You haven’t lived until you’ve danced your way through an entire marathon DJ set.
I’m not trying to put festival programming on blast here—obviously, it’s where partygoers can get the most bang for their buck with high-volume bookings— but the relatively short time slots can come off like impersonal hookups. I’m all for a bang-it-out routine when the timing is right, but there’s something special to be said about the bond created between dancer and DJ during these prolonged performances.
The open-to-close solo set is an art form Markus Schulz has mastered over the years. Yet you won’t see him going gung-ho with them, because he asserts only a select number of cities can keep up with a show of this magnitude, Los Angeles being one of them. The last time he did a 12-hour-plus spinning spree in L.A. was during his Scream tour on NYE 2012. So, I jumped at the chance to see him get back in the saddle.
Here’s an account of the night through my sleep-deprived eyes.
I pull up to the club, where a Zirx agent is waiting to take my car. Without going through the whole spiel of how this parking service works, just know I am unable to schedule a drop-off until 9am the next morning. This is me removing the easy-out from the equation to ensure I cross the finish line.
Donning an all-black outfit, Schulz is practically invisible onstage—minus his silhouette, naturally. I appreciate the focus being fixed on the floor, rather than on the man of the hour (or 12), even though he deserves the spotlight up there while he schools people on how to conduct a proper warmup set.
“It’s amazing to see all you guys here early like this,” says Schulz. “I’ve been told the line goes all the way down to Hollywood Boulevard, so I’d suggest you do not give up your spot on the dancefloor!” The crowd seems rather confident in themselves, but we’ll see how many heads can actually hang.
Rule number one of walking away a winner from a marathon set: Keep a steady pace. This isn’t a sprint. It’s not even midnight yet, and some people are getting sloppy already.
The trick to playing a 12-hour show is finding a sinusoidal rhythm. If the vibe stays sleepy, you’ll lose their interest; if you floor it the whole way, they’ll lose their minds (in a bad way). “Hello!” Schulz screams over the mic. “Those first two hours are what I like to call my ‘hello’ to you.”
While in the VIP area outside, I cross paths with a young man named Fooch, who feels the need to tell me about the first time he caught Schulz. It was at Global Gathering in Korea. This is only his third time seeing him, and he already considers himself a diehard for life. Welcome to my world, Fooch.
A presumably deep-pocketed patron (I assume this because he can afford the premium bottle service package, which includes a table to the immediate right of Schulz) is blowing out the candles of his birthday cake. The timing was spot-on, because as he did so, the first surprise guest, Adina Butar, takes the stage to serenade us with her sensational vocal delivery on “Crashed and Burned.”
I have to check myself, because I’m already starting to crouch in the corner like an electrolyte-deficient runner hitting a wall before making it midway through the course. But it’s nothing a little Red Bull can’t solve. I have the extra boost I need to get back out there for Delacey’s moving rendition of “Destiny.” I could listen to her sing that song all night.
From the corner of my eye, I spy a rather large unicorn head bopping among the madhouse of flailing limbs on dancefloor. Maybe the mystical creature didn’t get the memo, but this is a no-fly zone with the unicorn slayer behind the decks (look up Schulz’s nickname if this went over your head).
“I have so many great memories in this building, and it’s all because of you,” Schulz says. “It feels so good to be back.” While aerialists overhead do things with their bodies I didn’t think were possible and a blast of confetti is unloaded, he drops the New World Punx track—you guessed it—“Memories.”
We’re at the halfway mark, and I’ve already relieved myself in the little boys’ room at least six times now. Meanwhile, Schulz is making me believe he has the bladder of a monk with complete mind-over-matter control. Apparently, his secret is abstaining from alcohol, sipping water only when the moment calls for it. It still makes no sense to me.
I’m thinking dirty, dirty thoughts about my bed. The only thing keeping me from crashing on the soggy couch backstage is the fact that my jam, “The New World,” is playing. That, and I know the rabbit hole is about to open up; this is the period in his performance when he does whatever he wants to and goes full-on weird.
The crowd is thinning out, and the creepers are lurking hard. I say it’s more than appropriate for “Nothing Without Me” to start coming out of the speakers (it is the official stalker anthem, after all).
I spark up a chat with a super amiable burner girl who says she doesn’t give two shits about being in a club, but she is that dedicated to Schulz. “It’s not my first time spending a sunrise with him,” she boasts. “He played at Burning Man, and it did something special to me.” I want to keep hearing more stories from the Burn, but I hear him dropping the Khomha vs. New World Punx mix of “Grind House,” so I cut out without grabbing her name first (sorry, but you know how it is when your track is getting dropped).
Oh, the classics. I could literally sit through another 12-hour session if it meant getting to hear more buried bits like his “Perspective Space” mashup or Andain’s “Beautiful Things.” I’m definitely team throwback.
Imagine every song you’d expect him to squeeze into the grand finale, and he is doing the exact opposite of that. The usual suspects are not in play, as he runs through unfamiliar files on his USB, such as Booka Shade’s “Body Language,” Oliver Dollar’s “Pushing On,” and “Generate” from Eric Prydz. Props for not always pandering to the pop crowd.
Schulz winds down the mood by slipping on an ambient tune to signal the end of our journey. I wait for the standard slow-clap moment to come, but the room is either sinking into postpartum depression, or they’re still in shock from it all (possibly a bit of both). He hops offstage and into the crowd, only to get swarmed by people trying to snag a selfie before he slips out the back door.
Completely drained of my life force and with a head full of endorphins, I’m overcome with this feeling of accomplishment for sticking it out ‘til the very end. My legs are deadweight, and my eyes are heavier than ever, yet all I can think about is when I can do this with Schulz again.