• How Shondell Learned the Power of Being Completely in the Moment

    Most plan their EDC weekend around their #squadgoals. And that’s cool—running around from stage to stage with your pals, while surrounded by beautiful souls and a bunch of pretty things to look at, is a wonderful way to make life-long memories. But it’s not the only approach. Sometimes a break from the homies in favor of a solo mission is the best way to absorb the magic around you in a deeper, more meaningful way.

    Welcome to Shondell’s EDC weekend. Curated by him for him, Shondell’s solo journey Under the Electric Sky kicked off with a thrill-inducing ride to the Speedway via Maverick (the exclusive supplier of helicopter transport to EDC) and ended with a few new friends and an eye-opening realization that sometimes to be truly present, you must fully disconnect.

    Why go to EDC alone?
    I wanted the freedom to go out and explore and to sit and really soak in what was around me. I wanted to be able to experience the people by myself, and to live in the moment and not worry about dragging anyone else along.

    “People were excited about me being excited and me doing what I wanted to do. People just seemed generally happy for my experience.”

    And why take a helicopter for the whole weekend?
    I’ve lived close to L.A. for most of my life. Traffic can be horrible, and I didn’t want to worry about traffic—and I didn’t want to take an Uber or rely on other people—so I got a helicopter. It was supposed to be a once-in-a-lifetime thing. 

    The first night was unreal. When I got to Maverick Helicopter and was called out to the heliport to board my flight, it really hit me. There were all these helicopters flying in and out. It looked like a beehive, and I started to get the sense of how big EDC really is. You have all these people (from the DJs to Insomniac staff) coming on and off these helicopters—I didn’t realize I would be on the same helicopter as DJs. The experience was definitely heightened after finding that out, but that’s the fun part about Vegas—you never know.

    Did you have any celebrity encounters?
    Not on the helicopter, but when I was waiting in line on the second night, a girl walked up to me and said, “Whatever you do, don’t talk to Armin; he’s right next to you. He’s a really cool guy, but just don’t bother him.” The DJ inside me was telling me that I had to say something, but I left him alone so he could do his thing. I saw John Legend, too. It’s weird, because when you see them in person, they look like regular folks—just like me. 

    “In the weirdest way, me losing my phone on Saturday night made my third night amazing. It taught me that I really needed to lay off my phone and be in the moment.” 

    How did other Headliners react to you being alone?
    There’s this hype around EDC that everyone is accepting, and it rings true—it was a very arms-open experience. People were very open to me joining their crew for the night. Some people would try to feed me, and some people would try to give me whatever they had in their backpack. EDC is filled with people from all over, so they understand the struggle of traveling. If there is something you need, someone at EDC has it and is willing to give it to you.

    I got a green wristband for the helicopter, and whenever I would trade kandi with somebody, they would look down and see the wristband and ask me where I got it. When I told people I took a helicopter to EDC, they would freak out. People were excited about me being excited and me doing what I wanted to do. People just seemed generally happy for my experience.

    How do you think attending EDC by yourself helped shape the experience that you had?
    All three days were just amazing. Going solo let me understand what EDC had to offer—seeing all the happy, smiling people from all over the world coming together to just dance. The craziest part was meeting people from different countries. I mean, you meet people from different countries all the time, but you don’t realize how far people come just to go to EDC. There were tons of people from Australia there. 

    Did some of those interactions make your journey seem a little bit smaller?
    Yes, it made the world feel a bit smaller—like we are all in this together. We are all here because of electronic music. We are all here for the experience. That’s what I came for. And I got it each and every night, until the night I lost my phone.

    You lost your phone?
    On Saturday, I was at the wasteLAND stage, and Da Tweekaz were playing. I was dancing around, and my phone jumped out of my pocket. In the weirdest way, me losing my phone on Saturday night made my third night amazing. With no phone, I passed the time by talking to people, asking where they were from, what they do, what they wanted out of life, etc. My engagement with people was so much higher because I didn’t have technology. It taught me that I really needed to lay off my phone and be in the moment.