Japan Big Beach Festival 2012, A Colossal Extravaganza

This has been, so far, the craziest, most fun, AND most extravagant experience of my life. Period.

Obviously you expect big and awesome when you decide to participate in this kind of event, but honestly, when you find yourself in the middle of it, everything seems to realize to its full potential, no, actually, exceeding expectations.

Since I know you are dying to know what you have missed, I am just going to plunge into the start of the story of the most epic day in Japan anybody could ever have.

Around noon we finally leave our hostel, obviously a little bit behind schedule due to a surprise 80-kuai-open-bar-deal offered to us the night before. We catch the infinite metro-train-path that will lead us to Makuhari Seaside Park. Let’s go!

When we get there we can’t help noticing that everything is very well organized and the crowd flows in pretty smoothly, definitely happy and super excited. We cross the gentle bag check and the clean and toilet-paper-stocked restrooms, and then we enter the bush part that separates the outside from the beach. The beats reach our ears and our feet automatically speed up, eager to hear more. We’re also pulled forward by the idea of a proper Jager bomb that will, most likely, get us out of the hangover.

When we reach the end of the path, the beach opens in front of us and we are finally surrounded by all those promises that have been made to us: twenty thousand people? Check. Countless food and booze stands? Check. Jagermeister Disco Balloon, Red Bull and Main stages? Check, check, check. Red Bull flight performances? Yep, those too. Infinite amount of good looking, amazingly-dressed, super-accessorized, originally-funny Japanese figures? You betcha!

And from that moment on, I can honestly say that it was the most fun I have had in years. We were hugging, jumping, laughing, sharing booze, starting missions, getting distracted by new more interesting missions, trying to take pictures… with every single soul of the festival, and all of this with a constant thirty-two teeth smile on our faces. After 8 hours, it hurt.

Obviously, as we all feel when at a multi-stage festival, I wanted to clone myself into at least four people. Since that’s not possible yet, we had to choose what was more important – at the main stage, we briefly checked out John Digweed, and caught Sven Väth’s full set from 15.00 to 17.00. From the first row it was ‘pretty’ powerful. Besides him just being Sven, the music and the sound system were extremely sweet and we played with our neighbors and the security guys for hours. Hilarious! Also, against all odds and weather forecasts, the sun was shining down on us, which made the experience even more special…

After that, we took a break from the main stage and decided to check out the disco balloon (ok ok, we wanted another Jager bomb), which was, by the way, so much better than what we expected it to be. It was exactly as you may have imagined it (yeah, right…): a huge orange balloon with Bavarian drag queens, and the Jager deer welcoming you at the door, filled with people jumping to Make the Girl Dance’s D&B. Sweaty and messy, exactly how we like it. Time flew by in there, and it was time to go back to the main stage for what everybody had been waiting for. We made a quick stop at the Red Bull stage to take a couple of pictures of Matthias Tanzmann and then walked down to the shortcut on the beach leading to the first row of the main stage: my favorite brothers were already on. The majority of people had already moved toward the same spot.


Now it really feels like a concert of massive proportions – people are cheek to cheek, sweating and jumping to the same rhythm, looking ahead with great admiration and backward with disbelieving faces, a sea of hands and heads are moving, wiggling to the unmistakable sound of The Chemical Brothers’ tunes. The sun is still up but it’s slowly getting dark and little by little the light show is starting above the DJ booth. At first there are just lights, then, when it gets completely dark, the rainbow lasers start as well. I couldn’t ask for more! It’s amazing, epileptic at points, magic, and majestic. And when you think it can not possibly get any better, the melodic riffle of “Swoon” gets on and the crowd explodes in the happiest scream I have ever heard. The brothers rise and hold their hands waiting for the bass to kick in and when it does, yes sir, fireworks start exploding on the left hand side of the stage, right above the sea. Well done, well done! Shivers run down my body. I feel too lucky. It’s my birthday in exactly one week and I couldn’t ask for more.

One more song, then “Hey Boy, Hey Girl!” and it’s time to get ready for the after party!

At this point we decide to stall a little longer on the beach, waiting for the crowd to dissolve. We get a Cuba Libre (‘Strong?’ ‘Strong!’), talk about how epic this has been and figure out the plan of attack for the evening. We agree to head back to the hostel, refresh just a tiny bit and go to Womb. Words of love towards Sven Väth are in the air so by 1.30 am we are at the door of the club ranked second in “The World’s Top 10 Killer Clubs” by an English club magazine, partly because of the sound quality and partly because of the largest mirror ball in Japan.

Yeah, when I read that on the Tokyo’s city magazine, “the tOkio nOtice bOard”, I wasn’t that impressed until I figured out what showing off a one and a half meter (diameter) disco ball means: not only do you have the feeling that the ball is a God and you are there just to pray to him with your dance moves, but when the two rings of lights and the laser over the DJ booth hit the ball, it feels like it’s snowing lights! Trust me, it’s impressive.

Womb is a three-floor venue full of lounges, bars, VIP rooms, and dance floors. The main room, where Sven played for three and a half hours, is a big, tall room with a great sound system, light spectacle from the ceiling and floor, and a surprise we-are-gonna-fog-the-entire-room-until-you-are-not-able-to-see-one-centimeter-from-your-face show. Everything is linked by winding stairs upon which you can briefly sit and watch the best fashion show in Tokyo.

By 5.30 AM, the laser points to the opposite wall and informs us that the after party of the after party (of course!) is upstairs. At this point, we are exhausted, our feet are swollen, and our new Japanese girl friends are tempting us with delicious local morning food. We decide to follow them. We look for a nice place where we can rest and eat something while we try to understand each other’s tough sounds, improvised interpretations, and drawings on paper towels.

In a blink it’s 7.30 am. I need to go back to the hostel, take a shower, pack, walk to the metro, take the metro, a train, a bus, a plane, my scooter and get back home to Shanghai. During all of this, the biggest smile is exploding across my face at the thought of ‘what just happened?’ I really don’t care that for the past two days my phone hasn’t worked right after I ditched work via text message, not to mention my lack of proper sleeping and eating…

Finally, yes, I did make it back home in time for Sunday’s gig at Mao and Monday work. My body didn’t like it very much, but who cares?! I realized once again how fucking awesome it is to travel, listen to loud music, and report facts through pictures.

A special thanks goes to that insane girl that is taking the blame for all this; much more has happened during this ‘day’, obviously, but I hope next time you will be there and part of it too.

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