Culture On High: The North Coast Music Festival


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Spending three summer days in a sea of people, sporting your most creative costume, listening to the rumbling bass of dance music isn’t exactly a normal way to spend Labor Day weekend. But not much about the North Coast music festival in Union Park, Chicago is considered normal.

Summer’s last stand, a name for the festival coined by its attenders, celebrated its five year anniversary this Labor Day weekend. My ticket was a gift from a friend looking to finish summer with a bang or more suitably a heavy drop. Excited, our group of bass-heads packed up and headed to the windy city for our last stand.

Instantly upon our arrival we found ourselves engulfed in a culture full of color, creativity, and freedom. It is dance festival culture to dress as crazy as the music heard from the 66 artists at Union Park that weekend. Anything from, psychedelic designs, colorful homemade masks, lovely swim wear, or tomahawk Indian headdresses can be found proudly displayed by festival goers.

The North Coast festival, like many other dance festivals, is imagination personified; there is very little to be seen or heard that breaks the vibe of this colorful dream, and that is exactly the point.

Like any vacation, the goal is to forget the stresses of life and live solely for enjoyment, if only for a moment. I believe festivals capture this idea the best. The rhythmic music, amazing light show, and beautiful people leaves you no choice but to fall into the festival’s full and sometimes chemically enhanced trip.

Imagine the crowd of people all dancing in their own unique way, some goofier than others but none serious. These dance moves would stir up quite some laughter anywhere else but not here. Here being strange and standing out holds the majority.

Feeling inspired by the crowd, a sense of freedom overtakes you as the music hits. Sinking in to the rhythm, your groove begins sending you in motion holding nothing back. Even though thousands of people surround you, there is never a feeling of judgment and a strange sense of privacy occurs. This joined feeling of comfort and connection brought me to the realization that everyone’s priorities aligned with each other to forget all the stresses of their worlds or simply to get lost in the music.

The North Coast festival attenders showed me many ways to accomplish this. Like the several girls that dance with a hula-hoop for hours on end. I watched as she spun her LED flashing hoop up and down her body, from one arm to the other never breaking focus. She wasn’t showing off, just putting on a show for herself.

My way is a little simpler since I’m not very good with a hula-hoop; I close my eyes leaving only the music to follow. Finding my focus like the hula-hoop girl did, I move to the music with nothing holding me back.

This intoxicating experience lasts throughout the three days of shows. From Alesso to Bassnectar, and Kid Cudi to Snoop Dogg, we bass-heads dance on. We spark conversation with anyone we please and not once was anyone hesitant to introduce themselves or be negative in any way.

Somewhere within this three day experience while trying to understand why everyone is so positive here and why I ever have to leave, I noticed something. There were too many unique looking people to single someone out to be judged. There was no fear to act the way you wanted, you are never going to see these people again anyways. There was no conflict between people; everyone was too focused on the music and beautiful scenery.

Simplifying life down to the transitions of the DJ’s set left room for only positive thinking for each person on their own adventure. This positive energy could be felt anywhere in Union Park. The North Coast festival brings a celebration to a city that is full of pain and anger. It is a celebration of life and taking steps towards living better.

This happy revolution only lasts for the weekend but for the people that attended the feeling last much longer, and now an idea has been planted inside them. Why can’t we live like this all the time?

For anyone who has never gone to a concert, you should get on that. It does not matter who you see, anyone will work, and for anyone that has not gone to any sort of festival, make plans to. I owe a lot of my outlook on life to the experiences I’ve made at festivals.