Typically, I am a realist. As a true House-head, I was most excited when the Dirty Bird label announced their first ever Dirty Bird East Coast Campout. Nothing could be better than listening to my favorite House music label, as well as getting out of the frigid Indiana winter. I packed my bags, agreed to camp (i rarely do this for a fest because I’m bougie like that) and set on my way for a weekend that made me a true believer in absolute miracles.
I was so excited to wake up on Friday morning to start playing games, get my shower on, and then head to the stages for the most stellar House DJ’s I have literally ever seen on a lineup. Service at the event was slim to none. Shockingly I have Sprint, and my service was working half of the time. Our group got word that the gates had been closed from a few friends of mine who were making their way to camp. They were not letting anyone in and told everyone to hang tight at the nearest town for cellular service. A bit unsettling as I’m usually the organizer for my group. After a few hours, they reopened the gates, and we were told we went a little too hard at the pre-party on Thursday, and that there would be no music for the day at the opening ceremony. Bummer and a half. These issues would omit Destructo and Get Real, the two acts I traveled to see most. Several attendees at the festival had suggested that it was allegedly due to potential permit issues with the Thursday pre-party. Apparently, Florida can’t let us have nice things.
What would generally cause bad moods in a campsite, actually turned out to have the complete opposite reaction. Everyone took Friday to take care of their friends who were just let into camp that day and to meet new people and share experiences. The vibe was high. With the exception of a few people, most were optimistic that Dirty Bird would take care of their fans as best as they could. Campout games continued, although I used this day to attempt to get confirmation for the remainder of the event. Have you ever played a game of telephone? Pretty much how my Friday was. I ran into Claude during all the confusion and gave him a huge hug. #Fangirlmoment. In Claude I trust, and I understood how difficult this must be for him. He thanked me for my support and took a photo with me. The artists were out in full force with the campers on Friday, making the best of a tough situation, and taking photos and sharing stories. Once my friends were let in late Friday night, we played shuffle the ravers into tents so that no one staying with my camp really needed to set up their own. This turned out to be such a blessing for those having to leave before the end of the festivities on Sunday.
After spending most of my day running around like a chicken with my head cut off, I received a text Friday night from Jeff who I had met at the pre-party on Thursday. This sweet gentleman told me that he was attending his first party in over 10 years, and had brought his setup with him. When he asked what my favorite genre was, I answered Breaks. It is so rare to hear it any more. Wide-eyed and excited, he hugged me and told me that he was an old school breaks DJ and brought all his music! His renegade was set up with the solo campers and he was ready to throw down. I spent a glorious hour and a half dancing harder than I have in years to one of the most eclectic Breaks sets I have ever heard in my life. Even my friends from Indianapolis were jealous that I was so lucky to run into someone who played a set like that just for me. This is what festing is all about, meeting new people, sharing your heart with them, and then getting a truly magical gift to improve your mood in what was otherwise a bit of a trying day at camp for this “rave mom.” I’ve seen lots of sets in my day, but this one was the most special I have witnessed in years. Imagine listening to Breaks in its birthplace. I danced like no one was watching and it was truly magical.
Saturday morning I awoke early to try to get the scoop on the continuation of the festival. Rumors had started overnight that I wanted legitimate confirmation of. I was lucky to run into some crew that mentioned they were setting the speakers back up and moving them to a different direction. Good news travels fast! Shortly after a wave of cheering rolled through the campground. It was Father Claude himself, armed with a megaphone on an off-road vehicle giving the good news to all the campers. The music would be on shortly. There was elation. You could feel the vibe switch from low morale to merriment. There were tears of joy, hugs, and absolute pandemonium. It was the happiest moment of the festival that almost didn’t continue.
At the scheduled press conference, Claude thanked everyone for their patience and told the story of how we were 99.999 percent done. He discussed how the optimism of the other campers helped him feel more optimistic himself, and after little to no sleep, they got in touch with Pitbull, Marco Rubio, and then the miracle was performed. Thank you, Pitbull!
“We just got a lot of help from people who cared about us. And honestly, even if we didn’t get the sound back on, the crowd and the people were so amazing and so supportive…(I was like) I had a couple of moments last night.” Claude Von Stroke.
“At the 11th hour, Dirtybird Campout East reached out to Leslie Jose Zigel who together with his partner Joe Geller of Greenspoon Marder persuaded County officials to agree to a compromise in reducing the hours and decibel level of the music to allow the festival to go on, while being sensitive to the local community noise complaints.”
Once the music came back on… it was full on craziness for a day and a half. Part of the compromise with the county was to lower the decibel level. I still needed earplugs so this was no huge loss. Music started Saturday with a banging set from Christian Martin and went until 10 P.M. Music originally was scheduled 12 P.M. through 6 A.M, so timeslots were shortened to get the most out of the experiences that the DJ’s on hand could provide the campers.
Among Saturday’s favorites were Dj Tennis, Will Clarke, Madam X, and my personal favorite set of the day, Fisher. Everyone brought their A game. Claude B2B Walker and Royce were also big highlights for the crew I traveled with. Claude addressed the crowd at the end of their set and mentioned that we were starting at 7 A.M. Sunday, so “Don’t bother going to sleep.”
This camper personally needed sleep. With all the confusion and excitement, and difficulty sleeping in the wilderness, I made the decision to be fresh for each set the following day and turned in for the night. I heard the renegades that went on Saturday evening were some of the best anyone had seen, and that most players from the lineup were at almost every one. Serious FOMO, but I got a full six blessed hours of sleep so I felt ready to take on the day.
On my way to the shower Sunday I heard the most incredible sound from Dateless. I postponed my plans to get in line to dance a half hour to his beautiful set. Note to self… look up his Soundcloud. After meeting some wonderful people in the shower line for an hour, I decided to forgo makeup and headed in to see the beginning of one of my personal favorites, Roni Size. I jammed to his set onstage and even got a big hug. We also witnessed the return of DJ Tree with Justin Martin. I had no idea that Claude had a Drum n Bass alias. I feel blessed to have witnessed this in person.
I was all ramped up for one of my girl power faves, J.Phlip. Unfortunately, due to the time constraints for the Dirty Bird players, I missed half of her set as I took the schedule true to its word. Next time I’ll definitely get there a bit earlier knowing that scheduling after a comeback is likely to be a little disorganized. Shiba San and she had been flipped, so I danced his absolutely beautiful set with my friend from New York.All this dancing can make a birdie just a little hungry, so I headed to the Surf and Turf food truck for the best shrimp taco of my life next to the one I had in Texas at Papacitos. It was literally worth every penny of the $14.00 I paid. The food truck area had several options, but this was definitely my favorite. I’ll be honest, I went back for more later. We even sat and ate near DJ Mija under the umbrella tables.
Once I was no longer hangry, I made my way up to the stage to dance for Claptone, Justin Martin, and the infamous Family Set. This was the most epic part of the evening. Surrounded by some of the most exciting talents in the world of House music, and luckily staying dry, I once again danced my heart completely out. Claude dropped “Walking in the rain” and it took me that long to realize how much of a torrential downpour was coming down. I ran out into the crowd a few times during the Family Set to see that excited fans had brought tarps, umbrellas, and canopies to turn the main stage viewing area into its own little city. When “We like to Party” by the Vengaboys house remix by Ciszak was dropped, I nearly lost my damned mind. I am aware that it was one of the most played tracks of the weekend, however, this was the first moment I heard it myself. All in all, it was a truly glorious day of music.
I still can’t believe how close Dirty Bird East Coast Campout came to not persevering, and I’m so glad that it did! I met some beautiful ladies on my way to pack up camp after the festivities. We discussed the event with no holds barred. There were wonderful memories and some not so wonderful memories. My new friend from Boston, who likely could be my female soulmate if there is such a thing, asked me one important question. “Will you tell the truth?”
In truth, there were pros and cons to this event. Dirty Bird Campout was at times disorganized, morale was low at points due to uncertainty, but we all came together and made the best of the situation. Camaraderie in the face of adversity is truly magical and a miracle in and of itself… even if we didn’t happen to get the music back. We missed out on some lineup related artists that we wanted from the event, but the spirit of those in attendance more than made up for it in our hearts. I could feel how much the label cares about their fans, and I know that they will do something wonderful to make it up to attendees for the hiccups at the event. I personally am excited for a redo at their West Coast Edition. East Coasters earned a merit badge, all of us can say we survived the inaugural event. A special memory that we can all carry in our hearts.
After writing this article we received an update. Check your emails campers. Great news awaits you! IN CLAUDE WE TRUST!