Apocalypse: One Apocalyptic Weekend!

With the 2023 festival season approaching its final stretch, Insomniac hosted quite the fall festival in Southern California over the Thanksgiving weekend. Apocalypse Zombieland is the new baby of the festival brand Insomniac, leading ravers from all over the United States to give it a shot at its first year as a festival. Beginning on Friday the 24th at two o’clock and ending on Saturday the 25th at midnight, it created plenty of “oohs” and “ahhs” from ravers as they were amazed at the scenery all weekend. The grandest reason for the astonishment from the crowd was that the venue was beside the 1,019-foot-long Queen Mary ship in Long Beach, California. With plenty of room to move from stage to stage on the first day, the foot traffic gradually picked up as the lineup on Saturday featured headliner Excison, coming to host Southern California with his famous bass drops and sky-flooded lasers. This being the first year the Insomniac team has birthed the festival Apocalypse, it left plenty of people happy enough to convince their friends (who didn’t attend this year) to buy their 2024 tickets on Cyber Monday for less than $120.00 (before tax). As a baby takes its first steps, the festival did the same by taking its first steps in the right direction by showing it was solid and capable of returning for another year. 

Jake West for Insomniac Events
Ivan Meneses for Insomniac Events

Ravers staying aboard Queen Mary had their secluded entry route into the festival on the left side of the main stage, allowing a quick entry and exit whenever they pleased. Those who occupied rooms not on the Queen Mary were not dissed from the leisure Apocalypse offered. Insomniac included free shuttles to and from the festival for ticket holders from designated parking lots that they posted via social media. Also, with plenty of hotels within a twenty to thirty-minute walk radius, there was a defined path for walkers to access quickly. Insomniac did right by its customers (ravers) by allowing the free shuttles. There was plenty of organization with four lines for four buses, allowing the flow of wait times to be swiftly executed by the staff managing it. Once they were all full, another four shuttles were waiting behind them to park and transport the eager Insomniac fans to the drop-off location. Suppose you didn’t want to wait the ten minutes or so it took to get onto the bus at around five pm (which we found to be the busiest time); you could also buy a speedy shuttle pass, which allowed you to get to the venue quicker. My rave family and I were okay with it since it was only four of us traveling together and meeting up with others inside, but I will consider getting the speedy pass next year to compare. The parking lot we chose to park in was $15 per day, which, compared to other festivals, was a good deal, mainly with the shuttle offered. All in all, the festival was structured thoroughly and managed well by those Insomniac chose to have in authority positions for shuttles. I did not once hear a complaint from anyone about the shuttle situation since the PLUR from the ravers was enough to show thankfulness regarding the option of not being forced to walk. 

Ivan Meneses for Insomniac Events

Insomniac-thrown afterparties were hosted onboard the ship on both nights, starting at midnight and ending at four. Three stages offered different artists each hour playing bass, drum and bass, and further into other genres like techno. Although I didn’t attend the after-party, it could have been worth attending since even being inside the Queen Mary would have been worth it enough to a non-native of Long Beach like myself. A few of my friends who did attend the afterparties weren’t pleased with the set up of the stages since they said the dancefloor at each location was small and people were sitting on the floor since they were carpet, so it took a bit of work moving from one to the other. Alas, as I stated, I was not personally in attendance at the after-parties, so I will have to attend both nights next year to give my strategies and opinions of them. For now, the views of those I spoke to and their thoughts will have to rest within this piece until I can give the afterparties the justice they deserve within my own words in 2024. One positive remark I will note is if you wanted to meet one of your favorite DJs and they were playing at the afterparty, you had a high chance of running into them after or before their set since there wasn’t anywhere else to go besides the stages. My friend Cody has a bucket hat he brings to every festival to get his favorite artists to sign, so he found the afterparty beneficial to his signature collection. Noting not much else for the afterparties due to my lack of personal experience, I would say if you were waiting for this festival to come and had a rave fam that you won’t usually see, spending the extra four hours together in an Insomniac venue could and will always be worth it. 

New information came to light regarding Academy LA hosting their own Apocalypse Zombieland Recovery Party on December 2nd! Though the free RSVP tickets that Academy LA typically offers are already sold out, you can still purchase remaining tickets for the event here: https://academy.la/event/apocalypse-recovery-party-secret-lineup-edm-shows-events-clubs-la-2023-dec-2-best-night-club-near-me-hollywood-los-angeles/. The show will start at 10 pm and with a hidden lineup, the time it ends will be TBA! 

Jamal Eid for Insomniac Events
Jamal Eid for Insomniac Events

Returning to the festival review, my thoughts for the lineup were spectacular. I had the pleasure of holding a VIP ticket for this festival, and I have the wristband to remember it by, which is contrary to the GA ticket holders who accessed tickets to the festival virtually. One thing I have always enjoyed about the VIP tickets was the access to water stations within the VIP areas. As they were placed on the map for this festival showing there were water stations for VIPs, unfortunately, there were none. Nonetheless, the lines for the water stations were slim to none, allowing a less than ten-minute wait within the lines for water since they had the water stations spaced out evenly within the festival. If you know nothing about the amenities of VIP, the concierge section is one part that makes me SO happy every time I walk into the secluded areas. They provide hand sanitizer, two types of aerosol deodorant, candy, sensory toys, lollipops, and other things that fluctuate each time I attend an Insomniac festival as a VIP ticket holder. I grab handfuls of candy, shove them into my sweatshirt pocket, and head out into the GA pit with my hands open full of sweets, asking strangers if they would like one, to which 99.9% of the time, they all say yes with a big smile on their face. With all of these positive attributes, there is one that cannot be beat: the air-conditioned bathrooms for VIPs. One thing my mom and one of my softball coaches called me growing up was a princess; therefore, you can guess that this princess is not pleased when she has to use a portapotty. So, no matter how far the VIP section is from where I am, I will walk over to use a private, flushable toilet. Each stage had its food vendors located within the VIP section. It had zero to hardly any lines every time I went to order something, which was a plus since my friend Alissa and I went into day one of the festival with nothing to eat for almost twelve hours. While we were practically starving, the quick lines made two young ladies happy to sit down, eat, and return to the dance floor to laugh with our friends. 

To conclude this review, I had a marvelous time due to the people I chose to surround myself with. I have accumulated good friends within the rave scene who know the drops to songs, who scream lyrics with me, will stop midsentence to headbang until our glasses fall off of our faces, and who will walk 40 minutes back to the car and talk to every stranger we see on the way. The venue had us screaming and taking pictures at almost every attraction we saw, and the group chat between us is still very active, and we are finding even more photos to share. The rave family has expanded even more after this festival, and I am beginning to develop some close friendships as I enter my early twenties. The rave scene truly feels like my home, and because of that, Insomniac has led me to think of the festival grounds as the place where I feel safe to be the best version of myself. Now that I am concluding the most severe parts of this review, if you’d like to know more about the connections I have made and developed even more after this festival, you can read more below about the different friend groups I ran into by chance during Apocalypse 2023. Once again, thank you to Insomniac for creating a delightful new festival that everyone I know enjoyed. Cheers.  

Scott Hutchison for Insomniac Events

To get into the sappy parts of my weekend, I want to share the highlights I had with my rave family and the other friends I met up with. Two friends, Cody and Ruben, have accumulated a rave family from all over. It ranges from Colorado, DC, Kansas, Wisconsin, Washington, Nevada, Virginia, Arkansas, Florida, and Canada. So whenever Cody and Ruben state they will attend a festival, I guarantee they will know someone wherever they go. Cody has been one person I have stayed in consistent contact with since I met him on May 5th of this year during a Maruda show at the San Jose Civic Center in California. He is one person who is kind, loyal, and giving. An example of his giving nature is that he gifted me a knitted jellyfish hat resembling the jellyfish from Spongebob so that we could wear it with a few other groupmates at this festival. Wearing them and being able to have a video as a memory of this moment reminds me just how special rave friendships are compared to any other that I have encountered before within my lifetime. I feel safe around anyone Cody and Ruben have stated is their friend. They know how to find humans with good intentions, which genuinely has the unity part of PLUR within their group. Spending the majority of my weekend with this rave family that they somewhat formed and being able to bring my girlfriends into it made it an excellent way to end the festival season of this year– together.

Maya is one person who has resembled a lot of myself in the body of another. We have the same wild energy and athlete mentality of doing things with others because teamwork makes the dream work. During this Apocalypse festival, she introduced me to her friend Naiya, and I also enjoyed introducing them to my friend Alissa. Immediately, we all blended seamlessly, headbanging and giving each other shoulder rides. The energy these three brought into my festival experience was like no other. I spun, jumping in a circle with Maya and Naiya to the song’s beat while Alissa stood in the middle, laughing as she watched us turn around her. Having three strong women around me throughout the festival made me feel so proud to feel their athletic drive since we all competitively played sports for most of our lives. Cody’s group had nothing but positive things to say about these three women and vice versa. We are all very eager to reunite and hang out again, which will probably be at a California festival since Maya, Naiya, Alissa, and I are all still in college, and we rave on a budget. After day two, we got into the car and had so much to talk about. The energy was high and never down throughout the festival experience for Apocalypse Year One from these two friend groups. 

Going into my next set of friends are Jean and Mikel. They are two brothers with different life goals and aspirations but have the same love for electronic dance music. Jean has the artist’s name @MidnightMafiaMusic (on Instagram) and creates dubstep and house tracks. I met these two brothers in June of this year during a Modestep rave at Exchange in downtown Los Angeles. It was my first ever rave since I moved to Southern California, and being able to create a friendship like the one that I have developed with these two is one that I hold close to my heart. They are two of the kindest people I know, like my friend Cody. They are also very loyal to those they call friends. One common denominator within the rave scene is that it brings a lot of friendly faces to it; because of that, they have also introduced me to many EDM local LA artists. While Mikel wasn’t attending this festival, I ran into his brother and Rachel @rachelsraveday (on Instagram), a new friend I adore. As I was visiting another friend, Preston, at his totem with his friends, Jean and Rachel had become acquaintances with Preston earlier in the day. So, as I stood side by side with Preston, the three of us made eye contact, and our smiles widened. We jumped up and down while hugging and spent the rest of day one together, hanging out and enjoying the sets for the night. I only see Jean, Mikel, or Rachel here and there since I am about thirty miles away (one-way), so whenever I see them, I am as much in the moment as possible. Seeing friends like them makes me think that the universe makes things happen for a reason, and I love it. 

The rave scene has brought me some friendships that will last me a lifetime, especially with everyone I have mentioned (and haven’t yet mentioned, and as we get closer, I will write about them, too). I have chosen to surround myself with people who are good for the soul. They call me when they need someone to talk to, and they are those people for me, too. I have supporters on social media no matter how far away they are because I can share what’s going on with the press of a few buttons, and suddenly, people who are 30 to 2000 miles away are right back into the close connections they were when I saw them last. Wrapping this up, I am thankful to be a Gen-Z woman who has access to a phone and this blog to share the memories and feelings that raving in my early years has caused me to develop and share with others. I recently passed my second rave anniversary, and it makes me so thankful for the lessons I have learned as a raver, an individual, a friend, a romantic partner, a daughter, a student, and even a housemate—here is to my second rave anniversary and many more!

The rave family for Apocalypse 2023