TAO 2009

I’m probably going to be judged pretty harshly for this one, but I still think I should blog about it……..

Amy found out that our favorite DJ, Armin Van Buuren, was going to be playing at a huge rave party over new years eve…… she wanted to go since it was an ‘all ages’ event. (A lot of raves are 18+ or 21+ only).
I checked out the event reviews from last year and decided that it sounded pretty good. The only concern that I had was the number of people there. In past years the event has pulled around 45,000 people…. Yeah, you read right….. forty five thousand people…… Ugh, for a guy that does not do crowds, it was going to be some night…….

I went for a ride, had some lunch, we had a sleep and then E-tickets in hand, we headed off at 5pm.
The traffic was pretty mad around the LA convention center where it was being held, but that’s to be expected.
We picked up our real tickets and joined the growing line for our security checks. The line took about an hour. Latter, it was taking up to three hours to get in, glad we got there early. If we go again next year (which is not a given, it will depend on the DJ(s) that’s playing), we will get there earlier still.
Once in, you just follow your ears…….
Armin is an amazing DJ. Both Amy and I really like his style. Its hard to describe, but its very mellow with lots of soothing vocals, big strings and often, acoustic or electric guitar, of course all this is overlaid with that trance beat that’s hard to miss.
He has been playing 9 hour sets now for years. Its his trademark, as his his style. He started playing at 7pm, we did not get in till 8pm, so sadly we missed his first hour.
We spent the first two hours on the floor. It was filling up by the minute, so it was good to be down there before it got really crazy.
At 10pm the curtain that he was playing behind came down and things really got cranked up a few notches.
Amy wanted to get closer, so we moved through the crowd and ended up a few rows of people from the stage. It was pretty squishy, so we did not stay long, but Amy was thrilled to be so close (even I have to admit that it was pretty cool to see him ‘just there’ and feel the energy of the front rows. This is something I have never done at the other raves I have been too).
We then headed back, way back. I really liked the view and sound from the back center seats. The back sides were packed because there was nothing blocking the main view, but having less people around you was a plus for me!
We spent the next 6 or so hours just sitting, standing, dancing and just drinking in the huge sound and light show……..

To answer your obvious questions…….Yes, it was a human zoo. Yes, there was a lot of flesh. Yes, there were drugs there. Yes, there were clearly people on said drugs. Yes, both Amy and I were offered drugs. Yes, I felt safe. Yes, I am glad that I took my 15 year old daughter. And yes, if Armin plays again next year, and regardless of if Amy wants to go or not, I would go. (Given the amount she enjoyed it, I think I am going to have zero chance of going to any all ages rave without her ever again).
The crowd was huge, but well behaved. People were clearly looking out for others, I saw no one on their own, people were there with their friends and were looking out for each other. I did not see a single scuffle or incident all night.
My only concern was the sheer number of people there…..if there had been an earth quake or some sort of incident that had caused a panic, there would have been some real trouble. That was my big concern, not the drugs or the people around me.

Amy and I were there for the music and Armin did not disappoint. It was a fantastic 8 hours that we heard. I hope that there is a recording of it released at some stage. The light show that went with it was just spectacular. The two together, as one, was well worth the price of admission. Amy could have kept going, but at 4am, when Armin finished his set, this old bald geek had to head for home.

You can see our photos here, and I put together a video, which you can see on YouTube. Here is the high res version (by far the best if you have a good internet connection) and here is the standard YouTube low res version.