An amazing thing happened to me last week – not off my own merit I have to admit – in truth it was down to pure luck of having a British passport thus being able to travel to Europe at a moment’s notice (well until Brexshit anyway). Also, my boss who should have been going was unwell which is not a lucky thing at all. I felt rather guilty about both of these things so planned to buy lots of Belgian chocolates for all my colleagues and vowed to do my company and my adopted country proud on the trip ahead.
So still a little unable to believe I was really going, I found myself on a (very nice – shout out to the brilliant Brussels airlines!) plane going to Tomorrowland. I was part of a group that included Indians, Canadians, Norwegians, Ugandans, Germans, of course Belgians and maybe a few other nationalities.
We were put up in a stunning converted church hotel in the beautiful town of Mechelan which, is so picture perfect I felt like I was on a film set. The surreal feeling was not helped by the fact that I was playing golf. Yes golf – not a bad way to tour a city. Even stranger, I ended up being ok at playing golf by the time we had reached the final hole at the newly opened town museum. The museum, not unlike the mixture of modern and ancient architecture in the town, had a mixture of modern art, historic artifacts and cool technology engagements. The day wound up rather fittingly in a brewery for dinner, after which I rushed off to get as much sleep and charge in my batteries for the following day. Mechelan – you get a big thumbs up and recommendation to my readers! Belgium is just so bloody nice you have to see it! As are the people – even the airport immigration officer was charming, funny and friendly!
So after eating as much as I could cram in for breakfast we set off for the festival. I won’t gush on too much about how amazing it was and how lovely our host and the new friends I made were – I will let the pictures do the talking. However if I had to describe the experience I think I could sum it up in three words – SO MUCH LOVE!!!
For a commercial event, I heard a huge amount of non-commercial, awesome music. I met people from all over the world carrying the flags of their home countries – not to stand out in the crowd, but to show solidarity that they were there, part of this huge, diverse global family, dancing together. The feeling of peace and unity in the face of all the shit we read in the news everyday really was incredible. It was backed up by the MCs and DJs expounding the same philosophy, the lyrics in some of the tunes being played and in the films and interviews about the festival I have since watched.
There was hardly any litter, no vandalism, no glaring in your face sponsorship plastered everywhere killing the vibe and the art, I didn’t see any trouble (or interestingly, any police in the festival), felt safe as a woman wandering around by herself, highly decorative infrastructure (and not much of a queue for the loos), world class sound, lights and production and just beautiful happy people of all ages (yes! I wasn’t the oldest there!) holding it down and having the best time. I even found some Belgian hardcore and people who know what R&S is. My feet hurt from dancing so much and face from smiling like I used to ‘back in the day’ as we aging ravers say! My head however did not hurt – no hangover and no ringing ears.
A one in a lifetime, great experience and a very, very grateful me.
Now come on India! – Let’s overcome all the challenges we face in the events industry here (I won’t kill the joy of this article by listing them now) and bring Tomorrowland home to India – or create something of our own equal, or if it is even possible, better!