It’s almost 3 am at The Gorge Amphitheater, and the smoke from a cavalcade of fireworks still hangs in the air after the second day of performances at Paradiso, long-time industry titans like Tiesto, Kaskade and Infected Mushroom sharing the stage with up-and-comers like Tydi, Madeon and Adventure Club. To walk through the main gates into a sea of people, stages, carnival rides and food & water vendors overlooking the Columbia River can only be described as magical. Fifty feet was all it took to feel the energy and momentum, to look at the faces of tens of thousands of people and see almost nothing but smiles.
Day 1 was, as anyone attending can attest, scorching hot. With temperatures reaching almost 100 degrees and cloud cover being minimal, almost everyone could be seen carrying sunscreen and finding the shade whenever possible. That didn’t stop all three stages from pumping every second of the day. Performance areas were spaced far enough apart to not disturb one another, and no major outages appeared to occur. We were especially impressed with the upgraded sound systems, lights and staging – a vast improvement from last year.
Day 2 brought slightly cooler temperatures and welcome cloud cover. Rides were much more enjoyable, a marching band was making the rounds in camp sites, and there were even a few brief moments of rain. The entire main stage hill was alive in a way that was different from Day 1, as though people had become more comfortable with their surroundings and the relent of Gorge sunshine. The energy built all the way until the performance by Kaskade, punctuated by a light and fireworks finale that drew an unmatched roar from the crowd of fans.
There were still some issues – line management wasn’t perfect, with occasional long waits. While the camp sites were well-maintained and cleaned, exiting the festival on Sunday seemed to present some logistical problems. Many have said that more water could have been provided, but those of us from Dance Music Northwest saw many water vendors, cooling stations and medical tents situated throughout the grounds. We applaud USC and Live Nation for all they did right in handling the overwhelming logistics of 30,000+ people for almost 3 days, and hope that lessons learned were well taken.
As an industry and a genre of music whose performance style and personal identities are still very much misunderstood, it falls to those of us that love dance music and the scene we’ve created to help educate those who need to be educated. Personal responsibility is expected of us every day in our culture, and that standard is no different at any music festival. While there is a reasonable expectation that a safe, regulated environment will be provided, there is an equal expectation that those who attend any large event must take care to avoid dangerous or uncertain situations. Our hearts go out to those people who were affected negatively in the wake of events at Paradiso. We cannot imagine their struggle. The truth of the matter remains that almost 100% of 30,000 people had a completely safe, amazing, memorable time at Paradiso, and this fact should not be forgotten. Paradiso (or any multi-day rave) is in no way different or worse than Woodstock, Van’s Warped Tour, Ozzfest or other large events. There are dangers. Heartbreakingly, sometimes people succumb to those dangers. Vilifying or otherwise misrepresenting an entire subculture because of a small handful of real tragedies, however, does the dual disservice of intentionally mischaracterizing a large group of fellow men and women and simultaneously marginalizes the plight of these rare people who have to deal with these horrible events as “just what happens at a rave.” These are the rarest exceptions, not the rule, and everyone working in dance music strives for those exceptions to be nonexistent.
Over the next week, Dance Music Northwest will be providing everyone that attended Paradiso or wish they had photo galleries, interviews with artists, show reviews and more! Each and every one of our staff members and friends had an incredible time, and we look forward to next year at The Gorge all the more. For those of you looking for more information, click here to read our list of essential festival items, here for information about identifying illegal substances and how to recognize their effects, and here for all the love on all the artists who played throughout the weekend. You can also click here to see the first round of photos from some amazing photographers! Share your incredible memories below, we can’t wait to hear your Paradiso stories!
Speaking of Kaskade, if you haven’t read this veteran’s take on the current state of the dance music scene, we strongly encourage you to do so here! Happy Paradiso Recovery Week everyone!
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