Gates opening, the booming of electronic music, lasers flashing through the night sky, and people all dressed up in crazy outfits means only one thing: festival season is finally here and my first stop was Beyond Wonderland in San Bernardino, California! Words can’t describe how excited I was for my very first festival of the year as well as my first Beyond outside of NorCal. I didn’t know what to expect since Beyond was on a hiatus last year and this year was the first time the event spanned two days and offered camping. Thankfully, I had friends that were willing to make the journey down the rabbit hole with me which made the experience even better.
Upon entering the beautifully decorated San Manuel Campgrounds we were directed by Ground Control to our camp spot where we would set up our tent. While setting up our tent we met our neighbors, both were extremely cool groups of people that we ended up spending the most time with for the next couple of days. That night one of the camping activities was creating fireflies in a jar; I wasn’t able to make one of my own, but one of our new friends had made one while we were still setting up camp. For the rest of the night we settled down, got to talk to our neighbors for a bit, and finally went to bed. We definitely needed to save our energy for the next couple of days!
The next morning was finally rave day! The heat woke us up at around 8 AM and we decided to take showers while the lines weren’t too crazy. We had some extra time so we decided to participate in the events Insomniac set up for us. We made kandi and tie dyed t-shirts with our neighbors and meteven more new friends! I was surprised that there were so many friendly people; the NorCal rave vibes have not been great lately, so it was refreshing to be surrounded by ravers from different demographics. No one was afraid to go up to different groups to hang out, check out campsites, share food, or to just start a conversation; it felt like we were one huge family. As soon as it hit 3 PM, we started to get into our rave gear and went in right when gates opened. I even got to see one of my friends in action working as Insomniac’s Ground Control at one of the water stations! Thanks Ground Control for all of your hard work and helping headliner’s in need 🙂
I wanted to get into the festival early to check out what the stages looked like and to take photos (since my guy friends are less inclined to take photos with me). To be honest, I was a little disappointed that Queen’s Domain had the same caterpillar design as NorCal’s for the past couple of years, but it was still spectacular. My friends and I are hardcore trance fans, so we posted up at Madhatter’s Castle all of Friday night. First up on our “Who to see” list was MaRLo; his set was definitely a great warm up set to begin the festival and ironically after ‘Haunted’ ended, I ran into his wife and vocalist of the song, Jano!
For the rest of the night we tranced out to Ilan Bluestone and went crazy when he dropped ‘Under My Skin’, danced too hard to Simon Patterson’s fast paced extended set (I had to sit down a couple times because it was insane!), sang along to Myon & Shane 54’s ‘Summer of Love’ and ‘Strangers’, shared the love with Andrew Rayel, and got uplifted with Aly & Fila. To add on to the craziness of each set, the visuals on the screen was filled with Alice in various settings such as floating in the water, illusions of multiple Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, and of course Johnny Depp’s Mad Hatter creepily peering into the crowd. Not to mention the lasers; Insomniac has definitely stepped up their laser game by blasting what seemed like thousands of lights into the sky! During this time span I was able to meet up with my friends who found me by my totem (Lucy the Seahorse), met new friends, traded kandi, and took photos with those who loved my outfit courtesy of iHeartRaves! Madhatter’s castle was definitely filled with PLUR souls that shared my love of trance. Unfortunately at 1 AM the winds began picking up and it became too cold for my friends and I to endure Aly & Fila without jackets, so we headed back to our campsite and ended our first day at Beyond Wonderland.
The second morning I managed to sleep in a little later, but was yet again woken up by the heat at 9 AM. If there were one camping item that you had to buy (other than your tent), it would have to be a canopy! Ours saved our lives, as well as our neighbors, when the sun came out in full force. I spent most of the day napping (on the floor of the tent next to the door since it was the coolest there) while the others continued to make kandi. When I woke up I found tree-like stilt walkers roaming the campgrounds and that immediately got me all pumped me up for the second day!
As I had seen all the artists on my list the night before, Saturday was the day to explore harder artists or artists we haven’t seen in a while. We weren’t too crazy about dubstep and drum and bass, so we opted out on the Bassrush stage (Madhatter’s Castle), which is the polar opposite of the trance stage from the day before. We weren’t feeling the deepness of the Carl Cox stage as well, so Queen’s Domain was our final destination. To be honest, I didn’t think that Saturday wasn’t going to be as fun as Friday, but I was pleasantly surpised! Hardwell threw down some hard stuff that made the crowd go wild, Benny Bennasi did a little throw back with his original “Cinema” then mixing in the popular Skrillex remix, Arty opened with his work in progress track ‘See you Again’, and Showtek and Knife Party also throwing it back to the popular ‘Internet Friends’!
I definitely felt the rage vibes while dancing with the crowd to these popular artists and made some new friends who also felt the same love I had for this type of music. Along with the new friends that I made, I even met fellow ravers who follow me on Instagram and even those who read my Studio 240 articles! The last night definitely ended on a great note, leaving me even more excited for more festivals to some this season.
Beyond Wonderland in Southern California was a new experience that I wanted to expose myself to and I definitely don’t regret it. I’ve made a lot of new friends and memories that are worth more to me than money can buy and I truly had the time of my life. I’d like to thank iHeartRaves for providing me with my beautiful unicorn outfit as well as my fluffies and leg wraps for Day 2, my camping neighbors for not only being, but also living out PLUR, Insomniac for hosting a great festival, and for all you ravers out there for making my first Beyond Wonderland in Southern California one of the best festivals I’ve been to!
Hope everyone had a blast at Beyond Wonderland and can’t wait to meet more of you this upcoming festival season! <3