• Best of Nocturnal Wonderland: Day 2

    The party continues on day two of Nocturnal Wonderland. It's the 20th anniversary celebration of the festival, and as such, all y'all Headliners really brought it. The vibes were abundant yesterday afternoon when the gates opened and the fabulously dressed denizens of Nocturnal streamed in to enjoy the art, the community, and a heavy second round of music by artists including Alesso, David Guetta, Pretty Lights, Flosstradamus and more. Everything is bigger and badder on day two.

    These are some of the best moments we experienced at day two of Nocturnal Wonderland 2015.

    Drumcode Flag Takeover

    When Eminem famously said that nobody listens to techno, he clearly had never heard of the legendary Adam Beyer. On day two, his Drumcode family took over Sunken Garden for an absolute blitzkrieg. There were numerous #HDYBYZ girls running around for Flosstradamus, but the flags and T-shirts with the Drumcode branding were as thick as ever. Alan Fitzpatrick took over after the very lovely Ida Engberg and threw down a monstrous tour de force while donning a very appropriate bandana due to the dust storm swirling around. An eerie anticipation mounted as Mr. Beyer took to the decks. The booming kick pounded through all corners of the tent as the flags continued to waive in appreciation. Eminem, I respect you on some sort of 8 Mile level; but you, sir, are wrong. Techno is stronger than ever, and those who packed together for the Drumcode onslaught are there to back me up on this not-so-mighty claim. —Troy Kurtz
     

    HDYNATION Is Alive

    Yes, it's true. You could find me twerking on the hill once again, but this time to the massive trap anthems being thrown down by the boys of Flosstradamus. Without a second of hesitation, the kings of the mainstage bass sound took the energy level vertical with a slew of recognizable tunes that had the packed crowd jumping. The duo dropped DMX’s “Party Up” and hyped people to the max for the next huge record in the mix. HDYNATION was in full effect with exclamation points visible in every direction. The set was packed with big things—very big things—which had people TURNT. —Joe Wiseman
     

    More Sweet Than Sour

    The Sour Punch Dodge and Jump Games are like a combination of American Ninja Warrior and the Tough Mudder Obstacle courses, but with a lot more bounce and vastly more kandi. The activation allows Headliners to race a friend through the course to see who can get through the rope climb, ball pit, bean bag toss, balance beam, and giant inflatable Sour Punch ball first. Here’s a secret: The trick is bouncing on the balance beam; it seems like it would make you fall on your ass, but it works! The prize is candy, but the real reward has been seeing Headliners maneuvering the course in full costume. —Chase Welcher
     

    MusiCares Really Does Care

    Early in the day, a handful of staffers made their way to an unmarked tent in the cut of the production area. Word got out that the kind folks at MusiCares were hooking up music professionals with custom-fit, pro-grade earplugs care of ACS Custom. Since the exact location wasn't officially disclosed, finding the spot felt strangely similar to trying to zero in on an old-school warehouse party. After getting turned around a few times, I finally reached it and willingly had my ear canals stuffed with a slowly solidifying, orange gunk that legit made me squirm like a skittish night crawler. OK, so it wasn't really that terrifying; the whole process was a breeze. And now I can sleep better at night knowing I won't prematurely lose my sense of hearing. Good looking out, MusiCares! —Sam Yu
     

    The Sunset From the Grassy Knoll

    As the sun started to retreat behind the mountain range, I decided to saunter up the gently sloped hill to score the best seat in the house for the day’s sunset. Parking my behind under the yellow shade structure sitting atop the grassy knoll, I now had prime real estate on my hands for some sun salutation. This vantage point helped shed some light on how fortunate we are to live the blessed festival life, and I witnessed the size and scope of our ever-growing community firsthand. As thousands more Headliners trickled over to the Labyrinth stage, it also dawned on me that I still had a ton of soon-to-be friends to meet tonight. —Sam Yu
     

    Z Trip and DJ Jazzy Jeff Prove Who the Master DJs Truly Are

    Z Trip made the massive leap from a closing set at Upside-Down Room Friday night to the behemoth Queen’s GroundS Saturday night. Aside from the obvious difference in size, these two stages are distinct monsters. Upside-Down Room caters to the old-school spirit of electronic music and hip-hop, and the magical middle ground between the two genres, whereas Queen’s GroundS brings out the bass-heads by the droves. It takes a master DJ to handle both with equal aplomb. As one of the few true DJs left in electronic music today, Z Trip is more than equipped to handle the job. It’s how he’s able to drop Ginuwine’s sexified “Pony” and still keep the party rocking from the front barricades all the way to the farthest reaches of Queen’s GroundS. Likewise, over at Upside-Down Room, DJ Jazzy Jeff graciously weaves in and out of “Truffle Butter” (Nicki Minaj, Drake, Lil Wayne) and into slinky moombahton nastiness. From throwback hip-hop to today’s bass bombs, and everything and anything in between, these two dudes covered it all with class. —John Ochoa
     

    Hooptown Hotties Teach Us the Beauty of Hooping Culture

    Anyone curious to step up their hula hoop skills needs to stop by Down Side Up room presented by Toyota, where the beautiful Hooptown Hotties are giving hands-on hooping lessons. If you haven’t noticed yet, there’s quite a healthy hooping culture here at Nocturnal Wonderland. Across the festival grounds, scores of Headliners are twirling, spinning and dancing with their beloved plastic rings. And just like their diverse costumes and custom totems, the hoops come in every color and size, even some LED-powered designs. It’s such a wonder how much happiness a simple hoop brings to their attached dancer, who’s lost in their own little world. Just you and the hoop. What better way to learn about hooping than by the Hooptown beauties themselves. —John Ochoa
     

    Walker & Royce Bring the Deepest of House

    When we caught up with Walker & Royce last week, we chatted with the NYC duo about the difference between US and UK dance culture and the tendency of our European brothers and sisters to latch onto electronic music faster and harder than us Americans. “House music in the UK is a bit more accepted,” said Sam Walker. I don’t know about you, but I love me some house music. So I made it my personal mission to prove Walker & Royce wrong at their set. As one half of the twosome, Gavin Royce, took to the decks at Temple of Om, I danced as hard and as groovy as I could to the deep, deep house vibes filling the open air. I’m hoping my dance moves synching to the house and techno beats helped changed their minds about American house-heads. —John Ochoa
     

    This Guy’s Shirt

    We met Amir backstage as he worked on the artist relations team as a liaison between the talent and festival. Amir is one intimidating dude, with a body built like a Trojan. But it turns out he’s a jolly giant armed with a smile killer enough to stop traffic on a dime, and his shirt proved his job is to help, not scare, anyone in need. Of the four choices, we prefer #1 (Have fun!), and Amir is here to make sure #3 (Go to medical!) and #4 (Go to jail!) don’t happen to you. —John Ochoa
     

    Craze’s Slow Roast

    The Upside-Down Room was alive with A-level DJ talent on Saturday night, hosting the likes of the World Famous Beat Junkies, DJ Jazzy Jeff and Graham Funke, but an appearance by Craze was especially delicious for anyone who caught the mixtape he just released with Four Color Zack a few days ago. Let’s just say it was ironic to see the three-time DMC World Champ throw down for the EDM set while David Guetta and his fireworks show popped off in the background. —Rich Thomas
     

    So Many Totems!

    Holy shit, it didn’t matter whether I was backstage, in the VIP area, in the middle of a crowd, or just taking a breather on the hill; everywhere I looked affirmed that Headliners brought their totem game out in full force for Saturday. While some displayed traditional messages of love and togetherness, others took a more candid approach, such as the “Twerk Zone” totem I saw at Flosstradamus’ set (where else?). Another shout-out goes to the “Free Gum” totem spotted at Alesso’s closing set (nothing says PLUR quite like giving without receiving). My pick of the night, however, has to go to the “Show Me the Carfax” sign seen at Sam Paganini’s (marvelous) show. Seriously, whoever the creator of that is, I salute you. —Anum Khan
     

    Getting Wet and Having Fun at the Campground Water Park

    I’ll admit, I got served a healthy dose of FOMO when I walked by the water park in the campground and saw Headliners frolicking about. While we couldn’t tell mother nature to turn down for what the heat, we could throw on our swimsuits, slather on our sunblock, grab our towels and soak in her sun. If you find yourself baking in your car or (worse) in your tent, do yourself a favor and head to the water park. The water slides are awaiting. —Anum Khan
     

    Rainbow on the Radio

    The call came over our radios at approximately 3:45 on Saturday afternoon: "Hi. Hi. Hi," said the tiny voice on the line. The transmission was from the crowned princess of Nocturnal, Miss Rainbow Aurora Rotella, who had jumped on the mic to greet everyone on staff with what was easily the most charming announcement of the day. —Katie Bain
     

    Pretty Lights Kills It

    Pretty Lights took over the decks after Z Trip, closing out Saturday night at Queen's Grounds. While the set got off to a slow start, all of us who stuck around were treated to the exact kind of electro-funk aural stimulation we expect from Derek Vincent Smith. While temperatures had dropped by this point in the evening, most of us ended up peeling off layers as Smith dropped new stuff (the remix of Nina Simone's “I Put a Spell on You” was a highlight, with Smith asking the crowd, “Do any of you motherfuckers believe in magic?”), along with classics including “I Can See It in Your Face” and the essential banger “Hot Like Sauce.” In the crowd, a guy named Randy told me that while all of his friends went to see Alesso, he opted to stick around for Pretty Lights in order to check something new. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” he said, gazing toward the hypnotic lights bathing the crowd in all variations of color. “Alesso,” he conjectured, “would be scared of this.” —Katie Bain
     

    No Guilty Pleasure, Just Pleasure

    We took a spin on our golf cart with the man DJ Jazzy Jeff, who opened up regarding his own listening habits, saying that he loves Britney Spears. “‘Toxic,’” he remarked, “oh my god, what a song.” Fully agree. Much respect. Britney forever. —Katie Bain
     

    FlagsSo Many Flags

    Totems are not the only items laying claim to the space around the DJs’ eye level. There are also the flags. So many freakin’ flags. Headliners proudly hold them high with pride, conveying a strong sense of patriotism or simply making a statement about their personality. Just like their owners, these symbolic streamers come in all shapes, sizes, colors and countries, all coming together to dance and celebrate their differences. There’s no room for precedence here. Nothing says rave culture more than these identifiers flying freely, especially since it’s always all in good fun. —Sam Yu

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