Autograf, Pasquale, And The Pope: A Nocturnal Wonderland Story
Nocturnal Wonderland in San Bernardino, California passed this weekend and left many, including me, with unforgettable memories. Nocturnal Wonderland, also known as Noc., was one of the last few large Insomniac events I had yet to attend since the beginning of my festival career in 2012. Prior to this Nocturnal, all I really knew about it was that it was a three-day event, huge named DJ’s played each year, and the production was huge. This year, Pasquale Rotella (the creator of Insomniac Events) and the rest of the Insomniac team, changed a few things.
Nocturnal 2017 was a two-day event, with smaller named DJ’s, camping, and a slightly smaller production level. Aside from some obvious big named headliners who still performed such as Dillion Francis, Excision, and GTA, this year’s Nocturnal was a place where the underdogs were able to really show off their talent. DJ’s such as Champagne Drip, BIJOU, and Pluto were some of many who graced our ears with brilliant beats. It’s hard to only give a small list, but some of my absolute favorite sets of the weekend included Autograf, Sub Focus, Dombresky, Just a Gent, Phantoms, and Dr. Fresch. However, everyone else I saw was incredible, too.
When it came to Insomniac’s production, they never disappoint. Although, because it was a smaller festival than usual, it did seem as if there was a bit less going. They had a black light tunnel where people were able to share their thoughts and feelings with paint that glowed on the walls and a secret beach themed stage where DJ’s who had already performed came to dominate yet another pair of CDJ’s. They also, of course, had dancers and performers walking around the festival on stilts and in ridiculous costumes bestowing smiles and awe stuck scenes across everyone’s faces. But it just seemed like something was lacking. Maybe it was just me, and my expectation for Insomniac events are set very high because of what I’m used to from them. Lucky, while at Sub Focus‘s set, my friends and I ran into Pasquale and was able to ask just what he was thinking when planning this festival.
Let me first start off by saying that Pasquale Rotella is a really sweet, very respectful guy. For being the type of micro-celebrity that he is, I was pleasantly surprised at how nice and friendly he was. After greeting him and thanking him for all of the incredible times we’ve ever had at his festivals, my boyfriend kneeled down to ask him why he marketed this Nocturnal as a boutique camping festival as opposed to a big rave like it’s always been. He replied by saying he wanted the festival to go back to its roots as it is Insomniacs longest running festival. He didn’t like how everything was so “big big”. I know exactly what he meant, as one of my favorite festivals to attend is DoLab’s Lightning in a Bottle, which is isn’t as glitz and glammy as Insomniac festivals usually are. For me, I appreciate both types of music festivals. They provide two different experiences, but both bring me joy and the time of my life. I am excited to see what else Pasquale has up his sleeve and watch to see if he continues in the sort of downsizing direction he went for Noc.
My last notable part of the festival I’d like to share happened in the final hour or so of the festival. After meeting Pasquale, my boyfriend and I went up to a gentleman wearing a Pope costume. This is a pretty normal thing to see at a music festival, as people wear whatever they want! After taking a picture with him, we got to talking and found out this guy has a pretty interesting story. He just so happened to be in town for a different event and last minute decided to go to Nocturnal, hence the Pope costume. He can do his job remotely so he is able to travel the world and will be heading to Peru in a few weeks. He also just got back from Thailand where he proposed to his now fiancé.
Meeting him reminded me of why I love going to festivals so much. Music festival’s get a bad rap for being a place where kids go to take drugs and go wild. But on the flip side, they’re a place you can meet amazing people like this and learn their stories. People come from all over to dance to amazing music at festivals and each and every one of them have a unique background. I’m so happy I was able to meet another amazing individual, and I hope to meet much more.
To conclude, Nocturnal was a 10/10. There were only good vibes and smiling faces. As my first Nocturnal, I was thoroughly impressed and will definitely be attending again.
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