Lights All Night - Fair Park - 12/29/12 & 12/30/12
Lights All Night
LAN's target demographic. Photo by Mike Mezeul.
Saturday, December 29 & Sunday, December 30
I remember when they were called raves -- not that I was ever old enough to attend one, but I remember when these types of electronic music fests were known as such. There was even a whole film subgenre in the '90s that documented young people going out and doing drugs and dancing the night away. One of these wasn't half-bad, and featured a pretty great performance from Mr. Justified himself.
Eventually these gatherings became field parties once the media turned the word "rave" into parental terror. Eventually even those were put out to pasture, as the underground dance music scene moved into the mainstream, and now we have ventures like Lights All Night, a three-day fest that's being held on city property with the full cooperation of the city, curfews included.
The venue's retro futurism fits right in with the concept of electronic sound and a blitz of light, though I think I was one of the few who took the time to soak in the surroundings. It was a stacked line-up, with Saturday night featuring international DJs Tiësto and Avicii, along with up-and-comers like Cookie Monsta and Gamma.
Thousands of similarly-dressed people cavorted around the area, bouncing from stage to stage in an effort to let the beats wash over them and lead them to each other. I cannot drive home the similarly-dressed thing hard enough: Every other person is wearing an animal spirit hood, and the amount of fishnets, fuzzy leggings and neon would make a degenerate gambler wonder where the slot machines are.
I counted at least four Deadmau5 heads, three Paul Pierce jerseys (including someone dressed as a unicorn sporting a throwback Kansas edition), and a young man who couldn't have been taller then 5'5", weighing no more than 120 pounds, sporting an Oliver Miller Arkansas jersey. This young man did not just kill irony with this choice, he tossed it into the sea so the concept could never be mourned.
I pop my head into the coat check and see the entrance line for the fest is verging on a riot. Once they get through the gate, an air of excitement takes over, and groups of people run by screaming and high-fiving. A few make it a point to make me high five them. Outside at the Fountain stage, a Red Bull-themed bus that has room for a DJ, people gather around to do what seems to be the go-to dance move: running in place while sort of skipping, mixed with moving your hands around a lot. Everyone dances like this, with the exception of drunk guys trying to freak on scantily clad girls, but that ends pretty quickly, as grinding and skipping don't go together.
A dancer opening a wormhole to another dimension, maybe. Photo by Maegan Puetz.
The temperature is hanging in the low 30s, so I decide to skip the main stage in favor of the warmth provided by the Hanger stage and Club LAN, located in the main auto show halls. Inside Club LAN, I watch Cookie Monsta take the stage and people flood into the area to dance. While watching the lights dance on Lone Star Road House sign over the snack area, I see Scooby Doo and Pikachu dancing together.
I stop at the Red Bull bus to catch Gamma, a DJ who is spinning hip-hop heavy mixes that have people losing their minds. A rather intoxicated young man in a Tri Delts shirt keeps trying to dance on top of a monitor. Inside the Hanger stage, merch is everywhere, as people splurge on neon clothing, hats and glasses. You can buy sunglasses with refracted lenses. Pair these with a "Have You Seen Molly?" shirt, and you're halfway to having a future Twitpic preventing you from landing an internship.
I make my way into the VIP area, where a bartender pours me a drink that's three shots of whiskey with a splash of Coke, and judging by the stumbling going on around me, I'm not special. I make my way onto the dance floor and watch an inflated shark get passed around the crowd, which is the closest thing I've seen to crowd surfing. To my right, a young lady dressed in Batman-branded clothes dances in her own world, while to my left, a group of friends take turns twirling lights in front of a girl, a dead giveaway she's on something. I look up to see a VIP who is at least 50 stumble while trying to dance, and two DPD officers chuckle at the sight of him. After seeing a kid in a Carhartt work coat attempt to break dance, I decide it's time to hit the road. While walking out of the fest, I see some officers with a shirtless bro in handcuffs, who is protesting, "I'M NOT DRUNK, I DIDN'T DO ANY DRUGS!"
During my walk from Fair Park to my car in Expo Park, I wonder if the local bars are getting any fest overflow. This leads me to the Amsterdam, where I encounter a guy trying to talk to a girl about the fest and EDM in general. It's obvious she's having none of it, and being a semi-nice guy, I decide to dive on the grenade. The gentleman proceeds to tell me about the marvels of MySpace and how it's an amazing tool for people to connect with. Following a hasty exit, I find myself at Deep Shade's all-vinyl event at Sandaga 813 with some friends. While standing on Sandaga's porch listening to a discussion about LAN, Tiësto and EDM, I see a barrage of fireworks emerge from Fair Park, followed by the roar of a delighted crowd. One down, two to go.
Target demographic part two. Photo by Mike Mezeul.