I embarked on my first journey into the magical forest of TomorrowWorld this past September. Heading into TW, I thought I had a good idea of what was going to happen. “I’ve been camping before”, I told myself, “and I’ve been to seven EDCs. I’m ready for whatever TW has to bring”. Liiieeeess! Despite my years of experience, TW surprised me as I experienced (feelz) kindness by the People of Tomorrow that (even) warmed my old jaded Asian heart.
I know that I took my sweet ass time to write this piece. I can blame it on my limited time, due to two jobs, or my sheer laziness, but it’s something that I wish to share with everyone on the interweb. This isn’t an event review. If you want to know about the festival itself, you can read my review at The Scene is Dead. This piece is to talk about my *shudders* feelings and my experience in the Word of Tomorrow.
I popped my first “Camping at a Festival” cherry at TW. Unlike my friends, I’m a late bloomer. I’ve eluded pitching a tent because I prefer having a bed and knowing that I’ll have electricity to charge my phone. Which is why I love EDC: you attend a massive all night rager and then you go back to civilization. Well, as civilized as one can be while boozing in the Vegas desert.
The biggest thing that struck me about camping was how it took me away from my routine and secluded me from the outside world. Camping, especially at a festival, eliminates that whole “civilization” mentality and forced me to be in the moment.
When I was at EDC, I knew that at 8AM my friends and I would have to Hunger Games it out the parking lot (where for some odd reason is the only place where PLUR doesn’t exist) and return to buildings and technology and regular people in Vegas staring you down because you’re an Asian wearing colorful bracelets. They don’t say anything about the panda cap tho, cuz it’s a given..
At first, I was uncomfortable with being away from my schedule and reality and Facebook. All I saw around me was a sea of smiling people who were setting up their camps, surrounded by big beautiful trees. Then slowly, ignoring my phone became easier. Soon I was able to smell the fresh dirt and the reek of cigarettes and metabolized booze mixed with body odor that has been brewing since the long car ride.
I was living in the moment! I didn’t worry about bills, my writing task for the festival, evil girls back in Cali or my Asian parents. Instead, I was fully embracing the magical wanderlust of TW. My only worries were of the port-a-potties and the abuse they will take and my soon to come stench around a beautiful camp-mate.
My first experience with kindness was with a group of strangers who helped me set-up my child-sized tent. (It was small and had dinosaurs on it, and it was ONLY 17 bucks!) I was obviously drunk when three strangers rushed to my aid. When I asked why they had helped me, they replied because I was in need. They didn’t even think twice about helping me, it was just a natural act of kindness without an ulterior motive. I thanked them with whiskey.
The theme of Friendship was preached everywhere. But ironically enough, I did not camp with my usual crew, the ZipperSquad, even though 25 of us flew out from California to attend TW. I camped with the Electronic United Nations (EUN). I was a stranger that knew a friend, but was still accepted in their circle.
Even though the major reasons of my TW attendance was because of a wedding party (where I’m also a groomsmen), the rash-trigger-happy decisions of my friends and my accidental purchase of a ticket, I spent a good amount of time with my befriended strangers. In fact, I ended the last day at Armin Van Buuren with my new friends instead of my own. It indeed felt weird to not end a festival with my crew, like many before, but once Armin played ‘Confusion’, I knew I had to stay.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my friends. TW strengthened my bonds with friends that I have not seen in awhile. (I even met up with a fellow iHeartRaves writer. Although someone did get married and left me all alone *clears throat*.) But there was just something special that I found with this new set of people and I had to explore it.
I would be lying if I said that I didn’t feel sad when I saw my new friends link-up and sing ‘This is What it Feels Like” in unison. I knew that I could have joined at one end and bellowed along. But it just wouldn’t have felt right, nor the same. This was a moment in their voyage as friends and I did not want to ruin that moment. I did get my quality time with the ZipperSquad when we all returned to their camps for beers and wine slaps. (Which you slap before and not after, East Coast.)
When I reflect on my experience in the World of Tomorrow, I can’t help but smile at all the kindness that I received and all the new friends that I’ve made, along with the new memories with my old ones. Aside from the rain and mud and miserable people on Saturday -partly due to the rain and mud (and how expensive some stuff was)- everything amazing. The festival was fun and the people were kind. EDC Vegas will forever be my Neverland, but TomorrowWorld will now hold a new place in my heart as a magical Narnia where an old jaded raver like me can find faith in humanity again. This is probably the most PLUR I’ve felt in a long time . . . but I don’t know if my masculinity can let me admit that. So as I continue my life in reality, I’ll keep replaying these memories and feeling these feelz until my return into the World of Tomorrow.
I graduated with a degree in College at SFSU. When I'm not writing for iHeartRaves, I'm scribbling away at Schulz Army and The Scene Is Dead. I'm just trying to navigate life one adventure at a time, all while trying to document a piece of my life for y'all with just the right amount of crazy. #SorryAsianParents