Relentless Beats

Wet Electric 2015 Day 1

Dark clouds cover the sky obstructing even the light of the moon. A chill skips off of the water onto my bare legs as the first drops of rain start to fall. Around me scores of young partygoers in waist-deep water are dressed in a bizarre combination of skimpy bathing suits, hoodies, sunglasses, and impromptu towel capes. To the uninitiated we must have appeared to be some kind of water-centric cult worshiping by night in homemade habits. My wallet is soaking wet and the four hour old tattoo on my arm is in constant danger of being soaked with a mixture of what must have been mostly urine and chlorine at this point in the evening. Some are both sunburned and shivering cold. What a confusing sight it must have been from aboard the aircraft above descending from the rainclouds into Sky Harbor looking at this crowd bouncing to the music and splashing in a massive pool with big cartoonish smiles. What they could never know is the incredible constitution and tenacity the true electronic dance music fans have.

This weekend marked the official start of summer (calendar be damned) with Wet Electric, the annual dance music and pool party at Big Surf Waterpark in Tempe. The two day long festival featuring Tiesto, Dillon Francis, Tommy Trash, and over a dozen more DJs was packed with more skin than a leather factory when I arrived Saturday afternoon despite temperatures dropping into the 70s.

A slight mix up with my press credentials required me to charm my way inside the event just in time to catch Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano’s set. With the weather threatening rain and cold I half expected to see the park nearly deserted. Instead I found a rampaging pool party that would would make any Las Vegas resort jealous. The drinks flowed, people flew overhead on a zipline, and in the middle of the football field size pool was a floating stage besieged by bikini clad college girls. To my right a DJ noiselessly beamed music into dozens of wireless headphones at the silent disco and to my left a sea of private VIP cabanas thinly veiled the debauchery taking place within.

Soon the sun began to disappear behind the clouds. As I made my way through the crowd making conversation it became clear that the weather was of no concern to these fans. Like hardy fishermen in designer swimwear a few sprinkles and goosebumps were not enough to scare away the true dance music festival goer. I made my way to the waters edge and with a grimace looked nervously out into what was certainly going to be an icy experience for my gentleman’s region. Suddenly a young girl in a pink Rockstar hat ran splashing into the water beside me toward the stage. Perhaps she read my mind as she looked back and said, “dancing keeps you warm!” I could not argue with that logic and soon I found myself bathed in both crisp water and the flashing stage lights.

By the time Tiesto took to the tables a couple hours later the entire pool was teeming with humanity. Flames shot upward from the top of the stage and soaking wet hands reached into the night sky in defiance. A pizza-shaped raft flew in slow motion through the air as the women on the muscled shoulders of men were silhouetted by the bright flash of LEDs. The water appeared to be boiling with people jumping and throwing water skyward. Like Buddhist monks who can endure extreme cold through meditation in those moments people were finding their own kind of inner peace at Wet Electric.

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