I literally say this at the start of every travel update but it has actually been a fucking minute since I’ve written about my adventures! The last few months have been absolutely mental and you’re about to find out why but before we get into all the stories, let’s go over numbers. I flew out of New York just over 12 weeks ago with 17 festivals for the year under my belt. In the last 89 days, I’ve travelled to 17 different cities across 11 different countries and crossed another 12 festivals off the list bringing my total so far to 29/52. I’ve debated whether or not I should update after every festival or each country or whatever but ultimately got so caught up with this adventure that I barely had time to sit down and write at all! Nevertheless, I am back and ready to take you on a wild fucking ride so grab a snack and a drink because this is gonna be a long one!
WEEK 1: SCANDANAVIA
The adventure begins with me almost getting detained in Copenhagen and sent back to America. That’s right, this chapter kicks off with chaos from the second I arrived in Europe! One of the downsides to travelling so much is you accumulate a lot of passport stamps. I know what you’re thinking, how could having such an awesome collection possibly be a bad thing? Well when it comes to border security, the officers go through your stamps to find out where you’ve been, where you came from, how long you’ve been travelling for, etc. Having so many stamps not only makes it hard for them to find the most recent one, but it raises a lot of flags in their books. Long story short, the officer couldn’t figure out why I was travelling so much and how I could afford to do so without ‘working’ despite me truthfully answering most of her questions. Notice I said ‘most’ and not ‘all’, because this officer eventually got super invasive to the point where she threatened to detain me and put me on a plane back to New York if I didn’t show her how much money was in my bank account. I had been super honest and cooperative all the way up until this point but I knew for a fact that this was an invasion of privacy and she did too because after refusing, she backed off and eventually let me into the country. All I can say is that I’m never flying into Copenhagen again! After spending the day exploring Copenhagen, I hopped onto an overnight bus to Stockholm where I stayed for the week to attend Summerburst Festival. I originally went with a group of friends I met online and intended to use my Festival Passport but fortunately, the LiveNation representative knew who I was and was able to give me a press and photo pass on the spot! And so begins my career in media! (just kidding, or am I? I don’t even know).
WEEK 2: HEADING HOME TO HARDSTYLE
Week two brought me back home to one of my favourite places in the world: DEFQON.1! This festival holds a very special place in my heart and not only was I attending it for the third year in a row, I got to experience it with two very good friends! A couple days prior, I arrived in Amsterdam and finally met up with my friend Kevin for the first time! I was introduced to him online by some members of the rave fam over a year ago and we instantly connected through our unhealthy obsession with hardstyle. After months of fangirling over the latest releases together and sending each other videos from events we were attending on opposite ends of the world, we finally got together and spent the weekend together! This Defqon was EASILY one of the best weekends of my life and no words can possibly describe how truly happy I was. This was also the first time I didn’t sleep through power hour and holy shit, nothing could have possibly prepared me for those 60 minutes of pure insanity! I was also reunited with my festie bestie Shanti on the final day and we finally got to share our ‘Coone Moment’ together!
WEEK 3: STARTING AGAIN FROM SCRATCH
Come Monday morning, I hopped on a train down to Eindhoven for the week for the next stop: WiSH Outdoor. This week in Eindhoven was absolutely insane in both the best and worst way possible. I rarely talk about my finances in regards to this trip because quite frankly, it’s nobody’s business, but this week I hit a major road block: I no longer had access to my money. This isn’t another one of those ‘my card got blocked’ situations or something that could be easily fixed. Only those closest to me actually knew about this and how I got into this mess but for the rest of you, just keep in mind for the remainder of this blog post, I had to start again from nothing. I literally sat in a bunk bed completely alone on the other side of the world with tears in my eyes, staring at my phone screen which read the balance of $0.01 in my bank account. I felt beyond defeated and almost considered giving up on this dream and going home because I just didn’t know what else to do. Eventually, I remembered that everything happens for a reason and realised this was just another obstacle in my path to success. I spent an entire day brainstorming ideas on an empty stomach, trying to figure out how to make this work and what to do next. I literally had nothing but a dream and a couple of loose coins in my wallet but I honestly would have rather died trying than give up on this dream! Later that day, I was randomly blessed with a deposit of $75 from some online work I had been doing so instead of using it wisely, I spent it on Taco Bell. Well not the whole thing. Any normal person would probably budget the absolute crap out of their last couple of dollars but not me. I went into a camera store and bought a monopod and a remote for my camera! And not just any cheap $10 monopod, I splurged on one of the fanciest, most compact and most expensive monopods in the store! (And to this day, I have zero regrets on that purchase!). Week three is proving to be a long one so I’ll summarise the rest real quick:
- I was invited over to dinner by a couple of followers who are now some of my great friends!
- I spent the first night of the festival with a local friend from one of the group chats I was in where we sat around watching people falling out of hammocks.
- I went back the next day and rode the rail for a 90 minute Wildstylez set where he recognised me and instantly dropped Year Of Summer for me.
WEEK 4: IT ONLY GET’S CRAZIER FROM HERE
I was going to make the title of this one, it only goes uphill from here, but that’s a lie. Just wait for it. Anyway, week four was supposed to be one of the craziest weeks of the trip because I left WiSH a day early and flew to Croatia for another festival. Due to my unfortunate circumstances, I couldn’t actually afford to make the trip up to the festival from the airport so I ended up spending a couple of days on the beach, just relaxing and preparing for the massive weekend ahead. My next stop was Salzburg, Austria for Electric Love Festival, one of my favourite events in the world. The organisers of the event were super happy to give me a media pass and went above and beyond to make sure I had the best possible experience. Although it rained for the first two days, I got to spend the entire third day in the photo pit of the main stage where I was showered in Champagne by Steve Aoki and got to witness a Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike ‘crowd control’ from their point of view for the first time and let me tell you, crowd control will never be the same again! But that wasn’t even the best part. This weekend, I got to do my first REAL interviews and I still can’t believe how well they went! I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing two of my favourite artists: Vini Vici and Kayzo! (Click their names to check out the interviews!).
WEEK 5: I GUESS THIS ONE WASN’T TOO CRAZY. NO WAIT, I GOT PUNCHED IN THE HEAD.
Thursday comes around again and I find myself camping at Airbeat One Festival, another one of my favourites. I was lucky enough to score media passes for this one as well but actually obtaining the wristband wasn’t THAT easy. After walking in circles for hours trying to find the media office, I eventually gave up and headed inside with my GA wristband to enjoy the show. I made my way through the massive crowd ended up getting to the front of the Q-Dance stage just as Wildstylez was starting. By this point in the trip, Wildstylez and I had established a connection with Year Of Summer so whenever he played it, he would look for me in the crowd and acknowledge that he was playing the song for me (or so I’d like to think) and despite not being on the rail, he still found me and waved. Eventually, a spot opened up on the rail so I went for it and the girl next to me absolutely was not having it. Long story short, after constantly shoving, elbowing and yelling at me in German, she eventually turned around and told me in perfect english that she had waited on the rail for over 5 hours and I didn’t deserve to stand there next to her. The thing is, she wasn’t even waiting for Wildstylez, showed zero interest in his music and spent the entire set flirting with the security guards. She was noticeably pissed off that nothing would get me off the rail and that I was actually having a good time so she began throwing punches at my head. Any normal person would probably fight back or leave at this point, but surely if you’re reading this, you know for a fact that I’m not normal so I just kept a tight grip on the rail and continued living my best life. Of course Karma is an absolute legend and after finally getting my hands on my media wristband the next day, I said hi to her from the other side of the rail and proceeded to block her view with my giant camera and completely ruin her night. I’m not even sorry. Aside from the violence and bullshit, this was one of my favourite weekends all year! I made so many dope memories in the photo pit and managed to capture some of my favourite shots ever!
WEEK 6: IT GETS WORSE BEFORE IT GETS BETTER
I spent the next couple of days in Hamburg editing all the incredible photos I took from the festival and then, disaster struck. My portable hard drive had been acting up lately and on my last day, I had a bad feeling that something was wrong so I went out and bought a new one to back up all of my files in case anything happened to it. And of course. I came back from the store, plugged in my hard drive to start backing it up and it was too late. I immediately went to the Apple Store where they confirmed that I may or may not have just lost almost 2TB of footage. I tried to remain calm on the walk back to the hostel but immediately broke down in tears. Just imagine, having your entire life on a hard drive one second and losing it all the next! Hundreds of thousands of professional photos, every single video from every single festival you’ve done so far. Every single vlog clip since day one of The Year Of Summer. Gone. I’ve never felt so heartbroken in my life but with 4 days of camping coming up, I accepted the fact there was nothing I could do about it until Monday.
I headed down to Dusseldorf where I hopped on a Global Journey bus to Tomorrowland and spent the next four days camping with some of my good friends from the UK. This weekend was absolutely wild and I can’t even find the words to talk about it! I ended up meeting SO MANY people this weekend. It still blows my mind that literally at every turn, I would run into someone I knew or someone would end up recognising me because of The Year Of Summer. I honestly don’t deserve all of this love and support but I’m so fucking grateful for every single person who has joined the madness and come along on this crazy adventure with me!
WEEK 7: BECOMING INTERNET FAMOUS
Don’t actually take that title too seriously, I’m literally still nobody. I spent the next couple of days chilling in Amsterdam with another girl from our rave fam, just recovering from the crazy weekend and trying to figure out what to do about my hard drive. Every number I called told me it would cost well over 1000 euros to have it potentially recovered and even then, it would take two to four weeks which is kinda impossible when you’re in a new country every two to four days! So the bad luck definitely wasn’t over… and it didn’t stop there. Literally two nights before I was supposed to head back to Belgium for round two of Tomorrowland, I found out that I didn’t have a ticket. Or a place to stay. I ended up pacing the streets of Amsterdam at 2am in tears because I had no idea what to do but decided to head back to Brussels in the morning and take it from there. I spent the entire day at Starbucks because I literally had no where else to go and ended up doing a Q&A on instagram to try and kill some time to which I got an overwhelming amount of support from so many people offering to help me find a ticket. One of my good friends back at home managed to find someone selling a ticket and told me to get in contact with him. To this day, I’m legitimately still in shock that this guy literally sent from the heavens above sold his three day wristband AND hotel shuttle pass to me for 150 euros! They were literally selling on Viagogo for up to $4000! So I was back for round two! And this is where the internet part comes in. It’s day three of the festival and I find myself on the rail of the Freedom Stage for Coone & The Gang. Da Tweekaz come on and I’m raging my absolute ass off. Wildstylez comes on and I’m raging my absolute ass off. Coone comes on and I’m raging my absolute fucking ass off! I genuinely think I raged harder in that one day than I have all year! And during all of that, one particular camera man became obsessed with me and pretty much had the camera in my face the entire time! My phone was blowing up with people sending me messages and screenshots of my face on the live stream. It was pure madness! So a couple of days later, when my DM’s finally died down, I receive a message from a friend of mine who thinks I might be the thumbnail for one of the Tomorrowland videos! I couldn’t believe it because I managed to end up as the thumbnail for Coone’s Tomorrowland set last year so I head over to YouTube, and there’s my face! The thumbnail for Da Tweekaz! As if that wasn’t crazy enough, I scroll down and there I am again! The thumbnail for Wildstylez! And suddenly my DM’s were blowing up again! Even Da Tweekaz and Wildstylez joked about it saying that I was ‘famous’ because they both couldn’t believe that of all of the frames that could have been automatically selected, it was me!
WEEK 8: REUNITED IN ROMANIA
After almost two months apart, I was finally reunited with Kyle and a couple of our other friends and we headed to Romania for the week for Untold Festival. This one has been on my bucket list since the very first edition and I couldn’t believe for the first time, I didn’t have to fly back home for class and could finally experience it! Once again I was lucky enough to not only score media pass for myself but also for Kyle and another friend as well! Aside from sleeping around and attempting to learn how to skateboard, we didn’t get up to too much. This festival absolutely destroyed me! Four nights in a row, from dusk ’til dawn. Right after two weeks of Tomorrowland! (not to mention the other like 20+ festivals before that). I spent the majority of the weekend chilling on the Trance stage with some of my favourite artists and capturing some dope lasers and fireworks from the main stage! I also finally got to witness Armin’s legendary marathon set! Although, I couldn’t stay for the whole 7 hours, I did manage to spend the entire timetabled 4 hours in the photo pit even though I was technically only allowed to be in there for 10 minutes!
WEEK 9: THERE’S A FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING!
After a couple of days recovering in Romania, I headed to Vienna on my own for Shutdown Festival. This one was run by the same people who ran Electric Love so again, they were more than happy to give me a media pass! Arriving at the accreditation centre was absolutely insane because everyone already knew who I was and what I do! I spent the majority of the festival in the photo pit which is basically my second home at festivals now. I honestly didn’t expect too much from this tiny little festival out in the literal middle of no where but I was so incredibly impressed with it! After having a couple of days to myself, I hopped on a plane to Rome to meet up with Kyle again. Nope, no I did not. The flight was delayed and I ended up falling asleep in the bathroom waiting for the announcement of the new departure time and woke up an hour later to find that it had JUST taken off. I think … the back to back festival life is finally hitting me? So yeah that happened, I missed my flight for the first time ever! I ended up buying a new ticket for a flight later that day and spent about 7 hours just having naps at the airport.
WEEK 10: RAINY VATICAN ADVENTURES
Kyle and I spent a couple of days just chilling in Rome and decided to go exploring and have a random photoshoot day! We spent the entire day walking around the city taking photos of each other until we eventually reached Vatican City which we wanted to explore if it wasn’t for the world’s longest line! And then … thunder strikes … and it starts absolutely pouring down rain and suddenly the line disappeared because everyone had run for cover! So of course, Kyle convinces me to run through the absolute downpour to get to the front of where the line should have been! For some reason, I cared more about protecting my $5000+ camera than myself so I wrapped it in my rain poncho and ran through the rain completely exposed. Of course Kyle didn’t care to tell me that all of my make up was running down my face and my shirt was absolutely see through because I decided not to wear black for once in my life but it’s cool! We snuck past the check point and ran through even more rain to get to the entrance where security stopped me because my shorts were too short and I had nothing to cover my legs with which is understandable, except there were a TONNE of other girls who’s legs were a lot more exposed than mine, walking straight through! Kyle eventually came back for me when he realised I didn’t follow behind him, tied his jacket around my waist and walked me through. We explored the church and decided to try and get up to the top but typical, neither of us ever travel with any physical cash on us. Since there was literally no one inside, they decided to let us go up there for free! We made it to the very top and saw the most incredible view over Rome! After a couple of days in transit through Italy and Germany, we finally made it to the Netherlands for Decibel!
WEEK 11: I TOLD YOU SO!
Remember those followers in Eindhoven I told you about earlier? Well their names are Eva and Mark and they’re some of the coolest people I’ve met on this trip and now some of my good friends! They were lovely enough to not only let us stay at their place for a couple of days, but took the time out of their week to hang out and take us on adventures! We even spent a day exploring the park where Tomorrowland is held and seeing what it looks like when it isn’t filled with thousands of people! Our next stop was England for Creamfields. I was honestly dreading this trip because I hated that festival and had no intention of going to it but decided after being alone for the majority of the Europe trip, I wanted to rave with some familiar faces again. We spent a couple of days in London before heading up to Warrington where we stayed in an airbnb for the weekend. Once again, I managed to score a last minute media pass which made going to this festival slightly less dreadful now that I had something to do there but long story short, I still hated every second of it. The weekend was kind of a disaster and we ended up leaving early on the first night. The details of that story are not for me to tell but Kyle needed me so I literally ran out of the pit during Steve Angello to find him and eventually decided it was best to go home. Leaving a festival early doesn’t really sound like a big deal but just imagine, being so close to meeting one of your favourite artists. Someone you’ve idolised since you were a child and have been trying to meet for over four years. Having access into the artist lounge and literally being 30 minutes away from finally meeting the last person on your list. I walked away from that, to take my friend home and I don’t regret my decision one bit. Once I made sure he was okay, you best believe I rubbed it in his face that I was right and we should’ve gone to Mysteryland! I guess the only good thing that came out of this was that I now have the right to say I told you so to him for the rest of my life! But I guess if you ever doubt my loyalty/friendship, just remember this story. The next day wasn’t much better but aside from the literal shit show, I ended up getting some incredible photos during Martin Garrix!
WEEK 12: DID THIS ACTUALLY JUST HAPPEN?!
Saying goodbye to Kyle is never easy because travelling is just so much more fun when we’re together so naturally, I spent the week in bed, depressed and alone, getting back to work. My final festival stop was back in the Netherlands for Dream Village Festival in Breda. By this point, I had a pretty good idea of what I can and can’t do with a media pass so I was completely prepared to stay in the pit for the entire day and get some dope footage! Of course when I arrived at the main entrance, they ‘ran out’ of media wristbands and could only give me the GA one with the exception of being allowed to bring in my camera. The only way to get a media wristband would be to walk 3km to the other side of the festival where the crew entrance was, but Da Tweekaz were on in 10 minutes and ain’t nobody got time for that! I head to the main stage trying to figure out what to do when I noticed Marcus standing at the rail talking to some fans. I had messaged him earlier that day about someone from the Tweeka-fam and we were actively working together to help her out so it was dope to finish off that conversation in person! I then did something I normally would never do and I asked him for a favour. I explained the wristband situation and asked if they were able to sneak me into the pit so I could take photos during their set and sort out the rest later. I honestly didn’t think much of it because I hate feeling entitled to anything but a couple of minutes later, one of the guys from their team comes out into the crowd, hands me a backstage wristband and says I can shoot for them! I tried not to lose my shit but shooting for Da Tweekaz is literally my dream job and I was finally about to get a taste of it! Of course I enjoyed every single second of it and I managed to some get some pretty dope shots considering I hate shooting during the day and pretty much only ever capture lasers and fireworks! The next day was pretty chill and to be honest, I only really went to go see Sound Rush. I’ve been friends with the boys for a while now and it was so dope to see them and catch up. And then something in me decided to try my luck and before I knew it, I was back on the stage shooting for them too! Literally what is my life? Did this weekend really just happen?!
I spent my last week in Europe chilling in Greece with every intention of hitting up the islands and spending all day every day on the beach … until … one last road block. I took my phone to the Apple store right after Electric Love where it was super water damaged from the rain and they basically told me that there was nothing they could do and it was crucial that I backed up my phone (which best believe I never did) because it could literally crash and burn any day now. Fortunately, it managed to hold out up until now but a couple days ago, my entire camera roll was wiped and it all went downhill from there. I haven’t had a phone for the last couple of days making it pretty much impossible to go outside and I’ve never been more ready to go home!
So that pretty much sums up the longest and most insane summer Europe trip I’ve ever done! I am now headed back home for a couple of weeks to finally attend my first Defqon.1 in Australia (and some other fun things) before flying over to Asia at the end of the month! The only thing I’m dreading is the 24 hour flight with a budget airline which means in addition to no food or entertainment, I now have to kill time without a phone or anything to listen to music on! Wish me luck!
Until next month Europe! 😜✌🏻