In years past, the sainted neonGARDEN—or “Techno Teepee,” as it was known—in the far corner of Las Vegas Motor Speedway provided shelter for the orks of the underground, drawing in those seeking sanctuary from the cacophonic blast ratio of the festival’s more big-room sounds. Shielded from the Electric Sky, this mega-tent would drawn in the festival’s legions of techno heads and any tech-curious stragglers keen to giving their poor retinas a break from being basted with lasers.
But in 2018, Insomniac shook things up in techno town and did away with the iconic big top. The new stage was a circular, open-air affair, encasing, immersing and enveloping the audience in the tough, muscular sounds of Factory 93.
For the uninitiated, Factory 93 is a window into the past, and possibly the future, of Insomniac. Referencing the company’s roots in the murky underbelly of Los Angeles’ warehouse district in the early ‘90s, our latest event brand focuses on celebrating the underground techno and house music upon which this culture was built.
Founded out of a need to elevate some of the deeper shades of dance music becoming increasingly popular with our audience, Factory 93 has placed acts like Carl Cox, Adam Beyer (Drumcode), Nicole Moudaber (In the Mood), Green Velvet (La La Land), and Jamie Jones (Paradise) in firm focus, drawing a clear line between the clubs and dingy warehouses, and the monolithic festival stages.
The upcoming Secret Project show in Chinatown sees the Factory 93 brand come right into its own. With that in mind, we put together this little pocket guide to stomping the f**k out at Factory 93—so that at next year’s EDC, you can truly get the most out of this sacred stage.
Festivals are like buffets. You are spoiled with choices, particularly at EDC. The end result is a vast spread of superb music that can truly expand your taste and satisfy any audio cravings.
But the underground needs a big share of your plate. Really appreciating it takes a little patience. Textured, layered and nuanced, the long blends and narrative arc of the set takes time to fully savor, enjoy, and understand. You won’t see 100+ name track lists, or catch Nicole Moudaber jumping on the table and giving shout-outs on the mic. No, it’s about the music, and it’s about the whole set. Stick about, and give them another couple of tunes.
Embrace the Unfamiliar
One of the biggest distinctions between mainstream and underground dance music is that of the familiar and the unfamiliar.
At the mainstage, we like to sing along to the big tunes and epic toplines we recognize. But in the underground—aside from the odd, perfectly placed throwback or artful remix—it’s always about musical discovery. Bringing this mentality to Factory 93 and neonGARDEN will enrich your experience and help you appreciate the fact that you don’t have a fucking clue what you’re hearing, and in all likelihood, you’ll never hear it again.
It’s about being locked in that moment, fam.
Don’t Face the DJ
There is far less to look at when underground DJs are playing. With the mic largely absent—except for you, Coxy! Oh yes, oh yes, mate!—and the production more austere, standing facing a techno DJ is actually really dull.
So, turn and face the opposite direction!
The best thing about facing the other way is that you get to look everyone in the face instead of staring at the backs of their heads. You open yourself up to chatting and engaging with strangers.
Put Your Phone Away
There has been a big movement in underground dance music to remove the cell phone from the experience. Driven originally by a widely praised policy at Berlin’s industrial dungeon Berghain, this no photo/put-your-phone-away-mate movement keeps us locked in the moment and gives everyone a bit of privacy.
And be honest: You’re never going to watch that video of Pete Tong bobbing his head around in the dark ever again.
Learn How to Move Through the Crowd
Again, this is a general rule that should be applied to all dancefloors, but it’s particularly pressing in the underground scene.
With the music falling a little more on the subtle side, we all appreciate your crowd movement skills being a bit more graceful. Shirtless bros, you’re big and covered in a film of sweat. Please keep that in the back of your mind at all times. Twisted princesses, there are other people, too.
Be respectful and mindful of who’s around you.
Know Your History—and Respect It
It’s important to have some historical context of the dancefloor before you start mercilessly shuffling about on it.
Disco and house music were born from the need for a safe space for the gay black community in cities like New York and Chicago. A lot of the values around respect, equality, and consent have carried on to today, reaffirmed by a fervent and frank discussion about the problem of sexual harassment on the dancefloor.
Marginalized people have long used this space to break free and express themselves. You have to respect that.