Every festival you have ever attended has had that moment. It doesn’t matter how many new connections you made, spectacular sets you experienced, or world-renowned DJs you got to meet. When you are looking back, there will always be that one single moment that seems to be frozen in time forever — A memory that you wish you could go back and re-live over and over again.
This year, I drove out to The Gorge Amphitheatre from Portland, OR to attend a festival that I had heard countless stories about: Paradiso. With USC Events in charge, three stages, a killer lineup, and the Columbia River Gorge as the back drop, it goes without saying that Paradiso was the birthplace for an abundance of beautiful, magical, and unforgettable memories.
While it wouldn’t be possible for me to ask every single attendee to describe their favorite moments, I was able to ask a handful of them. Here are the moments from Paradiso 2016 that five ravers will never forget:
- Paradiso was the first festival that Amanda Heath attended alone. Although she had mixed feelings about rave culture due to a few bad experiences, she was doing her best to keep a positive mind set and enjoy the first day of the festival. As the sun went down, Amanda considered going back to camp. She was cold, she was lonely, and she wasn’t having fun anymore. That’s when a “cute man” that Amanda had never met before approached her and struck up a conversation. When she told him she was thinking about leaving, he did what any decent rave man would do. He grabbed her hand and dragged her to the bass stage. “I’ve never felt such love and appreciation for a person until that moment. I’ve never forgotten what he did for me. He made me feel important, and so happy! – Amanda Heath
- A moment that I’m sure all Paradiso goers can relate to, is Jay Chen’s. When asked what Paradiso memory he would never forget, he described how it felt to walk over the hill and see the panoramic view of The Gorge for the first time: “My knees weakened and my jaw dropped, because it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen in my life. What a moment. I would do anything to relive that first time again and again.” – Jay Chen
- Ciara Ward and her mom both applied for Conscious Crew at Paradiso this year. Ciara was thrilled to be able to introduce her mom to rave culture for the first time ever. When you work Conscious Crew at a two-day festival, you have the opportunity to work one day and attend the other. Ciara and her mom had the time of their lives working the first day. Her mom was completely blown away by how accepting and friendly everyone was to her. When Saturday finally rolled around, the duo set out for the bass stage. “The moment that defined Diso for me was when I looked up at my Mom and saw how happy she was… Being in the moment, with her daughter, really absorbing everything around her… I was brought to tears.” – Ciara Ward
- James Nguyen came up for Paradiso this year from Southern California, searching for “a bit of recovery” after EDC. While going through security on the second day, James and his friend got separated from their group. They were searching for their friends above the crowd, when he saw her. They made eye contact, and he watched as one of the most beautiful smiles that he had ever seen got even brighter. After getting through security, the girl pointed out that both of their tank tops had cats on them, and traded him a Kandi bracelet that said “Purrrfect.” James was so completely enamored by this girl, that he ended up spending the whole day with her instead of searching for his friends. “Never before have I connected with another soul so deeply from music. The best thing is, I fell in love sober. This isn’t a love story because she doesn’t return my feelings, but there is nothing I would trade for that moment, regardless of how this turns out.” – James Nguyen
- I saved my own moment for last. This was my first Paradiso, and my first time at the Gorge. It was the second night of the festival, and I had somehow made it down to the front of the stage with my hugegroup in tow: my boyfriend, two of my best friends, my cousin, and all of our neighbors from the campground. The Chainsmokers were nearing the end of a set that had already exceeded all of our expectations, when they started playing Yellow by Coldplay. I looked around at the sea of lighters and cell phones, which seemed to go on for miles, when the opening notes of The Chainsmokers’ hit song, “Don’t Let Me Down” started playing. Let me tell you, there is absolutely nothing that can compare to screaming your favorite song at the front of main stage with all of your favorite people. All I felt was pure bliss. Whenever either of those songs come on, I feel like I’m right back in that moment.
While each of these memories are beautiful in their own right, they don’t even begin to piece together the extravagant puzzle that was Paradiso 2016. Now that you’ve read about our favorite moments, what are YOURS?