Hard Day of the Dead 2018 Highlighted Cultural Elements of its Namesake

HARD Day of the Dead 2018 Rybo b2b Lubelski
Photo Credit: Sincerity Photos

The return of Hard Day of the Dead did right by its namesake as the cultural elements of Dia de Los Muertos were on full display, and we loved every moment of it. 

Hosted on just a single day this year, Hard Day of the Dead made its triumphant return to the Los Angeles Historic State Park on November 3. Draped against the downtown skyline of Los Angeles and covered in lush green grass, this was a perfectly situated festival that we fell in love with. A breath of fresh air compared to other events, none of the lines were very long and it was easy to navigate the two stages featured. Add in a well curated lineup that predominately featured artists in the realm of house music and this event became one of the best to attend this fall.

Attendees were dressed in all manner of costumes to celebrate the occasion, some fun, some scary, and others were very accurately honoring Dia de Los Muertos. Over the past few years, the arguments surrounding cultural appropriation have become a hot topic and it was interesting to see how Day of the Dead would handle this topic. The HARD team did a great job, and it was clear that they went to great lengths to make sure that the festival properly represented the holiday while also taking steps to de-tangle it from Halloween.

Dia de Los Muertos is not to be confused with Halloween.

The Day of the Dead is a national holiday in Mexico and many other Latin American countries. The traditions that surround it are very different from our Halloween traditions here in the United States. On the first two days of November families will gather and create ofrendas (altars) for their deceased loved ones. These are decorated in flowers, bright colors, pictures of the deceased as well as some of their favorite items.

Families will gather at grave sites, singing grandma’s favorite songs or telling stories of her life, sharing laughter, and memories with each other. Day of the Dead 2018 not only had a very legitimate ofrenda, but they also had a Customer Service Experience member ensuring the shrine received the respect it deserved.

Day of the Dead 2018 Ofrenda
Photo Credit: Sincerity Photos

Along with the ofrenda are the calaveras. These are those beautiful skulls you see many people painting their faces with.

Not only did Day of the Dead offer face painting but each of the statues and figures were dressed in nice clothing and colorful face paint which is truly an accurate depiction of the calavera. The history of the clothes was actually a reminder that no matter what class of society we come from we are all equal in death. While the face painting is a symbolic tear in the veil between worlds which is what Day of the Dead is all about.

Day of the Dead 2018 Calavera
Photo Credit: Sincerity Photos

Not only did many of the artists drop culturally appropriate mixes that featured Latin influences, but they had a Mariachi band playing throughout the day as well.

HARD Day of the Dead was definitely a festival I used to attend for the lineup and the resurrection of the event was no different. This year’s lineup was packed with some amazing talent which was mostly house-oriented, but some of the artists definitely stepped up their track variation. Playero is known for his Latin blended mixing and did not disappoint with his set. JSTJR was the special guest at the DOTD, and he dropped his own hits paired with a handful of Deorro tracks, and also mixed in some great Latin music.

As we walked into the festival there was also a Mariachi band serenading everyone. Throughout the rest of the day, they could be found between the stages and hanging out in the graveyard. It was a very nice touch to include traditional music to the festival, which also gave us a bit of a break from the electronic beats.

Day of the Dead 2018 Mariachi
Photo Credit: Sincerity Photos

The community was what really tied this festival together and you could see it everywhere.

The community that is present at a festival or an event is always one of the top reasons I continue to attend. This year, HARD Day of the Dead was filled with positive vibes and people who just wanted to enjoy each other’s company and listen to amazing music.

The venue also really helped facilitate this overall feeling of community among attendees. After the sun has set people could be seen gathering in the grass amongst the gravestones and taking pictures with the now blacklit art pieces. As I walked through the crowd I realized that although definitely full people were mindful of the space around them, no one wanted to be super crowded at their favorite set. I watched countless strangers walk up to each other and compliment the other’s costume or makeup and take pictures with them, something you don’t always see at events.

Day of the Dead is a celebration that many times gets lumped in with Halloween without people understanding the difference. In the past, I don’t think that the festival put as much effort into showcasing its namesake as it did this year, and they really nailed it for this epic return. The beautiful designs, the venue, the music, and the people really shaped this festival’s experience and I will definitely be back in 2019!

Be sure to check out Sydney’s review for more great things you might have missed! Also check out our full gallery of photos on our Facebook Page

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Carlos was first introduced to the world of EDM in 2014 when he attended EDC Las Vegas. The event changed his entire perspective on music and community. Now you can find him traveling to festivals such as Mysteryland USA, Summerset Music Festival, Tomorrow World, Spring Awakening, and many others. By day he works as a full time application developer.