So, in last year’s blog about Tomorrowland I wondered if I would get the chance to go back again.
Well, I did.
The Model and I returned to Belgium, but instead of camping we stayed at The Lodge in Vilvoorde. It was a beautiful hotel and was an old prison in one of its previous incarnations. It was obvious when you were inside, as the layout had the feel of a prison, and there were bars on the lower windows.
Writing adorned the walls in different languages. I saw English, Dutch, and Italian, and they told tales of the prison, and how one of my countrymen was executed in 1802 (?) for translating the bible into English.
Seems a tad harsh.
The reason we stayed at The Lodge was because we wanted to see our friends who we met last year; Tom, Koen, Natalie, Isabella, and Stan/Stjin. They lived in Vilvoorde and entertained us on the Friday night we arrived. We dined at a restaurant near to the hotel, eating steak and drinking far, far too much red vodka. The Model loves the stuff, and said we should get some in Duty Free on the way home. Meanwhile, we gorged ourselves on the red liquid for the entire weekend… unless we were being plied with gin & tonics by Tom, who works for Bacardi and seems to have every drink under the sun in his house.
A good night’s sleep and we’re up and ready to go on Saturday morning. Tom and Natalie have to wait for a babysitter, so The Model, Koen, and I grab an earlier taxi to be at Tomorrowland for its 12pm start. You would think the taxi drop-off would be near to the festival, but no. It dropped us off and we had a 10-15 minute walk… to catch a fifteen minute shuttle bus to the festival! However, just as we arrived at the shuttle, Koen realised he had forgotten his bracelet. He had left it at home!
Now, when I write ‘bracelet’ I mean ‘cheap looking watch’ like last year. I’d prefer a wristband I could actually keep wearing when I return home. Unfortunately the thing is big and bulky, although I didn’t see as many broken ones as I did this time around. Also, the bracelets are supposed to light up randomly throughout the festival. Mine didn’t. Much to the amusement of Tom, who laughed every time thousands of bracelets lit up around us while mine remained blank… until he asked me if I had ‘activated’ it. I hadn’t, and neither had the girl in the booth who had given me the fucking thing. I got it going for the final hour of our festival. Yay.
Cheap Tesco Wristbands or not, Koen had forgotten his, so The Model and I arrived at Tomorrowland on our own. The gates were due to open at 12pm, but opened five minutes after instead, and after the security check it had gone half 12 once we were inside. Many of the first acts were over halfway through, as was Kutski – a hardstyle DJ The Model really wanted to see. I didn’t mind, despite hardstyle not being my thing, although I had followed Kuts on-and-off since his Radio 1 early days.
Kutski was playing the Q-Dance stage in the rain; a factor separating the hardcore ravers from the lightweights. We were up front, in the rain, bouncing to Kutski. And I had a really good time. Last year I couldn’t stand the Q-Dance stage, but this year – stood with the hardest of the hard, with decent music playing – I accepted my fate and had FUN. As did she;
I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone so happy.
After Kutski we explored a little, taking in the views of a bunch of pink-haired girls giving out free food and drink, before working our way around until we ended up at the Kozzmozz tent. We spent a lot of time here last year, and this year would be no different. The line-up was probably the most impressive of any stage (for us anyway) at Tomorrowland. We caught Speedy J, spacid, Gary Beck, and RØDHÅD. All were brilliant, but I had never seen spacid or RØDHÅD live before and they were fucking supreme. They got themselves some new fans that weekend. Have some RØDHÅD in your ears. And… er… eyes.
Near the end of spacid’s set we went to the Cocoon stage to meet Tom and the others. Seth Troxler was playing… barely. We managed about fifteen minutes of him fucking about with his mates and begging for the crowd to love him before we went back to spacid, who fist-pumped his way through the rest of his set with passion and energy and had the crowd fully on side. I’m not sure what’s up with Troxler, but he wasn’t this much of a tool before.
RØDHÅD rocked us until we caught sight of a man stumbling around behind us. The guy was blowing like a steam train; hands on hips, bent over, trying to throw whatever was in his stomach up. His eyes were popping and he had broken out into a sweat Seth Troxler could only dream of. The guy was HIGH as a mother-fucker. Security were four-handed around him and stayed very close as he bumped into people. No one was horrible to him, however, and several stopped to ask if he was OK, but the guy shook his sweaty head and stomped off a few paces before resuming his Thomas the Tank Engine Struggling Up A Hill impression. Eventually the medics came and gently ushered him away, although I have zero ideas about what they could do with him.
This got us talking about Drugs vs Drink. In an event with almost 200,000 people we didn’t once see a fight or an argument, and only that one person applying as a Space Cadet. Too many people were high and happy, yet you walk down any high street on a weekend night and you’ll catch a fair few drunken fights. This is why I don’t enjoy going out ‘on the town’ as much as I used to.
People’s misconceptions need to change. I’m not advocating drug use at all, but if you think drugs are a bigger/worse problem than alcohol, you need to ride your dinosaur back to your cave.
And if you’re on any medication to keep you ‘sane’ you are a hypocrite. You are taking a legalised drug the government can make money off of. And yes, I’ve been heavily on both sides of the fence, and it’s my blog, so I can state my opinion as much as I fucking want to.
OK, rant over.
The Ferris Wheel beckoned. This thing had been bugging me since I saw it last year, and this year we finally got on it. We didn’t have to queue long, and the sight was beautiful and thrilling. (Just a shame all we did was sight-see up there!)
But… after the Ferris Wheel things got strange. We went to the toilets by The Opera stage, and coming out of them were met by a logjam of people. And I mean LOGJAM. There must have been hundreds of people compressed in an alleyway, all trying to walk against each other. I had hold of The Model’s hand, but the crush was so great we were separated. It almost got scary. Fortunately – with her shock of red hair – I couldn’t lose her! I waited until she joined me, but the crush was such it almost completely ruined the weekend for us. It was that bad.
We headed back to our friends. It took almost an hour to find them in the throngs of people. The Cocoon stage was a fucking joke to reach, and people were six-deep at the bar. We wondered if it was because people were bailing out of the main stage to avoid the rain, or if people were turning up at the festival from home because the rain had stopped.
Either way, our favourite festival had suddenly become terrible… …and then it shifted again.
After an hour everyone dissipated and we could get to the centre of each stage and reach our friends, with only minimal squashing while we threw shapes. I wish I knew who had been on the main stage at the time to have caused the clear-out.
Maybe it was Troxler.
Our last hours were spent with Speedy J in Kozzmozz, and then Sven Vath bought down the curtain on our Tomorrowland at Cocoon. And while we were at Cocoon, my friend – Ton – messaged me from England and asked if we’d like to go to a Cocoon event in London in October. A fitting end to a great day.
Oh, and the red vodka? Tom gave us a couple of bottles. The Model drank one, and I put the other carefully in my bag to take home. I then dropped my bag on the foyer floor of The Lodge right as we were leaving, spreading sticky red liquid all over the ground and soaking my bag and clothes.
And then the taxi driver ripped us off.
Fucking taxi drivers.
Will we return next year? Maybe, but we are in the planning stages of something else with our Belgium buddies.