Humans of Tomorrowland: Just A Small Town Girl
Last year, Sensible Reason‘s own Kristen Grennan wrote a series of articles entitled “Humans of TomorrowWorld”. It showcased epic stories from travelers of Tomorrow who trekked to the inaugural year of USA’s version of Tomorrowland. With each story telling tales of courage, love, adventure, and camaraderie, it became a hit around the internet. Each piece wove a person’s unforgettable memories. For once, we heard what our fellow festival goers had to say about their feelings and experiences about the music festival, and went in depth on what those moments meant to them. This year, not only will Sensible Reason be returning for another batch of interviews from TomorrowWorld – but we’re journeying across the globe to the mother of all festivals to bring you “Humans of Tomorrowland”.
To start the series off, Sensible Reason’s Nicolette Lamela‘s quest to the EDM festival mecca:
Here in Texas, there isn’t much happening, especially towards the east of the gigantic state. In the little town of Rowlett, voted the most boring city to live in in Texas (a state that also holds 3 cities as most boring in all of USA) – the most fun you’ll have is driving down to the inner city and getting drunk at the same local bars, or dancing at the same bars with the same people you saw last weekend. The music festivals don’t frequent around these parts either – you’ve got four major electronic dance music festivals that make it in here: Lights All Night, Sun City Music Festival, Life in Color and Something Wicked. There are other music festivals that make their way in Texas like South By So What and Austin City Limits – but they’re not true blue EDM festivals. Yep, you can say living in Rowlett is a snooze fest all on its own.
I’ll never forget my first EDM festival. It was 2012 on a freezing December (well, by Texan standards) at Lights All Night in Dallas. About a week or so earlier, a friend from college who started photographing concerts told me about a festival she was going to take photos. It was supposed to be big. At that time, I wasn’t introduced to dance music, and like her, we weren’t sure what to expect. Confession: it was my first music festival – period. Nonetheless, our colleagues were freaking out over it, and I was extremely curious why it was being made such a big deal. In my head, I was picturing something like a continuous concert with people swaying to and fro with their hands in the air, just listening to each song and occasionally cheering. Look, I was a raised as a goody two shoes in the suburbs, I wasn’t sure was to imagine. Boy, was I wrong! It was insanity. Complete and utter chaos – people dancing all over the place, the bass shaking the stadium grounds, lights that grazed the crowd, and bigger than life DJs. I was instantly hooked to this culture.
At Lights All Night, I was granted a media pass and assisted my friend as she took photos. I wasn’t allowed to, but I occasionally snuck photos here and there for my own portfolio. I didn’t get into the photo pits or anywhere near the artists. My camera equipment was very basic (I only owned a camera for one photo class back in art school) with not so great lenses. Long story short – I began applying to music magazines the very next day.
After being rejected by a lot of them, one guy, my former editor-in-chief, saw my potential and hired me on to an online publication. With work and all, I put aside music festivals for a very long time – mostly because nothing was catching my eye…up until TomorrowWorld. It was the USA version of the legendary festival. Somehow, I got a photo pass to the event. I didn’t know I’d run into my now editor-in-chief and the creator of the original “Humans of TomorrowWorld”. It was at TomorrowWorld that my intense wanderlust emerged. It felt like I was Alice and this was my Wonderland. I’ve met all sorts of people from far distant lands…it was the most surreal event I’ve ever been a part of. It felt heartbreaking to have to leave. I remember on my flight home to Dallas, I kept looking out the window of the plane, reliving the first moment that shuttle drove into the fields of Tomorrow. It was on that plane ride, while I was editing photos, that I made a firm promise to myself to do whatever it takes to get to Tomorrowland next year. I had to be at Tomorrowland in 2014 no matter what. I wanted to be Alice one more time in Wonderland. I want to meet madhatters, smoking caterpillars, crazy queens, and chaseable rabbits, all the while basking in the colors and ambience. A painted, imagined world. It’s an addicting experience.
Here I am, still in Dallas – but in only 16 days, I’ll finally get make that promise I made and land in Belgium where I’ll make my global journey to Tomorrowland. It almost doesn’t feel real, that I’d be traveling across the ocean from my quiet, small town life, to experience the 10th anniversary of the renowned Tomorrowland. I’m counting down the days, wondering about all the people I’ll meet, the memories I’ll make, the bonds that will occur, and what this surreal festival will have to offer.
Look out for more stories of some larger than life characters we will be interviewing along the way. The tradition of bringing you tales of heartbreak, conquer, happiness (and at times, maybe a little insanity) will continue, as our writer and photographer travel the globe.