Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Sonar Weekend (Barcelona)

Over three years have passed since I last was living in Europe, and during the three years that I was back home in the States before this year's return, there were a couple things that I had put on my "Want To" list that stayed there. The things on that list range from countries/cities I want explore, traditional/cultural events I want to attend, experiences I want to have, and of course, festivals. Sonar Festival in Barcelona was one of the events I'd stuck on my "In This Life" list, but I most likely doubted that I'd end up going to it, or at least so soon. But I am more than stoked to be here and report that this month I went, I saw, I did, I raged, and I lived, Sonar!
Maya Jane Coles wrecking the tables and our eardrums..with goodness, pure goodness <3

When I first decided I wanted to go to Sonar, I was still in the height of my rave days. I was a kandi kid to the max. Romping around in my 7" rave boots, kandi up to my armpits, and fake eye lashes that would have a drag queen jealous, that was me. So when I realized I was back in Spain and had the chance to go, I knew right away it was one of the summer must's, but didn't really think about the changes I've undergone since I initially decided I wanted to go, (I am no longer a drag queen), and began making the plans. I contacted a couple friends I made while temporarily 'living' in a hostel in London last time I was abroad, and we decided, ok, great, Sonar is it, our grand reunion! (One of them lives in Barcelona, so it was an easy, obvious choice.) The plan was set, but I think I somehow doubted it was all going to happen, so I never booked or bought anything.

I got into conversation with my friend in Barce a couple weeks before, and then realized that, "Oh, sheet, this is actually happening, and it's happening in two weeks!" Then the week before I was supposed to be in Barcelona, I still didn't have my flights booked, tickets purchased, or anything planned, even though I knew I was going. I considered backing out of the plan, because August is going to be a pretty pricey month for me, and I am in a great state of "needing to save" right now, but I also knew I didn't want to back out less than a week before I was supposed to arrive. And oh my goodness gracious, holy smokes am I ever glad I didn't back out!

I went into Sonar weekend thinking, "Ok, it's going to be super ravey, probably not so worth it, but, hey, I'll go with an open mind and see what happens. It's a new experience, it's something I've wanted to go to for years, and it's a good chance to reconnect with someone." Seriously, even if I hadn't entered the weekend with an open mind, it would have been blown by the whole experience of the weekend. Sonar weekend was EPIC!

I landed in Barcelona about 21h on Friday night, took the train into the city, met up with my friend, walked to his friend's place, put down my backpack, was handed a shot, and just like that we were out the door. The second we got there I picked up on a vibe different than just that of any old EDM event, and was glad, but also really surprised to be at a mostly-EDM event and not see a bunch of kids running around in neon bras, panties, vans, fluffies, and kandi. This added a nice bit of a cultural experience to it all as well, since although it wasn't the first music and arts festival I've been to in Europe so far, on this scale and this level of international attendance and recognition, it was. We got in surprisingly quickly, and then it began!

Sonar by Night takes place in an old airplane hanger, so there was loads of space at each stage and area. They had a few different stages set up, and at one point, I felt like I was back at the Shrine walking through HARD Haunted Mansion in 2008. One of the most ingenious things I saw were the people walking around with kegerator backpacks so you could buy a beer without having to leave the dance floor! (This works over here, because the drinking age is lower. It couldn't work in the States unless it was a 21-and-up event, but let's face it, there's always the random 12-year old e-tards who manage to make it in. Shame.) And one of the highlights for me was actually watching all the people slamming around on the bumper cars that were set up. As well as being able to see Maya Jane Coles (FINALLY saw her spin a full set!), Paco Osuna, and Richie Hawtin B2B2B (ENTER!)..WOW. And I've gotta say, I was actually more impressed with MJC & Paco's sets than Richie's. Of course his was good, and maybe it's because he was on from about 5-7am and I was really freaking tired by the end of it, but I was definitely the most impressed with Maya. (Whoop whoop, hands in the air for rockin' female djs!)

My mentality that night was one of that like it used to be in my early rave days before I became a burnt-out, old-raver-hipster-fogie. I was full of the love and the light, and was just enjoying everyone and everything around me. It made me realize that I was going too hard, too often, for too long before, and I'd lost my love for the events and the whole purpose, aside from the music. To be at a new event, for the first time, and the first event of that sort for a long time, made it special. It returned the love to my heart that had turned into a self-appointed veteran status. I now really appreciate spacing out events and not going to one or two every single month. It makes them more special for me when they aren't a standard life event.

That loving feeling I had on Friday night carried me all the way through into Sonar by Day on Saturday. We didn't make it to too much of the day portion, since we pretty much slept all of the day away, but the portion we did catch was pretty stellar. The whole festival, day and night, had a nice blend of music styles -- live bands and deejays. And Sonar by Day had a massive room set up with different booths (Chico students think, "Wrectacular," but smaller), all for different forms of interactive, digital media.

I seriously considered just credit carding the ticket to Sonar by Night that night so I could meet up with a friend from Cali who I haven't seen in ages, have the experience again, and catch the awesome line-up they had for the night, but didn't end up doing so. And considering how early I passed out that night, it's a good thing. It ended up working in my favor too, because Sunday was actually one of the most mind-blowing days/nights of my life to date (that I can think of).

There's a part of Barcelona that is more ancient and has become a destination that you go to for one of two reasons: 1. You're a tourist and you need to see this old part of town, or 2. You're a festival go-er who is going to El Rowtown to attend one of the craziest festivals you'll probably ever witness. So clearly we went for the first reason...

The entire day started out as a mystery for me really. My friend, his friends, all his roommates, and all of their friends visiting already had tickets to this event, but I did not. So we went, assuming I could get a ticket at the door, even though online they said there were no more, and got there to find out that, crap, no tickets. The wheels in my mind started to turn, and I was thinking, ok, I can just go back and hang out, wander around Barcelona, there's definitely worse places I could be left alone to pass the time. But, I also tend to err on the side of optimism and "make it happen," so before I hitched it in a cab back to my friend's place for a nap, I decided, "Ok, this is it, my moment. It's time to take control and make it happen. I'm going to walk this entire line and ask every single person here if they have an extra ticket, and someone will." The line was absolutely massive, so I knew that someone in it would have at least one ticket that I could buy.

So I started to walk, feeling a little nervous about my Spanish skills and having to ask every single person I saw if they had tickets, and then I saw a group of people, and decided to make them my first mark. I asked if they had an extra ticket, and what do you know, they did! (SCOREEEE!!!) I bought the ticket right away, dance-ran to my friend and our group to show them, and then went back to wait in line with my new BFFs. (I had to enter with them because you have to show the card on which the ticket is purchased in order to get in.)

I ended up getting my face painted while we were waiting, and bonding with the group of people who had delivered me my day's salvation. They were a great group of people, and remembering correctly, I think most of the conversation I had with the guy who sold me the ticket was about "Two and a Half Men." LOL. Cheers to being from California!

It goes without saying that I would have never known what I was missing out on if I didn't get into El RowShow that day, but, I think my soul would have cried just the same.

I've been to some crazy events in my life, but this one was absolute madness. For some of you, when I say, "imagine the Wavehouse in SD, but bigger, combined with The Do Lab at Coachella, but add some foam, and also throw in a touch of the SF LoveFest before it became LovEvolution, and throw in some more extra-crazy costumes and inflatable things, and then think of the scene in "Across the Universe" where they're at the rally, and the scene where they've taken their acid trip all the way to that weird circus, and there are those giant sculpture-looking things that people control with poles, and the other weird artsy, statue, trippy things, and then put it on to some wicked electro and house music, but place it all inside the walls of an ancient city, where people are raging face, with a Frankenstein, some massive Chinese dragons, people on stilts with water guns connected to backpacks, a few clotheslines that actually are strung up of clothes, someone in a chicken costume, and hot babes in minimal bikinis," you'll get it. Do you get it? Does anyone? .... =/

Just in case you don't get the picture, here are some...

Just looking at these photos takes me back to such a happy place and time. And now that I've likely convinced all of you to head on out to Barcelona for Sonar Weekend next year, I'm going to go and daydream about it some more myself. :)

Enjoy this life you've got, folks, it's your only one! Live it large, and make that shit count!

Blessings, Love & Light <3

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