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Coming Home Again: A Weekend at Beyond Wonderland

by Carla Jara

Wide-eyed, neon-green socks, and an arm full of homemade kandi bracelets, I ventured into my first EDM festival several years ago with an excitement that could only be shaped by heavy bass and dancing lasers. It was a night I can never forget, because it was the night when I pledged my allegiance to the EDM community—and the PLUR Gods, of course.

From that moment on, I dove headfirst into all things Electronic Dance Music. Any extra cash I made at my part-time job as a dignified doughnut specialist at Krispy Kreme, all went into my festival funds. I religiously listened to the music, and hand crafted my own outfits. It was my home away from home; a safe haven where I could proudly be me.

Years in, things started to change. I changed. The influx of festivalgoers who just wanted a pretty Instagram photo surged, and I knew it was time for the next adventure.  So I fizzled out like the studded belt I used to wear as a self-denying Emo kid in the early 2000’s.

But then I went to Beyond Wonderland 2017—and it was like coming home to a warm bed, and a family of open arms after a two-year sabbatical.

Producers and DJ’s like Audien, Sander Van Doorn, Martin Solveig, and Markus Schulz who used to be on constant repeat on my 5th Generation iPod had sets that immersed me in a sea of nostalgia. Being able to scream the words to old favorites like “Sun and Moon” by Above and Beyond, or being inducted into a young family of neo ravers while I was dancing by myself, easily became my highlighting moments.

Beyond Wonderland was a unique experience all on its own.  Every piece of décor turned the venue into a new world, and each stage was its own wonder of the world. The NOS Events Center in San Bernardino was brimming with a diverse crowd of festivalgoers; young and old, new and mavens. We head banged to the beat, traded kandi, and cheered on the shufflers. The newbies who were experiencing their first EDM festival, carried a glow as if witnessing magic.

And for the veterans like myself, immunity was nowhere to be found. We caught that glow, because for one weekend in March, we were able to come home.

One. More. Time.

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