Reality strikes again as I sit here a couple weeks after FriendShip, still trying to wrap my head around what is arguably the best luxury vacation and music festival coupled together. I’ve been oozing excitement over FriendShip since being part of the Maiden Voyage in December 2018, and after eagerly anticipating the time to hop back on the open seas, it was all worth the 13-month wait. I’m reminded once again why we all spend thousands of dollars and nearly a year planning the escape into our wonderfully weird dreamworld as DESTRUCTO aka Dad aka Gary Richards has pulled off a second annual sailing of what binds us all together, FriendShip.
Hundreds of us trickled into Miami the weekend prior to celebrate the spirit of losing our minds and hearts at sea. Some chose a lowkey vibe to ease into the madness while the majority of us were buzzing to gather with our friends from all ends of the earth. We kicked our week voyage off at the Fairwind Hotel for the unofficial Monkey Wrench Techno Party starting Saturday and still blowing the downtown Miami scene up Sunday. It was a pleasure getting to see my DJ friends take the stage from MiSCHiEF, Macefacekilla, to Holly Housecat, Hot Pot and Mass Appeal. We moved the party from the beach to Basement Miami for the Official DESTRUCTO & Friends + RVDIOVCTIVE & NV’D Records Takeover where we really got to cultivate ship vibes on land. As laser beams bounced across countless disco balls and sweat dripped off the walls we found ourselves dancing the night away ending with a Doorly b2b DESTRUCTO set that had us zooming into port the next morning.
The day we’d all been anticipating was finally here as we made our way to the Port of Miami to set foot on Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas. Smiling faces and truly sickening happy vibes filled port as personal sound systems were bumping and ready to ship stickers were covering almost every inch of shippers, employees and working law enforcement dogs alike. With the boarding times minimized this go around with revolutionized security, we walked upon our vessel to be greeted with champagne, schedules and custom luggage tags to kick off our three-day and four-night experience. The bottles were poppin’ as we set up shop to navigate our home for the next few days. Starting off with the main pool deck sail away set from none other than TroyBoi, we then got swept into sets by DESTRUCTO, Grammy-nominated Boys Noize, and Nightbass legend Chris Lorenzo who hit us with something you never see: a b2b with the elusive Malaa. I capped off my first night sailing into the ocean with hands down the best GRiZ set I’ve had the pleasure of seeing in my life as Grant took us on a wild ride through the depths of House and mind-altering wubs. Kid you not, I had to put my ass to bed after that kerfunkle of energy I was not ready for.
Rising early and heading into day two with team no sleep, I hit AC Slater’s Light Bass Pool Party featuring Volac, Phlegmatic Dogs, Wax Motif, Jack Beats and Taiki Nulight. With that lineup of my favorite Bass House artists, I was wiggling across that pool deck like it was my last day on Earth to dance. There were so many events I didn’t want to miss including a Tiny Hat Class that was a family favorite from 2018, Twerkshop, Yoga, Twister, an Escape Room, and The Great Bingo Revival. We were even lucky enough to have our own Disco on a real ice skating rink! Night two launched us into outer space as we geared up for an Area 51 theme night. We spiraled into our wobbly Bass edition featuring Space Jesus, Huxley Anne, CharlestheFirst and Esseks titled Moonship. Bouncing around our newfound home, there wasn’t a person or place untouched by galaxy design or dripping chartreuse colors. Geared up in our space cowgirl outfits, we wrangled all the House music the night had to offer, time-traveling from Bruno Furlan to Denver’s own HotBoi records owner, Option4 right into Latmun and Solardo.
Waking up as we docked for our perfect day at Coco Cay, it was time to move the energy from the boat to our very own private island with beachfront stages and all you can eat buffets. With the sun beaming down and sand in my toes, I shook my ass to the funkiest beats while double fisting frozen cocktails. It was straight-up paradise. An exclusive surprise pool-side set from none other than Billy Kenny was the highlight of the day as U.S. residents have quite a few years before we will see him walk on American soil again. Hosting countless island activities outside of music and a full waterpark packed with slides and rides, there wasn’t a second that I couldn’t find something to fulfill my need for fun and adventure. Rolling from an oceanside stage with Troyboi to the infamous DESTRUCTO & Friends party, I am thankful our FriendShip team scheduled a disco nap to sleep off the sun and recharge for animal spirit night to ring in everyone’s most cherished moment on ship – The Sunrise Sermon.
When sunrise was nigh, my friends and I headed to the top pool deck to get our spot on some comfy seats allowing us to strap in for four hours of non-stop music stimulating sweltering feelings. The windy weather wasn’t cooperating but Gary made damn sure we got our stage to do what we came here to do–watch the beloved sun come up with our friends. Destructo, Danny Daze, Boys Noize, GRiZ and Bob Moses made my fractal induced experience pure magic from dawn to the early morning hours. The champagne corks were flying as we shared laughs, hugs and straight Listerine-colored tequila out of mimosa chalices with my favorite souls to walk this planet. I can’t help but wish I could relive that moment 100 times over or jar it up and save it for a rainy day. As the sky turned warm colors, I was lost absorbing the energy of sheer bliss and riding the waves of what it truly means to feel alive and at home.
As I wound down after the sermon and indulged in a cabana nap, it almost brought tears to my eyes knowing the end was nigh. We were wrapping up what brings my soul peace, happiness, and effervescence. I headed into the last night doused in everything tropical Christmas, ready to make it count. Stuffed with endless buffet food one last time, jingly bells surrounded me as I took off running to a vinyl set by Egyptian Lover who made way to Noizu in the promenade. As we scooted back into port around 4 A.M. we Dialed-a-DJ and got hooked up with a b2b Drum and Bass set with Chris Lorenzo and Mija. Packed in like sardines, bodies upon bodies filled the stateroom sharing those last precious moments with Chris and Amber, breathing it all in as the Miami skyline beamed back at us. This special experience built everlasting memories, which are truly priceless and irreplaceable. I get a deranged amount of feelings whenever I relive those moments in my mind and I look forward to sailing away with all my friends again in 2021. Come with us next year and let us ruin festival-going as you know it. You know what they say; Shipfam is the best fam and FriendShip is the best ship.
With pre-booking available onboard this year, look for FriendShip to return aboard Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas to Coco Cay January 11-15, 2021. Details announced soon.
*Sunrise Sermon Crew Featured Image Via Oh Dag Yo Photography*