Beyond Wonderland 2021
As the dust had settled and my body has finally recovered …
… I can finally take an honest look at Beyond Wonderland. It was my first massive event back in the US and honestly, I wasn’t ready. In the 18-month pandemic, I went to smaller intimate parties with the biggest being at Exchange LA, but on Aug 27th and 28th , 2021, when Beyond Wonderland SoCal was finally happening after many postponements, I honestly wasn’t ready.
The event took place at the NOS Center in San Bernadino, CA. If you booked early, you got a hotel fairly close at a reasonable price, but if you waited, rooms were going in the upwards of $500 a night for a room at the Radisson. Excuse me, I understand you are trying to recoup lost wages from 2020, but I can get a very nice room in Vegas, Miami, or even Ibiza for $500. This is still San Bernadino after all.
The other downfall was the reschedule from the March date was the weather and IT WAS HOT!!! Triple digits are not fun when raving. Something many of the patrons forgot as many were rushed to medical for heat exhaustion and other affects from partying to hard in the heat. But if you could get past those two details, the festival was a blast!
The lineup was stacked and with the extended space, it made the venue HUGE! Five stretching stages allowed for ample room to dance, little to no noise bleed, and some tired legs if you were trying to catch multiple sets. I took my time getting in on day-1, because I didn’t want to deal with the sun. It was my first time being at the NOS with the expanded grounds, so I was lost to say the least.
After finally figuring out what stage was what and where it was located, I made my way over to Dustycloud’s set. I had discovered Dustycloud during one of the Car Raves and again he didn’t disappoint. He threw down an incredible set. After that, I split the sets of Jack Beats, who also played at the Mad Hatters Castle, then went wondering over to Cheshire Woods to catch the BassCon stage as I caught the end of Code Black but saw Say My Name throw down a rare hardstyle set which I was glad to witness. It was so much fun and full of energy.
I had found some friends, partied with them and then went on my way again. I stayed for Lady Faith and part of RobGee and Noize Suppression before I caught up with the lovely Tamanna as we ventured over to the Factor 93 stage to catch UMEK and he did not disappoint. It was just the prefect vibe. By the time Nicole Moudaber came on, my feet were screaming at me. I found an area to chill and groove before meeting up with my friends and driving back to my hotel.
Being solo definitely had its advantages. I was able to go where I wanted and when I wanted. I was able to vibe with strangers or escape to an area not occupied for more space. I have not been solo at an event for a long time, and it was definitely a feeling I missed. We made it back to my hotel room and the after-party commenced until I was ready to pass out and kicked everyone out. Perks of having your own room.
Next day, I woke up hurting in what I like to call ‘ everything hurts’, and I was dying in day-2. A term my little sis and I came up with in Croatia. Today was the big day – Dreamstate day! My little sis Lilo and my rave daughter Lauren joined me for the pre-party, but as before, we all went on our own and had solo adventures. We got there early, because I really wanted to see Kristina Sky, who happened to play the same time at Gerard not Oscar Gerard, so I had to split the sets.
The heat was insane again, so I stayed in shaded areas for the early part of the day. Around 730pm, I made my way over to the main stage – Queen’s Domain to catch the end of Mercer’s set. I haven’t seen him live in five years and pleasantly surprised his sound was still fun and energetic. At 8 o’clock, the man I wanted to see, one of my all time top 5 DJs came on, Laidback Luke. He had teased on his social media earlier in the week that he was going to throw down an old school 2014 sounding set and boy did he not disappoint. HE THREW DOWN ALL THE CUTS!!!! Some of my favorite tracks he played and some big anthems. That big room house sound that many of us feel in love with that just made you want to dance and have fun. It was back as the entire megadome was dancing and enjoying life.
I made my way back to the Mad Hatter’s Castle for Dreamstate. Craig Connelly was about to go on which I haven’t seen him play since my birthday in 2020 right before everything shut down, so it was fitting seeing him at the first festival back. The Mad Hatter’s Castle stage was massive. The sound was amazing, and besides the actual Dreamstate festival, that was my favorite Dreamstate stage to date. Craig killed it, dropping few IDs and some of his top tracks. Vocal trance goodness was delivered. The crowd was going wild but as his set flew by and soon came on the legend Paul Oakenfold. I only stayed for part of his set before I found myself wandering back to the Queen’s Domain for Deorro.
Deorro always throws down, and the energy from the crowd is infectious. The hometown hero definitely played to the crowd and the crowd responded. After that, I made my tired legs walk back to Dreamstate to watch the Unicorn Slayer, Markus Schulz. He delivered as usual, and no matter how many times I see him, he will always be one of my favorite live. After his set my body was hurting and screaming.
After looking for my friends, we were all on the same page and we headed out early to beat traffic. They dropped me off at my hotel and I was dead tired. My other friends finally made it back to my room and we stayed up talking.
Against all odds it seemed with so many date changes, lineup changes, new rules, new variants and so on, Beyond Wonderland did happened. It was absolutely beautiful and amazing to be back. There were so many first timers there and for the old school veterans like me, it was like walking back into a festival for the first time. The new energy is still here and it’s beautiful.
If you didn’t have fun, I strongly suggest losing your group and go solo. Find the vibe that makes you smile and just enjoy it.
I am looking forward to my next big, massive in the states, EDC Las Vegas.
Lord help me, my body already hurts.