Have you ever been so happy in a moment, you consciously try to soak in as much as possible in an effort to remember that feeling forever? That’s how I felt this past weekend visiting Raleigh, North Carolina for the first time. I was invited by one of my best friends, Mackenzie, to attend a Louis the Child & Jai Wolf concert at the Red Hat Ampitheater.
I’ve been besties with Mackenzie since the 4th grade. Even through the distance of attending different schools, and living in different states (literally on opposite sides of the country with her in LA and me in Charleston) we’ve managed to stay close as ever throughout the years. When she proposed a reunion for the concert in Raleigh, I replied that even if it were a Polka concert I’d say yes just to see her! Thankfully though it was one of my favorite EDM artists, and after a year without concerts thanks to COVID, I was overwhelmingly excited.
I bought my ticket and Mackenzie found a hotel for the four of us that would be attending, including Mackenzie’s boyfriend Jake, and his friend Jordan. There was travel involved for all of us with Mackenzie and Jake making the 7 hour drive from Columbus OH, Jordan travelling 2 hours from Wilmington NC, and a 4 hour trip for myself from Charleston SC. As I’m writing this, I’m realizing that I have no idea who decided that Raleigh was the ideal spur of the moment location but hey, sometimes it’s best to just go with it. Like when I was the first to arrive at the hotel and realized The StateView Hotel was literally on the college campus of NC State. Sadly, we did not get invited to a kegger. But the hotel was beautiful with lake views, and a lovely outdoor pool.
We arrived on Friday for our 2 night stay with the concert being on Saturday. When we all arrived, Mackenzie and I were feeling a bit drained from the travel, and considered just staying in that night to enjoy the hotel ammenities. Jordan showed up and mentioned he wanted to go explore downtown, and that was all the nudge we needed to agree to go out. When you’re only in a city for 2 nights you have to experience as much as you can, right? We went to a few clubs in the Glenwood South area, and spent the night dancing, laughing, and living in the moment.
Living in the moment Friday night led to a lazy Saturday recovering our energy for the concert that night. We laid out by the pool which gave us a chance to catch up. We talked about the craziness of the last year where we saw a worldwide pandemic shut down our lives, and a new president take office. As the conversation evolved from topic to topic covering politics, religion, immigration, education, and ways in which we could improve, I felt grateful to be surrounded by my like-minded millenials. We are all keenly aware of the challenges the world faces, and what I love about the millenial mindset, is that we are able to see things from a wider perspective; we stand for inclusivity (seemingly) more so than prior generations. Having these little poolside chats with my friends was just a small moment of the trip, but it stood out to me and left me feeling hopeful about the future after a year of feeling hopeless.
Getting ready for the concert was an adventure in and of itself. One word. Glitter. We got glitter everywhere. To the point that we were concerned the hotel might charge us for the bombshell we left but, so far so good. It was all worth it because we felt & looked amazing! I got to fully embrace my inner glitter fairy princess.
Walking in to the concert lit up my heart. You could hear the music from outside the gates but as soon as we got inside we were walking right towards the side of the stage. We got to see the crowd unfold as we got closer and people dancing to the music with huge smiles on their faces. I thought to myself: here comes the feeling you thought you’d forgotten. The feeling that only manifests when I’m surrounded by people all wearing their adorable rave outfits, glitter, accessories, embracing who they are, and feeling free to do so. A crowd of people radiating love and joy as they feed off the energy of those around them in dance. The feeling of being entirely consumed by the music and connected to the DJ that creates vibrations specifically designed to resonate with the people he’s performing for. It’s an overwhelming feeling of connection between every person in attendance. Good vibes everywhere.
I spent the night dancing my heart out and feeling connected in a way I hadn’t been able to for the past year in quarantine. We as humans truly do need connection in our lives. I was reminded of this, and the connections I made in passing with other concertgoers hasn’t left me. So many people went out of their way to compliment me, and it was more than just my looks, but my energy. One girl came up to me while I was dancing and told me she loved my vibe and that I seemed like such a social butterfly. I thanked her for spreading kindness and we danced together for awhile. The positivity sent my way by her and others lit me up and I found myself paying it forward by sending smiles and compliments to others I came into contact with. I felt rejuvinated by the interactions and positivity being spread all around me like wildfire. Everyone who went there just wanted to dance, laugh, live in the moment, and feel safe to be themselves, weird as that may be.
This is the magic of EDM concerts. There’s less judging, more acceptance. Less division, more togetherness. Less hate, more love. And that’s what the world needs right now, that’s what I really needed and didn’t even realize just how badly. So my trip to Raleigh was a short one, and we didn’t do all that much, but we still experienced plenty. I left with a fuller heart, and a more hopeful perspective. So next time there’s a concert you want to go to, or a city you want to visit, but you think a weekend trip might not be worth it… do it anyway. Go for just the show, just the weekend, and see what kind of experience you get from just a couple nights in a new city. Sometimes it’s not even about the place, sometimes it’s about the people.