Return of the Raver: 7 Things I Learned from Nocturnal Wonderland

Before Nocturnal Wonderland, I hadn't raved in four years. I was burnt out, disenchanted by the influx of non-PLUR folk and was seeking more chill camp out festivals by this time anyway. I stashed all my kandi away and never thought I'd "rave 'til dawn" again.

Until now.

A rave girl wearing black fishnets and kandi holds a unicorn cellphone case.

Raves used to be my home. It was the place that started it all--discovering the beautiful garden of friendship I still have today, my journey to accept and love myself, and my budding business Little Black Diamond.

My return to the scene was definitely an adventure. Together with my home girl Brittny, we conquered security, raged with old and new friends and had an experience that was overall positive.

Here are 7 things I learned at Nocturnal Wonderland 2017 in San Bernardino.

  1. The car camping vehicle search is GNARLY.

    On the Insomniac website, they inform us that all attendees will be subject to a “TSA-style search.” I didn’t think they meant every orifice and hidey hole of my Honda Civic would be excavated with painstaking detail. They had us pop the hood of the car. They confiscated my flask filled with Alien Vodka, all my beers (that part was my bad for bringing glass and not cans) and my scissors. They tried to take away my weed pen, but I showed them my doctor’s recommendation and insisted they do not. They rifled through every makeup bag, unfurled every sleeping bag and even asked me to open my wallet which I was carrying in my hands.

    A camping area street sign at Nocturnal Wonderland.

  2. If you don't arrive on the first day of camping, prepare for hard times.

    Camping arrival started on Thursday before the festival, which took place Friday and Saturday. We arrived around 7:00 p.m. on Friday. It appeared that the majority of the campers had already arrived and set up. None of the security (except one nice black guy who helped us) nor the staff seemed to know where we were supposed to set up our tent. Fortunately our new neighbors were very welcoming to us, the new comers, and embraced us when they returned from the rave.

  3. The art cars / smaller stages bring the dopest, most innovative vibes.

    I get it. I love to headbang to Excision as much as the next booty-shorted rave baby. But hard, aggressive dubstep doesn’t satisfy me all night like it used to. Brittny and I spent most of our time dancing in the Sunken Garden, Labyrinth, and the Boombox Art Car. Even the Corona sponsored stage presented an impressive friendly vibe of groovers, with lifeguard towers, beach balls flying through the air and a dance floor filled with soft sand.

    Two raver girls wearing light up accessories celebrating life at the Boom Box art car at Nocturnal Wonderland.

  4. Wear light up shit. DO IT.

    Brittny and I had the honor of rocking our friends’ light up creations. She twirled in a rainbow LED crystal quartz crown by Judy and Madeline and I stomped in a sparkling captain’s hat from Good To Glow. Normally I get bumped and pushed by inebriated people tumbling past, but with the advent of our light up fashion, I was shoved around way less. It made my night so much more enjoyable and people loved seeing our fashions. Wearing beautiful light up creations from your homies or made by yourself helps spread good vibes at a rave.

  5. Note the free water refill station locations.

    I have ADHD, a poor sense of direction and have gotten hella lost at many a festival. So even at a relatively small rave, I had trouble orienting myself and finding the water refill stations. The signs aren’t always easy to see at night either. Just keep asking people (security, vendors, attendees who look hydrated) where the watering hole’s at and note its location when you find it. You’ll need it.

  6. Travel light.

    Because we were camped so close to the festival, I didn’t feel the need to carry my small hiking backpack since we could return to our tent with ease. I felt so light and free in my utility belt and didn’t want to push it after seeing how strict security was for car camping. And if you’re not camping, split a paid locker with a friend or two so you can dance freely.

    An Ashton Kutcher totem pole reads Dude Where Are My friends

  7. Bring your own vibe and show people the way.

    Sure, there are wack-ass, insecure, really fucking mean people in the world. And they can rear their ugly heads at a rave, especially if they’re under the influence. But Brittny and I were enjoying each others’ company and discovering the music so much. If there were wack vibes afoot, we didn’t even notice.

    All night we’d find ourselves soaking up a speaker, dancing and getting lost right in front of it. At first we’d be the only ones there. Then I’d open my eyes from a deep house induced trance and notice all these beautiful funky kids getting down right next to us. One girl was dancing so low to the ground like a little Sandshrew. She didn't give any fucks and it made my heart happy.

By being unafraid to express our happiness and enjoyment, we attracted other people who were onto the same vibe. And our joy amplified together exponentially.

So that's what I learned from Nocturnal! Looks like I'll be back at the rave again, friends. Insomniac Events has still got it. (But I'm approaching car camping way differently next time.)