Though dance music is American grown, for more than 20 years its mecca has been in Europe. So, it makes sense that the most extravagant festival in the genre would come from the Eastern mothership. And leading the over-saturated pack of festivals popping up like boobs at a strip club is Belgium's TomorrowLand. Having just closed out its eighth edition at the end of July, the event, based 30 minutes north of Brussels (in a town ironically called Boom), is undeniably the world's biggest, most popular and most widely staged dance music festival.
Tomorrowland's motto is, "Yesterday is history. Today is a gift. Tomorrow is a mystery." The event's organizer, Dutch entertainment enterprise ID&T, takes great pride in having the most elaborately designed presentation of any music festival in the world. A quick snapshot of the event shows fairy-tale décor across 185 acres. There is a whopping total of 16 stages, with the main stage weighing in at 138 tons and featuring a design that took nine months to build.
The VIP campground, predictably named "Dreamland," is unlike any other campground you've been or will go to — ever. Aside from the specialty dining area where Michelin-rated chefs prepare signature food in a fuckin' gingerbread house, Dreamland offers a marketplace with multiple shops, several community centers and even its own warm-up party, called "The Gathering."
Everyone wants to go to Tomorrowland. Everyone. TomorrowLand's Facebook page boasts more than 4 million likes — compare that to Coachella's measly-ass 700,000-plus likes.
When tickets went on sale earlier this year, 180,000 tickets were sold in record-breaking seconds, excluding the 90,000 tickets that are reserved for the residents of Belgium. It took less than a minute for 2 million people, all vying for the chance to experience the one-of-a-kind ravetopia, to have their dreams crushed and (dub) stepped on.
But wait, there's more! Although ID&T never talked about looking for a second location to host the event in the past, 2013 brought the announcement of a sister event, TomorrowWorld. The world of tomorrow is rolling through Chattahoochee Hills in Georgia this Sept. 27-29. Located on the same property as the Counterpoint Festival (2012) and Echo Project (2007), the 8,000-acre property is perfectly suited to host the extensive production that will transform the grassy pastures.
Glancing over the lineup for TomorrowWorld will surprise and delight even the snobbiest of dance music fans. You'll find well-known names like DJs Armin Van Buuren, Tiësto, David Guetta and Tomorrowland residents Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, but you will also find underground treasures like Jamie Jones, Damian Lazarus and Claude VonStroke.
The lineup is nowhere near the length of its Euro-based sibling, and while there is a variety of genres in this edition, it's America's version of variety. Outside of all the forms of house and trance, the OG "Land" is brimming with hardstyle, drum and bass, and slim-to-none trap and "steps."
The new "World" is the same; only switch the brimming and slim-to-none genres with each other. You knew the music wouldn't be exactly like the Euro version though, right? As America still plays dance music catch-up with the rest of the world, our preference in genres is playing catch-up as well, being that we are the only ones who are readily "running the trap."
Tickets to this larger-than-life festival are surprisingly still available. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing, considering how quickly Tomorrowland sells out, but if you're ready to be a part of the sized-down yet still monstrous occasion, here's the best news: It's only a four-hour drive away.
All eyes will be on the South come early fall, but until then, we wait. Yesterday is history. Today is a gift. Tomorrow is a mystery.