Many say that your crew is the most important thing when you go to an EDM event. While I agree that many of my best nights are thanks to the amazing people I was with, it is also incredibly frustrating whenever my friends don’t want to go to see the same artists that I do. What happens then is that I'd end up missing those artists. I’m sure this is a pretty typical #raverproblem. I’ve never been good at going to events alone, but out of necessity I have developed systems to find new rave buddies and enjoy an event the way I want to.
I left the US in January of 2014 to travel around the world. Other than to see the world, my dream was to get to know the dance music scene in different parts of the globe. I was chasing after the unicorn of the “best EDM experience.” I was also very curious about what EDM meant to ravers from other countries: What genres did people listen to? What do people wear? Are people “PLUR”? Most terrifyingly, the big doubt in my mind was, will I meet people I get along with to go to raves with or will I have to go alone? I’ve never been the type of person to be able to make quick friendships. I decided that instead of worrying and wondering thousands of miles away, I would just buy the tickets now figure out logistics later.
I flew to Florianópolis, Brazil with a one way ticket and plans to attend the Creamfields Florianópolis edition the following weekend. I was very sure of where I wanted to go, as I had heard that Florianópolis was the “Ibiza of the South America.” Thus I began my 6-month foray of attending festivals and EDM clubs around South America. I have to say that although I got used to traveling on my own fairly quickly, I was still morbidly afraid of having to go to an event alone for the longest time. After all, I didn’t want to be that “weird girl” hanging by herself because she didn’t have friends.
Therefore, I had spent a lot of time and effort scheming on how I can make new “friends” to attend these events with – believe me I tried everything. I was almost always successful in finding mates but the compatibility results were mixed: I had a blast with some but also had very awkward experiences with others that made me wish I were alone!
No one should let the lack of company to go to an event with be a deterrent to your musical adventure. Through my “solo EDM travel” triumphs and failures, I hope you can find some useful tips and techniques to make your EDM dreams come true! I wrote this guide with an EDM traveler in mind, but many tips can also apply to finding new rave buddies in your hometown.
Six Ways to Find Good EDM Event Buddies
- Stay at a hostel
This is the most straight-forward way for travelers and my initial strategy. After all, you are surrounded with a house full of young people ready to have fun. In fact, in most of the “social hostels”, the hostel organizes transportation and tickets for people to go to parties. When I went to Creamfields in Florianopolis, I went with a group of 20 or so people from the hostel. It was a stress-free way of attending the festival. You can find the social/party hostels through online reviews.
Aoki and his usual shenanigans at Creamfields in Florianopolis.
However, I am actually not a fan of this tactic and quickly moved away from it. When I am traveling, I’m not keen on hanging out only with other foreigners, as I want to get to know the local rave culture and many foreigners just have the “let’s party” mentality since they are on vacation.
I do suggest, though, to get to know the hostel staff. Hostel workers are often local and they tend to be very open-minded people. Usually they are more than happy to introduce you to their friends and take you to their parties. Because I got to know hostel staff, I spent many weekends at the legendary Warung Beach Club and Green Valley (top club in in the world according to DJ Mag 100 in 2015) exploring EDM scene in the South of Brazil.
Warung Beach Club is known as the “Temple” to underground music lovers. The most magical moment of the night is always when the sun rises and its lights seep into the dance floor.
- Rave forums or Facebook groups
EDM Forums and Facebook groups are where like-minded people gather. A Facebook group from SoCal for example is EDM Madness, which has more than 15K members. I’ve posted on the wall asking if anyone was interested in going to an ASOT event together and received lots of friendly replies! Ravers generally are friendly and open, and chances are someone will be happy to include you in their crew.
Lasers on crack at ASOT Fest in Utrecht (ASOT 700)
- Email the event organizer
I’ve only met one other girl in my life that has gone to a festival alone, and she says that one tactic she uses is to email the event organizer asking for transportation tips. Sometimes, the event organizers will just give her a ride, giving her access to transportation and new friends. Ingenious, killing two birds in one stone!
- Couchsurfing Targeted Emails
There are two ways I’ve used Couchsurfing to find new rave friends. One is through the forums and the other is through a targeted outreach effort. The first resulted in one of my best rave experiences ever. For those that don’t know, Couchsurfing is a website for finding free accommodation in locals’ houses, based on the premise of creating a trustworthy global community of open-minded travelers (much like the rave community, to think of it!)
When I decided to go to Q-Dance in Santiago, Chile, I knew that my usual hostel approach wouldn’t work so well, as it is such a niche EDM sound and really not for the faint of heart. My solution was to go onto Couchsurfing’s host search and literally type in “hardstyle” as a keyword for people in Santiago. At the time, only three people came out in the search. I messaged all three of them introducing myself, my love for hardstyle, and asking if I can join if they happen to be attending the event. Fernando, a 23-year-old that has gone to all 3 Mysterylands in Chile replied and said of course I can join him and his crew. It was an amazing night. Fernando and his friends were so much fun as they genuinely enjoyed the music. The best thing was that, I got to hang out with locals in the scene who love the music as much as I do. It was beautiful that moment you realize that EDM does unite people across borders!
By the way, going to Q-Dance Santiago was a jaw-dropping experience for me, seeing how dedicated to hardstyle these Chileans are. I really did not expect that. Moments like those made the experience of going to a rave abroad really cool!
Couchsurfing Forums and Meetups
Santiago: what a wild crowd at Q-Dance
Besides exchanging couches, there are also large communities in each city which consist of a mix of locals, expats, and travelers. The community forum is where people go for local advice or to look for meetups. In most major cities, there are weekly Couchsurfing meetups so you could show up there and see if you meet anyone that is also going to the festival. When I wanted to attend UMF in Buenos Aires, I simply posted a message on the forum asking if anyone wanted to go with and found a big group of people who were going together.
Pros: Easy, fast, and I get lots of replies.
Con: If you are a girl, you probably get a lot of creepy messages too from non-ravers that just want to hit on you.
Case in point: I usually am pretty decent at weeding out the non-ravers from the true EDM aficionados, but unfortunately I still ended up having a weird and awkward night with one guy. I really wanted to check out “Club La Feria” in Santiago, Chile, which is said to be the best techno club in the city and it was going to be my last chance to do so. I couldn’t find anyone at the hostel interested in going with me, so around 8PM the same night I posted a message on the Couchsurfing forums seeing if anyone wanted to go. As it was quite late already, only one guy replied to me saying that he wanted to go. I thought it was better to do that than to go alone, so we made plans to meet up.
When he got there, I found out that he had to drive 2 hours to come to Santiago and that it was his birthday. And that we had nothing in common. And that he barely danced in the club. Thinking about that night still makes me cringe – and it finally dawned on me that it is better to be alone than to be in bad company!!
- Suck it up and just go alone
It took me awhile to become confident enough to go to a gig on my own, but I realized that I rather be by myself than stuck with the wrong people who don’t appreciate the music like I do. I decided to make an effort to get over feeling embarrassed about going to an event alone.
One of my most memorable nights this year was going to Fabric in London for a Drum and Bass night by myself. It was one of those special kinds of clubs where everyone was united for the love of drum 'n bass and no one cared about how they looked dancing. People were so friendly and I made connections instantly.
By the way, a really good way to meet new people at events is to go to the smoking area and ask for a cigarette… even if you don’t smoke. Works every time in striking a conversation. And, as your common sense should probably tell you, it’s important not to become too drunk or messed up if you're on your own. Safety first!
Fabric, London. Their FABRICLIVE parties are a must-visit for those who love drum and bass
Anyway, after about two hours hanging out with a group of Brits at Fabric who had been going to the club for 12 years, they were like “wait, so who are you here with?”
I said, “No one. I came by myself.”
“Wow, you’re the first girl I’ve ever met that goes clubbing alone.” They looked incredulous. Some looked at me with pity and others with admiration.
I shrugged. “Come on, I’m in London once in my life. I am not going to let the fact that I’m on my own prevent me from seeing the legendary Fabric!”
In the end, being a raver is about feeling comfortable in your skin and being your best self. I’m pretty damn proud of myself for overcoming my fear of going to gigs alone, it’s a very liberating feeling! For those thinking about going to an event alone – I would urge you to JUST DO IT!