contributes his thoughts!!!! thanks jonathan!!
You are the headliner. These words are the first thing to welcome you to EDC, plastered on a billboard right outside the main entrance of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. This tagline is graceful in its simplicity, yet powerful in its meaning. It’s not just Kaskade or Calvin Harris that make up an unforgettable EDC experience. It’s all of us reveling together.
In my three years of attending EDC, I’ve mostly only encountered festivalgoers with good vibes and high spirits. We’re there to live by the code of peace, love, unity, and respect, after all. Sure, awful people are out there (I’m looking at you, shuttle girl who loudly and obnoxiously taunted our driver when he became endlessly lost), but the positivity of the community far outweighs the negativity.
Each year, EDC highlights always include brief, yet meaningful interactions with strangers. Trading kandi with those around you (enjoy those sparkly stars!). Meeting up with a girl from Seattle who we met last year, who joined our group for a night after positively identifying us as a “gay brigade” (her words). Receiving my broken iPhone after it had fallen out of my pocket (thanks for not leaving it on the ground).
I quickly learned about EDC’s spirit of togetherness after my first night of my first EDC in 2012. One of my friends, Andrew, drove himself from LA directly to Vegas after work Friday evening. Separated by spotty cell phone service, we only met up with him after the final set early Saturday morning. Exhausted, Andrew gave his rental car keys to me and another friend, Janelle, and rode back with the rest of the group.
The entire trek to find Andrew’s rental car took Janelle and I over two hours, searching in vain under the brutal Vegas sun until 9am. It was a grueling journey filled with hot tempers and dry heaving, yet we encountered some of the nicest people along the way.
One guy gave us a lift in his car and drove us around a couple parking lots to quicken our search. Janelle and I asked another woman for some of her water, and in a fortunate twist of fate, it turned out that she operated EDC’s dry ice. She took us to her truck and gave us each a bottle of water. In the end, two EDC employees on a decked-out daisy golf cart found us. They picked us up and took us to where they thought the car could have been. And lo and behold, there it was, in the employee parking lot.
Fittingly, it wouldn’t have been a fulfilling and full-circle EDC experience without giving back to someone else. I lent my phone to a guy whose phone had died and whose group left halfway through the night. Here’s hoping he got back to the Strip safe and sound. Perhaps two years later, we could have been dancing to the same DJ, both of us headliners.
MY (JAMES’S) ENTRY:—————————————————
“how was it?!?!” (ugh, one of the questions that i struggle with a lot when i hear it.) short story is that it was really fun! there dancing and fun music (though i somewhat struggled to find sets that i enjoyed spectacularly) and it was great bonding with friends. but i can rarely muster enough enthusiasm to convey my actual enjoyment when i answer the question nor do i generally have stories that translate well to people who weren’t there.
fuzioing. angeles and i once discovered this great italian place in fidi called fuzio with a great creamy pasta. we got it like three times in one week. the first time it was mindblowing, the second time, it was good, the third time, it was …oof’ta. we then coined the term “fuzioing”, which basically means ruining a good thing because you do it so often. i worry that this year i may have fuzioed EDC.
a lot of the surprise of music festivals or rave culture or vegas buffets has been dulled, and going to EDC with strangers and someone you’ve only been dating for 1.5 months is arguably much more exciting and dangerous from going to EDC with old friends and someone you’ve been dating for two years. and, on the one hand, it’s sort of cool to have the logistics down to a t, but on the other hand, knowing exactly how everything will turn out can dampen the experience as well.
it’s sometimes hard in my mind to reconcile how i can be really happy with the experience while also not wanting to do it again in the near future.
why EDC is special. that said, there’s something about EDC that makes me hug everyone a little bit harder after the event. YOU JUST WOULDN’T UNDERESTAND, to ironically quote burners.
i would argue that it is slightly more bond-y than other trips sort of in the way that hazing is bonding through adversity. or the way that staying up the whole night on the last night of summer camp or dance marathon is bonding and magical. obviously EDC is a ton of fun, but there are definitely moments where you sort of become delirious from the exhaustion to the point where you feel like you are part of something epic and special. file this into the “is it real bonding or fake bonding? or does it not even matter?!” bucket.
photo obsession. my obsession to capture every moment is getting out of control. it’s not quite PANIC ATTACK level, but there’s always this constant struggle between deciding whether to withdraw and try to capture the moment/potentially ruin it by pulling out a camera or whether i should fully immerse myself. case in point: there’s a fireworks show every night at 2:30AM on the dot (okay i actually didn’t pick this up until night 3), and the last night my internal monologue was roughly “ENJOY THE FIREWORKS ENJOY THE FIREWORKS!!! NOW TAKE A PHOTO CAPTURE THE SHOT!!!! NOW VIDEO TAPE IT!!! GET SOME BETTER COMPOSITION!!! BUT ISN”T THIS SUPER MAGICAL!?!? GO HUG DANIEL!!! BUT I STILL REALLY WANT A BETTER PHOTO OF THE FIREWORKS” i don’t think that it’s SUPER unhealthy yet, and it’s certainly alleviated by the fact that i love looking at old photos/videos.
but MAN, it really sucks to see a really great moment occur and kick yourself for not capturing that defining moment. especially with video. argh. this is why we need google glass/hire a videographer/star in my own reality tv show where i get edited montages of all my funniest/best moments.
on representing gay people. i don’t really want to represent gay people at EDC, but it is generally inevitable. it’s a weird environment because it’s like… one of those situations where there are very few gay people, but they all really want to support gay people?! or maybe it’s still really rare to see out gay couples in most of the country outside of SF, LA, etc and people want to express their support for the gay rights movement? which is great, right?..
on representing gay people, with a group. being paranoid, but there was a part of me that was worried we were getting shot dirty glances from some of the straight people around us because (me overthinking):
- gay people sexualize everything and insist on being shirtless and grinding (i would say 25% of straight guys are shirtless and 90% of gay guys are shirtless). and i also don’t really think of EDC as being an especially sexual event.
- when someone compliments daniel about how him and his boyfriend are such a cute couple…. and daniel says that he’s just dancing with a friend… but he DOES have a boyfriend and he is “over there” (okay that part did happen, but i’m guessing straight people don’t have this problem)
- gay people are sometimes totally cracked out and don’t fully appreciate the music
on representing gay people, with me and daniel. i am not particularly sure why being a gay couple was so noteworthy. but it was really cool!!! and sort of weird at the same time. a catalog of our gay-couple-related enthusiasm:
- *heart hand sign*/”i love you guys”
- “you guys are SO cute/hot!”
- *gives me a really elaborate rainbow kandi cuff*/*gives me a kandi bracelet*, saying “someone gave this to me at my first EDC” (i feel like this is a huge honor but i also have no idea how to reciprocate something like that?!?!)
- *shows me her HRC equality tattoo* (which i asked to daniel’s horror what it meant. not sure why i asked that. well i asked because she could have been a supporter for gay rights but straight!?!? and had someone close to her who was gay!? small-talk-james says the darnedest things)
- “i’m bi and sometimes make out with girls… but i know that it’s so much harder to make out with guys in public than girls.” *proud-of-you-guys-eyes”
- “i broke up with my husband after 12 years and now i’m so much happier dating her”
we also may or may not have gotten a cup thrown at us… i’m convinced it’s random debris though daniel thinks it was a hate crime.
dancing – beautiful exhaustion. there’s something really beautiful about watching people dance really hard even though they’re about to collapse from exhaustion because they’re so passionate and have so much resolve. reminds me a lot of the inspiration i got from dance marathon. not to say that there is anything noble about pushing yourself to dance through the night at EDC (and not to say that there is anything super noble about dancing through dance marathon after raising money), but it certainly adds to the magic. see: EDC as a bonding event.
dancing – what makes a good dancer (to me)? my current answer:
- a basic level of musicality and coordination
- really showing that you’re having fun, through smiling or projecting energy or getting into it
- responsiveness – there have been two guys who really stand out as my favorite people to dance with, and i have done a lot of thinking about what i enjoyed so much about dancing with them. and i think that the key was that they were just incredibly responsive – responsive to the changes in music and responsive to their partner’s movements, their partner’s energy. if i’m doing LLRR, don’t do LRLR. if i’m getting low, you should get low. if i’m doing body rolls or just head bobbing, don’t jump up and down. if i’m approaching you, you should approach back. (also, obviously a two way street. and there’s a lot of supporting what the other person is doing… and then later adding and see if they bite.)
i think that playfulness and that interaction between people i dance with is important to making it a great night for me. otherwise, i might as well just be another stranger in the crowd. even surrounded by friends, i think it’s easy to feel alone if nobody is willing to engage you and have a proverbial dance conversation with you.
dancing – eye contact. sometimes i ask mason why he avoids eye contact with people, and he says that it’s awkward/uncomfortable and he would just rather not make eye contact, even if it is part of that social convention we call life. and while it’s really easy to scoff at his answer… i also totally get it. even looking at myself in the mirror made me really uncomfortable until i was midway through college.
eye contact while dancing i find really difficult as well. it requires a certain level of vulnerability and desire and confidence that i find really awkward to do with outside of a small number of people. i don’t know if being able to make eye contact would make me a better dancer… or probably a really creepy intense dancer.
eye contact came so easily with the morale committee at dance marathon (shoutout to lia and claire and joe and ilana and brittany and ugh the best). and it is absolutely impossible with my mom. i will never sillydance with her. that is officially the new spectrum of dance-eye-contact-comfort.
qualities that you look for in travel mates. traveling with friends in large groups always makes me think of what makes a good travel group. (it was a really great travel group, phew)
flexibly excited. they are flexible about their preferences and are not dead set on what they want to do, from when they wake up to which DJ’s to see to where to eat to what to do to how much to spend to dependency on the group. and whatever the group ends up choosing, they are generally excited about the outcome.
handled roadbumps well. traveling is so fraught with things that go wrong that it’s important to stay levelheaded and not lose sight of the fact that traveling is supposed to be FUN.
hats that are nice for at least one person (exactly one person?) to be able to wear:
planner: choose where to eat. how to get to locations. which sets to see.
whip: yells at people to stay on schedule. makes the tough decisions that are good for the group which other people may be unwilling to make. someone to herd sheep.
the person who has the most fun/the craziest: like my partner from bain used to say: strive to have the second most fun of everyone at the holiday party. you need someone to set a high bar for craziness so that other people feel comfortable being crazy.
the glue: someone who is able to engage and facilitate the conversation between various subgroups. someone to make people feel engaged and not lonely.
the hype man/spinner: someone to get people excited. someone to keep morale from getting low.
the life of the party: sort of a combination of the glue and the hype man. in chinese, there’s this phrase “da4 fang1”, which literally translated means “generous”, but chinese people also use it in the additional context of being generous with your… attention? energy? like you can imply that someone who is the life of the party is very “generous” with his attention and outwardly directs it and shares it with a lot of people.
being the only couple in a group. it can sometimes create awkward dynamics, especially if i’ve had enough life experiences to know what it’s like to be bitterly single around couples. like, am i giving daniel too much attention? have i given enough attention to others? who should i be bus buddies with? am i being too couply? is making out/pda allowed or not?
- going to mcd’s with daniel and justin after we got in on a really delayed flight and were really, really hungry and SO GLAD to have made it to vegas
- mason asking the incredibly hot lifeguard for a photo
- using a BOGO at wicked spoon
- getting a rainbow kandi cuff/meeting gay allies
- when the guy mumbled something and slowly pulled down the neckline of his shirt…. to reveal his pacemaker?!
- dancing with brian at the borgore set
- the bro safari and trippy turtle sets
- david insisting on an ellen-style selfie even though we were 45 minutes late
- getting the kissing fish bonuses in the slot game and having everyone go crazy