Having done a lot of Anjuna-related travel in the weeks prior to Anjunabeach, my excitement didn’t really develop until I was waiting for my Anjuna Angel John at the Portland airport. As we got to the gate, we ran into 6 Portland Anjunafam who were on our flight. Erin had painted an amazing picture of Above & Beyond playing to a crowd and had arranged gifting it to them at Anjunabeach the next day. John and I scurried to the lounge to grab some breakfast and requisite mimosas before our flight boarded. After takeoff, one of the flight attendants noticed John’s A&B Acoustic shirt and asked if we were also going to Anjunabeach. She said her kids had hooked her on A&B years ago and then gave us free drinks!
The rest of our Anjunacrew was on a later flight so we hopped in the hotel van to chill with our friends. As it was Erin’s birthday weekend, Devon had a round of tequila shots delivered to the room as they discussed their tattoo plans. They found a parlor that was taking walk-ins, so off we went for some birthday tattoos! Anjuna logo for Erin, Cirez D for Judit, and J’ai envie de toi for Devon while the rest of us went to lunch.
John and I were picked up in the Anjunavan and reunited with our Anjunacrew to head to our Anjunabnb. (You bet your ass we were Anjuna-labeling everything all weekend!) There’d been a bit of a snafu with our original airbnb being double-booked and since we tend to make magic happen, we were re-booked at no extra charge at a nicer spot half a block from the beach! Like kids at camp, we all rushed the rooms to claim our beds, changed and headed to the beach.
We dragged the speaker to the beach to blast some Anjuna and I ran straight to the ocean. Having grown up in Hawaii, I’m a water baby, so Lance and I went for a swim while Anjunadad David was yelling at us “don’t go so far!” I could hear Anjunamom Ashley saying “she grew up in Hawaii, I’m sure she’s fine!” The sun was disappearing in the clouds as we did a quick change and then walked to a local taco spot where we lost Devon to see Gareth Emery at TIME. We told him to report back on how it was since we would be there for Above & Beyond’s Anjunabeach afterparty the following night. Tacos and margaritas were had and we did a booze stop on our way back. Invite texts and calls were going out to the homies as we tested out how soundproofed the house was. After doing a bit of an Ace Ventura sliding glass door test, we were cleared to par-tay!
Michael got the turntables fired up and the Elliptical Sun crew were the first to show up. Of course there was the inevitable arguing over who wanted what tracks played. This then led into who was the most anticipated act and what tracks might be played at Anjunabeach the next day. More Portland and Seattle friends dropped by throughout the night and as the party wound down, Devon finally rolled in around 3am. Apparently his phone died and he walked several miles in the wrong direction til he was able to catch a cab. After cleaning his tattoo we all headed to bed.
One of the first ones up, I started rounding up the crew for some brunch. Nikki and I were searching for a good spot and landed on the same one right on the water. As we opened the menus, we were a bit shocked by the cost of breakfast (Cali, right?!?) until we noticed that it included bottomless mimosas. Suddenly the price was totally worth it! After we imbibed about a bottle of champs each we headed back to the Anjunabnb. With the arrival of Amy, our Anjunacrew was complete. While the girls started getting ready, Michael hit the decks again.[irp posts=”17221″ name=”Dirtybird Campout West Lineup Is Their Best One To Date”]
After herding the cats, everyone piled into the Anjunavan and we headed to Anjunabeach. Seeing all the beautiful glittery people walking towards the venue was really exciting! An Anjunafam friend was giving away a VIP ticket, so I messaged him on FB and he emailed me the ticket. GODDAMN I LOVE ANJUNAFAM! I could now hang out with John in VIP if I wanted, not to mention the bathrooms are always nicer #girlproblems. We parked a ways from the venue and along the walk, David found a giant palm leaf which he decided was going to be his totem, and dubbed it the Anjunafan. Anjunamom Ash was against the idea, whereas I was in full support. A, I wanted to see what security said when he walked in with it. B, I’d benefit from being able to spot the crew from anywhere in the crowd. And C, I mean, come on, it was going to be a source of endless hilarity. This was when David dubbed his wife Ash as the angel on his shoulder, and me, the devil, since I’m always egging him on. It was a pretty fair assessment.
We split up to walk in the different GA and VIP entries and immediately bump into Cody, a friend of John’s I’d met at 250. He said to his girl friend, “do you remember Sandra from 250?” And she goes “YEAH! The butt biter!” Yup, that’s me! I do have a tendency to bite beautiful women’s bubbly butts at festivals. Of course, AFTER asking for permission, cause my momma raised me right. #notsorry
Unfortunately, we’d missed most of the yoga set so we meandered our way through the VIP area, found a convenient entrance directly onto the rail and then made our way back to find our group as Luttrell began. Having seen him multiple times in the last couple months, I decided to enjoy more of the venue than I normally do and convinced John to go on the carnival swings since I didn’t get to ride any rides at Paradiso the weekend before. It was on our walk to the carnival rides that I realized exactly how big the venue was and remembered how taxing it is to walk on sand. John needed to stop for a breather and we discussed how sexy our calves were gonna be the next day. Thankfully the line was short, so we only had to wait a little bit before I was hopping on a swing. I made John take a picture and as soon as it started up I imagined I was a P-51 Mustang with my arms out like an airplane, making bomber noises and returning imaginary fire from the Luftwaffe. Of course I had to ham it up even more as the swings dipped us down towards the line of people waiting for their turn and was amply rewarded by them cracking up, a few even returned fire. Oh yes, I really am a huge nerd. Feeling light as a feather after some time in flight, John and I decided to check things out a little and found a giant beach chair, so of course took the photo opportunity. The crowd was growing by the time we found our friends again where we danced together until I flitted off like the social butterfly that I am.
I returned to the rail, a bit stage left where I met a beautiful new friend, Claire, who was seeing A&B for the very first time. Introductions were made to her group, a mixture of newbies and old hats. As I was chatting with them, all of the sudden someone surprised me and lifted me up on their shoulders. I almost toppled over backwards, but Devon had me. The view was amazing from up there and we danced a bit to the mustachioed man’s Don’t Forget to Breathe, one of my Luttrell favorites until he put me down. I decided I wanted to wear his shades for a while so we swapped, although it took some convincing that my heart sunglasses looked as good on him as they did on me. One of my favorite people to dance with, Devon and I did some swing dance twirls and then he shuffled it up a bit. Ran into Eevee, another Seattle friend I’d just spent the past weekend with at Paradiso and we all danced together at the rail.[irp posts=”17260″ name=”Groove Cruise Cabo Phase 2 lineup!”]
Lane 8 came on and we headed back to our group since several of them are huge fans of his. Most of us had been at his This Never Happened Portland tour stop and I wanted to experience it with them again. His set started out with some fire, which I was very thankful for as he tends to be a little more chill. We danced together til his set started veering back into the more subtle deep house he prefers. I was hoping that he’d play Skin and Bones, but alas! Feeling a bit antsy, I asked if anyone wanted to go on the carnival swings. Three of the group were ready, so I led the way.
Now, crowds don’t typically bother me at all, but as I was ducking and dodging people, it seemed like the Ferris Wheel was even farther away than it had been when we left the crew. I got a slightly panicky feeling and then reminded myself I was surrounded by Anjunafam, so just chill girl, you got this! In the line for the swings, the group picked if they were going to be Allies or Axis, as I informed them we were about to be in the dogfight of our lives. When I asked which way to return fire if I holler that there’s a Messerschmitt approaching at your 3:00 and was met with blank looks, I had to explain the clock system to the amateurs of the group. After they understood the system, I made some new friends in line who wanted to play along. When we got up and started swinging around, there were 7 of us all shooting and returning fire.
After the ride we walked back the long way to get a drink and make our way back to the VIP section. We came across a zombie who was taking pictures with girls and then asking for their numbers to send the picture to them. Mmmmhmmmm… I see you dude. Mat Zo was on by this time and I was transported back to Red Rocks where I’d seen Mat play for the first time. Just like Red Rocks, he was my most anticipated act of the day, and he didn’t disappoint. His set was a great mix of hits from the 2012 Anjunabeats presents, 2013 Damage Control and 2016 Self Assemble. As we were yet again cutting through the crowd to find our friends, he hit us with his fresh new house release Bad Posture. So rather than doing my typical “excuse me, excuse me hon” dipping through the crowd, I was dancing through/with everyone and giving high fives as he fed that funky track right into Soul Food. Knife Party’s Destroy Them With Lasers was on by the time we found the Anjunacrew and I jumped around with them while I was hearing Mike Myers saying LASERS in my head. Then Mat blew my mind when I heard the opening chords of Underworld’s Born Slippy. I was momentarily speechless and stood there with my mouth hanging open. 1995’s Born Slippy was one of the first electronic tracks I’d ever heard, and it’s one of the iconic tracks that paved my way into the world of raves. And GODDAMMIT, he did it again with a remix of Lustral’s 1997 track Everytime. I’m officially a Mat Zo fangirl. Where’s the Mat Zo fanclub at? Sign me up!
Above & Beyond took the stage and the boys got things going with a Chocolate and Sirens of the Sea mash up, which was perfection as it matched the Sirens kandi gifted by Amy that morning that I was fist bumping as I danced. All of the sudden I spotted Hayley, a fellow Anjuna Angel in front of us so I scooched through the crowd to finally meet in person. We’d been dancing next to each other at Porter Robinson in Vegas the month prior and yet this was the first time we officially met. The wistful piano of Cold Feet began and Hayley turned and gave me the biggest hug. She knew it was a track that makes me hurt a bit as I’ve had several men in my life who have trampled me with their cold feet. I stayed with Hayley’s group through Virtual Self’s Ghost Voices which we’d both heard Porter play in Vegas. I then decided I needed to get back up to the rail to see Paavo and Tony up close and personal with my new friends.
What I’ve always admired about Above & Beyond is their seamless transitions and how the lyrics in the succession of tracks belong together. I recently healed from a devastating break up and became Alright Now and it’s often been the beat of the drum touching me Lovingly that’s made me forget about my bad luck with love. It was perfect timing that I was bequeathing my new friends their first pieces of Anjunabeach-themed kandi that the track of the same name began playing. As I danced around with my eyes closed, it truly was Happiness Amplified and my smile only grew bigger as I recognized Andrew Bayer’s remix of the 2000 classic Strange World. Remembering that David had specifically requested that I NOT social butterfly all day and make sure I spent time with him, I headed back as I could tell by the cooling air that it would be ending soon. Jumping up and down to Ilan’s Will We Remain as I made my way back to the Anjunacrew, David was nowhere to be found. Oh well… I tried David! With arms around each other, we sang our hearts out to Sun & Moon and of course screamed for an encore as the music died down.
I’ve never seen the boys NOT play an encore, and their selection of On The Beach was a bit of odd perfection. While swaying to this gentle melody, I looked around and saw many people with tears in their eyes. The ending of any Above & Beyond event tends to leave me overjoyed and ebullient, but this track left me melancholy. Were it not for the knowledge that I was going to see the boys play TIME in a couple hours, I would’ve broken into tears then and there as Justine sang “Say goodbye to all your friends. Time to leave and go home again. Sad to fly and leave behind the sun.” I can barely wait til the next time I see all my furry friends on the beach!