Due to thousands of people who gather outside on frozen soccer fields to calibrate their souls and vibrate into the New Year, SnowGlobe Music Festival arranges for buses to pick everyone up on a route that winds from the casinos of Stateline, Nev., to the densely forested campus of Lake Tahoe Community College.
Dec. 29-31 | Lake Tahoe Community College | South Lake Tahoe
I park my car behind Harrah’s and walk down State Route 50 — Lake Tahoe’s version of the Las Vegas Strip. A young couple sits on a stone bench admiring each other, while a middle-aged woman shuffles home, her back bent from long hours of labor. When I round the corner to the transit station, I’m not quite sure where to go, so I ask a couple of women who are sitting on a bench smoking and complaining about their manager.
“Just follow those bunnies,” says the one, sardonically pointing at a squad of 20-something girls in animal onesies headed for the corner.
As I gather with the herd in wait of our ride, there comes a man wearing bright-red, short-short jeans, lumberjack overalls and a tiny, shiny, translucent backpack. The rest of his crew are sporting what would most likely be classified as pajamas.
On the bus, I find an empty seat next to a teenage girl with glitter lipstick and long shimmering bangles.
“What’s your name?” I ask.
“Ki-er-a,” she says with an extraordinarily slow, awkward, yet charming smile.
“It’s my first SnowGlobe,” I say.
“Cool, what’d you think of yesterday?”
“I’m only going today.”
“Just today?” she asks disbelievingly. “That sucks. Today isn’t even the best day.”
“What’s the best day?”
“Who do you think is good to see today?”
I tell her I’m looking forward to seeing French artist Madeon because he did a remix of a band I went to college with called Au Revoir Simone. I once tried to kiss the lead singer in her dorm room, but it didn’t work out so well. Kiera’s never heard of them. The rest of the kids on the bus are all chattering incessantly.
“Glasses! I need my glasses!” shouts the curly-haired Penny Lane in an oversized fur coat from the front of the bus.
“Let’s eat those three before we go in,” the boy behind me secretly says to his feathery friend.
“But my glaaasses, my glaaaassses” moans Penny Lane melting into the polyester seats.
I suddenly realize I’m probably the oldest person on this bus at age 35, not counting the bus driver who is quietly, patiently doing his job when a couple of the kids from the back start hollering at him to turn on the A/C.
“Put on the air! We’re so hot in here!”
They writhe and twist in their post-adolescent skin.
“Is it hot?” I ask Kiera.
She shakes her head at me in a sort of non-answer.
On escaping the bus, my eyes track glimmering moonboots over a pair of the very Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle tights I almost got my little sister for Christmas to some hipsters leaning against the will-call booth in cut-off sweatshirts and fluorescent headbands.
The music pounds faintly, persistently in the distance. I meander down the wet, black sidewalk through glowing neon arches and into the swirling heart of the festival grounds.
Rounding a towering sugar pine bedazzled with outlandish luminosities, I hear the hook to “Light” keen forth, which by coincidence is the only EDM song I really know: “Even if it makes me blind, I just want to see the light.”
I wander down into the fields just as North Carolinian Porter Robinson is starting his evening set. Whilst the beat drops, dozens of 10-foot totem poles topped with lights, sculptures, memes, plush toys and signs gather in the middle of the crowd thrusting up and down in time. There is something tribal, ancient, raw and relevant about the yearly vibrational gathering.
As I move deeper into the rising dance party, I am conquered by the collective energy. The audience becomes one to the sound of pulsing music. It is so positive, so vibrant, so real. It is within us. It is all around us. It is the future. It is now.
Let the countdown begin. I’m in.
SnowGlobe Music Festival is Dec. 29 to 31 at Lake Tahoe Community College. There are three-day VIP tickets, three-day tickets with the complimentary bus shuttle and three-day tickets without the shuttle. All single-day tickets include the complimentary bus shuttle. The SnowGlobe Shuttle runs every 30 minutes from 1:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. | snowglobemusicfestival.com