nocturnal wonderland 2015

I took very few photos at Nocturnal, but that wasn't because it isn't an exceptionally photogenic festival. It is. In fact it is much prettier than I thought it would be, since when I heard "San Manuel Amphitheater" I pictured dull, paved fairgrounds. Nope. We're talking full-on The Sound of Music style hills, gorgeous mountain sunsets, and grasssss.

Other than local nightclub shows, this was the first Insomniac event I'd ever been to. I knew to expect big, bold, and beautiful, and truly, they delivered. Spectacular lights and decorative displays, and the most jaw dropping stages - and captivating onstage visuals - imaginable.

I went a little crazy with the outfit, but it was worth it. Got lots of compliments, the fur kept me warm on the first two very chilly nights, and the leg wraps were just a blast to wear.

I actually had a second outfit which I didn't get photos of, since I wanted one day to be completely, 100% picture-free. But it was another fur situation, a head-to-toe husky outfit that Terence wore the hood and tail of so we'd match.

Seriously high production value, exceptionally cool stage design, and always something interesting to look at. And which you can see, even if you're at the waaaaaay back of the crowd.

Could not even deal with his giraffe ears and purple lens sunglasses.

Those pink leopard wraps I layered on top of the black wraps were UV-reactive, which was fun. You can see the full, frontal ridiculousness of my ensemble in the video at the bottom.

By far my favorite thing about Nocturnal, and the reason I will definitely return, is how spacious the grounds are. Look at all that land to spread out on! HardSummer events, in my experience, tend to be oversold and uncomfortably jam-packed. So this was heaven as far I'm concerned. Even the most crowded tents weren't that bad, and still had plenty of breathing room. In fact you can see in the video that I'm dancing with lots of space around me, even at the busiest time of the night.

The sound was phenomenal, even this far back. Well done, Insomniac.


There are costumed performers walking around all evening, interacting with the crowd and creating vignettes. Burlesque dancers, stilt walkers, clowns, etc. Insomniac does a great job of bringing the masquerade theme to life, which makes attendees feel welcome to dress ridiculously themselves. We saw so much spirit, I loved it. Really, I was massively impressed with the crowd in general. This was the first festival ever where I experienced no pushing, no shoving, no rudeness whatsoever.

Kandi bar!

We opted for VIP because the older I get, the more of a baby I am about PortaPotties (and waiting in long lines for them). VIP festival restrooms tend to be the larger, cleaner trailer restrooms. (Which these were.) Other perks of VIP: no waiting to get in every day, you just breeze right through security, plus Nocturnal had a smallish, cordoned off VIP section to the left of the Labyrinth stage which was kinda nice. Yet another perk of VIP? That's where all the other olds hang out.

The crowd was wonderfully chill and friendly. Similar to Bonnaroo, but even better, more social energy. And really respectful of one another. Several people approached me to ask about where I'd gotten my hood and gloves, to dance, or to just trade kandi. I loved this whole back section behind the Labyrinth stage where people spread out under the electric trees to watch and talk and dance. You can see how much room there was to move around.

Best sets: Lane 8, Sasha, Booka Shade, Kaskade, Sander Van Doorn, Armin Van Buren, Slander, Sylence, Orjan Nilsen, Ummet Ozcan, Bingo Players, Nicole Moudaber, Tensnake, Audien. My only disappointments were Donald Glaude (who kept obnoxiously killing the sound to rally the crowd like a bat mitvah DJ) and Pretty Lights, who did a much, much more mellow set than I've ever seen him do before.

Between us we got a decent amount of video, but I only threw together a little bit of it. There's a few clips of me dancing, because fun/ridiculous, there's the glove/light show kid I referenced in my previous post, and finally there's some Lane 8, who I shared recently in a Fri-Ni Jamz post and who absolutely, without question, was our favorite set of the weekend. What a talent, and what a cool, humble guy. I hope he keeps rocketing to stardom, I really do.