Written by: Shaun Skaff-Stillman
Colorado, a place to enjoy nature, good drinks, kind people, and going as hard as you physically can to some of your favorite EDM artists. The anticipation for Global Dance Festival Colorado had been drawn out for several months , bringing fans from all around the country. With such a superb venue layout, phenomenal vendors and unbelievable sets all combined to create a wholesome community.
From the moment we walked through the gates, it was evident how much thought and care was expended when designing this event. Security thoroughly, and efficiently, checked guests in and we were immediately greeted with a water fill station. From here, a full view of the event was given allowing festival goers to bask in the beauty of the art garden, which was backlit by the various rides constantly emanating screams of pleasure from the riders. Surrounding these masterpieces were four stages, all pulsating with the energy of the crowds, blended with the passionately made tracks of the artists. Lining the walkways between each stage were food, drink, and apparel vendors all staffed by kind, helpful people. Walking the length of the venue allowed people to find secondary water stations as well as restrooms to ensure easy access to necessities. Finally, a tunnel leading into the stadium allowed for the experience of a silent disco for ravers to personally enjoy one of three stations. The general layout of this event was very methodically planned to give a feeling of openness and allow individuals to flow in and out of different sections with ease.
One aspect of festivals that typically go under appreciated are the hardworking vendors supplying concessions and memories. At Global Dance Festival, there was no shortage of vendors. With well over 30 tents set up, it was unlikely to wait in a long line for whatever you were searching for—unless it was the fresh lemonade stand which always had people eagerly and patiently waiting to get theirs. Someone could be found all around the venue enjoying concessions such as pizza, loaded fries, lemonade, beer, or something from the marijuana room. If none of those were desired, there were several tents filled with masks, fans, pins, and other apparel to allow festival goers to bring home little memories of their time there. These vendors made sure to make this event memorable to the absolute best of their abilities, and offered the perfect break between sets at the phenomenal stages.
Every single stage held its own energy with each unique set performed. The main Summit stage was completely open and hosted some of the most anticipated names at the event. With a massive front visual screen and smaller panel screens on the sides of the crowd, the artist was always visible. Throughout the crowd were sounds of whipping hair, screams of excitement and groups of headbangers hyping each other up echoed with each massive drop. As the sets changed and flowed, the crowd moved along with it. Looking in any direction showed the true spirit of the EDM community. Whenever someone went too hard and had to sit down for a break, at least five random strangers rushed over with water, fans, and electrolytes. If two people locked eyes while the music built, it was almost guaranteed they would rage together. Random fans would trade kandi constantly because of clothes, tracks, or just pure emotion. This stage shifted from hardcore to house to techno constantly throughout the day, drawing endless types of fans and interactions and allowing for the complete PLUR experience. No better name than Summit could have been chosen for this stage. Standing in the crowd gave the equivalent sensation as reaching the peak of a mountain at sunrise and allowing the freshness of a new day fully hit your body in waves of chaotic bliss. And after experiencing this glorious environment, there were still three others to visit.
Just across the art garden was a ginormous tent that constantly pulsed with positivity and energy. The Northern Lights stage was specifically designed to display beauty in all forms possible. The massive tent sold the feeling of being under a night sky, as bars of light moved in waves, suspended in the air just like a true set of northern lights. On the stage were multiple screens aligned to project perfect visual art to match the flow of the artist playing. As fans watched designs dance from screen to screen, they were caught off guard by the erupting lasers and steam peaking the connection of visual and auditory pleasure. The crowds in this tent were harmoniously pleasant and aggressive. Everyone allowed ease of movement throughout the pits; however, if someone couldn’t wait for where they were headed before the need to lose themselves to the music overtook them, it was a certainty there was someone else nearby more than willing to go just as hard along with them. This tent sold the perfect balance of self-indulgence and communal respect as everyone intermingled and raved. With such a beautiful combination of stunning visuals, ear blasting bliss, and an overwhelming feeling of community. This stage gave an out of body experience comparable to laying under the night sky with your closest friends without a care in the world. And even after experiencing something so paradoxically intense and peaceful, still, two stages remained.
For fans who love a good heart-pounding experience, there was no need to look any further than the Amazon stage. This stage may have appeared slightly smaller than the others; though, what it lacked in outside appearance, it more than made up for in fast-paced, pulse-heightening sensations. This tent never seemed to slow down as each artist blasted the fans onto their feet. Walking in to this tent and seeing the massive front stage along with hundreds of people dancing together and moving nonstop, it was like walking into a beating heart. All around people were hyping each other up as they all took turns shuffling, grinding, or simply meeting new people. The sound was the main appeal in this tent as the speakers constantly shouted for you to follow along. Every artist that came through had no choice but to demand the most energy everyone could physically give. This stage was more than appropriately named as the lights blared and shifted to follow the ever intensifying beats and sound of feet moving. The entirety of this stage truly felt like zooming down the Amazon river and experiencing every color, sound, and feeling it had to offer all at once. After expending most of our energy we had at this tent, it was the perfect time to visit the final stage.
The Tundra stage sat at the bottom of the venue, just below the Northern Lights stage. This tent was uniquely beautiful as it seemed to capture and entrance all those that walked by it. Each visual displayed seemed to gesture for someone to come closer and follow closer to the music. The crowd here did everything they could to help the lights and glorious sounds tempt you to stay longer. All the flow artists came in droves to this tent, as gloves flickered at the corners of your eyes, pixel whips snapped at your senses to look over in their direction instead. Each set that played here allowed each person to find their own vibe and relax a little bit while they still danced and met new people. This stage felt more recharging than the water stations. Tundra was a beautiful name for this tent as it compared to stepping out into the brisk morning air after a hot sweaty workout, and shocking your body back to its best form.
None of these stages could have accomplish any of this without the jaw-dropping sets that filled them all. Unfortunately, with such a high number of artists performing, it was impossible to experience every one. However, that doesn’t mean what was seen was anything less than spectacular.
One of the top sets was easily Black Tiger Sex Machine. Following Peekaboo, they came out swinging and mixed their own classics such as Lions. The crowd knew the songs being played, yet still seemed gleefully confused as BTSM altered some of their classics to keep everyone on their toes and constantly at the height of pleasure. BTSM dropped basses so hard you could almost feel the person’s neck next to you snap, then immediately switched up the beat to get the whole crowd jumping as one. Following BTSM was another legend, Diplo. He left no room for breath as the music constantly pulsed and called for everyone to jump and dance. Truly destroying the standards for house and techno as he switched moods seamlessly and fantastically. After him, Herobust held riddim to a higher standard. Encompassing his whole set inside his infamous track, “WTF” made for an unbelievable experience for everyone to shout along and bounce to as his visuals filled whatever room was left in the air. There were countless unforgettable sets by many talented artists, and had day two not been cancelled due to equipment damage from an intense storm, it’s doubtful anyone would have disappointed.
Now, after the vendors close, the sets end, the stages go down, and the artists go home, the one factor that stays unchanging across these glorious events is undoubtedly the most important one; the community. And almost everyone showed why the EDM and PLUR community is one that will never fade and will always be what brings back the artists, the fans, and the events. Across the venue people could be seen spreading love and positivity. You could not walk from one tent to another without someone yelling a compliment at you. Whenever someone went down, waves of people rushed over to help them recover. And while it has spread quickly about the few who grotesquely chose to loot abandoned carts, one thing wasn’t recorded that was indescribably pure and beautiful. As fans huddled together under tents inside the venue waiting to hear if day two would go back on track, groups of people began to venture around the venue to put artwork back together and lift fences up. People coming together to help rebuild the broken-down attractions and clean up the masses left from the storm. Those people showed the true form of this community and are what prove this scene will never die out, because the true ones will always be there to rebuild the names of EDM and PLUR.