ID Spotlight: Dylan Royal
In February of 2011, a good friend of mine told me that a DJ that he was really into was playing a free show at some hotel ballroom by LAX. The promoter had chartered buses to haul party-goers from 4 different colleges in LA out to Westchester for what he assured me would be an “unforgettable night”. I gave him a somewhat unenthusiastic “sure”, not realizing how right he was at the time. That DJ’s name was Diplo and I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
I had never really been a part of that scene until that point, at least in a live context. I was a big fan of DJ Shadow, The Prodigy, Chemical Brothers and any number of other hip hop/breakbeat producers that found fame in the 90s but I had never delved into the rest of what electronic music had to offer. I had Major Lazer’s “Guns Don’t Kill People…Lazers Do” on pretty heavy rotation at the time so I was familiar with Diplo’s name, but I honestly did not know what to expect when I got on that bus.
By the time we got to the venue, the AC had already broken. I walked into sauna of people dancing, jumping, shuffling, waving their arms, and moving in ways I had never seen before. The energy was immediately noticeable and unavoidably infectious. It did not take long until I was in the crowd, jumping and clapping to songs I had never heard before played by some random white dude on a laptop, trading smiles and funny beaded bracelets with everyone around me. I still was not entirely sure what I had stumbled into but I knew I was having the most fun I had seen in a while.
At some point it got so hot that Diplo’s soundcard shorted out, completely cutting the music to a mix of cheers and jeers from the sweaty crowd. While people backstage scrambled to find a replacement box, Diplo whipped out a bass guitar from nowhere and started playing Burning Spear while attempting to freestyle rap. That’s when I knew that I would be back. There was a true sense of levity – no one I met was taking themselves too seriously and everyone was completely focused on having a good time. I was hooked.
I can’t count the number of events I have been to since that first show but it has been an incredible journey. Even though I was relatively late to the scene, things have changed so much in the last four years that my sweaty night with Diplo feels like a lifetime ago. But despite how much bigger the scene has gotten (and that random white dude along with it), I still feel the same way I did during my first encounter. I have met so many incredible people along the way, some that I have unfortunately lost touch with and others that have become like a family to me. The connections that these shared moments create between strangers have made me thrive and evolve into a truly better person.
I could go on and on about every festival, every rave, every club show and what they meant to me but we all know exactly the feeling I’m trying to get at. It’s why the scene is so strong, and why we all keep coming back. We create energy where there is none, and organically build ourselves into one of the strongest, most caring and accepting subcultures you can find. We are one when we dance to the same beat – the music unites us and we do the rest.
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