Dance music has always been an environment set aside almost exclusively for people who know how to have fun. Regardless of what goes on away from the warehouse, club or arena—that shit is left at the door. We wear the crown of celebration right on top of any other hat we might wear in “real life.” There should be a pledge we each take to never let the journey get less jubilant, nor the adventures less daring. But you know what? Hell, we don’t have to “take” any vow or pledge, because we’re already there. We know we’ll never let the dance become… a trudge. It’s the light fantastic for us, for now and ever after.
With that in mind, I took a stroll around Insomniac’s first annual Middlelands festival this weekend and got a peek at how the innate creativity of electronic music lovers was brought to bear on the Renaissance theme—producing out-of-this-world (or time) cosplay and gorgeous fantasy elements at every turn. The thumbs-up weather and wide-open spaces of the seemingly endless camping facilities produced good vibrations all around. Much fun was had, revelry… reveled in, and calories vaporized on the dancefloor(s). The long-time rumor that Insomniac was planning a high-grade camping festival in the Lone Star State was realized… and then some.
The prophecy has been fulfilled.
I kept a simple travel log on Saturday as I explored the forested grounds. Hopefully it will lead those who attended to reminisce, and those who didn’t… to plan ahead for 2018.
9:00 am Rollerball!
Have you ever had the urge to plug your entire body inside a giant, transparent plastic ball and play soccer? Well, I hadn’t. However, after watching 10 human beings laughing hysterically—while pinballing off one another like giant gerbils broken free in their exercise balls and with a score to settle—it has roared to the top of my weekly “To Do” list. If there’s no Rollerball, Bouncyball, Bubbleball, Whateverball near my house, well, I’m going to start a league. NFL, watch out!
10:15 am Think It, Make It
Once I got my head back on the horizontal plane, I rolled ol’ Huffy over to the craft tent. The famous psychologist Carl Jung “prescribed” coloring as a means for stressed-out adults to relax and build concentration. Insomniac’s answer to paper and crayons? Kandi-making and the art of the tie-dye! Such simple, focused activity mellows the amygdala—the part of your melon that controls the fight-or-flight reflex. Neutralize those two options, and it’s all gravy from here on out.
11:00 am Your Mind Kung Fu Is Strong
Take a cue from the wise and ancient Hindu Vedics: This proven physical/spiritual path will move you on toward enlightenment… while simultaneously helping with that cheeseburger you campfire-grilled last night. Or was it a veggie burger?
12:00 pm StomachHappyTime!
Speaking of food, I was strolling through the merchant area when my stomach began kicking me in the butt. Yeah, it happened. “Hey! How ‘bout you grab a jar of organic honey at the farmers’ market to drizzle over that granola, French bread, and grapefruit half (trust me—it’s good) you’ve got back at your campsite?” After I’d gorged myself, I was glad to have had enough trees at my site to hang my hammock; there’s no better nest for a noon nap.
At this point, there was just a lil’ time left before doors. The gaggle of medieval buildings and the… um, CASTLE are a continual reminder of ages long past—so much so that it put me in the mood for, you guessed it: ARCHERY TAG! So, maybe our ancestors didn’t have foam tips on the ends of their arrows. And ok, maybe they didn’t play tag with weapons. But it still invokes the thrill of the hunt, and by the time one team storms the others’ stronghold, I’m ready. Ready for the medieval fantasy vibe of the interior village, and ready to hear Phantogram blow it up.
But I still stopped for a quick lesson on tightrope walking. Sorry, just couldn’t resist.
PARTICIPATED IN 10 FANTASTICAL HOURS OF ADRENALINE-WHAMMYING, BRAIN BUZZ-BOMBING, COLOR-SOAKED DANCING TO MY FAVORITE TRACK HURLERS—ALONGSIDE FRIENDS.
1:00 am Leave Venue for Campground
2:00 am Homespun Sound
Now cometh the DIY. More than anything at Middlelands, I was excited for the first-ever sound camps at an Insomniac event. It was stunning to see these carefully planned installations, many of which I had heard about via chat rooms, come to fruition. Some put legit clubs to shame, and the custom-themed environments, lighting and sound systems created by fans for fans, to milk the last remaining drops of adrenaline from my thankful mind and body, fulfilled their intended purpose.
This year’s winner for originality went to Pirate’s Booty. When asked about their motivation, they claimed a very simple desire: “To see the looks on people’s faces when they come upon 50 pirates together, just chillin’.”
6:01 am Home Again, Home Again. Jiggity Jig!
Float/stagger on your benumbed legs back to your customized landing pad, and hit that heaven-soft, warm sleeping bag.
8:00 am Hit the showers. Rinse.
9:00 am Repeat.
Your assignment for next year is to think of something, big or small, you yourself can add to this list for Middlelands 2018 to make it just a little more unique.
Believe it or not, it is possible.