A celebration of life and music at the largest EDM festival in the world
Boom’s is a universal expression for explosion,but you’d hardly believe it if I said it is also the name of a quaint little town in Belgium, home to just about 18,000 people. But as destiny would have it, this silent town turns explosive every year for an entire weekend (two in 2017 actually) when it hosts Tomorrowland, one of the world’s biggest EDM festivals or, in other words, the world’s biggest party! My first memory of Tomorrowland is watching the after movie of the festival in 2009. What was meant to be a random YouTube watch got me hooked! One look,and it seemed like the coolest place on earth — a surreal and colourful land, full of happy people grooving to the best party anthems! A place where you just want to land up and never come back. And then, life happened…
It wasn’t until seven years, five cities and as many jobs later, that the thought of Tomorrowland would strike me again.It hit me really strong this time, courtesy my friend Salil. I still remember that Wednesday night in August 2016, when we met at our regular watering hole in Delhi to talk about his Tomorrowland trip. Yes, he had just returned from Tomorrowland and I couldn’t wait to meet him after looking at his pictures on Facebook. After the usual what, when, where and how, I didn’t waste even a single minute to exclaim, “Let’s do it next year!”. And so began our year-long mission to hit Tomorrowland 2017. Before you wonder why it would take us a year, let me clear the air about my lack of cash reserves then and our objective to do it in the most frugal manner. No worries at all if you have www.justurbane.com October 2017 133 enough cash piled up, but my first lesson was to start saving up for the trip – a fixed amount every month into an untouched bank account. That’s commitment! Now, money doesn’t guarantee you an entry into Tomorrowland. While lakhs of people around the world wish to attend the festival, the organisers have a fair way of selling the tickets. If you don’t want to spend an exorbitant sum to buy tickets from aftermarkets, you have to pre-registeron Tomorrowland’s website sometime in December. I received a link for the official ticket sale, which was supposed to open on the last Saturday of January. All of us logged in precisely at 21:30 IST on that day and were put on an eternal wait list. Yes, when a million people log in at the same time, a millionth of a second decides your position in the queue.
We weren’t lucky the first time, but our luck turned the next week, when we finally got four tickets, a bit more expensive than the last weekend sale but much cheaper than buying from third parties.Once the Tomorrowland tickets are done, making travel plans are far simpler. Boom is accessible from both Brussels and Amsterdam.We decided to fly to Amsterdam and then took a train to Antwerp. A small train from there takes about 40 minutes to Boom. This tiny train is interesting for the fact that it is full of the ‘People of Tomorrow’. I must say that the festival vibes start right at this platform, waiting for the train to Boom.There are regular shuttle buses from Boom station that take you to De Schorre, the beautifully landscaped venue for the festival. On one side is the ground and on the other is Dreamville, the living spaces. There are various options available, ranging from luxury quarters, cabanas, pre-installed twin tents, to the magnificent greens where you can pitch your own tents. One tip –the more you pay, the less you walk to the festival and back, pretty useful when you’re tired after 10 hours of partying. We landed on Thursday afternoon. This is probably the best time to reach here as it gives you enough time to settle down in your tent, freshen up and then head to the welcome party. This gathering featured a lot of acts till midnight. It sets the mood for the coming weekend, but is nowhere close to what’s in store.
Dreamville has every conceivable convenience that you would require during your stay here. There’s a supermarket, world cuisine food stalls, electronic stores, mobile phone shops, hair and make-up salons and even a well-equipped gym; not that you would want to work out in the middle of all that partying; but it’s all there. An important thing to note is that Tomorrowland is a cashless festival. You receive a braceletthat you tap at various places to enter and exit, and it is also used to pay for all your expenses. Tomorrowland’s currency is called ‘pearls’, which can be loaded into your bracelet at counters around the festival. Tomorrowland officially runs from Friday to Sunday. 2017 saw two weekends, which meant more people could join. Acts usually start at noon and go on till midnight. The A-list artists start playing at around 4pm and build the tempo as the night falls. The big names this year included Arminvan Buuren,Afrojack, Axwell Ingrosso, Don Diablo,EricPrydz, Hardwell, Paul van Dyk, Tiësto, Steve Aoki, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Sander van Doorn, Otto Knows, Nervo to name a few. David Guetta and Martin Garrix played the closing sets this year.
The festival this year had a staggering 16 stages which were on simultaneously.The whole area is full of immense energy and such friendly vibes that justify the name Tomorrowland. It’s actually a world full of happy and friendly people who are there to celebrate life, and music becomes a medium for that. You find people from all nationalities, flags waving high everywhere. Fans travel as long as 22 hours (from Australia, for example) to be a part of this community. Strangers give you high-fives and don’t frown when you talk to them. Your own countrymen seem dearer and hugs are exchanged every time you spot an Indian. We didn’t want to leave and the only resort was to attend the Tomorrowland After-Party in Ibiza a couple of days later (but trust me, it was nothing like this place). Spending just a weekend here, all you wish is for the outside world to be the same. And I think this is the main motto behind such music festivals. Music has different forms, to each his own, but its real beauty is how it connects people and brings them together.
For now, Salil and I have decided we’re going there every year… till we find a better world. I would strongly recommend this one if you are into EDM and partying. I’ll see you there next year and you’ll find me waving the Indian flag high…