Ok, so I like electronic dance music, more specifically Trance. When I started in the 1990's, the US was a bit behind in that department.
Still, with San Francisco and San Jose nearby, I've had some opportunities to see some great EDM/Trance DJs. Back in the early 2000's, they sadly played club music in the US that was nowhere close to the hits they had composed and were known for, but over the years, as Trance started becoming more popular, those DJs finally started playing their good tunes in the US too, and maybe from 2004 on, it's only been getting better. Popsicle Halloween 2004 was really the beginning of great music parties in the San Francisco Area, and thankfully things have gotten even better since then
As a matter of fact, after another 10 years (2015 and beyond) the good news is that Trance has grown quite a following in the US, and places like the SF Bay Area, and while Trance has been declared dead a few times in the last 10 years, it's still going strong here.
Trance Family SF is definitely strong in the area, we've been getting more big trance parties every year, including many top DJs that come visit us what feels like every other week now (as of 2018-2019), and through those events, I made many friends in Trance Family SF. Thanks to you all.
Over those years, I got the chance to meet a few of my favourite DJs, including Armin more than once, and my last hobby has been to work on lights for my shirt and pants (version 3) and (version 4)
Paying toilets is not an uncommon practise in Holland which seems to like charging for things that you take for granted, but that's doesn't mean it's right, and for an international festival, that was a very bad move, got many people upset, and was just not a good way to make a bit of extra money. Given that it was too late to raise ticket prices, a donation box to help with the budget shortfall and the loss of revenue during covid, would have worked so much better, as well as selling some expensive "I helped lumi" tshirts, or bands, or anything. Anything but that...
To make things worse, you didn't get a wristband anymore, because in and outs were now forbidden, likely another attempt to increase revenue, and force people to deal with the quite limited food options at the venue. Outside of overpriced bananas, soggy fries, and decent pizza, the rest was really just survival food. So now you only got a wristband to be able to use the toilet for 4 days after you had paid extra. Sigh, not the best way to do things...
next year, we will go see this guy :)
After enough uproar, I think they stopped checking if people had paid.
Several people said they should have just sold a wristband that did nothing for 10 euros as souvenir and "thanks for your donations", it would have worked better than the "toilet wristband". I agree.
Another challenge was the lack of real bathrooms. There were plenty of porta potties, but well, they were smack next to the coco beach stage, and if wind went in the wrong direction, you can imagine what happened :( I don't have a good suggestion here, it's a problem with the venue, and I'm not sure what the solution is. I've never had issues with bathroom smells at any EDC or Dreamstate though, not sure what they do differently.
No tap water, pretense that recycling was a concern when huge amounts of non recyclable plastic waste was created, and the bottlecap BS wasn't over yet either
Next, holland loves to sell you bottled water, and good luck getting tap water in a restaurant there, but lumi pushed things to 0 access to tap water, at all and making sure you couldn't bring your own water in. The only official source of water were 6.5 euros water, which for 4 days at 1.5l per day, was going to be 12 bottles at 78 euros, for water only, sigh
Did everyone spend that much? Of course not, but too many people also danced dehydrated which is just unsafe, especially in combination with some drugs. People have died from dehydration at festivals, I have a hard time understanding how lumi thought it was a good idea. That didn't even count desperate people getting water from the hand wash stations, which was tap water that came in buckets, but probably not in a container that was very safe to drink:
So yeah, it felt a bit insulting when they reminded us to drink and there was no free water anywhere:
And yes, those who know me, that when I see clear problems, I'm not shy about pointing them out. For those who will say "but it's only money, they need money, just give it to them", I'll reply again that I would happily have put 50 euros in a donation box at the entrance for the 4 days (in the end, I ended up buying 2 tickets for one), but this also would also ignore the super long lines to get said water, that they tried to sell you one bottle at a time, while keeping the bottlecap. Yes, yes, they weren't done with the bottlecap bullshit either. OMG, why? FFS, you're already selling water for the price of alcohol, and you still need to steal the bottlecaps to prevent people from being able to conserve that water more easily? This really does not bring happiness and again makes Lumi stand out as festival with very questionable rules. Please fix this.
As a side effect, it also caused people to waste non trivial amounts of time in long lines to get the water they needed. Really sad...
yeah, lots of long lines to get water, often one bottle at a time and without bottle caps
Oh right, and they said they were worried about plastic waste, so they had a fairly cumbersome system with tokens to exchange against empty glasses or bottles, or you were fined another 50 cents for each drink for failing to recycle, even if you had thrown your stuff in a bin. But really the worst part is that plastic is mostly not recyclable, never was, probably never will, so the whole recycling is a lie. If you are worried about the environment (and you should be), stop this bottled water nonsense, allow hydration bags and provide water fountains.
Ah crap, what do I do with these now?
Ironically, this is what I wrote in my 2019 Lumi report, and it only got worse this year :( Just charge what you need to charge on the tickets and let people hydrate as they need to. If only one person ends up in the hospital or worse due to dehydration, that is not worth it. Insomniac got the clue, Lumi not yet.
Will 2023 be the year that Luminosity changes things for the better? Time will tell, although give them your feedback too, they need to hear from everyone.
Paying with tokens
Haha, this time it's not a rant. They listened to feedback and got rid of the token system. You could pay with your phone or any RF credit card, and for people without either, they sold you RF cards you could pay with. Well done.
Ok, that one is also a sore point for me. They employ a 3rd party security company that Bo says they have no control over (as in Bo said he was not able to tell them to please allow my LED outfit which is designed to bring smiles and not, as the security people tried to claim in 2019, strangle people with my LED strips. They cost way too much for that anyway, I'd be using my non forbidden shoe laces instead...)
The list of forbidden items was very long, including a requirement to have transparent bags that people didn't have. They didn't enforce that part, but why then create angst with rules that don't get enforced? They had enhanced searches, looking all the way inside people's wallets (!) and even stole people's sunscreen, you know, the thing we need not to get cancer (I had 5 skin cancers removed already, so I very much do care). You will say that they helpfully offered poor quality and empty sunscreen containers at the medical station, yeah, sure. I'll stick to my real and non empty sunscreen, thank you.
here is the free empty poor sunscreen you could use after they had stolen your premium one at security, thank you
This is the enhanced security that I decided not to deal with after I recognized the exact person who took my entire LED oufit away last year saying I could injure others with it and strangle people with my LED strips. I'm sure they were also busy confiscating all the spare bottlecaps they could get their hands, on.
Security is hard, this is true, but with the security people enforcing petty things like taking sunscreen and water, and then telling people like me what they were a danger to others, is just not a win and does not make the event more fun or more welcoming. I'm unlikely to ever go to creamfields again, and I would rather not haver to do the same thing with Lumi.
Please re-visit the security rules, festival-goers are the customers, not the enemy, please be nice to us, restrict the search to weapons and real risks, give some leeway on the rest, and use security staff on the field to keep the event safe while it's happening. That's what other festivals do, successfully.
Sound quality/Sound Bleed
Another issue with the venue was the layout made it difficult to have 4 stages and there was pretty terrible soundbleed between them. The sunset stage was the worst one, you could barely hear its sound and you sure could hear plenty sound from the classics stage, which was a bummer. Classics also bled onto mainstage if you were behind it on the hill to see mainstage. All in all the sound was challenging, and probably not because the sound engineers sucked, but because that venue was challenging to use for 4 stages.
Again, I don't have a good suggestion here, the previous venue was way worse with the sound restrictions until 17:00 (to the point that could barely hear some DJs playing). Looks like playing by the beach with neighbors is just difficult and they tried the best they could. Thank you.
New Venue: Bernie's Beach Club close to Zandvoort
a convenient change is that the new location is only 10mn bike ride from Zandvoort
mainstage was now smack against beach houses, I'm sure the residents didn't love that :)
overview, with 2 pools that were off limits
So, what about the new location? The last one kind of sucked given the sound limits that prevented DJs from playing anything you could hear until around 17:00 (with the event start moved from 12:00 to 15:00), that was disappointing. So at least this time the event was 12:00 to 23:00, which was better, but for the LED geek night owls like me, that wasn't great as the event was over before twilight was fully over (sunset itself was around 22:20 as the longest day of the year was during Lumi). Also, I felt guy for whoever did the lighting and lasers that only got used about 45mn per day
It was convenient to be closer to Zandvoort, but this was sandwiched between 2 sets of properties and residents which were not thrilled with the music I'm sure. It's unclear how much they'll complain and try to get the event shut down or moved.
One issue with the venue was that it was not friendly to those with disabilities, but realistically few venues by the beach will probably be. They did put some boards on the sand that made things a bit more liveable for wheelchairs, but without a strong friend to push up, it was very steep in several places. That's not an easy problem to solve, either.
Again, despite the challenges, I liked the extended hours (11h/day instead of 6 to 9H in 2019 depending on sound levels), and it seemed more roomy in places.
Let's start with mainstage. It was covered for when it rained (and it did rain), and if you were within that area, sound was good, but at times, it was a bit too small to contain the amount of people who attended on saturday and sunday. It was definitely the best stage with nice lighting and lasers that unfortunately we only got to enjoy about 45mn per day due to the late sunsets:
Coco beach was ok enough, until the toilets started smelling, and then it was no fun anymore :(
The DJs had a lounge to rest and get a bit of time off:
You've likely already heard me say that, vampire me doesn't love day festivals due to the blazing sun, and unfortunately lumi is 95% during daylight hours. This of course meant virtually no night lights, and more generally only a few people had costumes, but thank you to those who did.
I brought my otherwise obsolete version 3 LED outfit because it was might brighter during daylight (but also sucked more batteries)
when it got dark enough, I was able to switch to my regular outfit for a mere 90 minutes before the festival was over
we had pink day when FactorB played to honor the passing of his lovely partner, to cancer
some of the SF crew that came along
At least some people had fun T-shirts :)
And OMG, someone came up to me and said "Dude, were you with me at UCPA in Ibiza 20 years ago"? Well, damn, sure I was, we were in the same exercise + party group that flew there for a week or two in 2003/2004. This one definitely wins the "Eh, I saw you at X" contest ;)
Like every day, I arrived bright an early just before noon every day to enjoy all the artists. The first day, I also got to sope the grounds a little bit.
I was very excited for Craig's set, which even though it was the 3rd time I was seeing him in 2 weeks, I sure didn't mind :) As always, he didn't disappoint.
like several artists, Craig nicely went to take pictures with his fans
Back to other stages:
I then went back to mainstage to see Richard Durang and Paul Oakenfold with Nadine and Robert, both had very enjoyable sets:
Paul was next:
Richard definitely had fun :)
haha, nice shot :)
But plenty of other sets and DJs:
sunset stage was unfortunately the poorest of them all, hard to see the DJ and to hear the sound
Don't be fooled, sunset was very late, half way through the last set of the night
Speaking of the end of the night, went to see John 00 Flemming, who had another great hypnotic set:
PvD came to listen to him
and Oakey came too, allowing me to shoot that double Paul picture :)
Ok, and a bit of Mark Sherry to see mainstage and the poor laser that only had about 30mn to shine:
found a few friends, Aryel and Alessandra Roncone
And just like that, day #1 was over, still twilight to bike home:
Summary Video for Day #1:
Day #2 started with Orkidea:
Roger Sha did a lovely live set
It's only been 2 weeks since I saw Will Atkinson
Delighted to see him again, fun set full of energy
And then AA meeting:
Back to mainstage with Gareth Emery, PvD, and Aly & Fila to close the night:
and another 30mn for the lasers to shine
Aly went all in and didn't stop when he was supposed to, good for him, we loved it :)
Summary Video for Day #2:
Day 3 was the day of rain, it started as soon as the event opened, which cleared the non covered part of mainstage:
My friend Aryel and the other Romanian trance lovers then went to see exolight whom I first discovered at untold last year, and have quite enjoyed since then :)
Then was time for FactorB, OMG that was emotional, he did such a beautiful job. After recently losing his lovely partner to cancer, he gave her a very touching homage. Everyone who saw it said how beautiful a set it was:
Giuseppe was next, it's time to play again :)
someone managed to have a makeshift totem even though they were forbidden, good job, haha
By then, it was pouring rain, so I used my LED outfit to do a rain dance :)
one good thing with the rain was that it was dim enough to use my real LED outfit
Summary Video for Day #3:
The last day of a 3-4 day festival is always interesting, it's a mix of who still has enough energy to dance, and the "party hard, it's the last day" crowd. Given that I was able to get enough sleep, I was doing quite well, so day #4, here we go:
great to see Xijaro and Pitch again, unfortunately the sound quality was quite poor
By then, Mike took over mainstage, Maybe because it was sunday, MIKE decided that trance was for suckers, and blasted something that was more techno and the the crowd sure didn't mind :)
because it was day 4, and it wasn't safe to take my LED outfit home to fix it, it was running on fumes and was partially broken, but whatever :)
Robert Nickson got a spot on Coco stage
We then got more hard beats from JoC:
Markus was next:
And the night, which still wasn't night, finished with Key 4050 and Solarstone:
Last sunset and finally some darkness:
Summary Video for Day #4:
So, there was an afterparty at Panama in Amsterdam, but honestly it was close to 1h away, then for anyone staying in Zandvoort, you had to find a way back when trains were probably not running at night, and most of us were then going to Amsterdam to get out on monday. 3 back and forth trips in the same night didn't seem that appealing for a few more hours of trance when I already had had 44 hours :) I would have gone to an afterparty in Zandvoort if there was one...
And as luck would have it, I found one on my ride home, some guys started a party from the back of a car, and we continued to dance there until the batteries ran out.
the police came to say hi, but drove off after a minute
Despite the challenges and a few questionable ways to make up the budget shortfall, we still had a great time, but many said online that they were fairly upset and offended by the water/toilet situation this year, I really hope it gets fixed.
raise the ticket price, pure and simple. Don't play those ridiculous and somewhat dangerous water games that waste everyone's time. Just charge us what you need to make a healthy profit
Other venue/fixing the sound bleed? This one is tricky, clearly the venue is sandwiched between 2 sets of properties, the dune, and high tide. Not really any room to expand, I think they did the best they could. Still, maybe a different layout would help some of the sound bleed issues, and at least raising the sound and fixing the equalizer setting for the sunset stage?
Bathrooms: maybe they can be moved closer to the entrance, away from the stages. Yes, it's a walk up, but not bathroom smell by the stage next to it would be good, and it allows for more room to expand a bit?
Running tap water, 'nuff said
Have a serious talk with the insomniac and/or untold folks on how they do security right. They keep the event secure without having lots of unreasonable restrictions that make the guests unhappy, or worse. A completely clueless and unprofessional (hello Creamfields) or over-reaching and not very rational (Sorry, lumi, that's you) security team really can ruin the experience for attendees. Please fix it.
VIP tickets? There were some VIP wristbands, I don't think they were for sale, I'm not even sure if they are a good idea given that Lumi is kind of a "everyone is the same" kind of event, but still worth considering?
this seemed to be the VIP area
For the venue, not everyone loved it. I agree it had challenges, but let's be reasonable: the options are likely limited. I'm sure that Luminosity did their best given lots of challenges. I with them good luck talking to the city council and dealing with some the nearby residents who probably were not happy with the event and 44H of trance, hopefully it worked out ok for most.
And yes, despite the challenges, it was still a fun event. Warm thanks to Bo and all the crew that made it happen and all the DJs who played for us, you rule!