Beyond Wonderland Dreamstate
As the first hint of Spring finally appeared,
Beyond Wonderland has come to signal the start of rave season in Southern California. To celebrate its 7th anniversary, Beyond SoCal returned to its original home at the NOS Events Center in San Bernardino, CA. The long running Alice in Wonderland story line received a revamp this year with a fabulously themed underwater twist. It’s clear that Beyond was trying to go big this year with 6 stages going strong all weekend long. The Cheshire Cove was dedicated to Dreamstate and for two nights it definitely held up to the dedicated trance brand’s motto of being a trance destination. Since its debut in 2015 Dreamstate has been a run away success story, so it seems only natural that it would take over its own stage for the entire weekend. Fifteen of the world’s most distinguished trance talents took the trance faithful on a two-day journey and set the tone for what is sure to be an epic SoCal rave season.
L.A.’s own Leiel set things off proper on night one with an amazing track selection, and quite a few surprises. He clearly did some crate digging, because he dropped quite a few songs no one had yet heard. It should have been a sign that the Dreamstate stage was going to be hit with some serious ID’s all weekend long. Leiel set the tone perfectly for the night, bringing a hypnotic groove that had me hanging on every track. I was over the moon for the next two acts on Friday’s lineup. I’ve wanted to see Ruben De Ronde and Chris Schweizer for a long time, and it was well worth the wait. Both gentleman came on strong and gave very impressive performances; some members of Trance Family LA argued that they were the best of the night. I was humbled by the opportunity to meet both artists and ask them how they like the Dreamstate stage opposed to other US trance stages. Needless to say they were both impressed and I cannot wait to see them on more Dreamstate stages in the future.
I wanted to absorb every aspect of Dreamstate. I tried to experience as many performances as I could from the ‘sweet spot’. Standing dead center in the Cheshire Cove to wrap myself completely in lights, lasers and all the surprising ‘extras’ Insomniac is known for. The newly created stage was the perfect size to create an intimate and welcoming experience. Depending on what entrance you used, the Dreamstate stage was either tucked away next to the Damaus building, or right in your face when you walked in. Either way headliners had no problem filling in the space and dancing the night away.
Dreamstate at Beyond Wonderland was especially poignant for me because I got to share some special moments with my favorite people; friends who under most circumstances wouldn’t attend a standalone Dreamstate event. My rave brother Steve and his girlfriend Zac became fans of Vini Vici after their BW performance in 2016. So it was fun dancing and spending our “ravaversery” together while he destroyed this year’s performance. Night one seemed to be on warp speed. Before I realized it Astrix was on stage closing out the night with that beautiful psy trance sound. Before I knew it the time had come to wrap up and head back. Our group took our usual after event photo and it was beautiful to see so many familiar faces as well as new friends who had the time of their life and could not wait for night two to begin.
As quickly as the first night passed, Saturday flew by and I was on my way to night two of Dreamstate with my rave children, Jessie, Jake, Anthony and Luis. I definitely felt like a mom as I made sure all my kids had their essentials: tickets, IDs, money and phones. We parked and ran to enter the venue. Walking towards Cheshire Cove, we ran into the wonderful Night Owl Radio cart and was able to get a quick photo and do a quick interview. I was a proud mama as I watched my kids interact with the insomniac team. From there we were off to catch Daun Giventi as he graced the Dreamstate stage for his first time. The young lad played a variety of hits and classics which set the tone perfectly for a night jam-packed with all-stars. Daun Giventi has a natural grace behind the decks and he rocked like a veteran. As he turned the decks over to Waio the energy level kicked into overdrive.
Waio must have known that he needed to set the pace high, since every single artist that followed him played harder than I have previously seen. Darren Porter played some of my favorite tracks and Fadi of Aly & Fila dropped countless ID’s from his FSOE label. One of my favorite performances of the night was from the legendary Markus Schulz. He gave everyone in the audience a sample of what is to come with his soon to be released album Dakota. I stood in awe, waving my Schulz Army flag high as I danced with my chosen family. Prior to Markus’ performance I was able to meet up with him and he signed Trance Family LA member Mahfous’ Schulz Army flag. Mahfous is one of the biggest Coldharbour fans I know, and he was overjoyed as he held his flag high for the entire 90-min set. Moments like that make me appreciate trance artists so much.
As night two came to a close, we took our final group photo under the Dreamstate stage. Beyond Wonderland was filled with memories that will live in our hearts forever. The Dreamstate team did it again and I was beyond humbled and privileged enough to document those moments. Beyond is not simply a festival. For many people this was the first time they’ve experienced trance at a massive event or at any event at all. For virgin ravers, it is the culmination of months of watching videos, reading stories and rabidly following social media. Being able to finally experience something this massive is often a life changing moment. So many Headliners wandered into Cheshire Cove and got sucked into the love and beauty that is Dreamstate. Whether they stayed the entire time or wandered to other stages, they soaked up the essence of Dreamstate and spread the love around.
I look forward to covering Dreamstate as it moves to its next location, Dreamstate San Francisco. I hope to see old friends, family members, rave children, new friends, and complete strangers fill in the Bill Graham Auditorium in San Francisco as we all get lost under the Dreamstate banner once again.