Dancefestopia had its ups and downs, but I don’t regret any moment of it…
I was more than excited for Dancefestopia 2016, with the plan of reuniting with friends from last year’s event and bringing new friends to experience the magic. Borda Productions made a lot of changes this year to the festival, one of those being a location change from Berkley Riverfront Park in Kansas City, MO to LaBenite State Park in Sugar Creek, MO. Another major change was adding an extra night of camping (4 days instead of 3) as an optional purchase with the choice of forest or field camping. My crew decided upon 4 day field camping, and it was the best decision we could have made for what was in store for us.
The 4 day camping opened up at 5:00 PM on Thursday, and we were on our way with a goal of getting there as soon as we could to try to beat the crowd. Parking at the event was $35, with the option of upgrading to VIP for a total of $50. We decided not upgrade to VIP, thankfully, as VIP didn’t end up being worth it due to the parking lot fiasco caused by the weather. After, we were directed to a grass parking lot to park our cars. Before parking, there was a gear drop off zone provided. I was super happy about this. You could pull up, drop off all of your camping gear, and then pull into your parking spot which was farther away. Props to Borda for allowing this because with our entire crew, we had a ton of stuff! To my surprise, there weren’t that many people there for Thursday night camping. My friends traded in their printed tickets and camping passes for wristbands at the will call booth where there was hardly any wait at all. This was a big change from last year where I waited 2 hours, so I was extremely satisfied with this improvement.
When we noticed the mud on Thursday in the parking lots, we knew it wouldn’t get any better as the weekend went on…
We made sure to check the weather ahead of time and we knew it would rain on Friday, but we were in high spirits regardless. Starting our trek from the camping gear drop off to the entrance of the festival, it took multiple trips to get everything in and one person stayed behind to keep watch. There was no line to get into the festival grounds with our camping gear, even though we brought Bud Light so that we could “skip the line”. I guess it wasn’t necessary considering there wasn’t one that day. Security was very lax at the gate, barely opening any of my things and being very polite about my belongings. Last year, they were more strict and pulled out a lot of items, which I think added to the long camping lines last year. We were in the gate within minutes and headed towards the camping grounds to pick our site for the weekend.
After we entered the campgrounds, mud was already present from rain that had come through. It wasn’t easy, but we still were able to get through it to find an awesome spot where we quickly started setting up camp. There was plenty of space to choose from as hardly anyone was at the festival yet. We finally got camp set up, and we definitely had one of the best campsites. Complete with a stereo cooler, lights, and canopies, it was absolutely amazing and tons of random campers stopped by to say hello and meet us. Inside the campgrounds, the Radiate bus was blasting tunes all night and to my surprise there was some awesome house music played. We could hear it from our campsite as we hung out and caught up with each other, talking about how excited we were for the weekend. Field camping was pretty nice. Borda had each camping area marked off with signs, each with a different musical instrument (sponsored by Budweiser). Our campsite wasn’t too far of a walk from the porta potties or the showers, which would prove useless soon anyway. It rained a lot while we slept Thursday night.
Thursday was a success, but Friday was an entirely different story…
Waking up Friday morning, everyone was excited for what was in store. Unfortunately, the first problem we encountered was that there wasn’t any ice left to purchase in the campgrounds. We didn’t bring ice in with us the first time and had to wait until the festival grounds opened to get some. The showers were a staggering $15 each, so our plan was to go home to shower each day as my house wasn’t that far from the campgrounds. Thankfully, one of our group members was nice enough to drive his truck, and we were able to get out of the parking lot. I didn’t want to test getting my car out and being unable to get back in… so we left it behind and piled into the truck. We hurried so that we could beat the Friday camping crowd as we had no desire to stand in line to get back into the campgrounds again. I made sure to bring hiking boots back with me, which ended up being a lifesaver.
Once we got back to the park, it was already a ‘mudfest’. The parking lot that my car was parked in was no longer able to be used and another parking lot was opened up instead. To get in, each car had to ‘gun’ it through the mud, so thankfully we were in a truck. Looking back, that wasn’t a good sign of things to come… but I don’t really think there were any other options. After having to park even further away, we finally got back to the entrance and to our surprise, once again, there was no line!
During the day, we enjoyed drinking card games at our campsite and even made friends with two guys from Colorado who were camping on their own next to us. They quickly became part of the family and ended up being with us for the rest of the weekend. I’m so grateful that we met them. Part of the group headed into the festival to catch NGHTMRE, but I waited to enter until it was time for Seven Lions at 7:50 PM. He was amazing, as usual. Borda Productions made an awesome stage this year complete with tons of lights and visuals on the sides. The VIP section was a high-rise with a private bar and private bathrooms behind it. Cutting out of Seven Lions’s set early, we finished up with the amazing Bobby Bohn at the 2nd stage. Bobby played some awesome tracks, including some hardstyle at the end which we danced away too! We hurried back to our campsite after that to grab a drink and recoup, then it was off to see Adventure Club.
As soon as we got there, we heard on the microphone that we had to evacuate the festival grounds…
Within a mere minute of finding our crew, Adventure Club announced that they had to stop playing due to lightning in the area. We were initially shocked and almost thought it was a joke due to Borda promising “rain or shine” so much on social media. However, the weather wasn’t their fault at all, and the evacuation was clearly done with the attendee’s safety in mind. They instructed attendees to go back to their cars or their campsites immediately, so we headed back to our campsite to wait it out. As soon as we got to camp, it started downpouring and did not stop for hours. Thankfully, we had a canopy, chairs, and blankets so that we could all still hang out together and have fun. We kept up with Dancefestopia on social media to try to see what was going on as we had no idea. I was very impressed with how well Borda Productions communicated with attendees. There were constant updates on Twitter about what was going on. It clearly wasn’t letting up anytime soon, as lightning still struck everywhere around us. Finally, it was announced that night one of Dancefestopia had been cancelled. That night we also learned that Excision would be rescheduled to the next day, which I also highly commend Borda Productions for accomplishing so quickly.
The problems did not stop though as attendees who had driven to the event were not allowed to leave the parking lot. Also, no Uber drivers were available to pick anyone up… so basically, everyone was stuck. I understand how frustrating that must be for everyone who had to experience it, but I’m also realistic about the situation. Letting people leave with the parking lots in that condition would have been even more of a disaster than what was already present. More cars would have been stuck and the parking lots would have ended up in worse condition than they already were.
When we woke up Saturday, festival workers were already laying hay in field camping…
To my surprise, there was already hay being laid in the campgrounds when I woke up Saturday morning. Granted, it was still a difficult trek to get anywhere, but it was progress nonetheless. Due to trucks not being able to get to the porta potties, they were in bad condition. In response, Borda opened up the festival grounds earlier than expected to allow attendees and campers to get food, use porta potties that could be cleaned, and to get necessities. Props to them for doing that as well! Due to the parking lot conditions and still being unable to leave, we were not able to run home Saturday as planned. I had thankfully brought extra clothes, not the clothes that I had planned on wearing, but at least I didn’t have to be too dirty, just muddy instead. I finally made time to get ice and check out the food options inside the festival grounds. I grabbed an amazing burrito from Gouda Boys named Andre the Giant. I wrapped it in tin-foil and brought it back to share. It was delicious and was filled with brisket, sausage, and more. We made friends with three amazing people who worked for Gouda Boys that weekend — Jesse, Josh, and Joey. They instantly became part of our DFT family too.
My first artist of the day was Kap Slap. He played an amazing set at the main stage and I had a blast during it. After, I was really excited to catch Headhunterz, but unfortunately he did not end up playing. I learned later that he ended up playing on Sunday, which I was completely unaware of and missed. Definitely was disappointed about that, but glad that other attendees got to see him. During the day, we explored the festival grounds more and hung out at the campsite as well. I caught Bingo Players at main stage, who put on an awesome show for the crowd. In between Bingo Players and Kayzo, I happened to walk by the Radiate stage and heard someone playing TRANCE, which is my favorite genre. I couldn’t believe my ears as I had thought there would be absolutely no trance present at the event. I came to find out it was Keegan Tawa blasting out some epic tunes, including an awesome remix of Sean Tyas’s “Lift”. This was definitely one of my favorite sets of Dancefestopia by far.
By Sunday, we were able to walk through the campground without getting too muddy…
All day Saturday, Borda and crew worked extremely hard to lay hay in the campgrounds, parking lots, and festival grounds. The sun helped dry up some of the mud too, and thankfully it didn’t rain the rest of the weekend. I was happy to find out that by Sunday we were able to get through the campgrounds without getting muddy again and there was a clear hay path to walk through. Since I still didn’t expect to be able to get my car out and didn’t want to attempt it and get stuck, a few of us decided to try to take a shower in field camping showers. It was a long adventure walking to the showers while also trying to figure out how to pay for them. We ended up finding out we had to go to the box office. We walked all the way there only to find out that the box office was still closed. After that journey, we found out that the showers were no longer working because they were out of water. So instead, we made the decision to take a ‘hippie shower’ in the free water stations. We were not alone, as there were multiple other people doing the same. I was able to wash my hair, face, and legs and even with just that, I felt like an entirely brand new person. Despite the hectic attempt at taking a shower, I wasn’t going to let it ruin my mood.
The first artist we caught on Sunday was Dabin at the main stage. I had never heard of him before and was pleasantly surprised to find out that I really liked what I heard during his set. My group decided to cut out of his set early to go support and see Mr. Kristopher. Last year we met him after his set and since then have been in full support of him. He played an amazing set that was full of energy, and at the end he spread the love to everyone there by giving out hugs and stickers. It was wonderful!
I explored the shops on Sunday as I hadn’t made the time to do so yet. One of my favorite shops, at which I purchased a couple of rings, was WEARRAW. They had tons of amazing jewelry, clothing, and other items for purchase and I was super impressed with their shop. There were tons of other stores as well and plenty of awesome things to look at and purchase. That day, we spent time sitting on the hillside next to our campsite, enjoying the weather, the views, and amazing friendships. It was magical.
The perfect way to close out an amazing weekend…
The last two sets at Dancefestopia that I saw were Gramatik and Mitis, who both played at the main stage. I had no idea I’d enjoy Gramatik as much as I did! He played an astounding set filled with funky music that you couldn’t stop moving your feet to. My favorite set of the weekend, hands down, has to go to Mitis. His set was so much fun and he played the Seven Lions remix of Ferry Corsten’s “Beautiful“, which most of our crew was altogether for and it made the entire experience even more beautiful.
Dancefestopia was a crazy adventure and wild ride this year. I think that Borda Productions did the absolute best that they could given the situation and circumstances presented to them. I attended the disastrous TomorrowWorld 2015 and know what it’s like to deal with bad weather. There was no hay and nothing was done to accommodate any of us campers in Georgia. At Dancefestopia, Borda was laying hay and obviously making plans right away to do everything they could to make sure that campers and attendees could have a good experience at the festival. I’m super pleased with how the situation was handled by them. Sure, there is probably room for improvement in any scenario, but they did a ton and it was clear that they were trying very hard.
Overall, this festival has become one of the most favorite events that I have been able to attend. Despite the fact that the music was foreign to me and outside of what I listen to normally, and all of the mud, rain, cold, wet, and inconveniences that they all caused… I had the time of my life and I wouldn’t change any of it. Our entire DFT crew isn’t pictured below… but I want to thank everyone who made my experience amazing and all of the beautiful people who I met. You are what made this the experience what it was, and I’m forever grateful to each of you. <3
Check out the Dancefestopia 2016 Recap Video HERE!