Dancefestopia and the Utopia of Dance

There was a tsunami of color and bass washing over the tank-topped and bikini-clad masses at Dancefestopia. For three days, September 9-11, 2016,  they gave life back to music on the La Benite Riverfront Park in Kansas City.

“You come here, and you feel free to be whoever and whatever you are,” said James from Clinton, MO.

When I asked him why he came this weekend, he said, “you can’t get this anywhere else.”

True. When you arrive on location, there is this magnetism to the music. The treble blaring out of countless speakers, as bass shakes the ground beneath you. You see a mass of people, hands waving in the air, girls on shoulders, and in most accurate terms, a party. You just have to walk toward it.

The masses managed to dance through hours upon hours of dubstep, deep house, trap-house, and pretty much every iteration of “house” music there is. There on the banks of the river, under a shining sun, we raged.

Israeli dubstep phenom Borgore hit the stage at 7:40 p.m. and electrified with his hard-hitting drops. The harsh synths and pulsing drum and bass pulverizes your body in a way that forces you to wave your hands and bob your head.

Next came the screeching sounds and heavy rhythms of Bingo Players. Their style of EDM features crazy electronic waves of sound that invites a “stink face,” which looks like you just smelled something really nasty. Like you caught a whiff of fish, bass perhaps, right before it is dropped.

The crème de la crème of the evening though, was GRiZ, party starter extraordinaire, and a man who can demolish a building with the sound of his saxophone. If you thought for one second that saxophone and EDM don’t mix, listen to this guy wail away over joyous beats and infinite loops of sound. You’ll be convinced instantly.

Although the music lasted until 4:30 a.m., there would be more than enough music starting at noon the next day. I partied till about 1:30 before calling it an early night.

Back to the riverside for day 3 of Dancefestopia and spirits are high. The rave gods shined upon us and blessed us with a sunny and carefree Sunday. Right at 12 noon, Like clockwork, bass from the main stage hit my diaphragm like a chisel.

Spag Heddy, the Dutch dubstep artist, rampaged the crowd with some of the most electronic drops of the day, and left my head reeling.

It’s worth it to note that I appreciate all music. I will listen to anything. Metal, jazz, R&B, hardcore rap, Kenny G. I dig it all. That being said, none of those other genres are as taxing as EDM is in long duration. Maybe it’s just me, but it gets to me when I don’t see a single instrument all day. Not a drum, guitar, or bass to be seen, aside from GRiZ’s saxophone.

Sunday belonged to the unbelievable force that is RL Grime. He has garnered such a distinct and exceptional fan base over the past years, and it seems as though they all showed out for his set. Switching up vibes from deep house to dubstep to Drake remixes, he did it all. RL Grime’s skill to seamlessly fulfill what the party needs is what makes him one of the best in the business.

Finally, at 1:30 a.m. on Sunday, I went to my last set of the weekend. The back-to-back set of Mayhem and Antiserum. At this point, I had heard so much dubstep that I couldn’t hear or see straight, but I’m pretty sure I saw people flying across the crowd like a beach ball at a Sugar Ray concert.

As I retreated to my car and relished in the silence, I felt a wave of euphoria wash over me. EDM festivals are fun because it’s 3 days of partying, but the moment you step into you house after an EDM festival is the best, because you survived, and that’s a feeling worth raging again for.

Photos credit: Sam Snead and Stephen Goodrick Jr.

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