UNT students gather to celebrate Lights All Night

UNT students gather to celebrate Lights All Night

UNT students gather to celebrate Lights All Night
January 02
19:58 2019

Festival attendees of Lights All Night celebrated the last weekend of 2018 with the steady heartbeat of bass, felt even outside the concrete walls of Dallas Market Hall.

LAN held its ninth annual two-day festival this past weekend to an expected crowd of over 30,000 people. The event featured well-known headliners Kaskade, REZZ, Diplo, Excision, Gucci Mane and Tiësto.

The genre of music featured at the festival mostly falls under the umbrella category of EDM or electronic dance music with notable exceptions such as the rapper Gucci Mane who was featured as a headlining artist this year. However, the lineup is very diverse, as the term EDM is very broad and encompasses many other sub-genres such as house, techno, trance, and dubstep, just to name a few.

For many, LAN is considered the EDM mecca of the Dallas-Fort Worth area. People travel from all around to attend the end-of-year bash.

“It’s kind of like ‘the event’ for people in Dallas and the EDM scene,” biology and chemistry senior  Sammi Swaim said. “Most people that go to the smaller raves in Dallas end up going to Lights All Night. You end up seeing people that you’ve met at smaller raves and stuff, so it’s really cool.”

Swaim and a group of fellow UNT students meet every December to celebrate LAN with the friends they have made over the years. While the group attends other similar festivals throughout the year, LAN is the one that holds the group together, with some friends traveling from as far as California to attend the event.

While the music is important, the inclusion of other elements is what takes LAN from a concert to an experience. The theme of the festival was sensory overload. Every room was stuffed with bright, flashing lights, art installations and inescapable music. Every crowd featured a thousand dancers, more unique and diverse than the last.

“First of all, it’s indoors and that makes a pretty neat venue,” mechanical engineering junior Ryan Johnston said. “There are other [festivals] like Lights All Night that are outdoors. I would say the venue itself is a really nice change from other festivals that I’ve been to.”

But the event itself was just the meeting place of the EDM culture, which is extremely unique in its own right. The lights, sounds, and people have melded together to create a community that is truly unique compared to those of other genres of music festivals.

“The costumes are something I don’t see anywhere else,” festival attendee Kevin Amaya, 25, said. “EDM is almost like cosplaying for a lot of people. You get to be, even if it’s not a different person, something that you don’t get to be in the regular world.”

A dancer performs on stage at Lights All Night in Dallas Market Hall. Photo by Slade Meadows.

People in the past have attended LAN in outlandish costumes ranging from body suits with glitter and flashing lights to little more than lingerie, but dressing up is far from a requirement to fit in.

“Last night I actually went in my office clothes because I just came straight from my job,” said Travis Robinson, 25, who has attended LAN for the last three years. “But honestly, the thing is there is no dress code. It’s be there, be weird, be who you want to be. You know, if you’re there to judge somebody on what they’re doing, what they’re wearing—you’re doing it wrong.”

Once festival goers become open to the experience, there is no limit to the people they can meet or the friends they can make. Johnson, for instance, has made several long-time friends at LAN and other similar EDM festivals. Their group continues to meet up every year for it’s annual celebrations.

“When I first started going,” Robinson said. “I would go to shows solo and just every show I’d stick with a new group. Like they would kind of adopt you for the night. Just walk up to the smoke pit and they would be like, ‘Hey you want a cigarette blah blah,’ start talking and boom you’re with a group for the night.”

Many people are surprised by how friendly strangers can be at LAN, but friendliness and “good vibes” are considered the norm for the EDM community.

“It’s such a loving community,” Swaim said. “My first experience was just mind-blowing at how friendly everybody was and willing to help each other. Like if someone is sick or something, everybody will help them, or if someone gets lost and separated from their friends, there’s not really a single person that wouldn’t help that person.”

Many cops were present, however, they made few arrests and are generally in place to provide medical assistance to anyone who may be experiencing an overdose or negative reaction to a substance. They also remain vigilant for bomb threats or active shooter situations, which have become frequent at concerts in recent years.

While festival organizers are usually strict about things that can cannot be brought onto festival grounds, the organizers of LAN understand that they must make exceptions for the EDM community. Bringing light up gloves, hula hoops, diffraction glasses and an assortment of other LED objects that can be twirled is the norm for EDM festivals.

“If you are going to cater to a festival,” ecology senior Meghan Johnson said. “You have to cater to the crowd — what they are there for. Like if you don’t allow gloves or anything that’s along with the community, then it’s just kind of a self-defeating prophecy.”

Judging from the success of LAN, it seems that the organizers of the festival and the EDM community understand one another — which is really what goes into creating such an otherworldly experience.

“A lot of people have kind of a reservation about the EDM community,” Swaim said. “ The people are just so great and it’s not this cheesy, childish thing that people stereotypically think of whenever they think of raves. It’s a super loving and supportive community and a great way to meet friends.”

Featured Photo: Courtesy Lights All Night

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Slade Meadows

Slade Meadows

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