I spent most of last month on vacation with friends in Brazil, which is not a country so much as it is a Victoria’s Secret catalogue exploded to life. It is where your body-image issues go to discover themselves, and where your self-confidence goes to die. Brazilians are so beautiful that if you try to Photoshop a picture of one, your computer explodes and melts your face off as a lesson in the perils of hubris. Brazilians are also tremendously warm and friendly people, unless you mention the words “World Cup” and “Germany” or “Vengaboyz” and “Brazil” in the same sentence.
I’m not even the most rock-n-roll person on Earth, and yet, there’s something especially dismal about how you put your hands up when the DJ tells you to, and you jump when the song implores you to. Representation pic/Thinkstock
My travels took me all over Brazil. First, I visited the jaw-dropping Iguacu Falls. The falls are over 220 million years old, which means they’ve been around since before dinosaurs, humans or even the beloved TV show Surabhi. From there, propelled by the power of a million caipirinhas, I rode the Rio Negro river in the Amazonian state of Manaus, toured the old city of Salvador, tottered down the beaches of Rio De Janeiro, and ate my way through Sao Paolo. I capped off my visit with a three-day party at Tomorrowland Brasil.
For those who don’t know, let me elaborate; Tomorrowland is the world’s largest MDMA EDM festival. It’s held in Brussels annually, and by some quirk of fate, and possibly dyslexia, this year it ended up in Brasil. It’s three days of non-stop untz-untz and “sick drops” (which, weirdly enough, is exactly what I call Otrivin). At Tomorrowland, the world’s best DJs play some excellent sets. I had the privilege of watching World No 1 DJ Hardwell, followed by World No 1 DJ David Guetta, and in between, I also watched World No 1 DJ Steve Aoki and No But Fo Realzies World No 1 DJ Like Mike, with Also Kinda, Maybe Not, but Totally Absolutely World No 1 DJ Dmitri Vegas. I know that sounds confusing but they all wore V-necked t-shirts, tight jeans and chiselled chins with day-old stubble, which means they are all correct.
All the World No 1 DJs played at a giant stage whose setup was unlike anything I have ever seen. It was at least a hundred feet across and set up to look like a bookshelf, presumably to teach most of the kids there what books are. In the centre of the stage was a giant book with a face embedded in it. The giant book face spoke to the audience in the same voice that movie spaceship computers speak in right before they kill all the humans on board. I found the speaking book a bit creepy, but maybe that’s because pop-culture has taught me that when you see a book with a horrific face on it, you must strap the nearest chainsaw to your arm because the Army of the Dead is on its way. At this point I’d like to pause and congratulate myself for not making a Facebook pun even once in this paragraph.
Just as I was starting to feel a bit lost in the throng of loved-up kids, I ran into a fellow Indian. Regrettably he was from Delhi, we moved past that and had a fascinating conversation. It went like this:
Delhi Dude: “Toh. Sex kiya yahaan pe aapne?”
DD: “Yahaan matlab best hai. Do minute baat karo, phir sex karo. Saala India mein kiss bhi karo toh shaadi karni padti hai.”
Me: “Please tell me you’re secretly Pakistani.”
Then he ran off waving the tricolour about, presumably because the beat (and the drugs) kicked in.
I apologise if the last few paragraphs gave the impression I didn’t enjoy Tomorrowland, because I really did. Once I got past the traffic jams, and the queuing, and the queuing, and the queuing for the queuing, I had a fantastic time. I jumped my ass off, I got all kinds of toasty, and I had the company of awesome friends. But, (and this is a big but) there’s a piece of the experience that didn’t sit right with me; a tiny piece of the EDM machine that will never sit right with me, much as I enjoy its simple-as-drool pleasures.
It’s the sheer conformity of the whole thing. Music festivals are supposed to be celebrations of anarchy and non-conformity, but Tomorrowland isn’t that at all. I’m not even the most rock-n-roll person on Earth, and yet, there’s something especially dismal about how you put your hands up when the DJ tells you to, and you jump when the song implores you to, and you wave your glow-sticks about in perfect unison when that same ole beat drearily commands you to. It’s fun and all, but if that’s what tomorrow looks like, could someone please point me to the nearest chainsaw?
Rohan Joshi is a writer and stand-up comedian who likes reading, films and people who do not use the SMS lingo. You can also contact him on www.facebook.com/therohanjoshi