The Digital Oasis

The Digital Oasis

On Friday, June 24th, around noon, seven girls hopped into a pimpin’ Honda Odyssey to head from Seattle to the Gorge Amphitheatre for Paradiso 2016. The excitement oozed through the minivan as flower headbands were compared and chatter about how excited they were to see The Chainsmokers. We reminisced of the years prior and explained to the two Paradiso virgins what to expect. Even though they had heard, I explained that Paradiso is not a rave. Just because it’s EDM does not automatically classify it as a rave. A rave is party; Paradiso is a festival – hence the name, “Paradiso Festival.” By definition a festival is an “organized series of concerts, plays, or movies, typically one held annually in the same place.” People from 18 years old to over 50 years old attend and this was my fourth year attending. I wouldn’t go if it was rave.

We made a pit stop in Ellensburg to grab our last full meal of the weekend. I decided to get sushi to go that came with complementary soy sauce packets. As we headed along the main street to get back to I-90, the girls decided to make roadies since we only 30 minutes out. Of course being the driver, I politely declined and opened my sushi pack to enjoy. I struggled with opening my little packet, but when I did, I made a little squeeze to put in my sushi tray. Instead it exploded - all over my jeans, the side of the car and on the seat. I was trying to clean it up when I looked up to see a car in front of me had abruptly stopped. I slammed on the brakes, which caused the girls to jerk forward, including the one open roadie that went in my hair and all the way down my back. I pulled over to clean myself up in attempt to get the soy sauce champagne scent off. That’s what I get for trying to be a multi-tasking driver… lesson learned.

Finally, around 3 pm, we got to the Gorge after hitting stop and go traffic before the Columbia River bridge. Year priors I’ve always arrived around 1 and the wait to get into the camping ground would be a mile long. This year we were the only car on the road as we pulled into the gold campground – perfect timing. If you are camping, gold is the best site. It’s only steps from the entrance, equipped with showers (get to them early or expect to wait) and the general store has most of the things including towels in case forgot to pack them for the showers.

Paradiso Festival 2016 Day 1
The festival started at 2 pm each day and the line for entry started as early as noon. The lines were long for both GA and VIP as everyone was eagerly waiting to get in. Our group waited a couple of hours to pre-party at the campsite and headed in around 5. The lines had shortened, but the wait was still about 30 minutes. Lucky for us we had cabana passes so our wait didn’t exist. As I understand VIP tickets can be out of some people’s budget, if you can save your pretty pennies, get VIP or get a group of friends together and book a cabana. The lines are shorter, you get exclusive access to bars and my personal favorite, an actual bathroom instead dealing with a port-a-potty. If you get a cabana, you get all the above, but an even shorter line, backstage access, the best view in the Gorge, and distance from the crowd equipped with complimentary coconut water to keep you hydrated.

The Gorge Amphitheatre View Bar - Paradiso 2016
The first thing our group did when we walked in was head to the View Bar for the girls that had never seen that breathtaking view. This year they had security managing it so the porch didn’t get overcrowded, which was great for taking pictures… and selfies of course. Cash Cash was about to go on at the main stage so we ventured over to the cabanas to get our dancing feet moving. I was a bit surprised that were on so early, but it set the night off right as they closed their set with “Take Me Home.” As time crept by the bigger acts came on. I was surprised to see some of the bigger acts were spread out. Cosmic Gate and Aly & Fila were at the Digital Oasis stage, which would’ve been great to see, but without having that glorious view from the cabana safe haven, we stuck with the main stage acts. We lasted until Dillion Francis and decided to skip Bassnectar. As good looking as that man is, I was spent. As we were getting ready to head in the next day, we discovered that Paradiso actually has theme days.

Friday was Space Day – makes sense why I saw so many astronauts roaming around. Saturday was Hippie Day and lucky for us we packed plenty of retro festival wear. We headed in around 4 and realized Saturday was definitely the busier day. The lines were crazy, even with the extra check-in spots. However, they were also stricter on security, which I think is needed to prevent anyone getting hurt. EDM festivals get such a bad rep and in order to keep the festival going, USC Events makes a strong effort to prevent that with its Conscious Crew of volunteers.

Paradiso 2016 Cabanas
Once we got inside the festival, we walked around with the sounds of beats in the background, and anxiously waited until The Chainsmokers took the stage. From the first beat to the last, those two boys were on point. It is such a surreal experience with the amazing production USC Events put into Paradiso. The lights broke through the dark sky, the music carried through the breeze, fireworks blasted as if they were magic and the setup was just right so the entire crowd could be seen.

Paradiso Festival 2016
We walked back to the campsite with a satisfied feeling of an unforgettable weekend. We looked up at the signs that usually say “See you next year” at the exit, but instead a different one was hanging that peaked our interest. A new experience was coming called Magnifique in September. The mystery behind the announcement made us believe we may be back to the Gorge sooner than we thought. What will it be? Find out at - tickets go on sale on the July 9th at 10 am. I heard Kaskade will be stopping by. 

Magnifique Festival
Paradiso scenes photo credit: Turk Photos - View full album on Facebook

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